Total Body Transformation: Chest, Abs, and Back 4 Week Challenge – Week 1



Your body can be one tough, strong, lean machine if you condition your muscles efficiently and consistently!  Your body works as a unit and if one area is trained more than another, you will experience some weaker links. Therefore, it’s important to train your body as a whole and add periodic challenges to keep your muscles achieving the most they can.


I have created a 4-week program that will add an extra chest, abs, and back challenge to your current routine. As with any goal, you need a plan to achieve what you set out to do. Finding a baseline of strength can be helpful to see where your strength lies and gives you starting data to retest against and notice how you’ve advanced throughout any challenge. Prior to this month’s challenge, I feel it’s extremely important to discuss what the core consists of, its functions, and why it’s so important for everyone.





Core definition: (noun) the central or most important part of something.


This is one definition of core- but what does this really mean to the physical body and what does it consist of?

Your core is a complex series of muscles extending from your shoulders to your hips. It protects your vital organs and is incorporated in almost every movement the body makes.


The core is more than just good-looking chiseled abs.  It goes deeper than the external surface. This is where true inner body strength is located. It’s where all movement is initially derived from and it powers the human body. It’s composed of three-dimensional planes of motion, which are mostly hidden beneath the exterior musculature. Some of these deep muscles include the transverse abdominals, multifidus, diaphragm, pelvic floor, as well as many others.



The muscles of the core can act as an isometric (still/same) or dynamic (moving/ action) stabilizer for movement. It initiates force production from one extremity to another or by itself to create movement. It acts as a stabilizer, prime mover, and a force transfer depending on the movement being performed. Most people “train their core” as a prime mover or by isolation core exercises that focus on just the abdominal area (ex: crunches, back extensions). These exercises are great, but there are many others to include in a routine that get the most out of core function, overall strength gains, complete longevity, injury prevention, and more efficient movement (ex: push-ups, pull-ups, single leg exercises).



In a nutshell, the core is your body’s most important set of muscles that need to function at optimal levels daily. To review what core function does, I’ve listed it for you:

  1. Protects organs
  1. Protects the spine & surrounding musculature
  1. Prevents injury from static or dynamic movements
  1. Produces force for muscle action
  1. Maintains stability, mobility, and posture of the spine
  1. Feels & looks good when trained correctly and efficiently


Now that we’ve discussed the importance of the core and its functions, let’s go over the Core Challenge that awaits you!



Whether you want to increase your energy, reduce your health risks, lose a few pounds, or just challenge yourself – how do you know if it’s really working? You can go by how you look, feel, and how your body progresses over time.  You can also perform a few simple fitness tests that assist in setting a benchmark of where your initial fitness level is and provide a way to measure it as you progress.


You have the ability to perform these tests in the comfort of your own home!  Let’s start with three assessments below to determine your chest, core, and back strength.  Record your results and keep them with you to reassess the same tests at the end of the 4 weeks.


1. Push-Up Test – Complete as many push-ups (wide stance) in good form as you can for 1 minute. 

Purpose: Tests upper body strength and endurance.

  • Beginner/Modified- knees down, straight line from shoulders to knees.
  • Intermediate-Advanced – Legs extended, straight line from shoulders to heels.

2. Pull Up Test – Using your Total Gym at the highest level, complete as many perfect form pull-ups as you can do in 1 minute.

Purpose: Tests posterior upper body functional strength.

  • Form: Lie down on the glideboard, pull your bodyweight up so that your chin reaches slightly past your hands position.

3. Sit-Up Test – Complete as many reps with perfect form in 1 minute.

Purpose: Tests core strength and endurance.

  • Form: Lie with spine on the floor, knees bent, feet flat, and hands behind head with elbows wide. Perform as many sit-ups as you can within 1 minute while keeping correct form.


*Please refer to the video to see how to perform these fitness assessment tests.




Get ready to challenge your chest, core, and back muscles with my 4-week training program! For the challenge, each week you will perform a dynamic warm-up, 5 upper body and core exercises, and a series of stretches to recover the muscles worked. The challenge consists of varying reps/ sets and resistance levels to suit your fitness needs.


Each week I will provide you with a slightly different set of exercises that target your muscles in every range of motion. The intensity level should increase weekly to keep your body challenged and progressing with improvements. This adds variety in the routine, challenges the muscles, and increases strength development.


Start the challenge and produce real results in the process!


*Check out the video to see how these exercises are performed.


Your dedication and commitment is inspiring to others going through the same process. It can be motivating and encouraging to share your progress on a social media platform. Use the #tag: #TotalGymsChestAbsBackChallenge


Good luck with this Chest/ Abs/ Back Challenge! You will be amazed at how strong your body becomes within weeks of consistent efforts. Stick with the plan to see how strong your body can be!


Stay tuned for week 2’s challenge!


Best Always,

Maria (purchasable workout videos)

Maria Sollon

Maria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a freelance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, newsletters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work. (purchasable workout videos) (workout clips)

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hi –
    Can the Core Challenge and the Upper Body Challenge be done at the same time?

    1. Hey Michelle,

      I’d imagine you could just take some of both series’ exercises and combine them into a single weekly routine… Keep in mind you’ll have to do this on your own, and also keep track of what you’ve come up with so you can gauge your progress 🙂

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