Anything BUT Crunches: Week 2 of the #SayNOtoCrunches Challenge 2016

Congrats on completing Week 1 of the #SayNOtoCrunches Challenge! I’m sure you felt like you were crawling for days!  I also imagine you were surprised by how much the crawl worked your entire body. So much more effective than crunches, right? I truly hope that you already feel stronger than when you started. I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on Week 1 in the comment section below.

Before breaking down Week 2 for you, with descriptions and modifications, I wanted to address what to do when you miss a day or can’t do all the rounds in a row. If you miss a day, you could do one of two things. Option One:  Make it up the next day by doing two full workouts. Option Two: Just add on the cardio. For instance, if you miss Day 1 of High Knees, the next day you do High Knees followed by Praying Mantis, the core exercises that day, ending with Praying Mantis and High Knees. This is the best option if you miss more than one day.

Also, keep in mind, that if you run out of time (or someone interrupts your time, like a small human), or you simply need a break and can’t do all 3 rounds in a row, then just do them throughout the day.

So here we go with Week 2 exercises: “Anything But Crunches.”  Modifications (M) are shown for anyone who needs them, including injuries and diastasis recti. Please note the specific modifications for my pregnant mamas (PM) who are more than 20 weeks and no longer spending extensive time on their back.

Soaring Bird:  Lie on your chest with your feet out long and your arms by your side with your palms to the ceiling. Pull your navel to your spine and lift your legs and arms up to the ceiling.  Hold for a count of two, lower, and repeat. M: Keep your feet on the floor and just lift your chest. PM: Begin in crawl position. Your knees do NOT leave the ground. From here, alternate reaching opposite arm than leg out long and hold for a count of two.

Side Rocks:  Sit cross-legged with your hands behind your head to open up your chest. Alternate rocking side to side, allowing one arm to lower to the floor.

Dead Bug: Lie on your back with your arms in line with your shoulders and your legs in a tabletop position (knees in line with hips). Flex your feet as if you are pushing something away with your feet. Hold for 30 seconds.  If you feel you need more of a challenge, take your knees out a little bit from your hips. Make sure you are not holding your breath as you hold. M:  Put one foot on the ground & keep the other at tabletop. PM: From all fours, round your back and release (You may know it as Cat/Cow).

Extended Dead Bug:  From the Dead Bug position, extend one leg out long. Hold for 15 seconds before repeating on the other side. The lower the extended leg drops, the more challenging it will be.  M: Repeat Dead Bug. PM: Begin in the crawl position. Extend one leg out at a time, similar to Extended Crawl from last week, but with the knees on the floor.

Falling Dead Bug:  From the Dead Bug position, let your legs lower to one side (but do not let them touch the floor). Hold for 15 seconds and repeat to the other side. M: Repeat Dead Bug  PM: From the crawl position, take your right hand behind the head. Rotate your upper body slightly to the right. Come back to center and repeat left.

Lying Bicycle:  Lie on your back with your arms by your sides.  This is like a traditional bicycle crunch but I want you to not lift your head. Bike your feet right and left (essentially alternating Extended Dead Bug position) while focusing on keeping your core engaged by pulling your navel to your spine. Try lowering your extended leg closer to the floor.  M: Keep the extended leg higher in the air. PM:  Repeat the same modification for Dead Bug: Begin in crawl position. Your knees do NOT leave the ground. From here, alternate reaching opposite arm than leg out long and hold for a count of two.

Seated Twist:  Sit straight up with our knees bent in front of you and your feet flexed.  Keep your core engaged and lean back slightly and lift your feet up off the floor. Interlace your fingers so your elbows are out. Alternate twisting to one side, allowing your outside elbow to lower to the ground.  M: Keep your feet on the floor. PM: Repeat Side Rocks.


The cardio exercises are the same from last week, except that you perform each one for 40 seconds each.

High Knee Runs: Lift one knee at a time like you are going for a run. Bring your knees as close to your chest as possible, so that you get a nice contraction in your abdominals. Pump your arms as you run in place.  M: March in place with high knees. PM: If you are very pregnant, you may need to bring your knees out to the side to allow room for baby.

Praying Mantis Runs: Rotate out from the hips so that when you run in place your knees are coming out towards the corners of the room, like a praying mantis. Keep your hands up open up your chest and bring your elbow towards your knee by laterally bending at the waist. This move will most likely make you feel awkward, and you will want to laugh (so laugh!). M: Lift one knee at a time as you bring your elbow towards our knee, so you are marching instead of running.

Burpees: This is one of the best full body movements you can do. Squat down (Make sure your heels stay not the floor) with your hands in front of your feet. Walk or jump back into a plank and lower yourself to the floor.  Once your chest touches the floor, walk or jump your feet back to the squat. Stand back up or push off flop into a light jump. M: Just go out to a plank rather than lowering your chest to the floor. Also, if you are pregnant you will want to take your legs wide into a sumo squat, or you may want to use a chair. Place your hands on the chair and walk your feet back and in towards the chair. Taking the jump at the top out is also an option.

Skaters:  Step out to the side, like you are doing a step touch, but cross one leg back. Repeat to the other side. Feel free to push off the floor so you have a little air time between sides. As an added challenge, when you cross back, keep the foot off the floor.  Reach the arms across with the legs. M: Keep your body more upright and just step side to side, reaching the arms.

Split Lunge Jumps:  Lunge back on one leg. From here push off the floor to attempt to straighten your legs. Land back in the lunge on the same leg. (Note: You are not switching legs. You do 30 seconds in a row on EACH leg).  M: Take out the leg and just lunge up and down, quickly.

Tuck Jumps:  Soften your knees and swing your arms back. Jump up and bring both knees to your chest and your hands to your knees.  Please take breaks between jumps. M: Lots of options here.  If you still want to jump, just do a soft jump up like at the end of a burpee, rather than tucking your knees. You could also do quick squats in place or lift one knee at a time like the High Knee modification.

Knee Repeaters: Split your legs so you are in a long lunge. Clasp hands together and swing them back like a baseball back. Keeping your knee over your ankle on supporting leg, get as low as you can. Bring your back leg into chest and swing your arms across chest. You should feel a slight twist in the torso and a burn in your glute (butt cheek) of the supporting leg.  Repeat this motion aggressively, until it’s time to do the other side.  **Keep in mind you also do this exercise for 30 seconds on EACH leg.  M: If this bothers your knees, do not go as deep into the lunge. PM: If you are pregnant and your belly is in the way, just tap the foot in, rather than lifting the knee up.

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