30 Day Strong Core Challenge
30 Day Strong Core Challenge
Ok, so I was strolling through Pinterest and thought it would be a pretty cool blog post to try some 30 day challenges that are already out there. Because trying a 30 day challenge is fun but you are never really sure if it works like the original poster says it will. Well, then I pulled a muscle and decided to wait on trying some 30 day challenges. As I was continuing to strengthen my core after my external oblique/rectus abdominis pull, I was doing certain exercises daily. I was doing planks, side planks, table top with arm extended and bridges. That is when I thought, wow, I should make my own 30 day challenge with these exercises because doing these everyday for a month really helped me.
These 4 exercises are great because they work the ENTIRE core not just the abs. They work the back and glutes as well as the stabilizing muscles of the core. They each seem like they would be a pretty easy exercises but if you are not engaging your core, it is not working. For each of these exercises, you can tell if your core is not engaged if your hips are hanging lower than your body during a plank.
Types of Planks
There are a few types of planks. There is high plank where you are on your hands and toes. Forearm plank which means you are on your forearms and toes. You can modify each of these by putting your knees down but you still need to engage your core and aim for a straight line from your head to your toes.
There is side plank, which can be done on your hands or forearms and the sides of your feet. To modify side plank, you would lower one leg and bend it behind you so you are up on the side of your knee. All of these planks work your core but they can work either the obliques or the internal core.
The Other Exercises
Planks are super important to the core but so are the other exercises of this challenge! You would not think that holding table top with your arm extended to your side would work the core but it does! The hardest part is not letting your shoulders raise. So keeping your core engaged and pushing through your hand on the ground is key!
You know I LOVE bridges. Regular bridges, single leg bridges.. I love them all. But why would we work the glutes to strengthen core? Well actually, this exercise works more than just the glutes. It works your back, your core, and your glutes! The core is more than just your abs! It is the whole center of your body, front and back! With bridges you want to squeeze everything, your glutes, your core, your quads, everything!
How It Helped Me
The best thing about doing planks is you only need to do them for a short amount of time and you get great results! I was doing high planks and side planks for 30 days and my muscle pull healed and my core became stronger. AND I got better at yoga! WHAT? How can doing a few minutes of planks a day help me get better at yoga? Well, yoga uses A LOT of core in basically every move. SO since I really strengthened my core, I became better at yoga! I mean I am not the best at yoga but it really helped with transitions!
So, I want this to be a completely honest post. I am not trying to fool anyone. After 1 week of doing this challenge, my pain from my injury was almost GONE! I will admit, I was 2 weeks out from the original pull so maybe that’s how long it takes to start feeling better. But I want to think that it helped continuing to strengthen my core and to continue to get blood flow to that area to heal and restore my pulled muscle.
At this point, I knew I was ready to move on to the week 2 portion of this challenge. I want to state: If you feel like you cannot hold these exercises for a solid minute, then spend more time on the 30 second holds. Do not try to move on if you are not physically ready. You could also try playing around with it. For example, hold for 45 seconds, put your knees down for a second and then get back into position.
How It Works
This 30 day challenge will be a bit different then others you have seen out there. We will do 4 moves: plank, side plank, table top with arm extended and bridge. A lot of 30 day challenges do only one or 2 exercises. Also, you will be holding each move. For the first week, you will hold each move for 30 seconds. For the second week, you will hold each move for 30 seconds with 2 sets. The third week, you will hold each move for 1 minute. And the last week, you will hold each move for 45 seconds with 2 sets. There should be very little rest in between each exercise. For example, the first week I set my tabata timer to 30 seconds of work with 5 seconds of rest. I wanted to give my self a break but still have enough time to transition into each move.
If you want to continue past the 30 days, you can keep up the cycle by adding 30 seconds each exercise each week. So week 5 would be 1 minute 30 second hold and week 6 would be 2 sets of 1 minute and 30 seconds hold. Then eventually, you will be able to hold a plank for an hour. Haha!!
I cannot wait for you all to try this! It was a great challenge for me when I was injured. And it is a great challenge when you are fully healthy always. Core strength is very important for everyone!