A woman rolls out her yoga mat for a home workout.

6 fitness challenges that will help you hit your goals during lockdown

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For Fighting Fit: Lockdown Lessons While WOFH (working out from home), we’re looking at the best home workout challenges to test your fitness without the gym. 

Lockdown taught everyone their own lessons about training, from the mental health benefits of running or the importance of listening to your body. But the biggest takeaway is that you don’t need a gym to challenge yourself, as people dived into four week plans or worked on their fitness without the guise of a squat rack.

Taking part in these challenges, such as building the strength to hold a five minute plank or trying out different training styles for 30 days, has helped many people feel like their training has a bit more focus in otherwise chaotic times.

However, a year into lockdown and your motivation might be wearing a bit thin. That means there’s no better time to set a fresh goal. Here are six ways to mix up your training. 

1. Conquer a full press-ups

You probably can’t name a better home workout challenge than a press-up test, because this exercise works your chest, shoulders, core and back – not to mention your mental resilience

Building up to a full press-up is a great challenge if you want to focus on building strength, but don’t have any weights on hand. Even if you can already bash out a set of full press-ups, working on adding more reps or moving slower through the movement will really test your upper body strength.

Strong Women Collective member Alice Miller has written a full four-week plan, which you can check out below. 

Fitness trainer lowers into a press-up position from toes.
Best fitness challenges: press-up challenge

2. Run a 5k (or even 10)

Use your once-a-day exercise time well by nailing a tricky run. Sure, you can sign up to a Couch to 5k app, but if you want to take charge of your timings (and more importantly, blast your own selection of motivating music) then try the four week 5k challenge that runner Tashi Skervin-Clarke planned for Strong Women.

“More than anything, getting out in the fresh air is important for your peace of mind and switching off. It’s a nice escape from day to day,” she says.

If you already sorted your 5k out in the first lockdown, don’t stop now! How about pushing yourself to hit the 10k mark in four weeks time? There’s a how-to guide below. 

3. Move for 10 minutes a day

It’s understandable if your desire to train has been scuppered. So start small, with just 10 minutes of intentional movement a day. Whether that’s a gentle yoga flow, a brisk walk around the block or one of our Strong in 10 workouts, getting active for a short period of time will do a world of good for your mental health. “When it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing,” explains sport and exercise expert Dr Folusha Oluwajana.

If you can push it a bit further, 12 minutes of high-intensity training has been proven to have great physical benefits, too. Find out why, and challenge yourself to this bite-size exercise plan, below.  

Woman in sports bra sitting in yogi squat with hands in prayer
Best fitness challenges: yoga

4. Try out yoga

Low-intensity training is nothing to be sniffed at. While you might think that yoga is more about the brain than the body, the two are more linked than you might imagine. “By bringing the physical and psychological parts of our wellbeing together, it creates almost a cocktail of wellness,” says Dr Zoe Williams from the Strong Women Collective. “It can push our bodies from being in a fight-or-flight mode, which is when your sympathetic nervous system is firing, into a more restful and calm state with your parasympathetic nervous system activated.”

While the practice can be intimidating for some, there are some gentle moves you can follow to get into the flow of yoga. Challenge yourself to do these three simple postures every single day, and see how you feel after two weeks. 

5. Learn to handstand

Here’s something tricky that only requires your body and a wall to do: handstands. But while the training is tough, following this programme from How To Handstand is a simple way to perfect your skill during lockdown. It might not be weight lifting, but your shoulders, core and back will be shaking afterwards (and you’ll probably have a sweat on, too). 

It will likely take longer than four weeks to master a free-standing handstand but take on the challenge and you’ll have a skill for life. 

6. Fall in love with exercise

If you’re a total beginner searching for a workout that works for them or you’ve been training for a while but are getting bored of your same routine, try this 30-day challenge

Designed by Strong Women Collective trainer Esmée Gummer, every day features a different style of training to help you find a session that you love. From boxing to barre and animal flow to strength training, there’s a workout style for almost everyone. 

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.

Images: Getty / Stylist

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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