30-Day Fitness Challenges

My makeshift garage gym

My makeshift garage gym

If you know me, you know I love 30-day challenges, hence Cookuary. After completing my first Cookuary, I wanted to add an exercise component to my next challenge to see if I could see even better health results after the 30-day period. And I did see better results! Now I want to share a few of those challenges with you in case you feel like starting a new challenge and participating in an n=1 experiment with me. I guess that would make it an n=2,3,4... experiment then.

I've been able to use all 3 of the challenges below to get fitter and stronger over various 30-day periods. The idea behind these challenges is to activate your muscles every day and by the end of the 30-day period, hopefully each exercise will be easier and you will be able to see measureable strength gains. The goal is also to make them easy enough to complete in a short period of time so that they don't become too much of a burden each day. If any of these are too easy, feel free to add more reps or modify the exercises as needed. Good luck and have fun with it!

PS. Add these to a Cookuary challenge for some extra fun!

Challenge #1 - Steps & Stairs

Reaching 50,000 steps on my Fitbit One

Reaching 50,000 steps on my Fitbit One

Out of all of the challenges I have done, step-challenges are the only ones I've ever failed. I've had to start building walks into my day in order to reach the daily goal every single day. I even work at a standing desk and will still leave work with only 4,000 steps at times. There are times when I get home from work and all I want to do is cook dinner and go to bed, but I still have an hour of walking to do. Those are the nights where I really see how determined I am to complete the challlenge. Those are also the nights where I feel like a weirdo walking up and down the street and around the house to get all my steps in. And you might too. To really make sure that you complete this challenge, you will most likely need a pedometer that can also count floors climbed. I use and recommend the Fitbit One. I think they have great customer service and haven't had any problems with my device.

The Daily Routine

  • 10,000 Steps
  • 20 Flights of Stairs

The Enhanced Routine

  • 12,000 Steps
  • 40 Flights of Stairs


  • Park farther from work. This can be a higher/lower floor in a parking structure as well.
  • Walk around the building before you walk in the door at your office.
  • Walk down the street and back, or around the block before you leave the house, and do it again when you get home from work.
  • Take the stairs whenever you can
  • Instead of the sitting on the couch, walk around the house a little bit when you are watching TV

Challenge #2 - The Basics

Getting back to basics. I first tried this challenge with pull-ups only and it helped me get from 6 pull-ups to 25 pull-ups in a single set by the end of the challenge. After that, I added in the other 3 exercises for a more well-rounded routine.

The Daily Routine

  • 20 Push-ups
  • 20 Pull-ups
  • 20 Sit-ups
  • 20 Squats

The Enhanced Daily Routine

  • 20 Diamond Push-ups, alternating days with 20 Clap Push-ups
  • 30 Pull-ups
  • 30 Sit-up + Leg Raise Combos with 10 lb. Medicine Ball
  • 20 Jump Squats


  • Do as many reps as you can at first, then rest and finish the remaining reps
  • Spread these work-outs throughout the day so you don't have to do them all at once
  • If you can't perform standard push-ups, try knee push-ups or a combination of the two.
  • Superset them to get them done faster (do the Push-ups while resting from Pull-ups)
  • As a substitute for pull-ups if you don't have a pull-up bar, try bent-over rows with weights
  • Since this challenge only includes 4 exercises, this should be able to be done in conjuction with your normal gym routine if you want.
  • For an extra punch, add in Challenge #1.

Challenge #3 - Full-Body Activation Routine

    My awesome pregnant sister putting in work! 

    My awesome pregnant sister putting in work! 

The idea behind this routine is activate every muscle or almost every muscle in the body, but only enough to break them down a little bit so you can still use them the next day. I originally tried this routine as a single-day plan, but quickly realized that it wasn't sustainable and my muscles weren't repairing fast enough each day, I then tried it as a 2-day routine and that worked a lot better. Rotating between the 2 days for the entire 30-day period. Think of this routine as if it was part of your job. Imagine you have taken on a new job that forces you to do this type of physical work each day, and now your body has to adapt itself to getting better and more efficient at completing these exercises. As with Challenge #2, the goal is to try and make measureable strength gains in each exercise by the end the 30-day period.

I chose the exercises below because I enjoy them and enjoying the exercises really helps me stick to the challenge. But, if there are other exercises you really like that activate the same muscle, please feel free to include those instead.

Split Routine Day 1

  • 20 Dips
  • 10 Curls (use weight @ 5 rep max)
  • 10 Shoulder Press (use weight @ 5 rep max)
  • 10 Deadlifts (use weight @ 5 rep max)
  • 20 Diamond Push-ups
  • 40 Sit-up + Leg Raise Combos with 10 lb. Medicine Ball
  • 2 Farmer Walks
  • 12,000 Steps
  • 40 Flights of Stairs

Split Routine Day 2

  • 40 Jump Squats
  • 10 Inverted Ring Shrugs (can be replaced with shoulder shrugs at 5 rep max)
  • 30 Weighted Pull-ups (I use a 25 lb. chain)
  • 20 Plyo Push-ups (clap push-ups)
  • 10 Toes to Bar
  • 40 Ab Twists with 10 lb. Medicine Ball
  • 2 Farmer Walks
  • 12,000 Steps
  • 40 Flights of Stairs


  • Spread these exercises throughout the day. Morning, lunch, quick break, night, etc.
  • You may get sore the first week, so just make sure to rest your muscles throughout the day and get enough sleep.
  • I would not recommend adding this on top of your daily gym routine as this challenge may get too tough to complete.

Feel free to use these as a starting point for other 30-day exercise challenges you want to complete. I'm still thinking of new ones for myself too!

If you have any questions about any of these exercises, please ask! Though I am not an expert, I can probably point you in the right direction. 


Disclaimer: Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them. I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. The information presented herein is not presented with the intention of diagnosing or treating any disease or condition. This information is for educational purposes only. No responsibility is assumed by the author nor anyone connected with this website for the use of this information and no guarantees of any kind are made for the performance or effectiveness of the recommendations provided.