Lifestyle // September 15, 2014

Hate is a strong word, but now that I have your attention...I really do despise 30 day challenges. I’m not referring to those 30 day lifestyle challenges or do-a-different-physical-activity-per-day challenges. I am talking about those 30+ day squat, plank, push-up, any-one-exercise for 30 or more consecutive days fitness challenges!!! Yes, I used multiple exclamation points in this writing--they IRK that much!

These so-called challenges are all over social media beckoning users and friends to join the madness: do 100 push-ups per day for 30 days, get to 500 squats per day by your 30th day, 30 days of plank, insert your “favorite” exercise and do it everyday for 30 days. The word challenge may incite the competitor in their followers; however, it gives me visions of hell. Isn’t that the definition of 30 days of hell--doing the same thing over and over again, everyday? Not changing anything (while expecting it) is definitely the equivalent to insanity.

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Speaking of results, if you can do any exercise for thirty consecutive days, you are not working out efficiently; thus, you will not elicit the results you seek. You see, when you strength train and challenge yourselves appropriately, your muscles incur microtears and inflammation. Your body recognizes the micro-damage and works to repair those muscles over the course of 24 to 48 hours, resulting in a stronger muscle. If you are able to do these exercises everyday, then you are not doing them to elicit a strength response. On the other hand, if you do feel the soreness (also known as DOMS--delayed onset of muscle soreness) or fatigue in the muscles that were worked, then you are working through the body’s rest period which is necessary for strength building. In fact, stressing those muscles repeatedly over consecutive days, without recovery, may even result in strain--diminished strength, injury, or at best, plateau.

In these 30 day challenges, the same muscles are moving in the same pattern. Not only is the participant at risk of potential muscle weakening, but movement dysfunction is a possible result, as well. The push-up challenge is a perfect example of this. Most adults who try this out display a kyphotic, hunchback-like, posture pattern: weak upper back muscles, tight muscles in the chest and neck create a forward shoulder and head slump, weak abdominals, tight hip flexor and lower back muscles, resulting in an exaggerated sway back. In a perfect push-up you need a strong core (shoulders, abs, back, and gluts) to hold your body in that plank position, while executing a chest press movement, to strengthen the chest muscles. However, with most people exemplifying dysfunctional, kyphotic posture and tightly weak front, upper body muscles, the movement dysfunction is perpetuated. That is not the problem. The issue is that you are expecting a weak, badly functioning structure to bear your body weight. Think of a four-legged table with two legs that are shorter than the others. If you sit on it, you expect to topple to the ground below it, right? The result in either scenario is potential injury.

I can continue on with reasons why I DESPISE these 30 day challenges, but the reasons above top the list of most critical reasons why nobody should be doing them. Stop the madness!!!

Reference: http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/delayed-onset-muscle-soreness-(doms).pdf

Published in Lifestyle
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