The challenge of the month

For many weekend warriors having a challenge to do now and then, can be a fun way to add a bit of competitiveness to your training. Just make sure they’re not too counterproductive. The 10000 Swing Challenge for example wouldn’t work well with pretty much any other training that month.

That presents a whole new problem.

Many of these challenges are of the “do X amount of work this month” or the variation “do x each day for a month”. For some reason though, these challenges are getting more and more retarded. Let me give you a few examples of good, sensible challenges:

  1. Drink 3L of water each day for a month.
  2. Eat a head of broccoli each day for a month.
  3. Spend 10 minutes a day with a LaX ball for a month
  4. Do (very light) extra work for shoulder health (ie 100 pullaparts a day for a month)

Just a few days ago, a famous movement guru created the 30/30 challenge. You’re supposed to spend 30 minutes pr day for 30 days resting in the squat position. This is absolutely idiotic. I simply cannot understand how anyone would throw such a challenge out on the internet. It’s been less than a week and I’m starting to see people complain about pains and aches in my Facebook feed.

squat

Resting in the squat position isn’t a bad thing – it’s actually a pretty natural thing to do. Thing is – our bodies are nowhere near their natural state. Very few people are actually able to do this at that volume safely (and without spending an entire day sitting down in 10s spurts).

The sensible version of this challenge would be: Squat for 30s today and add 30s a day for a month. And even that is a bit aggressive for me. What’s the rush anyways? Are you going to die and a month? The risk is way too high and the reward too low (12 months from now you’re not going to feel any difference at all).

Movement and quality of movement is a lifelong battle. We’re fighting off death every day and silly challenges like this draws on the collective ADHD of 99% of the fitness trainees today. How about spending 2 minutes in a full squat FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?! See no-one’s gonna commit to that, because it’s not as sexy. But as a clever friend of mine once said “the door that opens every day is less likely to rust at the hinges”. Squatting for just two minutes from now on and out might just be the single best thing you can do for yourself.

And don’t even get me started on supposedly “serious” athletes doing this “for fun”. Make the goal the goal. Spend your time thinking about the goal instead. If a given stress is sufficient to provide an effect in tissue quality – it also takes away from your ability to recover. The body only has finite resources.

Other types of challenges provide a fun challenge (and some muscle soreness) but without being potentially injurious. One of these would be the “do max squat reps @ bodyweight in 5 minutes” that’s also going around the web right now. Or the more intelligent version of this challenge “do max reps at a weight that’s equal to 60 wilks pointsin 5 minutes”. Doing it with a weight directly proportional to bodyweight favors the skinny people and we want to be strong for our weight, not light for our strength.

Joining up with a small band of people with similar strengths and training goals and doing monthly challenges can be a great way to shake things up. Just make sure they don’t get out of hand – you don’t want overuse injuries. It’s supposed to be a fun thing.

Mobility and prehab type challenges are fine if they’re short and easy to do – they can help you form good habits for the future.

We’re not training for today or tomorrow and if you’re doing that it’s not training, it’s exercising.

5 thoughts on “The challenge of the month

  1. Liked this post Christoffer.

    I’ve seen many variations of monthly challenges, some are just plain stupid. Saw at Haderslev Crosstræning, i kid you not, “during february perform 10.000 airsquats, 7500 Pushups and 5000 pullups. The single stupidist thing ive ever seen from a danish “crossfit” box. Hell ive done some embarrasing things my self when I was less smart (would refer to myself as stupid ;), e.g. the burpee mile. Way to remove a week of training.

    Cheers

    • Thank you. 🙂

      That challenge in Haderslev sounds absolutely ridiculous. Retarded beyond belief. Somebody at that box forgot what their job description is: “build people up” – not “get them injured”, “mash them” or something similar.

      Burpee mile? WTF bro. 🙂

      Glad you’re smarter now.

  2. The Burpee Mile was back in Esbjerg, when the box had just opened. Things got outta hand, due to an incompeetente affiliate owner and some aspiring young lads. Did some stupid stuff back then. We were group of friends who started there and 5/8 ran into some pretty serious injuries along the way, labrum tear, tennis elbow, hernias etc. What a pile of crap!

    As for now i teach in Grenland Crossfit, Norway. I’ve learned from my friends injuries, and never let my clients lift with crappy form(Crossfit form), however, I see many of them do it when thay workout on their own. Guess i cant save world.

    • I forgive you. 😀
      I’ve done my share of stupid things as well but when I teach CF I always focus on slowing down a bit and perfect execution. I also pretty much talk nonstop about quality of movement and using every rep to practice and to improve.
      Saving the world may be impossible, but I’ll die trying. 🙂

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