By Chris Carmichael, Founder and Head Coach of CTS
In a year that’s been like no other, the month of December will probably be like no other as well. Historically, we find that athletes miss more workouts in December than any other month, and this year athletes are facing more obstacles to staying fit than normal. On top of shorter days, cold temperatures, and holiday commitments, the surging number of COVID cases means gyms are closing or severely limiting occupancy, group rides are not really recommended, and most endurance events are on hold. There’s never been a better year for my D40 Challenge!
Complete 40 hours of training plus 1000 pushups in the month of December.
The rules are simple. Any exercise counts toward the 40 hours. Count your pushups. Track your progress however you’d like.
Post shots from the road or trail, a shot of your TrainingPeaks calendar, your Strava training log, a screenshot of the Zwift app, or a bunch of other options. If you’re not a social media person, email photos to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can give you some recognition.
This challenge is all about intrinsic motivation. There is no physical prize. You’re doing this for you, just like I’m doing it because the process of training makes me feel good.
That said, we have some great gifts to send out to people participating in the D40 Challenge. All you have to do is tag social media posts with #D40, and we’ll randomly choose people to win items like CTS caps, socks, cycling jerseys, and copies of your choice of The Time-Crunched Cyclist, Time-Crunched Triathlete, or Training Essentials for Ultrarunning. (Rules)
Why 40 Hours?
I like the 40-hour challenge because it represents 10 hours a week, a stretch goal for Time-Crunched Athletes who normally complete about 8 hours per week. That’s enough to provide a challenge and training stimulus, but it’s not an extreme challenge that could significantly throw off your stress-recovery balance.
Why 1000 Pushups?
To complete 1000 pushups in a month you need to do about 30 per day, which is just 3 sets of 10. The reason I added it to the D40 Challenge is to illustrate a point: small things done consistently can have a big impact. If you do 30 pushups a day for a month, they will be significantly easier to complete on December 31.
In fact, I’m betting you (and I) will naturally start doing more than 30 per day as the month progresses. If you hit 1000 early on, just keep track of how many you complete by the end of the month.
Keep in mind that bodyweight exercises like pushups, lunges, tricep dips, and pull ups are best thought of as lifestyle strength exercises. They are good to include in your routine as an active adult. As Coach Jason Koop talked about in this article, if you are going to use strength training to improve sport-specific performance, it is likely that strength training with heavier weights and fewer repetitions will be more effective. The study referenced in the article is on runners, but it adds to research that show similar results for other endurance sports.
Immune Support During #D40 Challenge
I’ve encouraged people to complete a December fitness challenge for a few years, but this is the first time it’s been in the midst of a global pandemic. Virus cases are surging throughout the United States, and we all need to take precautions to avoid infection.
Exercise is beneficial for immune response and the health of your immune system. My team produced this Position Statement on Coaching and Training During a Pandemic in the spring, and the guidelines still apply. Individual bouts of high-intensity exercise are not likely to increase your risk of infection, but a significant imbalance between exercise workload and recovery (particularly sleep) can increase infection risk. Because this is a training volume challenge (40 hours), I encourage you to maintain or reduce overall training intensity. In other words, don’t increase both intensity and volume at the same time.
Also remember that all stress (relationships, work, exercise, quarantine) has to be accounted for when determining your recovery requirements. The Holiday Season can be a stressful time in any year, and this year will be more stressful than most. Staying active and exercising can be a component of how you alleviate stress, but it is also important to recognize that you may not be able to “exercise away” elevated stress levels.
#D40 Starts December 1!
The #D40 Challenge officially starts on December 1, 2020, but you can certainly get a jump on it today! I’m planning on getting out on the mountain bike for 2 hours, with three stops for trailside pushups! Show me what you do, and remember to tag posts with #D40.