Last month someone “liked” my blog. Most of the time I check out the blog of whoever likes my blog. I have time to do that usually because I don’t get an overabundance of “likes”. Is it because my blog is poorly written and carries little in the way of useful information? Maybe. But this fellow happened to like my blog at just the time I was looking for a simple “off-season” workout. I checked out his blog, which you can find here, and I found Marc’s 30 Day Squat, Abs and Push Up Challenge. I looked at the plan for a few seconds and decided it was for me.
Marc’s plan calls for squats, ab work, and push ups in increasing repetitions each day for 30 days, with a built-in rest day every three days, which means there are 23 work days over the 30 days. Each work day you will do push ups, squats, sit ups, crunches, leg raises, and planks. None of the exercises require weights. You’re only moving your own body weight. See the link above for all the details.
I liked the idea of working my abs. I seldom work my abs. Why? Because I always read how “when swimming you use your abs” or “you use your abs when you run” and of course “your abs come into play when cycling”. I already do all of those things, so my abs are getting quite a workout already. No sense taxing them further. But in my off-season I’m taking a little break from those things, so maybe some ab work is not a bad idea.
The first couple of days went well but the workout only lasted a few minutes. I thought I could add in a couple more moves that would give me just the right challenge. I wanted to workout for about a half an hour on the work days. That would be enough. With that in mind I added chin ups, calf raises, curls, and bench dips. I did the curls and bench dips on alternating days, but the chin ups and calf raises came each day. I performed the curls with a curl bar and 25 pounds of weight. Additionally, I decided to run for 15 minutes every other day, just so my legs didn’t forget how to do that.
Again, things went well at first, but after the first week I realized I wasn’t going get all of this done in 30 minutes, especially on the running days. But a plan is a plan, so I stuck with it. I didn’t make a race out of it most days, but on the last day I timed myself and moved through all of the exercises without lollygagging too much and got everything done in 45 minutes, but that wasn’t a run day. That included 75 push ups, 250 squats, 125 sit ups, 150 crunches, 65 leg raises, planking for 2 minutes, 41 curls, 250 calf raises, and 8 chin ups (my goal with chin ups was 12, I got up to 11 a couple of times in the month but I wasn’t feeling it that last day).
Just a note on the running days – I warmed up for 10 minutes and then ran at a seven minute pace for up to five minutes, and then a very short cool down because I needed to move on to the exercises.
I took body measurements before, during, and after the challenge, per Marc’s instructions. Officially I went from 149.5 to 148.5, but my weight will fluctuate from 147 to 149 throughout any given week, so basically no change. My body measurements essentially did not change either. If anything changed, and this is purely a subjective observation since there are no before and after photos, my abs got more defined. And maybe that makes sense. Like I said, I rarely work my abs exclusively, so I have to think they got stronger over the 30 days. It was going to be impossible for me to add a chin up each day over the 30 days, but everything else was pretty doable for me, but that’s not to say it was all easy. For instance, running at a seven minute pace is real work for me, and the sit ups and crunches caused some pain. The squats were relatively easy to pound out, but I did get bored going down, up, down, up…I think the squats worked out my patience more than anything.
Planning my workouts like this works for me because once I put it on paper and get started something about my personality makes me want to finish it, even if it proves inconvenient or something different from what I imagined. With that in mind I started my next 30 day challenge. Observe:
My goal here is to increase my vertical leap. I was at the court the other day and, besides nearly breaking my legs off trying to jump, I found I couldn’t touch the rim (I only tried once for fear of my femurs comings right out of pelvis). I’ll work on my jumps. The plyometric work is said to help you run. Two birds. One stone. Boom!
The other aspect of this challenge is the sandbag. I won’t walk you through all the details, but basically everything that includes an overhead press is done with the sandbag. For instance, the S2O (squat to overhead) is deadlifting the sandbag and then pressing it above my head. I’ve been reading about these kinds of exercises and wanted to try them. Because the sandbag is inherently unwieldy you gain a kind of strength that doesn’t come with pushing balanced barbells. Here’s my sandbag:
Sandbag wrapped in duct tape
It’s one of those sandbags you buy at Wal-Mart to put in the back of your truck for traction in the winter. I wrapped mine up in duct tape. The red duct tape around the middle is for a little extra flair. This one weighs 56 pounds.
I’ll let you know how it goes. With any luck (or should I say if things go as planned?) I’ll be grabbing the basketball rim at the end of the month, busting out that elusive 12th chin up, and increasing my ability to hoist a sandbag.
If I knew how to add a link to the actual Excel document I would. That would make it easier for you to download and modify. But alas, I don’t know how to do that. I will work on it, though. However, feel free to use this 30 day challenge, re-print it, whatever. Use it at your own risk. See a doctor before hand. Consult with your guidance counselor. Burn incense. Just don’t blame me ’cause I can’t be responsible for you dropping a heavy sandbag on your neck or any other myriad of injuries I’ll likely suffer over the next 30 days.