These fitness challenges will reset your motivation ahead of September.
We haven’t been at school for years, but there’s something about September that makes us want to reset and refresh our goals. That’s particularly true for our fitness which often takes a pause during the flurry of summer.
Getting back into a routine now will help you hit the ground running come autumn. If you need a bit of motivation for that, a challenge is a great way to start building some strength or feeling comfortable when doing cardio.
These are some of our favourites, from learning to hold a five-minute plank to a 30-day challenge to help you find a new workout style.
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1. Conquer a full press-up
You probably can’t name a better exerecise than a press-up, because it works your chest, shoulders, core and back – not to mention your mental resilience.
Building up to a full press-up is a great challenge if you want to focus on building strength but don’t have any weights on hand. Even if you can already bash out a set of full press-ups, working on adding more reps or controlling through the movement will really test your upper body strength.
Strong Women Collective member Alice Miller has written a full four-week plan, which you can check out below.
2. The five-minute plank challenge
You couldn’t move for plank challenges during lockdown, and for good reason: they’re great for building a core strong enough that can support our back in seated positions to avoid pain.
A five minute plank might sound impossible, but you will build up enough strength over the course of the month and be surprised at how achievable it is.
3. Run a 5 or 10k
Sure, you can sign up to a Couch to 5k app, but if you want to take charge of your timings (and more importantly, blast your own selection of motivating music) then try the four-week 5k challenge that runner Tashi Skervin-Clarke planned for Strong Women.
“More than anything, getting out in the fresh air is important for your peace of mind and switching off. It’s a nice escape from day to day,” she says.
If you already sorted your 5k out in the first lockdown, don’t stop now. How about pushing yourself to hit the 10k mark in four weeks time? There’s a how-to guide below.
4. Move for 10 minutes a day
It’s understandable if your desire to train has been scuppered. So start small, with just 10 minutes of intentional movement a day. Whether that’s a gentle yoga flow, a brisk walk around the block or one of our Strong in 10 workouts, getting active for a short period of time will do a world of good for your mental health. “When it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing,” explains sport and exercise expert Dr Folusha Oluwajana.
If you can push it a bit further, 12 minutes of high-intensity training has been proven to have great physical benefits, too. Find out why, and challenge yourself to this bite-size exercise plan, below.
5. Do daily wall sits
This might sound random, but when writer Priyanka Joshi tried the challenge she found her muscular endurance improved and she felt hugely accomplished.
It’s a no equipment exercise that requires a few minutes out of your day, so why wouldn’t you try it?
6. Finally give yoga a try
Low-intensity training is nothing to be sniffed at. While you might think that yoga is more about the brain than the body, the two are more linked than you might imagine.
“By bringing the physical and psychological parts of our wellbeing together, it creates almost a cocktail of wellness,” says Dr Zoe Williams from the Strong Women Collective. “It can push our bodies from being in a fight-or-flight mode, which is when your sympathetic nervous system is firing, into a more restful and calm state with your parasympathetic nervous system activated.”
While the practice can be intimidating for some, there are some gentle moves you can follow to get into the flow of yoga. Challenge yourself to do these three simple postures every single day, and see how you feel after two weeks.
7. Learn to handstand
Here’s something tricky that only requires your body and a wall to do. While handstand training is tough, following this programme from How To Handstand is a simple way to perfect your skill. It might not be weight lifting, but your shoulders, core and back will be shaking afterwards (and you’ll probably have a sweat on, too).
It will likely take longer than four weeks to master a free-standing handstand but take on the challenge and you’ll have a skill for life.
8. Fall in love with exercise
If you’re a total beginner searching for a workout that works for them or you’ve been training for a while but are getting bored of your same routine, try this 30-day challenge.
Designed by trainer Esmée Gummer, every day features a different style of training to help you find a session that you love. From boxing to barre and animal flow to strength training, there’s a workout style for almost everyone.
Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.
Images: Getty / Stylist
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