Crawl For Your Core: Week 1 of the #SayNOtoCrunches Challenge 2016

My 2016 28 Day #SayNOtoCrunches Challenge begins (If you haven’t signed up yet to get the downloadable print outs click HERE). It‚Äôs Week 1, and I don‚Äôt know about you, but I‚Äôm so excited (and a little nervous). I‚Äôm anxious to take my body and mind to a new place and to truly move my body for 28 days straight. Plus, to have so many of you doing this with me make it so much more rewarding because we are now a team! And the best thing about a team is that we can hold each other accountable!

Because I want this workout challenge to be doable for everyone, this blog post is here to give you more detailed descriptions of the exercises and some modifications if you need them. Please, if you are pregnant or a new mom, especially one with a diastasis recti!!), I need you to not only do the modifications but be extremely mindful, which ultimately means taking as many breaks for however long you need to.

As for the rest of you . . . suck it up!  (I love you!)  But seriously, if you have been working out prior to this program and have ZERO injuries, it’s time for you to step up your game!

I’m going to post on all social media as much as I can so that you all can actually SEE the exercises too. I’ll be using Periscope to broadcast the workouts, so if you haven’t used that yet, I suggest clicking HERE or downloading it on the app store to your phone and following me @sarahaleyfit. That’s my handle everywhere, so if you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope or even Pinterest you can find me with handle @sarahaleyfit. (YouTube as well, but I’m not posting these workouts on YouTube).

The exercises in this challenge are timed, so you can move at your own pace. This means you need a stop watch! I always use the clock app on my iPhone or the Tabata Pro app.  My advice is to print out the workouts that you receive in the email when you signed up at That way you can have them to refer to when you workout.

So, the challenge works like this: For Week One, we have a 30 second cardio exercise at the beginning and end of each round.  Your cardio exercise changes each day but your core exercises are repeated, adding a new one each day. The core exercises are all 30 seconds each, so by DAY 7 you will be doing 3.5 minutes of back-to-back core work. You rest one minute and you repeat the sequence two more times (three times total). For the core exercises, executing them slower is sometimes better, but for the cardio exercises, once you get the exercise, execute it as quickly as possible to really get your heart rate up.  Your goal should be to go breathless (unless you are pregnant) and recover on the one minute break.

After each round of exercises, rest for one minute, and then repeat two more times (a total of three times).

You can add this challenge to your current workout regiment or do it in place of a workout. ¬†I really love challenges because there are days that I don’t get to work ¬†out, so at least if I do the challenge it’s better than nothing. Then on the days, I do both (a workout and the challenge), I really feel like a rockstar!

Note as well, if you run out of time and can’t do all 3 rounds in a row, you can always spread them throughout your day.

Here is a breakdown of the Cardio Exercises. These will be the same throughout the 4 weeks. Please note I have given modifications (M) for those of you who do not like high impact movements, have injuries, are pregnant, in postnatal recovery (especially if you have a diastasis recti) or just need a break.

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. 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. If you are pregnant and your belly is in the way, just tap the foot in, rather than lifting the knee up.


Here is a breakdown of the Core Exercises for Week 1. You will add on one each day of the week, so that by the end of the week you will do all 7 in a row. Each one should be executed for 30 seconds. This will probably not feel like much on Day 1 of each week but by Day 7, you will understand the method to my madness. The modifications for these movements are to rest in the crawl position when needed. Any additional modifications (M) are listed below.

I nicknamed Week 1: Crawl for your Core because all of the exercises in this series begin in the crawl position: hands underneath shoulders and knees underneath hips. The shoulders are down away from the ears and the abs are tight. Think of pulling your navel to your spine and tightening up your abs throughout the exercise. Your toes are tucked underneath. This crawl position is an amazingly safe way for you to stabilize, contract and tone your abs. Please make sure to open your mouth and breath through the exercises, especially when they become challenging.

Tapping Crawl: Begin in the crawl position. Lift your knees off the floor without any movement anywhere else, especially the hips. Your hips should stay square to the floor. Hold for a count of 1-2, and then tap the knees back down. Repeat for the 30 seconds. M: Rest longer on the knees between each lift up.

Hovering Crawl: Begin in the crawl position. Lift your knees off the floor without any movement anywhere else, especially the hips. Your hips should stay square to the floor.  Hold and breath for the full 30 seconds. M: Take breaks when needed.

Rowing Crawl: From the Hovering Crawl position, row one arm back to your hip at a time. Count and hold for 1-2 before switching sides. M: Keep your knees on the floor and just the row the arms.

Reaching Crawl:  From the Hovering Crawl position, reach one arm long out in front of you at a time.  Count and hold for 1-2 before switching sides.  M: Keep your knees on the floor and just reach one arm out at a time.

Extended Crawl:  From the Hovering Crawl position, extend one leg out long behind you at a time. Count and hold for 1-2 before switching sides. M: Keep your opposite knee on the floor and just extend one leg at a time.

Balancing Crawl: From the Hovering Crawl position, lift opposite hand and foot off the floor. Hold and count 1-2 before switching sides. M: Just lift your hand off. Come back to the crawl position. Then just lift your foot off. Switch sides.

Moving Crawl:  From the Balancing Crawl position, alternate sides and start moving around the room. Try moving right hand with left leg, followed by left hand with right leg (just like walking). M: If this is too much, continue working on Balancing Crawl.

***As always, please make sure you have your doctor’s approval before beginning any exercise routine.

Please leave any comments or questions in the section below or on the Facebook Group page.  Also, if you post any pics anywhere, remember to tag me @sarahaleyfit and hashtag #SayNoToCrunches so the rest of the team and me can find you.  I will help train you through this.  Go Team!

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