So far 2021, for me, has been a series of new challenges. Self inflicted 21 day challenges are my new thing. I finally realized that challenges work well for me. I find them motivating and they push me past an edge that I would have otherwise used as a stopping point. That edge is physical and mental. I had this epiphany while participating in my current challenge group. The Butts and Guts 21 Day Challenge is the latest in my monthly fitness challenge collection. Everyone loves to focus on these two areas of the body for their own reasons. I made this challenge simple, scalable and accessible and also with a little more variety than most of my other 21 day fitness challenges.
For our first week we alternate between single side bike abs and bridge presses. So, guts on one day followed by butts on the next. On the 7th day we do both drills. Over the next two weeks we build on these drills and we eventually stack three drills together. These challenges are scaled for most levels of fitness and are not only a short intense addition to your regular exercise routine but they also develop a habit. This habit is to do the short drill every day for 21 days. It’s easy to commit to and on the 21st day you have a sense of accomplishment as well as stronger muscles.
The drills themselves are very basic but basic doesn’t mean easy. I have the drills scaled for 3 base levels of fitness but challenge participants are encouraged to set their own goal. For example: beginners are urged to try to start at a base level of 30 repetitions on each side, while advanced will do 50 on each side. They are given modifications to progress or regress the drill and reminded to focus on form, listen to the body and modify as needed to keep the correct form. I supply demo videos and offer to check form via email to reinforce this.
I also voice the importance of slowing down and focusing on the muscles being worked as a very important component of the exercise. I’m trying to create more of an awareness of the mind body connection.
I’ll use my personal Butts and Guts challenge as an example.
I chose to do the advanced single side bike ab version of 50 reps per side in the advanced position. I made a deal with myself to use and focus on this mind-body connection that I’m always preaching about. To me this means going slow in both directions of the movement and feeling the muscles contract and extend. I timed my drill to get a frame of reference for how long each rep takes. The 50 reps took me 1:40 on each side. Doing some easy math tells me that the reps are 2 seconds each. I feel like my reps are consistent so, this means I am lifting and lowering at a one count. This sounds fast to me here but in practice is exactly what I need to focus on the muscle.
And for frame of reference on the Butts portion:
I also timed my 100 bridge presses. It took me 4:22 to do them. This is an average of just over two and a half seconds per rep. And I can feel the burn on these for sure.
I encourage you to try these different versions if you aren’t sold on the effectiveness. Do a drill fast and then slow it down and just feel the difference.
It is so much “easier” both physically and mentally to just go through the motions of a drill quickly and mindlessly. But the benefits of slowing down and focusing on the muscles working are worth it. You are training your body at a deeper level when you are focused on it with your mind as well. Give it a try, make your workout a moving meditation and see how it feels! Enjoy.