You’ve probably heard the saying, “It takes 21 days to form a habit.” Unfortunately it’s not that simple – research shows that habit formation, on average, actually takes about 66 days.
Still, you have to start somewhere, and a 30-day fitness challenge can seem like a great way to start a healthy new habit.
But take some time to choose a challenge that will help jumpstart your fitness journey. Here are some popular challenges to try.
1. The Burpee Challenge
This full-body movement gets your heart rate up, burns calories, and can help tone your legs and shoulders.
Once you get the form right, you’ll work up to 10-to-100 burpees in 30 days. Some tips include:
- As you start, break up your reps into sets, giving yourself occasional breaks.
- Expect your progress in the second week.
- In the third week, the challenge continues! Get comfortable with discomfort and take long breaks to aid recovery.
- The last week of the challenge is rough, but stick with it, you’re almost there!
2. Squat Challenge
Target your butt and legs with this lower-body staple. If you have trouble finding a consistent place to workout or don’t have access to equipment, this may be a challenge for you. Here are the basics:
- The number will vary, but you’ll start with 15-50 squats per day, working up to 250.
- Like the Burpee Challenge, you’ll get into your rhythm in Week 2 and feel challenged in Week 3.
- You may find the real challenge isn’t the workout itself, but the boredom that comes with doing 100+ squats.
3. The Planck Challenge
Start your quest for six-pack abs with this challenge that can include: planks, and holds the hollow body. These challenges may consist of the following combinations:
- Planking for 30 seconds to 3 minutes
- Hold the hollow body circulation for 10 seconds to 1 minute
Our author who took the Abs Challenge says to expect a challenge. Take breaks when you need to and try not to get discouraged if there are days where you struggle to complete certain steps.
4. T-minus 30
Designed with the Tough Mudder Course in mind, the T-Minus 30 includes calendars and training programs to help you lose weight and get in shape, whether you plan to run an obstacle course race or not.
Designed by four-time Tough Mudder X champion Hunter McIntyre:
- 21 unique workouts, five days of work and one day of walking a week
- Hydration, fuel, proper footwear, tips on how to prepare for race day
- Pointers to Conquering Mudder’s Toughest Obstacles
T-Minus 30 is one of the fun, proven programs included with a Beachbody On Demand membership. Sign up to get started!
Will you see results from the 30-day fitness challenge?
Yes — but they may not be the kind of results you’re looking for.
“If your goal is to work up to 250 bodyweight squats in a row, you shouldn’t expect much in the way of muscle growth, for example,” says Trevor Thieme, CSCS, Beachbody’s senior director of fitness and nutrition content.
“That’s because what you’re training in this type of challenge is muscle endurance, which focuses on smaller ‘type I’ fibers, rather than muscle strength, which focuses on larger ‘type II’ fibers that have a greater potential for growth.” She is explaining.
In other words, endless bodyweight squats will make you really good at doing endless bodyweight squats — and probably entice you to be more active on a regular basis — but you probably won’t get the perfectly sculpted booty you were hoping for.
And while a 30-day abs challenge can strengthen your core, losing enough body fat requires proper nutrition and plenty of calorie-burning workouts to reveal what you’re really after: a six-pack.
“That’s why most challenges—especially highly focused challenges like abs or squat challenges—are not substitutes for a well-planned training plan; They should be completed in addition to one,” Thimay said.
“So choose your challenge wisely, making sure you can easily integrate it into your existing program or that it can really stand alone, like if the goal is to complete 30 workouts and recovery sessions in 30 days.”
Is it OK to train the same muscles every day?
In the context of the 30-day challenge, yes.
And the reason is that you probably won’t be training those muscles exclusively every day – the challenge will be layering up and integrating into your existing exercise routine.
“Squatting every day for a month is fine as long as you account for that challenge in your training plan by, say, dialing back the amount of leg work you normally do,” Thieme says.
When not doing a challenge, you probably don’t want to target the same muscles every day—or just work every day.
“Recovery is an essential (and often overlooked) component of a training program,” says Thiem, adding that if you don’t take rest/recovery days, you can actually see fitness gains and a decrease in workout performance. “Your muscles don’t grow during workouts, they grow between them. If you don’t give them enough time to repair and recover, you’ll minimize your results and increase your risk of injury.”
What happens after the 30-day challenge ends?
“A 30-day fitness challenge is a great way to get people moving and keep them motivated for that short period of time,” says NASM-certified personal trainer Vane Padula.
“However, the key to weight loss and fitness is consistency. 30-day challenges are only effective long-term if you stay physically active after the challenge ends.”
Our advice: Choose another challenge in the form of a more extensive workout program. Your 30-day challenge got you off the couch and into physical activity, so keep going!
“Whatever your ultimate fitness goals are, you’ll achieve them faster if you keep challenging yourself,” Thieme says. “This is what fuels motivation, which in turn fuels consistency and results.”