Strength September: abs = ouch

Strength September: abs = ouch

Last week after staying the same on the scales, but being so tantalisingly near to my goal weight I decided to introduce strength exercises, something which I've not done as much as it is advised to in the 12 week plan, and which is also a good complement to running, and is advised alongside couch to 5k. So - I started my own version of the 30 day squat challenge, and today am pleased to report a 2lb loss on the scales. I'm now 1lb away from my goal weight, and determined not to slacken off at all.

I started by doing more squats than I meant to on day 1! As the plan is to do a bit more each day, this has now turned it into a major undertaking. I did 10 in the morning, then did 10 more in the afternoon, then at running club there was a circuits style section which included 22 more squats. So I ended up starting at 42 and now I've reached 80 squats per day! I can definitely feel it, especially just above the knees, and they're definitely getting easier. I'm going to keep this up, still increasing around 5 per day, which by my calculation will get me to around 200 by the end of the month - wow. The challenge is finding time to fit them all in now. I do smaller sessions of 10/15/20 whenever I get a moment on my own, which then adds up during the day.

Today I decided to introduce abs exercises too. I thought it would be hard and, guess what, it was. I consider myself a fairly fit person, as I do a lot of running and cycling and am nearly down to a healthy BMI now. But these seemingly harmless non weight lifting positions really hurt: - especially the last 3!

I didn't follow the instructions to do 12 of each, I just did 5 of each. The ones that said to hold a position for 5-10 seconds I barely managed 5 seconds. But I did it, and now I've done 5 of each, the 'rules' are that I must do the same + a bit more tomorrow, and so on! So tomorrow I'll try to do 6 of each, and really hold for a full 5 seconds (for the ones where you have to hold a position).

My updated chart will hopefully attach here. Anyone else who's doing 'Strength September', please let me know how you're finding it. We can commiserate together! :) Anyone else who fancies joining in is welcome too :)

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19 Replies

  • Oh my word, I'm worn out just reading your post! Keep up the good work Ruth and I'll just read about it.

  • Hi Ruth,

    I am finding your 30 day strength challenge incredibly motivating, and I can't thank you enough for suggesting it - it's really focused me on doing something that I had been only 'dabbling' with previously!

    I have decided to do several sets of exercises per day - including a) squats, b) press-ups, c) sit-ups and what I call d) 'cycle crunches'.

    My progress this week is as follows:

    1st Sept - 25 of each

    2nd Sept - 25 of each

    3rd Sept - 25 of each

    4th Sept - zero (rest day) - Wasn't meant to be a rest day, but conveniently turned into one! :-)

    5th Sept - 50 of each - I do 25 in the morning, and 25 in the afternoon/evening

    6th Sept - 50 of each

    7th Sept - 50 of each

    I've noticed that my arms ache from the press-ups - my upper body is definitely not as strong as my legs.

    My legs have been fine - no soreness so far. But I have been also been doing Bob Harper's core conditioning session (approx 30 mins) which focuses on legs and glutes, so I think I have him to thank for strengthening my leg muscles, and I also enjoy walking too - excellent exercise.

    I can already feel improvements in my abs - my waist is looking more defined, and I am really enjoying it. I do feel stronger, and fitter.

    Thank you so much! I feel inspired, and I am really happy that so many of us are undertaking this challenge.

    I don't think I'm going to do any more than 50 a day of my reps, but I hope to keep them up for the remainder of the month - with maybe a 'rest day' once a week to let my muscles recover a bit.

    I love your progress chart - it is brilliant! :-) Thanks also for doing this thread, to keep us thinking about the challenge, and keeping us accountable! :-)

    Lowcal :-)

  • Wow, you really launched in there with 25 of each - I'm impressed! I could not do 25 pressups. In fact 1 would be optimistic, that sort of thing just sets my whole body shaking. I struggled with the 'plank' exercises on the NHS site which use similar muscles I think. My core and upper body are definitely lacking strength. I think this is evident in the fact that I've found the squats relatively easy, but the other exercises felt like torture. But I'm determined to improve, so will increase day by day, and just keep on doing them. Hope you keep your exercises up, 50 of each sounds like a very respectable level. Enjoy your next rest day too, I think we all need to make sure we have one of those from time to time :)

  • Hi Lowcal

    The only thing you might want to think about is working different sections of your body on different days i.e. arms one day, abs the next etc. I seem to remember (from some hazy trips to the gym) that the muscles are supposed to have a day to 'repair' themselves in between ?

  • That may be more the case if you're building up new muscles, e.g. launching in at a high rate all of a sudden, or doing something new you haven't done before, like with couch to 5k. But yes that's good advice in general. No one wants to risk an injury. Warm up and cool down stretches are a good idea too :)

  • Good point Lucca, thanks for the advice. I will definitely consider alternating, that way maybe I wouldn't need to take the rest day. I'll see how it goes.

    Lowcal :-)

  • You are amazing! I looked at the exercise plan and decided the warm up was about all I could cope with for now, maybe next week I'll feel differently :)

    Your "I did it" award is going to be well deserved. Well done you!

  • Thanks! So nearly there - I can smell it almost! But want to sustain it too, hence the determined outlook :)

    Warm up and stretching exercises are a great place to start actually. I really wouldn't underestimate them. If you're thinking of introducing exercise of any form, then finding ways to loosen up would be a great first step :)

  • Hi Ruth,

    You continue to impress and amaze 💐.

    I have done a chart and it's on the fridge, husband thinks I've lost it, lol but the dog is very impressed woof!

    I did 20 squats today after deciding to step it up and will do 25 tomorrow with wed as a day off, but at circuit legs are killing me as my abs that's good eh ??

    At circuit class did ' the plank' today could only hold for count of 3 but on 3rd circuit managed to hold for a count of 10.

    If your ears were burning around 12 ish, it's because I was talking about you !! Lol ( in a nice way)

    Catch up soon


  • Ha ha! My ears weren't burning, you must have been too far away. I'm impressed you held the plank for 10 seconds on the 3rd go. It shows how quickly we can improve! Good luck for increasing the squats by 5 a day too, it's a pretty steep increase isn't it. Hope your dog enjoys the entertainment and you keep feeling the benefits :)

  • Wow ruth, you inspirational star you! I'm so pleased for you......and a huge thank you for your advice on the calve's worked wonders.

  • Those abs ones are a killer aren't they :-D

    I've been doing a mixture of my own program for arms (a list of stuff my husband recommended with small hand weights) and the 'peanut butter' workouts for abs/cardio-strength, and some squats thrown in for good measure (not too many of these, as I have had knee problems in the past and squats do tend to twinge a bit and I don't want to risk it with my running).

    Arms tonight !!

  • Yep, abs are my nemesis now. They must and will be conquered! That's great you've got your own personal trainer there. I also need to focus on my arms. I might start something for my arms with weights too, but maybe leave that until next week :) Enjoy! :)

  • Yeeaaaa, go Ruth, go Ruth..... Super weightloss and superduper exercise regime. I am sticking to my squats and they are getting easier ( on 17 a day now), hit the target of 3 gym sessions too. The walking isn't going quite so well though, my broken toe is not being very accommodating at the minute! I am walking as much as I can though.

    Have another great week this week hun ☺️

  • Good news about the squats and 3 gym sessions. That's great and def in keeping with the strength theme. Sorry to hear your toe is still causing trouble though. I guess these things are quite slow to mend. Sending lots of cotton wool-padded get well vibes to that poorly toe! :)

  • Impressive - I think I need a little lie-down after reading this... ;)

  • Awesome work!! Keep it up Ruth you are doing so so well.

  • I am so impressed - you sound like someone who is fit and fab! But wait - thats because you are! :)

    Strength exercises and increasing your muscle mass are the key to burning those few extra pounds as your metabolism lifts a little with each increase in lean muscle mass.

    I have been cursing you as my thighs burn :) but have now found a spot for an exercise mat and am doing crunches and stretches as soon as I walk in the door after walking in the mornings.

    You rock :)

  • Wow that's great. Straight after your walk is prob an excellent time to do crunches etc. Hope you are doing warm down/ stretch exercises too, should help with your thighs and general post exercise soreness. Ah sorry you said you are doing stretches, hope they are helping in that case!

    I'm discovering I'm not so fit actually, as the plank exercise is nearly killing me. But plan to persevere, as always, will be super fit by 30th sept :)

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