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The 30-Day Fitness Challenge That Sculpts a Sexy Back

Natalie Jill, fitness trainer, certified sports nutritionist, author, and social media sensation, designed this challenge to work your muscles from all angles. So while you'll work your back in more ways than you knew you could, you'll also get a dose of core work and cardio each week.

The whole thing kicks off on Day 1 with a timed rep test, which you'll repeat on the last day to prove just how much stronger you've gotten. Then each week you'll be given four different back-focused moves, along with one day set aside for a cardio circuit (for all-over fat loss) and another day for your core circuit (because you can't have a strong back without a tight core.) And don't worry, you can count on a rest day after each week.

Make sure you follow along in this order—download, pin, and print the calendar for reference—so you know exactly which days goes with which move or circuit. Every week you'll progress, beginning with body-weight moves, followed by back exercises that incorporate a resistance band, stability ball, and finally dumbbells.

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30-Day Back Challenge

Day 1

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 1: 30-Rep Timed Test

The whole thing kicks off on Day 1 with a 30-rep timed check-in. How long does it take you to do 30 reps of resistance band rows? Make note of that time now because you'll come back to it on the last day—and we have a feeling you'll be pretty darn pleased with how far you've come.
  • Sitting on the ground with legs extended straight in front, wrap a resistance band around the balls of your feet.
  • Holding either end of the band, pull it back as you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Keep your shoulders down and abs in. Be sure the movement comes from your back, not from your biceps.

Day 2

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Day 2: Cardio Circuit

Do each of the following five moves for 1 minute each. Try to rest as little as possible between each move for maximum calorie burn and cardio endurance training results. (See video for exactly how to perform every exercise in this circuit.)

  • Jump Rope
  • Skater Hop 
  • Butt Kick 
  • Ball Tap
  • Power Squat

Day 3

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 3: Rest Day

You're off the hook! Take a breather, you deserve it. 

(Note: Since you're just getting started, you could complete a light workout.)

Related: This Is What the Ultimate Recovery Day Should Look Like

Day 4

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Day 4: Bodyweight

Back Pulse

  • Standing, lift your arms straight out in front of you, then spread them wide so they reach back.
  • Maintain straight arms and engage your back muscles so the movement does not rely on momentum, but rather on a slow squeeze of your back.
  • Continue this full-range movement, front to back, then pulse your arms in a tight and tiny motion (about 1 to 2 inches) back to really burn out those back muscles.

30 seconds full range, 30 seconds pulse. Do 3 sets.

Day 5

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 5: Bodyweight

Bent-Over Reverse Fly

  • Standing, hinge at your hips, bringing torso nearly parallel to the floor.
  • Bend elbow as you create a "hugging shape" with your arms, hands meeting in front of you.
  • Pull up and back as you bring elbows behind you, squeezing your back.

Repeat for 60 seconds. Do 3 sets.

Day 6

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 6: Bodyweight

Air Pull-Up

  • Standing, reach both arms up overhead before pulling elbows down and out to your sides, creating your own resistance as you mimic a pull-up movement. Bring arms back up to starting position, and repeat.
  • Elbows should remain pointed toward the floor with back and core engaged.

Repeat for 60 seconds. Do 2 sets.

Day 7

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Day 7: Abs Circuit

You'll perform each of the following five moves for 1 minute each. Try to take as little rest in between each move as possible to build maximum core strength and for the most muscle endurance training results. (See video for exactly how to perform every exercise from this circuit.)

  • Lift and lower
  • Scissor kick
  • Side plank with tuck under
  • Shimmy
  • Pike walk

Day 8

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 8: Bodyweight

Swimmer

Double-Arm

  • With knees on the floor, standing tall, engage your core as you hinge back slightly.
  • Bring arms straight out in front of you, fingertips pointed.
  • Open arms wide as you mimic a swimming motion, squeezing shoulder blades before bending quickly at the elbow to return to starting position. (Repeat this double-arm movement before moving on to toe-taps.)

Toe-Tap

  • From the same hinged position, hand down in front of you, reach left arms up, back, and around to tap your left foot.
  • Reverse the movement as you swing left arm up and forward. Repeat with right side.

Repeat for 60 seconds each. Do 2 sets.

Day 9

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 9: Cardio Circuit

You'll perform each of the following five moves for 1 minute each. Try to take as little rest in between each move as possible for maximum calorie burn and cardio endurance training results.

  • Jump rope
  • Skater hop
  • Butt kick
  • Ball tap
  • Power squat

Watch the video again if you need a refresher on how to perform every exercise from this circuit.

Related: This 10-Minute Circuit Might Be the Hardest Cardio Workout You Ever Do

Day 10

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 10: Rest Day

The day is yours! Go buy a strappy sports bra to show off that hard work.

Day 11

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Day 11: Resistance Bands

Cupid's Pull

  • Fold the resistance band in half. (Depending on how strong the band is that you're working with, you may not need to do this.) Grab the band with both hands about 3 to 4 inches apart, holding it straight out in front of you.
  • With left arm straight, bend right elbow as you pull that arm back (as if you're getting ready to shoot an arrow from a bow).
  • Make sure right arm is tight to your side, shoulders stay down, and elbow points back. Repeat on the opposite side.

Repeat for 30 seconds on each side. Do 3 sets.

Day 12

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 12: Resistance Bands

Twisted Band Pull

  • Fold the resistance band in half. (Depending on how strong the band is that you're working with, you may not need to do this.) Grab near the end of either side of the band, holding it straight out in front of you.
  • With left arms straight out in front, pull the band open using a straight right arm. You'll twist your torso slightly as you pull the arm out. Repeat on left side.

Repeat for 60 seconds. Do 3 sets.

Day 13

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 13: Resistance Bands

Resistance Row Boat

  • Stand in the center of the resistance band, and cross the ends to create an X.
  • Hinge upper body forward from the hips and grab either end of the band or handle.
  • Hands start low and together before you pull elbows out and back, squeezing shoulder blades together. Bring arms slowly back to starting position. Repeat.
  • Standing will work more of the shoulder (and traps), while bending forward will allow the work to focus more on your lats—the largest back muscle.

Repeat for 60 seconds. Do 3 sets.

Day 14

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 14: Abs Circuit

You'll perform each of the following five moves for 1 minute each. Try to take as little rest in between each move as possible to build maximum core strength and for the most muscle endurance training results.

  • Lift and lower
  • Scissor kick
  • Side plank with tuck under
  • Shimmy
  • Pike walk

Watch the video again if you need a refresher on how to perform every abs exercise from this circuit.

Day 15

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 15: Resistance Bands

Airplane Up and Down

  • Fold the resistance band in half. (Depending on how strong the band is that you're working with, you may not need to do this.) Grab the band toward the center with both hands about 3 to 4 inches apart, holding it tight.
  • Bring arms straight up and overhead. Slowly, with control and tension, lower straight arms down coming to just below chest height. Repeat, bringing arms back up.

Repeat for 60 seconds. Do 3 sets.

Day 16

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 16: Cardio Circuit

You'll perform each of the following five moves for 1 minute each. Try to take as little rest in between each move as possible for maximum calorie burn and cardio endurance training results.

  • Jump rope
  • Skater hop
  • Butt kick
  • Ball tap
  • Power squat

Watch the video again if you need a refresher on how to perform every exercise from this circuit.

Day 17

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 17: Rest Day

Dance around to "Sexy Back" you've made it to a Rest Day!

Day 18

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Day 18: Stability Ball

Ball Raise

  • Standing, hold a stability ball on either side, making sure to create tension by squeezing in slightly. This will also engage your chest.
  • Starting with the ball straight out in front of you, bring it up and overhead. Then slowly lower it down with control. Repeat.

Repeat for 45 seconds. Do 2 sets.

Day 19

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 19: Stability Ball

Ball Twist

  • Standing, hold a stability ball on either side, making sure to create tension by squeezing in slightly. (This will also engage your chest.)
  • With ball straight out in front of you, begin twisting your torso to bring the ball to the left and then the right. Repeat.

Repeat for 45 seconds. Do 2 sets.

Day 20

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 20: Stability Ball

Thumbs-Up Pulse

  • Lie on the stability ball on your chest and stomach, feet long behind you, anchoring you for support.
  • Strength arms out wide with hands in a thumbs-up position.
  • Bring arms up and back as you point your thumbs to the ceiling. Repeat.

Repeat for 45 seconds. Do 2 sets.

Day 21

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 21: Abs Circuit

You'll perform each of the following five moves for 1 minute each. Try to take as little rest in between each move as possible to build maximum core strength and for the most muscle endurance training results.

  • Lift and lower
  • Scissor kick
  • Side plank with tuck under
  • Shimmy
  • Pike walk

Watch the video again if you need a refresher on how to perform every abs exercise from this circuit.

Day 22

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 22: Stability Ball

Lat Ball Roll-Out

  • With your knees on the floor, grab the stability ball with your forearms stretched long in front of you, head down and torso straight.
  • Using your back, muscles roll the ball in toward you. The movement is small. Repeat.

Repeat for 45 seconds. Do 2 sets.

Day 23

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 23: Cardio Circuit

You'll perform each of the following five moves for 1 minute each. Try to take as little rest in between each move as possible for maximum calorie burn and cardio endurance training results.

  • Jump rope
  • Skater hop
  • Butt kick
  • Ball tap
  • Power squat

Watch the video again if you need a refresher on how to perform every exercise from this circuit.

Day 24

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 24: Rest Day

The day is yours! Go admire your hard work.

Day 25

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Day 25: Dumbbells

L-Shaped Lift

  • Standing, grab one 5-, 8-, or 10-pound dumbbell in each hand, arms down in front.
  • Lift straight right arm directly in front of you. At the same time, lift straight left arm directly out to your side. (This creates the L shape.)
  • Without bringing weights back down, pivot both arms to opposite side so that left arm is straight in front and right arm is out to the side. Bring arms down to starting position, and reverse the movement. Repeat.

15 reps/2 sets

Day 26

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 26: Dumbbells

Reverse Fly

  • Standing with a 5-, 8-, or 10-pound dumbbell in each hand, bend forward as you hinge at the hips.
  • Starting with hands together in front of you, engage your back muscles as you pull your elbows out and back, remembering to squeeze at the top of the movement. Repeat.

Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

Day 27

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 27: Dumbbells

Deadlift & Row Combo

  • Standing with a 5-, 8-, or 10-pound dumbbell in each hand, bend down with knees softly bent. Bring weights to hover just above your feet.
  • Come to standing as you squeeze your hamstrings and glutes. Weights are still hanging low for the deadlift portion of this move.
  • Once standing, lift elbows up and out as you raise the weights to chest height for an upright row. Return to starting position before repeating the entire move beginning with the deadlift.

Repeat for 60 seconds. Do 2 sets.

Day 28

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 28: Abs Circuit

You'll perform each of the following five moves for 1 minute each. Try to take as little rest in between each move as possible to build maximum core strength and for the most muscle endurance training results.

  • Lift and lower
  • Scissor kick
  • Side plank with tuck under
  • Shimmy
  • Pike walk

Watch the video again if you need a refresher on how to perform every abs exercise from this circuit.

Day 29

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 29: Dumbbells

Weighted Bird Dog

  • From quadruped position (on hands and knees on the floor), place 5-, 8-, or 10-pound dumbbells in front of your hands.
  • Grab left dumbbell with your left hand, and raise a straight left arm directly in front of you. At the same time, lift a straight right leg directly behind you. Return arm and leg to the floor. Repeat on opposite sides (right weighted arm and left leg), before continuing the movement.

Repeat for 60 seconds. Do 2 sets.

Related: The Best Easy Abs Workout for Women

Day 30

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Photo: Patrick Connolly

Day 30: Cardio Circuit

You'll perform each of the following five moves for 1 minute each. Try to take as little rest in between each move as possible for maximum calorie burn and cardio endurance training results.

  • Jump rope
  • Skater hop
  • Butt kick
  • Ball tap
  • Power squat

Watch the video again if you need a refresher on how to perform every exercise from this circuit.

Photo: Patrick Connolly

Final 30-Rep Timed Check-In

Grab the same resistance band you used at the beginning of the challenge and head down to the floor to test your strength and endurance with a 30-rep timed resistance band row.

Record how long it takes you. Now compare that to your time from Day 1. What's the difference? 

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