I’d been adrift in my strength training since the birth of my second child in 2015. Now, with four children, it’s not exactly easier! Something had to change and, after many different attempts, I created something that worked – and loaded movement was at the heart of it all..

The challenge

Before I elaborate, let me tell you about the challenge. It’s a simple premise:

  • 10 loaded movements
  • 100 days
  • Day 1 is one repetition of each of the 10 movements (i.e., 10 REPs in total)
  • Day 2 is two repetitions of each movement, so 20 REPs
  • Each day, add one REP to each movement
  • Today, as I write this, I’m on day 74, so 740 REPs across the 10 movements
  • Day 100 then, inevitably, is going to be 1,000 REPs
  • Invite the community to join – I started with 50 worldwide; lots remain, although fewer than 10 are still on an unbroken run, but more on this later …

The movements

I selected 10 movements that were coachable; as a collection, they work the body in its entirety. I’m incorporating several different uses of ViPR to keep it varied. The challenge can be adapted for whoever wants to join and, frankly, it felt like it would be fun!

As you can see from the video below, from day 2/100 with two of my kids, I split the movements as follows:

MOBILITY: The first four movements were upper cuts, rainbows, cross body and foot sweeps. These were to prepare the body myofascially and, while each movement works the entire body in an integrated manner, they targeted, with elastic motions, anterior chain, lateral chain, deep chain and posterior chain, myofascially speaking.

CONDITIONING: The next six movements were prone lateral drags, flips, prone push, halos, pendulum to squat, lateral tilt with shuffles. Out of thousands of movements, I had to settle on just a few and, while we can debate the ‘best’ choices, these were mine!

The choice of strategy in the challenge

Here’s another video of me from day four of the challenge, using one of the ‘big kegs’, while the REPs were low!

As you can see by now, you can make this challenge whatever you want it to be. Here, I’m making it about strength. I could reduce the load and easily make it about movement agility and sequencing. I could slow down, use light loads and focus on quality of elastic mobility. Even as the REPs increase, it’s possible to maintain your focus in each of these areas by dividing up the REPs into appropriate size sets and efforts. So, my overall strategy with the challenge was to develop strength endurance. However, I wanted it to be adaptable to ANY outcome someone was seeking.

The big concept

However, it doesn’t matter how clever the blend of movements is or what the movements do for your body, mind and heart. What matters is consistency. That was the true challenge.

It’s taken me a long time to realise that cumulative, significant challenges focus my mind, catalyse my motivation and capture my heart. Recently, I completed a 365-day ocean immersion challenge (i.e., ocean dips for an entire year), which spoke to all my drivers:

  • Substantial challenge = substantial feeling of achievement.
  • The stakes stay high – one day lost and it’s over – creating tremendous motivation in consistency.
  • The daily effort is barely different to the day before.
  • The challenge itself is something I WANT and ENJOY – it has to connect me to joy.
  • Learning and improvement are felt almost daily.
  • The physical challenge, without wishing to sound pretentious, acts as a doorway to enlightenment.
  • Family ‘buy in’ – challenges shared with family members, verbally through story or, even better, physically, mean they will assist you in finding time windows for you to complete your endeavours. It also inspires them, just FYI!
  • Community involvement, through social media or by actually joining you, brings higher motivation and commitment for YOU.

This may not work for everyone but we all need to find a version or concept that does, because challenges are irrelevant if you don’t stick with them. You may like to look at when you’ve been successful; study the elements of the success; repeat those elements in other pursuits.

Improvements and learnings

Obviously, I’m stronger and more conditioned. The overall challenge was big but daily challenge was small – 10 REPs added each day is totally achievable. I carry myself better – taller, more open, more ‘confidently’. I’m cardiovascularly fitter – the daily bursts of integrated movement create an interval training effect. Away from the physical, I have social connections with like-minded humans: my wife and best friends are doing it with me; my coach community has joined or supported me; and clients have joined. I feel more positive after each session; more mobile; more stable; more energised. I have higher self-esteem and an almost overwhelming feeling of resilience and ‘toughness’.

The days when you’re aching, tired or feeling negative are survival days. They need negotiating with a kindness to self, coaxing with light loads and a gentle heart. My community members have realised they need to adapt the challenge to their own unique humanity – cap the REPs; take a rest day here and there; break up the REPs across the day; change the movements; change their mindset; change their environment; change their company, etc. It’s been fascinating watching the process teach each person about themselves and what they need to do to be successful. But most have continued, which speaks volumes.

Finishing my story

So, after years of trying different strategies to regain the lost strength element in my movement, I created something simple, powerful and tailored to my movement personality. Others have adapted this model and done the same. Dedicated loaded movement has enhanced our lives and taught us about ourselves. I think that’s pretty cool!

John Polley (JP) is an international presenter, writer, global brand ambassador, mentor, master instructor, movement consultant and creator of the Next Level - a series of mentorships which many award-winning fitness professionals have in their repertoire. His passion is understanding human beings, not just human bodies, and he teaches from a fundamental principle that 'everything is connected to everything'.

In 2019, the last face to face conference before the world changed, JP won the prestigious Exercise New Zealand Educator of the Year award, despite living in Perth Australia. Despite not being able to travel thereafter, he was still shortlisted for the same award in 2020. During the Covid era, he continued to build his audience and is a staple on education platforms, webinars and podcasts.

As an educator he has a knack for making the complex simple and brings a conversational, human and humorous atmosphere to everything he does. His intention is always to create an experience for students, and not simply, a workshop or blog. Using his knowledge, creative teaching strategies and superb ability to connect with an audience, we hope you enjoy what he shares with you here.