Can exercise challenges help you reach your fitness goals?
Recently it seems like you can’t log on to Pinterest or Facebook without seeing someone talking about a 30 Day Fitness Challenge. Most of these challenges give a detailed timeline to help improve anything from core strength to how many lunges and burpees you can do. For example: Day one you do 10 sit-ups, day two you do 15, and on and on until by the end of the month you’re doing 200 sit-ups in a row.
But while these challenges can provide the guidance needed to lift you out of a workout rut, there are a few things to keep in mind before diving feet first into a routine you found online:
Look for challenges that include more than one exercise. Plank and push-up guides, like those 30 Day Fitness Challenges, can provide a simple way to improve your strength in a specific area. But that won’t necessarily help you reach your goals. If you want toned abs or arms or hope to shed a few pounds, it may be just as important to add in a fat-burning exercise, like cardio or high-intensity routines that work larger muscle groups.
Move beyond your challenge to keep fitness fresh. While you work your way through a fitness challenge, it may be easy to forget about other activities. However, even if your challenge includes several types of moves, mixing things up with a different routine every few days keeps your mind and body refreshed. Plus, switching up your workout can improve your overall well-being and prevent injury.
Plan for the end of the challenge. Fitness challenges have a defined end point that provides external motivation to practice healthy habits on a daily basis. But when that finish line is reached, it can be difficult to find motivation to carry on with those habits. To keep your fitness momentum going following the completion of a fitness challenge, you’ll need to find motivation elsewhere. Try working out with a partner or signing up for a race.
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Photo credit: West Point–The U.S. Military Academy