September was a great month to run The Core Is The Core 30 day challenge – it’s that perfect in between season for most sports, and so theoretically we all have more time. Plus there are 30 days in September so the math is easy.

The challenge was to do 4 core exercises each day:

  • 1 for the anterior (front) core, like a plank
  • 1 for the lateral (side) core, like a side plank
  • 1 for the posterior (backside) core, like a glute bridge
  • 1 combo core, which is an exercise that isn’t usually considered a core exercise but that has a lot of core to it, like push-ups

There was one free day given for the 30 days, in case it just wasn’t going to work out.

Each day the participants had to submit an online form where they identified what exercise they did for that day along with how many reps or how long they held the exercise. The form provided a drop down list of 15+ suggested exercises in each category along with a write in field in case the exercise they did wasn’t on the list.

Additionally, they were given the option to receive an email each day reminding them of the challenge and with a link to the form where they submit. This email included a picture and either description of video of one of the exercises from the list, for those who weren’t familiar with all of them.

Finally, there is a The Core Is The Core Facebook page where people could post questions about any core exercises.

Everyone who finished the 30 day challenge enters the Winner’s Circle, and is entered into a random draw to become the Grand Champion. The Grand Champion gets bragging rights and gets to decide what charity will receive a $100 donation provided by me.

Time for me to cut to the chase and share the results? Okay, here goes:

  • We had 32 participants start the challenge, and…7 completed it. Only 22%, so clearly this was challenging!
  • Interestingly, we were down to 7 by the end of week two, so it looks  like 14 days is the magic number to get to if you want to finish. Hopefully that will be motivating for the next round.
  • The most popular exercises in each category were: planks, side planks, glute bridges and push ups. Here’s a more detailed list including some average repetition and hold numbers:



hold / reps



hold / reps



hold / reps



hold / reps



Side plank


Glute bridge


Push ups


Single leg lowering


Bird dog


Glute bridge (1 leg)




Shoulder taps


Shoulder taps


Mini band walks


Split squats




Plank to side plank


Sidelying clams


Pull ups


  • I tried to look at improvements over the course of the 30 days, but because the number of participants changed significantly over the 30 days, and the choice of exercises was not the same, this ended up being tricky and the results did not seem meaningful. Perhaps in future I will request that during the first and last week everyone does at least 3 days worth of set exercise for comparison. I’m open to input on this.

The totals were pretty cool! Over the last 30 days, you as a group did over 20,000 repetitions of the various core exercises! And it wasn’t just working those “six pack muscles”, but you hit the whole core. Well done everyone!

Oops, have I still not mentioned the winner? How did that happen? Okay, here goes:

The winner’s circle who successfully completed the challenge is (imagine a drum roll before the names are announced, and loud cheering after each name please):


That’s Annie, Cecilia, Chris, Gary, Julie, Missy, and Roger for those who can’t see the saucy image above. Each of you will be receiving a The Core Is The Core 30 Day Challenge Winner’s Circle Certificate. Congratulations!

And the Grand Champion, selected randomly from the list above (using a random number generator in Excel) is…


Gary has selected the Greater cleveland Alzheimer’s Association as the recipient. Great choice. I’ll be sending them $100 tomorrow.

Congratulations to everyone who entered!

Wondering when we’ll do this again and how you can register?

The next The Core Is The Core 30 day challenge starts on October 15th. Fill in the registration form by 11:59pm on October 14th (Eastern) if you want to take part.

Note that there are three key changes to this next version:

  1. We’re asking you to put skin in the game in hopes of getting more than 22% to finish. At the end of the registration form, you’ll be taken to a paypal page to pay the $20 entry fee. The charity donation this time will be $100 or half of the total program fee collected, whichever is more.
  2. We’re giving you a copy of my new Core Companion workout! It’s a workout I’ve been using both myself and with my clients at Custom Strength this year, and I’m loving the results. It’s a program that we use for 3-6 week to really beef up the core, and is a particularly great option for athletes in season, for those who are getting bored with their current workout, or for those who feel their core may be limiting their success in the weightroom.
  3. With the fee, we’ve also added a satisfaction guarantee: if at the end of the 30 days you don’t feel you got your $10 worth, just reply to one of the emails you receive requesting a refund, and we will give you back the $10, no questions asked. Note that you won’t get the full $20 back because half is being donated.

Want to get some more ideas about the type of exercises we do? Here’s a blog I wrote when I did the first challenge back in May.

Register for the October 15th Challenge here!


Elsbeth Vaino, CSCS, is a personal trainer in Ottawa, who is excited to spread the message that the core is more than just the “six pack” muscles. 


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