Dynamic 30-Day Plank Challenge

30-Day Plank ChallengeThis brutal Boston winter has honestly left me feeling a little uninspired when it comes to working out. I’m craving a routine refresh, and one of my favorite ways to do this is to start working towards a specific goal. Now that (fingers crossed!) I think the weather is taking a turn for the warmer, I’m feeling really motivated to switch things up and start working out with a defined purpose in mind. I’ve already decided to start training for another half marathon (more on that to come), and I thought setting up a 30-day plank challenge would be another way to add quick daily goals to my routine.

Dynamic 30-Day Plank Challenge

Dynamic 30-Day Plank ChallengeThere are plank and squat challenges all over the Internet, but I wanted to switch mine up a little bit. Instead of simply holding a plank position for a designated amount of seconds, you’ll do three different plank variations (each for the same length of time. Start on your forearms in an elbow plank, move into a walking plank (forearms to hands, up and down), and then finish in a standard plank on your hands. No breaks in between the three parts! I’ve also included three different levels of difficulty in the challenge so that you have some options when picking your poison.

To clarify, let’s take Day 1 as an example. You’re going to do each of the three moves for 10 seconds. So that’s 30 seconds total. If you’re following the intermediate challenge, you’ll take a 20-second break after your 30-second dynamic plank, and then do it again. If you’re following the advanced challenge, you’ll do a total of 3 rounds, resting for 15 seconds in between each.

Elbow Plank

30-day-plank-challenge-2This is your starting position. Place forearms on the ground with palms facing down, elbows under shoulders. Lift body up, core tight, not letting your back sag or, alternatively, your butt rise too far up.

Walking Plank (Forearms to Hands, Up and Down)

30-day-plank-challenge-3From the elbow plank, you’ll go right into a walking plank. Place one hand at a time underneath your shoulders, bringing body up into a standard plank position, arms straight (think push up position). Return back to elbow plank position, bringing one arm at a time back down onto the forearm. Alternate your lead hand each time you do these.

As you walk your hands up and down, focus on trying to keep your hips level, facing the ground. The less you rock back and forth, the harder your core and arms will have to work—and that’s what we want!

Standard Plank

30-day-plank-challenge-1Finish in a plank position, hands on the floor underneath your shoulders, holding core in tight, not letting your hips sag down or your butt lift too far up. Think of your head down to your heels being in one straight, inclined line.

By the 30th day, you’ll be holding a plank for 4 minutes total—80 sec in each of the three exercises. Yikes! :) Let me know if you guys try it out! I think I’m going to start it when I begin my half marathon training.

UPDATE: One reader suggested we make a hashtag for this plank challenge so everyone can follow the activity on social media–love that! I’m going to give a nod to the Entourage glory days and go with #letsplankitout

Get tagging and planking!

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WEARING | c/o Forever21: sneakers / leggings / bra / tank

I’m wearing head-to-toe Forever21 in these plank pics (courtesy of the awesome people over at F21), and have to say how impressed I am by their activewear selection. The line is on-trend and, as always with Forever21, is unbelievably affordable. My entire outfit—sneakers, leggings, sports bra and tank—sells for $72 total! Definitely browse through their activewear selection next time you want to affordably revamp your workout wardrobe. Lots of their styles come in tons of color variations, making F21 a good option if you need basics, too. If you’re like me, and tend to impulsively buy ridiculous items like neon-leopard-printed-fringed workout leggings, it’s important to have basic, solid-colored tanks to balance out the outfit haha.

I’ve included direct links to each item I’m wearing above (except the sports bra; it’s sold out), and you can also view the whole activewear collection here. The tank is probably my favorite item—I love low-cut sides on muscle tanks and racerbacks because it allows for fun layering with whatever sports bra color/patter you choose.

Have you done a plank challenge before? What’d you think?

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Stability Ball Superset Core Workout

Stability Ball Core Workout -- side leg liftsI’m back! Well, technically I was back yesterday, but I had scheduled that post ahead of time so I’m not counting it. Denver and Vail were amazing, but after five days of beer and bar food, I am more than ready to get back on the fitness grind (not that skiing isn’t a great workout).

Every time I’ve gone on a trip in the last two years, I vow to take tons of pictures and document everything in a fun blog post…I’ve got a solid 0% success rate going. I’ll do better next time (hopefully), but in the meantime here are some highlights from Colorado:

  • Après-ski at The Shakedown
  • Full day of skiing Vail (the Back Bowls were my favorite runs)
  • Après-ski at The Red Lion
  • Walking around the 16th Street Mall in Denver
  • Brunch at Sputnik (a cool, hipster-y bar/restaurant) on South Broadway St in Denver—the Stacks of Vegan Power dish was AMAZING!
  • Drinks at the Ale House in Denver’s Highlands

Being the classy, ladylike, responsible adult that I am…

Clearly booze was the theme of the trip, so without further ado, on to today’s core workout! I did this superset workout Tuesday morning before heading out on a run. It. Was. Needed.

Stability Ball Superset Core Workout

Equipment I Used:

  • Stability ball
  • Exercise mat

You’ll do three rounds of each superset before moving onto the next superset. Don’t rest in between the two exercises. The goal is to complete this as fast as possible without sacrificing proper form. You can take a quick break in between rounds (15-20 seconds) and a longer break in between supersets (30-60 seconds) if needed.

Core Superset Workout with the Stability Ball

SUPERSET 1

Complete three rounds of:

  • 20 Alternating Side-to-Side Plank Jumps: Start in a plank position. Jump both feet up towards your left hand, landing on your toes (to protect your knees). Jump back into a plank position. Jump both feet up towards your right hand. Continue back and forth as fast as possible.
  • 20 Alternating Prone Oblique Twists on Stability Ball: These were tough! Get into a plank with your shins on a stability ball and your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor. Draw your knees into your right shoulder, keeping feet on the stability ball, and then return to center. Repeat to the left.

SUPERSET 2

Complete three rounds of:

  • 20 Superman Lifts: Lay on your stomach, arms overhead. Lift arms, chest and legs off the ground, squeezing those glutes and back muscles. Hold for a second, then lower slightly (but not all the way down to the ground) before repeating.
  • 20 Twisting Stability Ball Back Extensions: With the stability ball under your lower abdomen/pelvic area, place hands behind head and lower your upper body towards the ground. Lift back up, twisting torso and opening up to the right. Lower back down, twisting to face the ground, and then twist back up to the left. When you lift up, careful not to overextend your back—don’t come too far past the point where your body is in a straight line. Maybe I just need to mop my floors, but I found my sneakers kept slipping, so I did this move with my feet against a wall. Do 20 total (10 to each side).

SUPERSET 3

Complete three rounds of:

  • 20 Cheek-to-Cheek Planks: Start in an elbow plank position. Keeping shoulders level, twist your torso to lower your right hip to the floor. Return to plank position and then twist the other way, lowering your right hip to the floor. Do 20 total (10 to each side).
  • 20 Stability Ball Windshield Wipers: Lay on back, legs perpendicular to the ground with stability ball held between your feet and arms outstretched for support. Lower your legs to the right, twisting your hips but keeping your back on the ground, until legs are just hovering above the ground. Lift back to starting position and over to the left side, and then back to starting position. Do 20 total (10 to each side).

SUPERSET 4

Complete three rounds of:

  • 20 Side-to-Side Toe Touch Crunches: Lay on your back with feet straight up, perpendicular to the floor. Crunch up, reaching your left hand to touch your right foot. Next time, crunch up, reaching your right hand to touch your left foot. Complete 20 total (10 to each side).
  • 20 Stability Ball Crunches: Start with feet on ground, knees bent at 90 degrees, and the stability ball positioned right above your butt/on the small of your back. Crunch up and then lower back, getting a big range of motion in—extension and flexion.

SUPERSET 5

Complete three rounds of:

  • 10 Side V Crunches (right side): Start laying on your side with bottom arm stretched outwards on the ground for support. Do a side crunch, lifting your legs up and crunching them in to meet your elbow and raised torso.
  • 10 Stability Ball Side Leg Lifts (right side): Roll onto left hip and elbow with stability ball between your feet and right hand flat on the floor behind you. Lift your legs (and the ball) as high as you can, hold for a second, and return feet almost to starting position, but not letting them rest on the floor. Repeat.

SUPERSET 6

Complete three rounds of:

  • 10 Side V Crunches (left side)
  • 10 Stability Ball Side Leg Lifts (left side)

Stability Ball Core Workout -- twisting back extensions

WEARING | tank: Urban Outfitters // sneakers & crop tank: Nike // leggings: c/o Champion

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Kettlebell Swing Core Workout

20-Minute Kettlebell Swing Core WorkoutI’m back! Blogging has been so spotty these last few crazy weeks (I’m sowwy), but now I’m ready to kick off a jam-packed year of awesome posts, starting with this 20-minute kettlebell swing core workout. Oh ye-ahh.

You may remember I tweaked my knee last month and was trying to avoid bending it passed 90 degrees while working out so that it could heal. This was one of the workouts I made up during that time. Kettlebell swing variations get that heart rate up while working your whole body and recruiting those core stabilizer muscles. I broke up these swinging intervals with some ab exercises and voila—a quick, killer workout that will target your core and leave you out of breath and sweaty.

Kettlebell Swing Core Workout

Equipment I Used:

This interval workout will take you 20 minutes. Set a timer for 30 rounds of 30 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. You’ll go through five rounds of the following exercises.

20-Minute Kettlebell Swing Core Workout

  • Kettlebell Swings: Start with kettlebell down between your legs and, using your arms as a pendulum, swing the bell to slightly above eye level by thrusting with your hips while keeping your core tight as you stand up straight. Swing back down and repeat. Your knees should remain slightly bent, but the main source of movement is hinging at the waist; not so much squatting. I used a 25-lb bell.
  • Windmills (right): Start in a standing position, legs wide, kettlebell pressed above head in right hand. Your right foot should be pointing forward, your left foot pointing out at an angle. Slowly bend down, keeping legs and arm holding kettlebell straight. Touch the ground by your left foot with your left hand, keeping the kettlebell perpendicular to the ground the whole time. Slowly raise up to starting position. I used a 15-lb kettlebell for these.
  • Alternating One-Arm Swings: Hold kettlebell in right hand with legs a little more than shoulder-width apart. Start with kettlebell down between your legs and, using your arms as a pendulum, swing the bell to eye level by powering through with your hips and legs while keeping your core tight as you stand up straight. When the kettlebell is at its highest point, it will be momentarily “weightless”—this is when you’re going to grab it with your left hand, letting go of the right. Swing back down and repeat; always switching hands at the top. At the bottom of your swing, your thumb should be pointing back through your legs. I use a 20-lb bell.
  • Windmills (left)
  • Kettlebell Swing Punches: This is just like a regular swing except for at the top, bend your elbows wide, bringing the kettlebell in towards your face, and punch it back out. It’s a great move for your chest and upper back! I use a 25-lb kettlebell for these.
  • Russian Twists: Sit with legs elevated, leaning slightly backwards, and twist from right to left, bringing kettlebell from one side of your body to the other. I used a 20-lb bell.

Black, blue and white workout outfit

WEARING | tank: LF // leggings: Nike // sneakers: Puma c/o Off Broadway Shoes

What are your favorite kettlebell swing variations?

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P.S. To all my Boston-area friends out there, you can vote for your favorite indoor cycling studio at Racked.com today, and–no pressure–just kidding–pressure!–you can choose Vélo-City. :)