30 Day #SayNoToCrunches Challenge – Week 1

I’m so excited that you’ve decided to join me on my 30 Day #SayNoToCrunches Challenge. You can download the calendar and first week exercises below.  Because I want this workout challenge to be doable for everyone, this blog post is here to give you some modifications if you need them and more detailed descriptions of the exercises. I’ll be doing the challenge with you and posting the exercises on Instagram so make sure you are following me @sarahalefit. I’m officially starting on January 2 and doing the challenge through January 31, but you can pick whatever 30 Days you want.

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.  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 and recover on the one minute break.

So, the challenge works like this: On Day 1 you begin with a core exercise for 30 seconds, followed by a cardio exercise for 1 minute. Your rest for 1 minute and then repeat the sequence again two more times, so there are three rounds total. You will have worked out for a total of 4.5 minutes.  On Day 2, you add a new core exercise to the top of the workout, followed by Day 1 core exercise, and end with a new cardio exercise. You keep adding on a new core exercise and replacing your cardio exercise with a new one until the end of the week (or 7 days), so on the last day you are doing 13.5 minutes of work. The next week you will start all over with new exercises.

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!


30DayNoCrunches_Jan 2015_FinalCalendarDownload This: SaraHaley#SayNoToCrunchesCalendar

Here is a breakdown of the Cardio Exercises. You will do one each day of the week for one minute (for three rounds), during all four weeks. Please note I have given modifications (M) for those of you who do not like high impact movements.

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.

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 behind your head to 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.

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.

Burpee: This is one of the best full body movements you can do. Squat down with your heels touching the floor and 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.

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.

Lunge Kick Outs:  If you take my classes, this is one of my signature moves. Lunge back on one leg. Put your hands down in front. Kick the leg that was in front for the lunge to the back wall.  The rest of your body should be in a plank position. Reverse the pattern until you’re back in the lunge. Keep repeating on one side until you’re ready to go to the other side. As you get more comfortable with the sequence, pick up your pace. M: Instead of kicking out, just go to plank.

Tuck Jumps: This is exactly as it sounds. Soften your knees and swing your arms back. Jump up and bring both knees to your chest and your hands to your knees. This exercise will be very difficult to do for one minute, so please take breaks between jumps. M: You can do quick squats in place or lift one knee at a time like the High Knee modification.  If you still want to jump, just do a soft jump up like at the end of a burpee, rather than tucking your knees.

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 is to rest in the crawl position when needed. Any additional modifications (M) are listed below.

I nicknamed Week 1: Crawl for your Core.  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.

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. M: Take breaks when needed.

Tapping Crawl: From the Hovering Crawl Position, tap the knees to the floor. Hold and count 1-2 before bringing them back up.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Moving Crawl:  From the Balancing Crawl position, alternate sides and start moving around the room.   M: If this is too much, continue working on Balancing Crawl.


30DayNoCrunches_Week 1_FinalDownload This:  SaraHaley#SayNoToCrunchesWeek1

Please leave a comment below to confirm you are in. It will be a good way to hold you accountable.  Also, if you use Instagram tag @sarahaleyfit and hashtag #SayNoToCrunches so I can find you.  I will help train you through this.  Go Team!

52 thoughts on “30 Day #SayNoToCrunches Challenge – Week 1

  1. Sara, both days were tough as far as the cardio goes. 1 minutes seems like forever. I have to admit that I am out of shape (or at least not the in the shape I was before I got pregnant) so that makes it harder. At the end of Day 1 exercises I could barely walk and felt nauseated. Day 2 was as intense but a bit better…getting a bit stronger by the day.

  2. I’m a day behind, but I’m in on the challenge! (George is too actually – just completed day 1 together.) Hopefully one of these days I’ll double up, but for now I’m just a day behind.

    1. Love that the two of you are doing it! Just be a day behind. You can see the workouts in action on my Instagram http://instagram.com/sarahaleyfit/. I will say Day 1 felt easy but Day 2 is definitely killer – in the moment. You’ll feel great after. Thanks for the support. Miss you guys!

  3. Elena, That’s awesome! I love that you love it! About to do Day 4 now, so I’ll let you know what I think!

  4. Hi Sara! My boot camp class is loving these! do you have the breakdown for the core exercises for week 2 available yet? Thanks, Erin

  5. So Sara, I feel these crawls much more in my shoulders than my core. Do you think I’m doing something wrong?

    1. Not uncommon . . . Shift your weight back into your heels more. It’s probably partly because you’re not distributing your weight evenly. It’s probably more because your core isn’t strong enough to handle it all (You’re in that position for 2.5 minutes at this point.), so your shoulders are helping a lot. Are you okay with sculpting your shoulders too? 🙂 Not such a bad thing, eh?

  6. Day 5: Done! (They are getting harder and harder…. The cardio was ok (cardio was harder in the beginning I thought, like Day 1 and Day 2). The last couple of days I feel a lot of burning in my quads, is that normal? I am not feeling it so much in my core?)

  7. Hey Elena. Yes, I agree with you – High Knees, Praying Mantis & Burpees have been the hardest cardio. You get to do them again next week! See my response to Sarah above. It’s the opposite for you – I would try to distribute your weight a bit more evenly. Make sure your shoulders are right over your hands. Also, maybe walk your feet back a little more. It’s probably your hip flexors kicking in, and like I said to Sarah, if your core can’t take it all, other muscles will start to help. Make sense?

  8. Hi Sara- I’ve posted a few pics on instagram and tagged you and hashtagged #saynotocrunches. I hope you can see them! Looking forward to week 2!

  9. So far so good, my calves right under my knees were so very sore after the first couple of days but better now. I even changed my work schedule so that I could fit in tomorrows workout before it got to late in the evening.

    Thanks for the motivation.

  10. I started week one today! started on day 4 to follow a weekly pattern – loved it! It’s nice to see you doing so well, Sara!

  11. It’s Bashir (formally Evans!) we taught UDA camps together! I’m in Chicago now, but I work from home so I love all of your workouts for when I can’t get to the gym.

    1. No, so weird that I’m not seeing them . . . you’re posting on Facebook or Instagram? You sure you’re tagging @sarahaleyfit? Can you send me the links?

  12. Days 6 and 7 completed (I did not do both today. I just did not post last night). Day 7 was definetely harder, as it probably should be.

      1. Eek! My comment got cut off! I used to – I was Ashley Albrecht (now Nash)! We taught together forever ago. I love following your blog and IG! I teach Pilates and always tell my pregger clients to follow you! So happy you are doing so well!
        Xox Ash

      2. Ah yes! I remember of course! Love that you are in the fitness industry too. Thanks for spreading the prenatal love!

  13. Hi Sara. Unfortunately, I stopped after the first week…I had a crazy two weeks and lots of things going on (and getting very little sleep). I will go back to doing it soon though. This would be 3rd week, right? See, I lost count :))

  14. I know its a few months late but I am mostly thru week 1!!! Where do i find the details about week 2?

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