2. This 28-day challenge will get you into the habit of working out for 30 minutes a day, five times per week.
“Getting in shape” is a popular New Year’s resolution, but it’s important to have structure when working toward it — otherwise it can be too vague, too confusing, and too intimidating to know where to begin. So we asked personal trainer Rob Sulaver, C.S.C.S., founder of Bandana Training, to create a realistic month-long exercise plan for us.
3. Here’s your calendar:
There are two kinds of workouts: strength-training workouts and running workouts. The strength-training workouts are all bodyweight workouts, meaning they are a series of moves that use only your body’s weight as resistance, like pushups and lunges — no equipment. Running is…running. Bodyweight workout days are in red. Running workout days are in orange. And rest days are in yellow.
6. 9 things you should know before you start the challenge:
1. The plan is designed so that anyone can do it, no matter their fitness level or workout experience. Just be sure to read this whole list for some safety tips, and make modifications to the workouts if you need to.
2. Each week you’ll have a combination of running workout days, strength-training workout days, and rest days. The exercise days will help you improve your cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and strength. The program will get more challenging as you progress and get fitter.
3. You can find a complete list of all the running workouts below. Click here for more detailed instructions on how to do the running workouts.
4. You can find a complete list of all the bodyweight workouts below, also. Click here for step-by-step instructions of each individual exercise move.
5. Rest is built into the program intentionally. It’s crucial for recovery and progress. If you’re too tired to complete a workout with good form, take additional rest. Light activity (like a gentle yoga class, a long walk, an easy swim, a leisurely bike ride, etc.) is always encouraged on rest days, but only if you’re up for it.
6. You can jump into the challenge anytime. If you start after Jan. 4, just take any workouts you missed to the end of the month.
7. You can follow the program to the letter, but you can also move things around. You can swap one bodyweight workout for another, or move a rest day earlier or later in the week depending on how you’re feeling.
8. If you’re brand new to working out, scale back workouts as needed — seriously. Running coach Janet Hamilton (who created some of the running workouts) says that you shouldn’t do hard running workouts until you already have a base of fitness (meaning, you’re running for at least 30 minutes at a time, three to five days a week — without any injuries). If you’re not there yet, definitely modify these workouts to make them easier (we give instructions for how to do that). Listen to your body and don’t push yourself to the point that you get hurt. If you’re just getting started, your goal should be to just get moving for 30 minutes at a time. If that means you need to walk for half (or more) of it, that’s totally fine. As for the bodyweight workouts, ease into them slowly, monitoring your pace, effort, and quality of movement. Reduce reps if you need to, or modify the moves to make them less intense.
9. After the challenge is over, you’ll want to keep going and it’s super easy to do it. Try it again with some different bodyweight workouts, mix and match your own, or repeat this challenge with the goal of moving faster or better, or doing the harder versions of the workouts. As Sulaver says, “Go back through it and kick even MORE ass. It’s like beating Super Mario Bros. and starting over on a harder setting.”
These workouts were created by New York City-based trainer Albert Matheny, C.S.C.S., founder of Soho Strength Lab. They are all examples of high-intensity circuit training, which means that you push yourself incredibly hard for a short amount of time for a super effective workout. The most important thing is that you do all the moves with perfect form for every rep — you shouldn’t be pushing yourself too hard that you can’t do the moves right.
9. Total-Body Workout:
Start the clock, and immediately do 10 pushups in perfect form. When you’re done with the pushups, go straight into jumping jacks until the clock reads 1:00. Then move on to the next move. Do each move 10 times perfectly starting at the top of the minute, and finish out the minute with jumping jacks until it’s time for the next move.
Yes, you are supposed to do that whole thing five times. See detailed instructions for how to do each exercise move correctly here.
Make it easier: If you can’t do all the movements (50 pushups in 20 minutes, anyone?), start out with reps that are more manageable for you, for instance — like four or five pushups per round, instead of 10. And do regular lunges without jumps, if the jumping lunges are too hard.
10. Strong Core Workout:
Think of this workout as broken into two parts: PART A is plank taps and jumping lunges, and PART B is spider lunges and reverse lunges.
For PART A, you do 10 plank taps, 10 jumping lunges… and then repeat that eight times. Then you rest two minutes, and move on to PART B: 10 spider lunges, 10 reverse lunges, and repeat that eight times. You can see detailed instructions for how to do each exercise correctly here.
Make it easier: Do regular lunges instead of jumping lunges (so no jumping). And reduce the number of reps per move if you need to (four or five per round, instead of 10).
11. Upper-Body Workout:
Start the clock, and do as many pushups as you can — while maintaining perfect form — for 30 seconds. Then rest for 10 seconds, and do as many plank taps as you can (again, with perfect form) for 30 seconds, and then rest for 10 seconds again. Finish up with 30 seconds of walkouts. Rest for a minute or two, and then start all over again.
You should do the whole circuit 10 times. See detailed instructions for how to do each exercise correctly here.
Make it easier: Add time to the rest periods (20 seconds instead of 10).
12. Lower-Body Workout:
For each move, do as many as you can as possible — while maintaining perfect form — for 30 seconds. Then you rest for 10 seconds, and move on to the next move. Once you’ve completed 30 seconds of each move, rest for a minute or two, and start over all over again. You should do the whole circuit 10 times.
Quick note about the single-leg deadlifts: Do 10 reps in a row on the same standing leg (so don’t alternate back and forth during your 10 reps). When you start the circuit over again, make sure to switch to the other leg for your next round of 10 single-leg deadlift reps. Every time you do the circuit over again, switch your standing leg (so one leg doesn’t get worked more than the other). See detailed instructions for how to do each exercise correctly here.
Make it easier: Add time to the rest periods (20 seconds instead of 10).
13. If you get bored with those four bodyweight workouts and want to change it up, there are five other bodyweight workouts you can swap in here.
These running workouts were created especially for BuzzFeed Life by two RRCA-certified professional coaches, Janet Hamilton and John Honerkamp, who have 45 years of coaching experience between them. Rather than tell you what treadmill setting to use, which would differ from person to person and doesn’t apply to outdoor running, these workouts use a measure of intensity called RPE (rate of perceived exertion), which Honerkamp adapted for us. RPE works on a 10-point scale, where 1 is barely moving, 10 is all-out sprinting as fast as you can go, and 5 is running but at a moderate intensity pace — you can still carry on a conversation easily. This is a much healthier and smarter way to calculate your intensity than dialing up the treadmill.
17. Time Ladder:
Make it harder: Add additional intervals. As many as you want. Start with an extra three sprint-rest intervals and see how that feels… add or subtract intervals based on what your body is telling you.
Make it easier: Simplify the whole thing — that means throughout the whole workout, alternate between two minutes hard (6 RPE) and one minute easy (2–3 RPE).
Make it harder: Right now this workout has you doing 4 × 2.5-minute sprints, with 2.5 minutes of rest between them. Speed up your sprints (and rest periods), and do 8 × 1-minute sprints with only 30 seconds rest between them.
Make it easier: Do only 4 × 1-minute sprints (instead of 4 × 2.5-minute sprints), with 2 minutes rest in between. This will shorten the total duration of the workout, and also shorten how long you’re sprinting.
Make it harder: Increase your RPE or the length of the tempo portion of the run.
Make it easier: Shorten the tempo and dial down your effort so you feel comfortable. You can also walk if you need to — listen to your body.
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