Hello and Happy New Year!!

I hope that whatever you did to ring in 2013 last night was fun, relaxing, and a happy time.  Tim and I spent the night at Slesh and Will’s New Year’s Eve party, and we had a great time.  I have the day off from work again today, and I must say that it’s been really nice to have so much free time over the last couple of days.  I actually feel refreshed and rejuvenated!  Tonight I have a really fun workout session planned with my gym friends so we can start our year off on the right foot, and then tomorrow it’s back to the grind.

I do have some posts coming your way with some reflections on my 2012, goals I’m setting for myself this year, and all that jazz; however I never like to commit to my “resolutions” right on January 1st.  I find that more often than not, January 1st is a recovery day from New Year’s Eve celebrations, and it’s not really the best day for starting new habits.  I believe that the start date doesn’t matter as much as the ongoing commitment to the goal.  That being said, stay tuned for all that stuff in this week’s posts (and maybe next).

For today, what I do want to share is something new I’m going to try out on F&F:  my first fitness challenge for YOU guys!  I figured why not offer something like this at the start of the new year?  After all, most people do resolve to make a healthy change in their lives come January 1.  However, most people resolve to do something too big too soon.  Lose 30 pounds in 60 days.  Immediately try to workout every day when they haven’t been regularly exercising for months.  Cut out all sugar.  The list goes on.  Having goals is great, don’t get me wrong, but setting your sights too high and trying to get there too soon will lead to lost resolutions.

Also, most people shoot for an outcome, such as “I want to do more ab work in 2013” and not say what specifically they are going to do to achieve that.  I wrote a big post on all this last year, which you can read here.

This is where my 31 Day Ab Challenge comes in.  This fitness challenge is an example of how you can make your outcome oriented goal more realistic and measurable.  It’s not about doing any crazy hard workouts, tracking miles, or committing to an hour at the gym every day.  It’s about finding small ways to include core conditioning throughout your day, for most days in January.  It’s about learning new exercises that you can incorporate into your fitness routine.  It’s for both beginners who have never done a plank in their life to those who take my classes week after week who just want something a little extra.  And it’s something that will only take somewhere between a couple of minutes to about 15 minutes out of your day.  That’s not much at all!

So!  Here’s a little schedule I created:

January 2013 31 Day Ab Challenge

It’s organized by different themes that fall on the same day every week, because I like things organized and I think a little consistency helps keep people on track.

  • Sundays:  The Sunday Circuit — a mini 15 minute workout I’ll create for you
  • Mondays:  Morning Ab Burner — something you will do right when you get out of bed in the morning
  • Tuesdays:  Plank for Time — by the end of the month, the goal is to increase your personal best plank time
  • Wednesdays:  A Bedtime Exercise — something you will do right before going to bed at night
  • Thursdays:  Tabata Thursday — 4 minutes of FUN!
  • Fridays:  For focusing on a non-abs part of your core – back, glutes, chest, and hips
  • Saturdays:  For rest, because that’s important too, but I’ll provide some tips & tricks you can read and carry with you throughout the next week (and beyond).

Some deets:
– Each Sunday I will post the moves for the following week’s plan, so you’ll have them ahead of time.
– I’ll be posting the daily challenge on my F&F Facebook page, so make sure you follow me there to join the fun.
– To keep yourselves accountable and each other motivated, you can “check in” by leaving comments on my blog posts throughout the week or on my FB page.
– I am going to give away a prize at the end of January to one 31 Day Ab Challenge participant.  You will be entered if you leave “check in” comments on at least half of the days challenges.

Read on for this week’s challenges…

31 Day Ab Challenge Week 1

Tuesday – Plank for time!  Balance on your forearms and feet, keeping your body flat like a table – butts down, abs in, don’t sag the hips! See how long you can hold that position without coming out of it. It doesn’t matter how long you can hold yours compared to others, all that matters is that you try to improve your time by month’s end.  This is today’s, so once you go for it, leave a comment on this post or on my FB page.

Wednesday – Crunches before bed!  Beginners, go for 25.  Intermediate – 50.  Advanced, shoot for 100.

Thursday – Tabata Thursday!  Tabata is only a four-minute workout where you do exercises for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, and then repeat for the total four minutes.  For this one, you have four different moves.  So repeat through twice.  If you are feeling daring, repeat four times for 8 minutes of core work instead.

31 Day Ab Challenge - Week 1 Tabata Thursday

Links to these moves:

  • Mountain Climbers – Beginners, do the slow knee version for the 20 seconds.  More advanced, do the fast.  Make sure to keep your head neutral, in line with the spine – don’t drop the head!
  • Flutter Kick – Make sure to keep your lower back on the ground.  To make it more advanced, lift your upper back off the ground.
  • Heel Taps – The closer your feet are to one another, the more challenging this one will be.
  • Reverse Plank – Just hold like I am doing in this past Move of the Week picture.

Friday – This week let’s focus on back!  Somewhere along the way, the word “core” became synonymous with “ab work.”  The core is actually comprised of all muscles that help stabilize the spine.  Abs are certainly involved, but so are the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids and erector spinae muscles, hip flexors, and glutes.  To squeeze in some back work on Friday, here you go!

Friday Focus Back

Beginners, stick with 2 sets of 12 if you need to.  Your weights should be something where you are feeling it by the end of the reps prescribed (somewhere between 5-20 lbs, depending on level).  Links to these moves:

Saturday – Rest!  And stay tuned for something core-related to read about.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!  I hope this will be a fun way to start off your fitness goals for 2013.

Leave me a comment if you plan to participate and if you do your timed plank today!  I want to hear about it!