10 Fitness Challenges to Get You in Shape for Summer

Get Fit with a Challenge


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Get Fit with a Challenge


With warmer weather around the corner, many of us are starting to think about getting in shape for summer. To help jumpstart their workout goals, many people are turning to fitness challenges — exercise programs designed to maximize results in a short-period of time, often 30 days. The challenges can range from beginner to expert, and they often focus on one activity (squats or yoga, for example), one target area (core or legs), or in some cases a full body regimen. While many fitness challenges promise major transformation within weeks, it's important to find the fitness challenge that's for you and approach it sensibly to avoid burnout or injury. Here are some suggestions that might work for you.

Find Ways To Increase Your Daily Activity


If you're not quite ready for an intensive program through a gym or group, but want to increase your daily physical activity consider a simple get-moving challenge. Many activity trackers, such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch, offer built-in challenges or you can simply set your own target goals. "People can increase the number of steps, duration of exercise, and number of days per week that they exercise," says trainer Elizabeth Radinovic.

Friend Challenge


Step up your movement with a challenge among friends. Apple Watch and FitBit, along with other activity trackers (each varies slightly), have programs through which you can challenge a friend. "You can pick friends and family to compete against for who is the most active," explains trainer Elizabeth Radinovic. "It takes into account minutes of exercise, active calories burned, hours standing, and overall movement throughout the day. It shows everyone's points and activity, so you know where you stand." Also notable, there is a limit per day so someone can't exercise for hours one day to make up for a whole week. The fitness levels must be consistent.

Step It Up


For someone coming back from an injury or not accustomed to a lot of activity, a step challenge can be a great option to get started. "This type of challenge is done through an organization or can be started through many different fitness tracker platforms," trainer Elizabeth Radinovic says. "Common activity goals usually include reaching 10,000 steps. Older adults can also benefit from an activity challenge like this. If 10,000 steps isn't possible, starting with 7,500 is an acceptable activity level." The goal can even be seamlessly incorporated into a vacation.

Stay Active at the Office


If a step challenge is too much of a hurdle to get started, try starting with a standing challenge. Office workers can spend up to 85 percent of their time sitting, and considering that too much time seated has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and more, simply standing up on a regular basis and finding ways to stay active at the office throughout the day can have a powerful impact on your overall health and fitness.

Consider Picking One Specific Activity
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To help you stay focused, consider choosing a one-exercise challenge. Assuming your form is solid, these types of challenges can help you dial in to a specific part of the body where you're looking for improvement with one particular move whether it's squats, planks, sit-ups or other targeted exercises. Many of these challenges are shared on social media, and offer a cheap way to be held accountable. "If you want to become better at push-ups, a push-up challenge where you complete a certain number of push-ups per day for a month would be well suited," says trainer Elizabeth Radinovic. Consider trying this 30 day squat challenge from Health. It not only gives you a 30 day plan, but also shows you how to do each move with proper form to avoid injury.

Try Using an App


While some challenges provide encouragement and support in a group setting, others do so through the help of an app, which may be an easier way for some people to get started. The Couch to 5K is a popular choice and promises to help beginners run five kilometers (or 30 minutes) in nine weeks. The trainers we spoke to do offer a word of advice, though: form. As with all fitness challenges, consider current and past fitness levels before signing up. "If someone has the goal to run a 5K and has never run before, it would be more beneficial, through the guidance of a professional, to make sure their running form and alignment are correct and also make sure they are fitted for the right shoes," says trainer Elizabeth Radinovic.

Push Past Your Comfort Zone


There are several yoga challenges circulating, but consider the 30-day DoYouYoga challenge. You sign up for free and gain access to 30 days of 10 to 20 minute yoga workout videos. A tracker built into the site tracks you progress towards the 30 day challenge once you finish each workout. This challenge is suitable for anyone at any fitness level, but if you feel you need more of a challenge you can pay a fee to unlock more difficult yoga workouts for your 30 day challenge. "Yoga typically is gentle enough to be done daily," trainer Elizabeth Radinovic says, while trainer Kelly Michaels Giordano points out that "doing a yoga challenge can add a special twist to your regular routine."

Make Sure You're Using Proper Form


Many gyms offer challenges that provide guidance and workouts as part of a group. Life Time Fitness runs a 60 day challenge, offering an initial goal setting session with a trainer, a portal to access recipes, daily workouts, and interaction with other people in the challenge for the social aspect. There are weekly check-ins and two group workout classes a week specifically for the challenge group. "It's great because the individual chooses their own goal and has guidance from a professional on what an attainable goal is for them and has help setting up a plan to reach that goal," trainer Elizabeth Radinovic says. If someone has big overall goals, gym challenges can help them break their goal into smaller pieces, allowing the person to reassess after completing the initial challenges.

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For those that are already accustomed to working out and want to step up their game, a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) challenge is the way to go. HIIT workouts make the most of workout time by combining high-intensity intervals with low-intensity rest periods. You are effectively raising your heart rate, burning through fat, and building muscle all at the same time. These workouts are short but intense. Consider the 30 HIIT challenge from SkinnyMS that has a schedule, works different body parts with each HIIT session, and provides videos to show how to do each move. Darebee's 30 Days of HIIT offers 30 days of HIIT workouts, provides a calendar to check off the days as you complete each workout, and has a timer on the page to track HIIT intervals.

Bypass Burpees


Burpees are unique in that they are a single move that works many areas. Form is of the essence here. "There is a lot going on with form and impact," trainer Elizabeth Radinovic explains. "For most gym goers and fitness enthusiasts, there are more potential risks with something like a burpee challenge." If someone who has great form, joint integrity, and is well-versed with handling high impact exercise, they could fair well with a burpee challenge, but Radinovic warns that it's really not for everyone.