Fitness Tips

30-Day Fitness Challenge Ideas to Boost Your Motivation to Exercise

Personally, I love a 30-Day fitness challenge.


Because it’s a goal you can shoot for with a clear start and end that is enough time to see results, but not so much time that it’s too overwhelming to start. 

In other words, its a powerful motivation tool, and a great way to start building an exercise habit if you’re totally new to exercise. So today I thought I’d share some 30-day fitness challenge ideas in case you’ve been looking for a way to kick-start your fitness regime.

[Updated Oct, 2020]

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But first… Do 30-day workout challenges really work?

Before we get into 30-day fitness challenge ideas, you might be wondering, “Can you get in shape in 30 days?”

It’s a legitimate question. By now, you’ve probably seen your fair share of ads claiming that they do work, with dramatic before and after pictures to prove it.

But it can seem a little dubious.

Whether or not a 30-day challenge will work for you depends on what your expectations are. If you want to look like a bodybuilding competitor, then a 30-day challenge is probably not going to help you reach that goal.

But if you need to drop some weight, form an exercise habit, and look or feel better in your clothes, then yes, a 30-day challenge can definitely help you achieve that!

How do you make a 30-day fitness challenge?

You can totally DIY your own fitness challenge. In general, you just need to pick what kind of challenge you want to do, then make a schedule for yourself to follow over the next 30 days, with each day being a little more challenging than the one before it.

You can also choose programs created by fitness experts to get the biggest return on your investment of time (and sweat!)

Here we will look at both types of 30-day fitness challenge ideas that you can try out:

Serial Starter Fix – 28 Doable Days to Better Fitness

Okay, technically it’s not a full 30 days but close enough! This is the perfect challenge for beginners and those who are struggling with finding enough time and motivation to work out.

I’d been itching to design my own program that incorporates a different mix of exercises while being both simple to follow and effective. I wanted it to stay interesting and challenging without being overwhelming.

And I think the Serial Starter Fix accomplishes that!

The program comes with a printable workout guide featuring 13 different workouts, well as a printable program calendar, progress tracker, and weekly motivation emails. 

Each week consists of 3 strength circuit workouts mixed in with cardio and bonus step-count goals. It starts off easy, with shorter time commitments – and ramps up over 4 weeks.

Below is a sneak peek at what the program entails, and the schedule for week 1:

Week 1 Fitness ChallengeWeek 1: 

  • 3 x Circuit workouts (6 minutes x 2 sets = 12 minutes per workout)
  • 2 x Step count challenges
  • 1 x 20 minute cardio day

Week 2: 

  • 3 x Circuit workouts (7 minutes x 2 sets = 14 minutes per workout)
  • 2 x Step count challenges
  • 1 x 25 minute cardio day

Week 3: 

  • Circuit length = (6 minutes x 3 sets  = 18 minutes per workout)
  • 1 x Step count challenge
  • 2 x 25 minute cardio days

Week 4: 

  • Circuit length = (7 minutes x 3 sets = 21 minutes per workout)
  • 1 x Step count challenge
  • 2 x 30 minute cardio day

Because you’re a The Fit Careerist reader and this program is new, you can snag it for an additional 20% off if you use coupon code THEFIX20 at checkout before midnight on November 1st 2020!

DIY Targeted Challenge

The Best 30 Day Fitness Challenge IdeasFocusing on a certain body part or muscle group. You’ve probably seen these kinds of challenges in your Pinterest feed, like:

  • Squat challenges
  • Pushup Challenges
  • Plank Challenge

But these challenges are misleading because when it comes to losing weight, exercising one part of your body will strengthen that part, but won’t make you lose fat from that area.

For example, if you do nothing but ab exercises, it’s not going to help you lose fat from your stomach specifically. That’s the theory of “spot reduction” and science indicates that it’s basically not possible. In other words, you can’t really control where you lose fat. 

My personal experience has been that it’s more like peeling an onion; it comes off in layers. 

For that reason, I prefer workout challenges that involve full-body exercises because it burns more calories and is better for overall conditioning. 

BUT. That doesn’t mean that targeted challenges aren’t useful. For example, if you want to focus on strengthening a weaker area of your body you could benefit from a challenge targeting that area.

For example, I could definitely benefit from doing a daily pushup challenge! 

They are also usually really simple to follow because they involve the same kind of exercise over and over, and usually a matter of increasing reps over the course of 30 days.

For example, if you’re doing a 30-day squat challenge, it might look something like this:

Day 1: 10 Squats

Day 2: 15 Squats

Day 3: 20 Squats

And so forth. 

HIIT Challenge

HIIT challenges are one of my favorites because it strengthens your whole body while burning a lot of calories. (It’s all about that EPOC or “afterburn” effect!) HIIT is also a great way to get your cardio in without involving runs or other endurance types of cardio. 

A HIIT challenge could include 3-6 different strength-based exercises that you do every day, and just increase the number of reps each day. Or you can try harder variations of those exercises as the days progress. 

This one probably takes a little more planning than the others but has the potential to produce the best results! 

Step-Counting Challenge

A more low-impact option is to try a 30-day step-counting challenge. I’ve already gushed about how much I love walking as a form of exercising. And step-counting is a great way to benchmark your progress and make it more fun. (Psst, the Serial Starter Fix program I mentioned earlier incorporates bonus step-count goals, so it’s almost like 2 challenges in one!)

One of my favorite things about step counting challenges is that you can break it up into as many sessions as you want. So while a target of 10000 steps in a day may seem like a lot, if you plan it so that you do 10-20 minutes of walking several times throughout the day, you can reach that goal pretty easily.

You just need a reliable pedometer. Most phones these days have one built-in, so they will do the job in a pinch – but I really recommend wearable fitness trackers because I find they’re more accurate and they track so much more than just your steps!

Plus if you get something like a FitBit, you can do step-counting challenges with other friends who own the device. A little friendly competition can certainly make a challenge more interesting!

(I have been known to get out of bed and start walking around my house at 11 pm in order to out-step a competing friend!)

Cardio Challenge

If better endurance and cardiovascular health is your fitness goal, you can try doing a 30-day cardio challenge. You can build your endurance a little each day but adding a minute or two each day.

These could be a walk-to-run challenge or a jump rope challenge.

I like the jump rope challenge because you’re getting a tiny bit of plyo action in there, and you can do it inside with minimal space. You don’t even actually need a jump rope, you can just mimic the arm swings like you’re holding one. 

Related: 5 Non-Running Cardio Workouts You Can Do from Home

What is the best 30-day fitness challenge? 

Really, it comes down to your preference and what your fitness goals are. There really isn’t a “best” in my opinion.

The goal is to choose a challenge that you’re pumped up to do so that you don’t feel like calling it in after two weeks. (Or two days. Oh yeah, I’ve totally bailed on a workout plan after two days before. Many, many times.) 

If you’ve been sedentary for a long time and really need something doable to get you moving, I strongly recommend you check out Serial Starter Fix!

So how about it? Are you up for a challenge? 

Or have you ever tried any of these 30 Day Fitness Challenge ideas? If so, what were your results? Write your answer in the comments!


Corrie Alexander is a former ISSA-certified personal trainer, home fitness advocate, and founder of The Fit Careerist. A proponent of personal growth and a self-proclaimed fitness app-junkie, Corrie shares tips and product reviews with the goal of helping others on their own fitness journey.

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