Function is the Top Priority (Q n A)

pull up exercisesQuestion: How do I start with Challenge Complexes? I’m pretty unfit, but the program looks different and like it’s a lot of fun. I hate cardio and I need a change. Debbie

Answer: Debbie, I’m glad you’re taking on Challenge complexes.

My best advice to you is to start with a broom stick for the barbell complexes and go thru range of motion on all movements.

Do a few workouts like this and this will get you moving again.

From there, go to light DB’s, maybe even 5 lbs, go thru ROM (range of motion) again.

Do a few workouts like this.

Gradually, you can add a bit of weight to a bar or increase your DB’s.

Don’t be afraid to go through the motions unloaded at first, if a movement really bothers a joint or you feel an ache or a pain at a joint or one that doesn’t’ feel muscular, back off, assess, come back to that movement tentatively in a day or two.

Slow and steady wins. Start off at a slow pace and as you gain strength and confidence in your body’s abilities, you can increase the weight on movements.

I hope that helps.

If Challenge Complexes is too much, start off with Functional Fitness and move on from there. There’s NO point in biting off more than you can chew and getting injured.


*I got a few emails asking for clarification regarding the Functional Fitness program, one of which was:

Question: How are these different from your Challenge Workouts?   dan r functional fit 2

Answer (from Dr Dan Ritchie): These workouts are not as intense, and they do not contain any ballistic movements like jumping or burpees.   This doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of effort involved, or that they’re easy.   They’re designed with a 50-70 yr old client in mind.  They are designed to help people move better. Side note from me: While doing the videos, I found level 3 and 4 workouts challenging, but not killing me. You can do a level 2 Functional Fitness workout in this post.


Question: I’ve heard the term ‘functional fitness’ tossed around. What does that REALLY mean and do any of YOUR workouts address functional fitness?

Answer: Challenge Fat Loss utilizes functionally sound exercises. You’ll be using bodyweight and simple DB moves to strengthen tighten and tone your entire body. You’ll move better, you’ll get stronger and leaner while reducing your chance of injury. You’ll find a TON of variety to hit your body from every angle. My program is progressive and periodized so you’ll gradually increase your intensity. It’s intended to be used 3-5 times a week and I make it easy for you since the workouts are short and done at home with a minimal amount of space and equipment.

Don’t be misled, Challenge Fat Loss workouts are functional, but they are a challenge.

Here’s a great circuit using functional fitness principles and HIIT:

Do 30 seconds of work with a 5 second transition:
Box jump or step up
Push up (incline, prone or decline)
Prisoner squat jumps
Get ups
Prisoner reverse lunge
Plank recovery

Try to complete this for 5 rounds for under 20 minutes of fat burning functional fun.

For more challenging fat loss and functional workouts, head to Challenge Fat Loss:


Question: I want to do your Challenge workouts, specifically some Challenge Complexes but I have a lot of back pain. I’m not making much progress, what should I do?

Answer: It’s likely that your core could use some strengthening. Take a look at what I feel to be the best and safest ab strengthening exercise from Exercises for Injury guru, Rick Kaselj. This is a great place to start, as your core strengthens, you’ll be able to safely load up the complexes:

Rick suggests ‘planking’ to strengthen the core and back. If you can’t do the advanced moves in the video, just start with a static plank. From there, once you can do a static plank for about one minute, move to:

  • get ups (high plank to low plank)
  • mountain climbers
  • T planks

Ensure that your hips do NOT rock and that they stay stable. Widen the stance of the feet if necessary.

Rick is the master of pain 😉 Well, of ‘fixing’ your pain that is.

Check out Fix My Back Pain here.


shawna wonder womanFlattered that someone thinks my head belongs on the body of a super hero 😉