The 30-day ab challenge is an app that trains you by adding more reps of sit-ups, crunches, leg lifts, and planks each day.
My abdominals are weak so I decided to take the challenge to see what might happen.
I won't do the 30-day challenge again because of how much time it takes and how repetitive the workouts are, but I did see a little bit of definition by the end of the month.
The fitness corner of the app store right now is filled with all kinds of 30-day challenges: ab challenges, squat challenges, arm challenges, and so on.
Basically, if you're looking to intensely target any part of your body over the course of a month, some app has got you covered.
This is how I, the opposite of a fitness enthusiast, wound up doing planks and sit-ups and crunches and leg lifts almost daily for a month.
I used to do cheerleading, but I've never had great ab strength
First, here's a little bit of history about me and my abdominal region.
As I mentioned, I've rarely been a regular exerciser, so really no part of my body is particularly strong. But even when I was doing cheerleading and powderpuff football my senior year of high school — probably my fittest point — I never really even had a flat belly, let alone visible abs. I couldn't even jump very effectively as a cheerleader because I didn't have the ab strength to bring my legs up in the air.
So when it came time to pick one of these popular fitness challenges to try, 30-day abs seemed like the obvious choice.
Knowing that I wasn't going to be significantly changing my diet or adding in any more cardio than I already do in my daily life, the results were going to be subtle at best. True washboard abs take months to carve, and as the info panel of the app said, the idea of a 30-day challenge is more to build a habit than to effect any significant results.
The real test was going to be whether or not this 30-day routine could get me to work some regular strength exercises into my daily routine.
The first few days were convenient and breezy
The app I chose was called "30 Day Ab Challenge" by 30 Day Fit Body. Naturally, I opted for the Beginner Level one challenge, the easiest out of six total tiers.
The first day's exercises were just 15 sit-ups, five crunches, five leg raises, and a 10-second plank. The leg raises were pretty tough, but everything else was well within my capabilities.
The app even gives you a rest day after every three workout days. As the days progress, the exercises remain the same, they just increase in number.
So for the first few days, I was thinking this routine was perfect for me since it was such a low time commitment. I could make a habit out of this.
But as the month progressed, I realized I had played myself
It quickly became evident that the real challenge is in how rapidly the quantity of reps increases — doing 15 sit-ups is nothing, but by day 10, when you're doing 50 already, it's another story.
At day 15, the routine calls for 70 sit-ups, 90 crunches, 42 leg raises, and a 60-second plank — and it continues increasing with each day.
Obviously, I didn't expect that it would be a month of just a few crunches here and there – there's no challenge in that. What I wasn't prepared for was how much time the exercises would begin to take up, and so quickly.
By the halfway point, I couldn't just do them right before bed or whenever I remembered. It was something I needed to start deliberately making time for.
I recognize that it's kind of silly of me to complain about this, seeing as most people who exercise do purposely carve out time for it and sometimes even spend money on a gym membership or athletic gear.
But if the goal is to create a habit, it's got to be something that works with my lifestyle, and right now, a designated 30 to 40 minutes for working out, plus time for a shower after, is quite a step — especially when I can't say I particularly enjoy the exercises.
The results were a little definition and some food for thought
Again, I realize how much of a baby I am when it comes to exercise. But I think if I'm going to add daily or almost-daily exercise to my life, it's going to be something other than repetitive floor exercises.
If you're into fitness and challenging yourself physically, you might enjoy consistently stepping it up with 30-day programs like these. But for me, it feels like something I can only imagine doing in a short, one-time burst.
But as far as results? Honestly, I think my belly looks a little bit more toned. No washboard to speak of, but it seems a little flatter. I certainly got stronger, because I could feel my muscles becoming more capable of the exercises as the month went on, even as they became progressively more difficult.
Can I do a perfect toe-touch? No, not yet, but fortunately, my cheerleading days are over anyway.
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