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Day 17: Side Plank Rotations

Begin in forearm plank. I like to position my arms folded so fists are close to elbows for this one. 

Slowly take the weight off one forearm, without tilting, rotate to one side so shoulders and elbows are stacked on top of each other. Control and quality is vital so only rotate as far as you can maintain a solid plank but Do aim to stack shoulders and elbows above each other.  Slowly return to starting position. The breaking action is important in helping with strength gains so don’t just flop back to the start. 

Repeat on other side. 

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Hips and shoulders rotate as a single unit. Do not allow the plank to fail while rotating. 

Aim for 45 sec of slow rotations, 20 sec rest, x 3 times. 

Take longer breaks if needed so you can maintain quality.  

For more of a challenge, go for a minute, and add a forth round. 

Take more rest time if needed to maintain a quality 45 sec. 

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12 Days Of Fitness Workout.

Just like the song, each ‘day’ add the new exercise and then repeat each of the previous ‘day’s’ exercises. 

Make this more fun by competing against the clock. 

💪😉👍 

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Warm up and dynamic stretch well before hand. 

Start timer.   

Do 1st Day (Renegade Row,)

Then 2nd Day, followed by 1st Day.  

Them 3rd Day, followed by 2nd, then 1st again.....  

...you get the idea.  

so the 12th round will begin with the Roche Planks and ends after the Rengade Row

Stop timer after your 12th round.  

Note 

Most of these exercises require just your body weight. One set of medium to heavy dumbbells is needed and a mat is advised. Choose a weight that's difficult to press over head. 

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Day 16: Assisted Single Arm Push Ups

We are into the 2nd half of this plan and the ground work you have already put in has prepared you well for whats coming.

Today's is another tough challenge. You are going to be grateful for your plank work foundation for this one.

The title may be very scary and off putting. Do not let it scare you. This is not a single arm push up. But this one tool to use to be able to do a single arm push up. As with every other day so far ( and to come) there is a challenge level for all abilities and fitness levels.

You are at Day 16!

You belong here!!

You got this!!!

How to do it.

  • Get in to a forearm plank position, but with your arms folded.
  • Place right hand beside the fingers of your left hand with elbow close to the side of your body.
  • Straighten your right arm, pushing the floor away.
  • Maintain string plank as you tilt.
  • Control your descent.
  • Solid plank and quality form is key.

Switch sides every 5 to 10 reps.

Take breaks before your need them.

Continue until 50 each side are completed.

No Knee modifications today. Choose an elevated hand position of the stairs or counter instead.

 

Smile

 

 

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Day 15: Plank Jacks

Plank Jacks Are Tough! 

Now that that is out there, here is how to do them ....

Plank Jacks are like horizontal Jumping Jacks. For today's challenge, forearms remain on the floor. Starting with feet side by side, hop up and land with feet apart.  Make sure your plank form remains solid and hips remain in line from head to heels. Begin with small hops and increase the distance between feet each jump until you find your limit.  Do not aim to hop high. Speed is not important either but a steady out and in pace is good. 

Today we are again using the Tabata format of 20 sec of Plank Jacks with 10 sec of rest. 

Level 1 

Alternating foot lifts x (aim for) 8 rounds. No body Tilt

Level 2  

Plank Jack for 4 rounds, Alternating foot lifts for 4 round. Mix them up as you like.

Level 3  

Plank Jacks x 8 rounds.  

Level 4  

Plank Jacks x 10-12 rounds of perfect form.

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Day 14 : Slow Push ups

Similar to Day 4, we are going to slow things down today and really focus on form. Today's challenge will be in the slow drop towards the ground.  Like day 4, we will keep set sizes small, 5 reps recommended,( no more than 10 at a time.) Take as much recovery between sets as you like. Take all day if you want. The goal is top quality form, without speeding up or loosing form.

Today's Challenge:

  • Choose the toughest version of Push Up, you think you can maintain for the whole challenge.
  • Using a stopwatch or timer, aim for a 4 second (tough) to an 8 second (very tough) down phase.
  • Exhale as you push the ground away with speed and power, as fast as you can each rep.
  • Pause at the top briefly if you want.
  • Repeat for 5 reps.

Take at least 2 min recovery between sets but feel free to take more. Spread them out over the whole day if you prefer. There is no focus here on completing all 100 in any time frame. The focus, is quality form, strength gains from the breaking action of descending slowly, and power gains from forcing the ground away as fast as you can each rep.

Enjoy the change of pace.

 

 

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Day 13/30 Tall Plank with Shoulder Taps

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Day 13/30 Tall Plank with Shoulder Taps

Today we are revisiting the 3 point of contact tall plank at a little faster pace.
Quality form is more important than speed.
Instead of extending arms out straight in line with your body, today simply bend your elbow and touch your shoulder gently.
Do so without tilting hips or shoulders. Imagine that bowl full of water on your back....do not spill it.
Return hand gently to the floor. If you can not  control the landing, make it a less challenging version.

Focus on quality form. No tilting. Widen foot stance to make it more manageable. Aim to edge feet closer together, without having to tilt your torso.


Today's Mission


1 Minute:
Dial in your form and minimizing the tilt. If too easy, challenge yourself by bringing feet closer to each other. If too difficult make it so its challenging but still manageable.
1 Minute Rest


1 Minute:
Maintaining good form, add a little more pace. Land hands gently back to the ground or stairs or counter that you are using.
1 Minute Rest


1 Minute:
As many pairs as you can manage with good form. If it wasn't good form, they do not count. Rest in the tall plank position. Do not drop to knees to break if you can avoid it.


Do Not perform this plank from a kneeing position. Be on your feet, but you can choose your difficulty level by having your hands on a raised surface such as the stairs or counter top.

 

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Day 12: Push Ups, Tabata Format.

Back to focusing on Speed today.

For best results, use a Tabata Timer, that will beep the time intervals so you don't have to distract from your work by looking at the clock.  As the rounds go by you will feel like the timer is slowing down for the work 20s and speeding up for the rest 10s. There are many free tabata timers in your app store or online. I use the free GymBoss Timer as Tabata comes already loaded and its a great tool for other timers (like Thursdays evening's  Superset Circuits )

What is Tabata?

  • Do as much quality work as you can, at as high an intensity as you can for 20 seconds.
  • Rest for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 8 times.

Then typically you will do another exercise.

But for today's challenge, after you complete 8 rounds, take a 2 min break then repeat from the start, until 100 Push Ups are complete.

Note: You will not sustain quality at your toughest version for very long. So as soon as you begin slowing down, drop to an easier level and keep going for speed and quality. After every 10 sec always begin again with the toughest one you can do in that moment, even if its just one or two before modifying.

Warm up well before you begin your first 4 minutes.

If you want to keep track of your round scores for future reference, draw out an 8 block grid before hand to save you valuable time during your 10 sec recovery. Note the types and numbers of your modifications to so you can use it to compare another time.

This is not a pleasant one. But afterwards, it will feel like it ended very quickly. Its a completely different awfulness to yesterdays mental battles.

If you complete your 100 before you finish your first 8 rounds...well done...but do finish those first 8 rounds to the best of your ability.

 

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Day 11: A tale of two planks.

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Day 11: A tale of two planks.

Today's challenge is going to be as much a mental challenge as it is physical. So spend some time getting your head in the game before you begin.

Forearm Plank

Step 1

Hold forearm plank for time.

Step 2  

Rest 90 sec. 

Step 3

Hold tall plank, for time.


Dan Parent scoring a PB on Day 3.

Max forearm plank, 90 sec rest, Max tall plank.  


Revisit Day 1 and Day 3 to remind yourselves of the basics. 

Focus on quality, over time even though today's challenge is for max times. 

Before beginning, know what your previous best times are for each of these. There will be mental battles before today's challenge ends and knowing your target times while in the plank will help you stay in right positive frame of thought when your minds telling your body it's time to quit. 

When you are at your limit, you should remind yourself that it's going to take all this time (and suffering)  again the next attempt, just to get to this testing point. So don't waste this opportunity. 20 sec after you stop, and the pain fades, do not be regretful that you didn't fight for a little longer. 

Quality or nothing!  The time is meaningless if it's not a quality hold.  

Enjoy.  

PS: Feel free to take as long as you need between planks. This is your challenge. Your journey. But if you take more than 90 seconds, you can not relate your challenge to when it is done as laid out above. 

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Day 10: Single Leg Push Ups

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Day 10: Single Leg Push Ups

Yesterday's challenge was tough but brief. Today's will be tough but not so brief.

Remember this 30 Days of challenges is about choosing the toughest version of push up that you can do correctly on that given day. As you are getting stronger, do try a tougher version for a few reps. You might surprise yourself. Also you do have permission to dial it back to a more modified version if need to. 10 days in and it is normal to need a recovery day, especially if you spent some time shoveling snow last night or this morning.

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Today we are doing single leg push ups. .

  • Perform 5 perfect form Push Ups with right foot raised a little off the floor.
  • Place foot down and do 5 more with both feet on the ground.
  • Raise left foot slightly and do 5 more.
  • 5 more with both feet down.
  • Repeat until 100 total push ups are done.

Quality is the focus here, so take recover breaks before you need to. Rest after each 5, 10 or 20 as you feel form is suffering. The goal is not to complete with minimal rests or in the shortest time. If you take rests after every 5 push ups and get to 100 with near perfect form, you walk away with an excellent win.

For today's challenge, do not modify by going to the knees. Choose to keep both feet on the ground or choose the stairs, counter or wall for a version that's challenging to you.

Do NOT do single leg push ups resting on one knee.

 

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Day 9: Side Plank

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Day 9: Side Plank

 

Today's Challenge is The Side Plank, for max time with good form. Rest for 45 sec between doing left side plank and right side plank. Note any differences in comfort and degree of difficulty from one side to the other.  Small imbalances are normal, however if it's a big difference this imbalance needs to be addressed as it's likely causing you other problems. 

Why do it?  

One reason for doing this 30 days is so we can improve all aspects of core strength and to witness improvements in other exercises as a result of these gains.  A great way to add a whole new dimension to the work is to perform a side plank. This version of the plank places more emphasis on the obliques. It can also really help strengthen the lower back, reducing risk of injury and reducing lower back pain.  

How do you do it 

 

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Lie on your side, prop up on your elbow with your forearm pressed into the floor, making sure your shoulders are stacked directly over each other and your elbow.  Keep all the core and leg muscles tight but not so tight as to interfere with your normal breathing.  Try to keep your head in line with your spine.  

 

This exercise can be done with both feet also stacked on top of each other.  

To make it slightly easier and to share share the load off of just the lower knee you can place the top foot on the floor, just in front of the bottom foot heel touching toes.  Make sure your hips and shoulders stay sacked over each other if you do this.  Don't allow top side to roll forward.  Placing hand on hip with elbow high or top arm stretched straight up over shoulders can help you stay upright.   

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To make this exercise tougher, raise the top leg straight up so it isn't resting on the lower leg, and hold it there.

Only try to maintain this position if you find 30 sec of regular side plank not challenging. 

 Note:  

This plank can cause discomfort in the shoulder and often this can be the weak link. Please pay attention to this and stop before it becomes too uncomfortable or before you damage it. Don't push through any serious discomfort in the shoulder just because you feel you need to push your core to failure.  With time,  the shoulder adapts and will allow you test your core soon.  Stay smart and don't hurt yourself for the sake of a 30 day online challenge 😉

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Week 2 (Day 8) Off Set Push Ups

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Before We Continue...

It’s time to take a brief moment and pat ourselves on the back. We made a simple commitment a week ago and we are already seeing improvements, enjoying the social accountability and learning a thing or two about ourselves. It’s no small thing.

 

Well done.

 

Be proud. 

 


Day 8.

In a lot of ways we are going back to basics here.

No high speed reps,

or all out max reps...

In fact we will be following Day 2's format fairly closely. Click here if you feel you now might gain some more value from rereading the tips and advice there.

We cant have you getting bored though, so there is of course going to be a little difference today.

Here's what to do:

  • Choose the toughest version of Push Up, you think you will be able to perform well. (You can decide after you read this.)
  • Get into your starting position.
  • Imagine a line drawn just ahead of your finger tips.
  • Keeping your left hand where it is, slide your right hand forward, so the heel of your right hand is just ahead of that imaginary line.
  • Perform just 5 of your best form Push Ups. Keep it steady, not too fast.
  • Slide your right hand back to it's original position.
  • Slide your left hand forward just like you did with the right.
  • Do 5 of your best.
  • Repeat these steps until you reach a stage where you can not complete a set of 5.
  • Do not switch to an easier Push Up. Take a break here instead. At least 2 minutes, but as much more as you want/need before stepping back in. Quality is Priority.
  • Repeat until you have completed 100 Offset Push Ups with great technique. Remember...We don't count the bad ones.

Note: If using stairs, simply place one hand on the next step up. Your elbow will want to track outward away from your body but do not let it, unless your hand stance is very wide. Your elbow should never be allowed to go wider than your hand. If it does, you are making your position weaker than if your elbow is directly over your hand when you go to push, as well as increasing the risk of injury to your elbow.

 

 

 

 

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Day 7/30: Tall Plank, 3 points of contact.

Using the tall plank described in Day 3, we are going to increase the difficulty rating by taking turns raising hands off the floor.  If you have never done this before, begin with hands close to each other with feet at least shoulder width apart. (wider = easier to maintain good form with minimal torso tilt.)  Begin with proper form and brace everything for the work ahead. Raise left hand about an inch off the ground, hold it there for 3-5 seconds. Lower it back to the ground with control. Do not land heavily on the hand.  If it just isn't possible to raise one hand while keeping a perfectly flat back (with no torso tilting) , then challenge yourself to foot lifts instead. 

As with Tuesday's challenge, today's is all about changing from side to side often, to test yourself and not allow any tilting as you switch hands.  Try to hold palm off the floor for 3-5 sec before returning it.  If this is too easy, you can advance it by following the example up above...  take your time and extend your whole arm out in line with your spine, stretch hand far away from hips and return slowly to repeat on other side.  Today's goal is to perform this exercise for at least the same duration as you did in a Day 3. (ehem...good luck Dan ;) )Take breaks as you wish, but do challenge yourself. It's all about quality, holding form every switch and switching from hand to hand often.  ( aim for 10 - 11 switches per min!) 

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Day 6/30: Push Ups, for Speed and Power

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Day 6/30: Push Ups, for Speed and Power

Some of you will enjoy this one. Again choose the toughest version of Push Up that you will maintain good form with. Good form includes full range of movement. Aim for those 90 degree elbow bends and horizontal upper arms, or as close to it as your mobility allows. Today's challenge will need you to be mindful of your full range of movement.  Warm up well. Its always a good idea to use arm swings, dynamic stretching and lighter versions of your work as the warm up.

The common theme of our 30 Day Challenge is QUALITY, so I will mention how important it is again. Very Important. The most important thing. To the point that if you do a poor rep, I would encourage you not to count it and do it again.

Today's Challenge

Alex Tormos shows us how what speed and power look like when combined with perfect form. Alex' stamina and endurance here is most impressive. Today's goal is to find out how many seconds and reps we can perform like this before failure. Once we know it, we can work on crushing it.


  • Start timer.
  • Do as many Push Ups, as fast as you can before form and speed fail.
  • Stop the timer and record the reps and the time.
  • Take at least a 5 minute break. (or come back to it later today or when ever it suits)
  • Repeat this until you have totaled 100 Push Ups
  • Share your totals with the group if you like.

Do not aim to do this in the fewest rounds possible. Today's mission, and win is Speed and Power. Once it fades, stop and rest.

Unlike Day 2's challenge, strategic rests have no part to play here. It is 100% max until you simple cant keep pace. Then stop. Don't force another rep if it cannot be done with speed and power.

To all my regular circuit training crew.... you will get a chance to have this challenge wrapped up by end of our 9:15am Circuit class.

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Day 5/30: 3 POINTS OF CONTACT

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Day 5/30: 3 POINTS OF CONTACT

3 POINTS OF CONTACT Plank

 

Today we are stepping it up a little bit. Using Day 1's Forearm Plank technique, we are then going to increase the difficulty by going from 4 points of contact with the floor - two forearms and two feet, to 3 points of contact - two forearms and one foot. Quality must be the number one focus here. Tighten up everything and once you feel you are dialed in, try to raise one foot off the floor without any noticeable tilting of the hips and shoulders. Hold your foot off the floor for a short time, 2 to 3 seconds, slowly lower it back to the floor and repeat with the other foot. Maintaining a neutral spine is vital for quality core work. Lifting the foot too high will lead you to losing your alignment.

Common Fault

There is no need to raise your foot up so high that it forces your hips to drop or tilt. 1 to 6" is sufficient.  Its difficult to know how high up your foot is so pay attention to any lower back pressure and adjust accordingly. Keep your movements slow and controlled, both in the lift and the drop. Be careful not to lift your chin up. Imagine you are trying to hold a tennis ball between your chin and chest. If your chin raises up you will be far more likely to drop your hips, placing pressure on your lower back and reducing the effectiveness of the plank. Combine this with an excessively high foot lift and it will be really tough to keep your lower back from feeling pinched. 

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Today's challenge

is not for a max time. Today you will perform this plank for the same total time that you performed Day 1's Forearm Plank.  So if you got 3:12 sec for Day 1, today you will perform this exercise, with quality for a total time of 3 minutes 12 sec. You will need to take breaks to ensure quality is maintained. You get to choose how you want to break this up.

Minimal rest times will make this more challenging. I suggest breaking briefly, before you actually need to, in order to recover faster and get back in the game and finish sooner.  It is totally up to you how you do this. Let us know your breakdown. 

Suggestions: 

  • 30 sec Plank : 10 - 15 sec Rest
  • Halves....Aim for half your total time in one go, (as long as you can maintain quality for this length), break, until you feel you can perform half of what is remaining...Repeat until you can finish it out.
  • Tabata 20:10 format, take longer break after 4 mins and continue.
  • Or spread it out over the day. 

However you decide....focus on quality. Nothing else is more important.

Have fun.

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Day 4/30: Push Ups: Small Batches of Quality

Hands up who is a little sore?

Me Too!

Pain is not the goal here, but I would be surprised if you aren't even a little but tender and find yourself poking your finger at sore spots during your day.
A little pain is normal. As your body adapts to this new workload it won't hurt as much as your first few days. Pay attention to abnormal pain and don't risk hurting yourself for the sake of a 30 day challenge. Listen to your bodies and feel free to take a day off or stopping along the way. Recovery time is when the magic happens. Eating well, and sleeping well help speed up recovery. Even so, sometimes, we may need to just take a day off. I know you wont want to, but recognizing when to step out can be a giant step forward in your strength and fitness progress.  If you feel like a recovery day during this challenge, do not skip a day. Instead, step back in on the next one. 
Reach out to me if you have any concerns.
Well done to everyone so far.
💪😃👍

Changing the pace today. The last 3 days gave us an idea of where we are. We will test again later in this challenge and see where we will be then. Now it's time to dial it back a little and focus on great technique, and adequate recovery.

Day 4: What to do?

  • Choose the toughest form of Push Up that you can do well. Refer to Day 2's modification suggestions.
  • Focusing on form, decide to do between 5 to 10 of them.
  • If possible, lower yourself a little slower than your normally would.
  • Inhale as you drop.
  • Push the ground away with a little more power and pace than you normally would.
  • Exhale as return to start position.

Note: A Push Up is a moving Plank so try to keep everything engaged for these small batches of quality.

Take as much time to recover as you need before repeating. If you are doing a challenging version of your Push Ups, 2 minutes is the minimum rest time between your small batches of quality push ups. I suggest taking much more than you think you need, to avoid form failure in later batches.

Because you are doing 100 of them.

Take all day if you need to. If it's late in the day before you get to this, don't rush to get 100 in. 20 done perfectly is better than making the numbers up.

For those of you who are lucky enough to be training with The Sarge this morning, in Kettle Bell Amp'd, my suggestion is to emphasize the slow descents, with maybe a 4 count down, 1 count up. No doubt Deb will ensure, however you incorporate the challenge, it will be "Fun Fun Fun"

 

 

 

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Day 3/30: Tall Plank.

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Day 3/30: Tall Plank.

Day 3/30: Tall Plank, for time.

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One of the most under utilized exercises out there is the Tall Plank. Also know as High Plank or if you come from a yoga background this is simply a Plank.  A tall plank is almost exactly like Friday's forearm plank except you are resting on your hands, which are directly under your elbows and shoulders.

Why do it?

This exercise is one of the easiest exercises for most fitness levels to jump in on. It is also one of the easiest to build on with so many possible add on levels of difficulties once you have established a solid foundation. Although a lot of text books state that this plank is tougher than the lower forearm plank due to a higher center of gravity, I personally find it considerably easier. A majority  of the people I have prescribed this exercise during my programming and classes have also found it to be more comfortable.  The exception to this usually being those who have limited wrist mobility.  It will be interesting to see what you think in comparison to Friday's challenge. 

Other Reasons to use Tall a Plank:  

  • easier to activate deep core.
  • uses more stabilizers than forearm plank. 
  • allows for better shoulder activation.
  • easier to engage the Glutes.
  • really facilitates proper postural muscle activation. 
  • can be used to identify imbalances and posture issues of the shoulders.
  • can (and will) become a BEAST exercise with so many optional add ons. 
  • Strength gains made in this exercise translate directly to benefits in standing, functional movements and day to day strength and activities.  

How to do it: 

The same rules apply to both tall and forearm plank.

  • Place your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Use your Lats to pull your shoulders down toward your hips and lock them in place.
  • Tilt your pelvis slightly and draw navel in towards spine.  
  • Squeeze everything from legs through core but not so tight as to interfere with your deep abdominal breathing.
  • Create a straight and long line from head through heels.
  • Gently pressing your fingers into the ground can help relieve some wrist discomfort.

Stop this version at any point where wrist discomfort detracts from the exercises focus points.

Day 3/30

Tall Plank, for Time.

After today we will not be holding for a max time for a while. Most of you will be able to hold this one for far longer than Friday's plank.  This wont help you much but this exercise is referred to as "Resting Position" in Seal training ;) 

Note: Both hands remain on the floor in position for the duration of this exercise. No "shaking it out"  to relieve tension. This timed challenge ends when form is broken.

Once form is broken, stop the clock.

end me some of your photos and I will use them in the upcoming challenge posts.

 

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Day 2/30: Intro to Push Ups

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Day 2/30: Intro to Push Ups

Day 2/30: Intro to Push Ups

What is a Push Up?  

Begin in a tall plank position, with straight arms, hands placed under chest and shoulders, jus wider than your body width. Maintain a tight core and without losing your solid plank, lower yourself close to the floor by bending your elbows. At the bottom of the push up your upper arm should be about 45 degrees from your shoulder and elbows as close to 90 degrees as you can manage while returning to the start safely without breaking your form.

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Why do a push up?

It is another simple exercise, and can be extremely challenging to all fitness levels.  Like the plank, it can be done almost any where without needing any equipment. It forces a lot of muscle groups, from main movers to stabilizers to work together in a function way, which is why it can be so tough. More muscles involved means your heart rate increases as it increases fuel supplies to the muscle tissues.

Other Benefits:

Done well, it can....

  • Prevent and reduce risk of shoulder injuries.
  • Reduce back pain.
  • Improve posture

The fine points.... How to really get it right. 

Inhale as you lower yourself toward floor, exhale as you push the floor away from you.

Engage your big back muscles to hold your plank together while you lower and raise your self up. Do this by pulling your shoulders toward your hips and lock them there. 

When you are struggling to get one more rep, try pressing all your fingers into the floor as if trying to squeeze a ball. Activating your nervouse system like this can help you get one or two more reps before failure.

Common Faults

  • As with the plank, head position is important. Looking up, causes excess curvature of the spine, pinching lumber vertebra and pushing hips towards floor. Fix this by keeping your eyes focused in a set point on the floor below your head. Basically you should keep you 'Head, Neck & Spine in line' as you travel through the range of movement. 
  • Allowing your elbows to bow outwards, wider than the hands is one of the most common faults, and one that can lead to elbow strains and injury. It also puts you in a position that is far weaker than if your elbow is positioned over the hand when in the down position. When you lower are from elbow to wrist is close to vertical you can create so much more power when you push that floor away. 
  • Dropping shoulders below your own ideal range of movement. This can cause a lot of discomfort later and the day after. Repeatedly over stretching past your bodies ability to adapt will result in micro tears or worse damage. Listen to your own bodies needs and challenge it in an appropriate manner.  A self inflicted injury can be very frustrating.
  • Moving hips up and down without bending your elbows.
  • Head bobbing up and t\down each rep, without bending the elbows.

Both of these happen in response to tricep fatique. Watch for it and dial in better form on your next rep. If you can no longer perform a full rep, take a break or choose to modify the exercise and keep going.

 

I can't do a full push up! What do I do?

A modified push up refers to any version that is changed in order for someone to be able to perform it well.  The most common form of a modified push is when a person places their knees on a mat. They have effectively reduced how much weight they are lowering to and pushing off the floor.  This version is the most common because it takes minimal time to switch from a full push up in to this modified version. It is not the best option though. Dropping to your knees when you need to is not the best way to build strength that will directly result in more ( or that first ) full push ups.

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A better modification is to perform the full push up from an easier , raised hand position. The higher the hands are raised, the easier the exercise becomes. Find a height that allows you to challenge the muscles while maintaining perfect form.  Find a sturdy place to position your hands, exactly as described above for the floor version.  As you gain strength, take it to a lower more challenging position. The body responds well to being challenged.  If you continue using the same height even when you are no longer finding it difficult, you are reducing how much progress you could be making.

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Step back to make tougher.

Step back to make tougher.

Worth mentioning again:

Make sure what ever you are using is sable and not likely to move or tip over.  Having peace of mind can be very useful when your arms start trembling.

Examples:

  • Wall.
  • Kitchen sink / counter top.
  • Stairs (feet on floor) Drop to a lower step as you get stronger.
  • Two sturdy chairs placed against a wall
As you angle closer to the floor Push Ups get significantly more difficult.

As you angle closer to the floor Push Ups get significantly more difficult.

Make this safer by propping sturdy chairs against the wall.  In this case, pending on your techinque, and floor surface,  there is potential for chairs to slip forward and causing injury.

Make this safer by propping sturdy chairs against the wall.  In this case, pending on your techinque, and floor surface,  there is potential for chairs to slip forward and causing injury.

 

So let's get started... Day 2

100 pushups, in the shortest amount of time that you can.

Start your timer, begin, take breaks as needed, stop the timer as you finish your last rep. Note your result somewhere or share it with us.

If you need to modify the push up, make notes as to how you did that so you know in a few weeks just what you are comparing yourself to.

This is your challenge.  Do what you can. Crush today's you in a few weeks.

It will take some of you less than two minutes and some of you may need to take long breaks between small groups. However you choose to do it, warm up well and stretch before and after each block. Don't get intimidated by such a large number. 10 each hour will get you there.

Aim for quality reps only. Do Not count a poor rep. Repeat it instead.

Again, Quality is the win today!.

 

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Damien Roche Fitness 30 Day Plank & Push UP Challenge

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Damien Roche Fitness 30 Day Plank & Push UP Challenge

Day 1/30: Intro to Planks

What is a plank?  

The plank is a strengthening exercise that uses the abdominal muscles to hold the body in a face down bridge position, while maintaining a flat back.

Why do a plank?

It is a very simple exercise, and has a real worthwhile return on investment. There are not many exercises that can give you the same benefits per time invested.  The nature of the plank allows most people to be able to work at it everyday. Of course you will need to listen to your own body and take extra recovery time if needed.  The benefits of performing regular planks are extensive and we will go into these in more detail as this 30 day challenge goes on.  An abbreviated list includes:

  • Increased functional core strength.
  • Reduced back pain.
  • Postural Improvements.
  • Better Balance. 

Strength gains in the plank directly translate to improvements across a wide spectrum of other exercises from Push Ups to overhead presses.  Having a strong connection between hips and shoulders allows for more efficient movements and power transfer to the limbs, reduced risk of injury and pain, especially involving the lower back. It doesn't hurt to know that a stronger corset of core muscles can help drop a belt size or two just from holding everything where it should be. Weaker corsets can be pushed out by intestinal pressures increasing girth and bringing with it a host of potential health concerns and chronic back pain. 

How do you perform a plank ?

Lie flat on your stomach, place forearms on ground with elbows directly under shoulders, raise body off ground and maintain a straight back, head in line with spine and eyes focused on a point on the ground just in front of your hands. 

The fine points.... How to really get it right. 

Join hands together and press gently into the ground to spread the load away from elbows. Engage your lats by pulling your shoulders toward your hips. Tighten the abdominal and core muscles. Engage the muscles you feel contracting each time you cough. A cruder but far more effective explanation....  try cutting of your urine mid flow..... these are the muscles you want engaged while you plank, for the entire duration of the plank.  Once these muscles fatigue and fail, your plank is over. Do not allow other body parts, especially the lower back, to pick up the slack. It is this group of muscles that we are trying to strengthen over the next 30 days.

Common Faults

Looking up, causes excess curvature of the spine, pinching lumber vertebra and pushing hips towards floor. Fix this by keeping your eyes focused in a set point near hands. 

Head too high   

Head too high   

Chin down, in neutral position, head in line with spine allowing for the best activation of the abdominals, and glutes, providing best support for the back. 

Head, Neck & Spine in line.  

Head, Neck & Spine in line.  

Dropping chin low creates tension between shoulder blades and hips to rise, making the plank feel easier initially, but making it a far less effective. position for strength gains

Head too low. 

Head too low. 

Other common mistakes:  

Holding breathe or shallow breathing near the end. Even with perfect body alignment, it is possible that the the corset muscles could relax. When this happens the hips slowly drop but the lower back muscles take over and are used to keep hips in line.  At this point you are no longer holding your plank, so tighten up or drop. Increases in your timed plank are worthless and possibly dangerous if not done correctly.  

 

So let's get started... Day 1 

Forearm Plank (as described above) For Time.  

Simply hold good form for as long as possible.

Aim for quality time.

Quality is the win today!.

Share your stopwatch screen shot and experience in the comments below. You may never know just who you are inspiring.

 

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Shin Splints: all you need to know.

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Shin Splints: all you need to know.

What are Shin Splints? 

Media Tibial Stress Syndrome if you want to impress your doctor with your self diagnosis. Or simply pain in the lower leg, typically front or toward the inside of the shin. This pain is often caused by tiny micro tears in the muscles surrounding the shin bone, or Tibia. 

 

What causes Shin Splints? 

Often associated with running, Shin Splints are more often than not caused by increasing the mileage too fast, and not giving the legs time to adapt to this new pounding exercise. 

Another common cause is over pronating (rolling) the foot. This can be due to your own biomechanics or by the terrain you choose to run on.  If you have no choice but to run on roads, then try to avoid the edges that slope downward from the centerline of the road. This also applies to beaches with steep drop offs toward the water. The flatter the surface from side to side, the better. 

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  If your feet are landing on a surface that slopes sideways it will cause you to roll your foot more than it is used to.  Continue this for some distance and you are inviting trouble. On quieter roads, if possible, run along the flatter centerline until you are forced to move over for traffic. (not advisable if you can't run without your headphones!). If the roads are too busy for this then switch sides often to balance out the sloping edges before any one side becomes too stressed. 

Running is one of the cheapest entry level sports out there.  You do not need much equipment to do it and most people already have everything they need before they decide to try it. Even so, it is worth investing in a good pair of footwear.  Old, dead soles are the next biggest cause of Shin Splints so it's worth it if you replace them regularly. Most studies show that the most expensive pairs do not equate to better performance or reduced injury rates. Find a pair that works for you, and replace them often. The more you use them the more often you should replace them. The harsher the surface you train on, the more often you should replace them.

 

What are the Symptoms?  

  •  Tightness in shin, can fade or become an aching pain as exercise continues.   
  • Shins can be painful to touch.  
  • Pain is often in lower 2 thirds of shin or Tibia, and can often extend right down toward inner ankle.   
  • In mild cases, pain and discomfort fade as inflammation subsides, after training. If early symptoms are ignored and training persists, severity of the pain can occur and in this case may not fade after training is finished.  
  • Some redness, swelling and puffiness may occur along the shin bone.  
  • If continually ignored and not given adequate recovery or treatment, shin splints may become Stress Fractures.   

How do you treat them?  

Avoiding them in the first place is always the best option. Failing that, pay attention to the early warning signs, reduce the amount of stresses you place on the legs and increase recovery times between training. Unlike most other overuse or repetitive strain injuries, the muscles of the shins are very difficult to rest adequately once injured. Ignoring the early signs and pushing through the pain is not recommended.   

For new and enthusiastic runners, refrain from increasing your weekly mileage by more than 10%. Take extra recovery days at first signs of pain.

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 Also be mindful of the type of surface you are training on: avoid running on concrete at all costs. Asphalt is far better an option over concrete and even asphalt is harsh on both your shins and your sneakers lifespan. Sandy wood trails are one of the best surfaces for running and it is this that they try to replicate with AstroTurf and running tracks so choose these if you don't have stretches of sandy woods to run through  

Short term treatment would include rest, ice, compression, elevation and massage.  A more long term solution is to strengthen the muscles of the  legs, including the calf muscles, quads and glutes. Include regular stretching to the training plan, and if you have a long stride with your foot striking the ground out in front of your knee, consider speeding up your foot turnover rate by shortening your stride. ( added bonus of saving energy which translates directly to improved endurance, and in most cases will result in a faster pace for similar exertion!) 

If prone to recurring episodes of Shin pain, even after adding strength and conditioning to your training, then the cause may be more complicated, possibly down to biomechanics of foot and lower leg, causing over probation of the foot while running/training.  If this is the case it is always a good idea to get a specialist to check it out and advise corrective treatments such as orthotics or particular training sneakers. 

Comment below with any questions or useful tips you may have. 

Or drop in to #DamienRocheFitness for more tips and strength and conditioning advice. 

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Body Weight Killer Leg Workout.

This one is an ideal complement to any running program and will help improve speed, endurance and reduce risk of injury. Modify to your own level. Reach out if you have any questions.  

 

As with any suggested home workout, pay close attention to your own individual needs and modify accordingly. It is always a good idea to have doctors clearance before beginning any physical activity, especially so if it involves high intensity efforts like this one.  

Hydrate and do adequate mobility and stretching for your bodies needs.  

 

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