You've probably seem them floating around your various social media accounts like Facebook. A motivating picture featuring a fit and attractive model, with a simple to follow plan of just 1 exercise daily for only 30 days. Maybe a "30 Day Squat Challenge" or a "30 Day Abs Challenge"?
Sounds great right.
But hang on...
- Does it work?
- Is it safe?
Let's get something clear, I love the idea of the challenge. Something to inspire and get people moving, amazing!
But, the reality is challenges like this are just not smart training.
Why 30 Day Fitness Challenges are NOT Smart Training
1. High risk of injury
2. Limited results
3. Muscle imbalance
Simply put, your body needs at least 48 hours to recover from a muscle training session before training the same muscle group again. Every time you work out your muscles, you create small tears. This is a good thing! This is how we build muscle, strength and tone our bodies.
BUT - and this is a BIG but...our muscles can only get stronger and tighten our bodies, if we give them time to repair!
If you are constantly creating tears (ie. training the same muscles everyday), when are you allowing them to repair the tears to build strength and positively re-shape your body? You're not. And this puts you at high risk for injury, especially depending on your exercise history, age and any special conditions.
Also, exercising for "spot reducing" is a myth - just exercising your abs will not give you a six-pack. Yes, you do target specific muscles in specific exercises. But you need overall conditioning, and overall fat loss in order to see your results. Only training your abs, for example, and forgetting about your opposing muscles (in this case your lower back) creates muscle imbalance which again can lead to injury and other problems.
And yes, this is based on research.
But also on real experience.
When I used to teach multiple classes a day, for days in a row back-to-back days, you'd think I'd be in great shape! And yes, I was in pretty good shape.
In all honesty though, when I cut back and made sure to only hit the same muscles every other day (not two days in a row) - this is when I saw the most change. I felt stronger, could lift more, and I finally started to see my body change.
Me, an experienced multi-certified fitness fanatic! I'd been telling my clients this advice for years, but when you're teaching a class you have to do what you have to do right? Not true. I can still teach and motivate without risking my own body. And you know what? I feel good to know I'm being a true example of practicing what I preach.
Keep in mind
Don't get me wrong, there are some great programs and challenges out there!
And the proper ones based on education, research and experience will include instructions and guidance to avoid issues as to the above - maybe it's a 30-day challenge, for 60 days, or a 30-day challenge alternating two opposing muscle groups.
(Psst. Watch for our 12 Days of Fitmas coming soon...we'll be alternating days between legs, upper body, cardio & core to keep it smart while we keep moving!)
Big shout out to all the trainer and fitness professionals doing it right and educating their clients on the myths and misinformation out there.
So what should you do?
Remember, yes you need to train hard to get results. But don't forget to train smart. Is the short term benefit really worth risking long-term injury and permanent set-back? I hope this article has helped you to reach your own conclusions for the better.
Seek the advice of an experienced certified personal trainer for the best results in the least amount time, with the lowest chance of injury. Check out our blog "How to Hire a Personal Trainer" for more information, and please contact me directly if you're ready to start feeling healthier, stronger and looking to get in shape the smart way.
Train hard, train smart.