Do 30 Day Challenges Really Work?

month
Image by: Public Photos Domain
By Tallulah Ray

During the last half of 2013, I was really seeing a lot of those “30 Day [INSERT EXERCISE HERE] Challenges” on Facebook. I’m sure that you’ve seen a couple if you’ve got a Facebook account. They normally have a list of days and a number of reps which would increase every day.

    30 Day Ab Challenge

    30 Day Lunge Challenge

    30 Day Push-Up Challenge

While most of my women friends would start them, not all of my friends would finish them. Not only that but I didn’t really hear a lot about their success rates. I didn’t know if these challenges actually worked. If you do a 30 day ab challenge, would you have stronger and sleeker abs after the month ends? Let’s look at some of the facts (good and bad) about these challenges.

#1) Steady Increase

One of the great things about the idea of a 30 day challenge is that most of them increase the reps everyday by a small number (anywhere between 3 reps to 10 reps depending on how far into the challenge you are).

I find that if I am doing the same thing over and over again, I start to plateau and then I get bored. Because this is a “challenge”, the designers wanted to make sure that you’re actually getting a challenge everyday. This keeps you interested in your workout and helps keep things fun.

sit ups
Image by: Jeff Hopkins

#2) Repetition

Time of day and physical repetition can help you form a habit. So if you choose to do an ab challenge for the month of February, you can choose to do the challenge every morning after you brush your teeth. That will help you form the habit of getting your body physically moving in the morning. That is the first step to leading an active and healthy lifestyle.

#3) Facebook To Hold You Accountable

I know that sometimes those posts can get annoying:

Abby just checked in at 24 Hour Fitness.

“I’m on day 15 of the 30 Day Ab Challenge! How are you guys doing?”

Unfortunately for you (or at least, you guys that think it’s annoying), being a good friend means that you should be supportive – especially when your friends are doing something good for them. It may appear that they just want a pat on the back for actually getting into workout gear and going to the gym but, well…, you know what? I think they should get a pat on the back for it.

Some people need that extra encouragement in order to keep making healthy decisions. Is it really going to be that hard (and take up so much time) to just click the like button or make a quick comment?

“Keep up the good work!”

#4) Proper Form

One of the great things about these challenges is that you don’t need a gym membership. But that also means that you’re probably doing these at home so you don’t have a spotter or someone to make sure that you’re doing the proper form of the exercise.

In order to get the most out of a workout or exercise, you have to be engaging the right muscles and controlling the movement (which is normally harder). That means proper form.

#5) Not A Full Workout

I like Active.com’s Fitness Workout because it is a full body workout with activities that will work different muscles through the month.

Most of these challenges only focus on one thing (like push-ups, sit-ups, OR lunges). That means that it’s not a full workout but some people don’t realize that. These types of challenges need to be incorporated into a full body workout or it should be a supplement to a full body or cardio workout.

#6) Not All Created Equally (Or Get The Same Results)

Our bodies are all different which means that not all workouts will work for our body types. Some will have more of an effect than others. Some will tire us out more. Without knowing what your specific body type is, I can guarantee that your results will differ from mine.

That being said, not everyone will be able to successfully finish these challenges either, which can damper your self-esteem. Remember that the only person you are challenging is yourself. Don’t compare yourself, your body, or your determination for others.

#7) The Key Word Is “Challenge”

The key word in these types of fitness challenges is, well, “challenge”. These aren’t full fitness regimens. These are meant to help push you and to help keep your active lifestyle interesting.

pushup
Image by: Kevin Stabinsky

With all that being said, make sure that you’re checking with your doctor when you start altering, adding to, or starting an exercise regimen (including a 30 day challenge). For any healthy individual, there shouldn’t be any complications but for women who have heart or joint conditions, you may run into some complications.

If you’re interested in starting a challenge (alone or with friends), check out 30DayFitnessChallenges.com. It is a great place to start and they have some great advice for beginners.

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