Updated: Oct 9, 2019
Have you ever tried a 30 day squat challenge or any other exercise challenge for that matter?
How did it go?
I'm willing to bet you didn't make it the full 30 days did you?
There's a simple reason for that that I´d like to share with you, and more importantly, a clever solution to go with it.
But first, squats-bodyweight or weighted, are my number 1 recommendation to the majority of my clients as the single greatest exercise that you can do:
Why are they so great?
BUILD LEAN MUSCLE TISSUE: Lean muscle can help improves energy levels, promote better sleep, helps fight depression, tension, anxiety, stress, reduce your risk for chronic disease, help relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis, and many more great benefits.
GETS YOU RESULTS QUICKER: Big movements that challenge your whole body will naturally get you full body results quicker than small isolated movements and squats are a big movement.
TONE YOUR LEGS, BUTT, & CORE, IN AN INCREDIBLE WAY: If you want a butt made of steel, then squats are your answer.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT: Exercise is always a great way to maintain a weight that is healthy for you, and squats are a great combination of resistance and cardiovascular endurance which means you are raising your metabolism for longer.
STRENGTHEN YOUR KNEES: Doing squats helps to make the muscles around the knee get stronger so that they are better able to stabilize the joint and absorb shock during weight-bearing activities, such as standing and walking.
THEY IMPROVE FLEXIBILITY AND MOBILITY: As we get older we lose more and more elasticity in our muscles tendons, and ligaments. Many cultures, such as in parts of Asia, still rely heavily on this movement pattern, and people in these countries who are well into old age are enjoying great health for being able to squat as low as a child, with ease!
IMPROVES QUALITY OF LIFE: From climbing the stairs without a struggle, to standing up from a seated position, squats are a movement that we do daily without even noticing it. When we get stronger at that pattern, our day to day is far more comfortable and enjoyable. Especially as we get older.
BOOSTS CONFIDENCE: When we feel strong and powerful in our bodies, we have more confidence to take risks, and step outside of our comfort zones.
STRENGTHENS BONES & PREVENT INJURIES: Many injuries are caused by a weakness, or imbalance, but as squats are a full body workout, you are protecting yourself, your bones, and your joints, with lean muscle tissue. Great for things like osteoporosis.
IMPROVES POSTURE: Squats are a dynamic exercise that can help to combat sitting at a desk all day and really get your hips unstuck from the poor habits that modern living stressors like being sat down all day.
CONVINCED HOW MUCH THEY ROCK?
BUT WHY ARE 30 DAYS SO EFFECTIVE?
Well it works so well because 30 days is so short. It’s barely any time at all in the grand scheme of things. It is a tiny commitment, but still enough time to see some real progress which will hopefully get you hooked so that you’ll want to continue, and keep going with them after the 30 days.
Most squat challenges, (and 30 day exercise challenges in general) are all the same:
On day 1 you’re doing 10 squats. 10 squats are ok. You can fit them in before breakfast.
By day 15 however, you’re doing 100 squats, and your legs are on fire. You look to your squat timetable and see that day 30 requires you to do 300, and you wonder if you’d not be better off just throwing your legs away now rather than putting yourself through that kind of torture for the next 15 days!
In my experience, this kind of intensity is unnecessary, and counter-productive.
Because what most people want is to get a bit of toning around the glutes and legs, and maybe lose some weight. Adding an extra 10 or 20 squats each day sounds like it would make sense right? If you could do 5 easily on one day, then what’s an extra 5 more the next day, and so on? Especially if it’s presented to you on a nice looking spreadsheet, then it can be easy to think that it is doable, rather than nonsense numbers pulled out of a hat by a monkey.
WITH MY NEW 30 DAY SQUAT CHALLENGE YOU CAN AVOID THE PAIN AND GET THE BEST RESULTS
I'm going to share how very soon, but first let me quickly share the foundations of what makes my approach work.
WHAT´S THE FOUNDATION OF SUCCESS?
If you want results, your real goal is to build a habit. A sustainable practice that you can look forward to, and also see real results. This is because whenever we adopt a completely new practice, we begin to build new neural pathways in our brains. These pathways are a record of the practice and continued practice makes them stronger and stronger until they become habits we don't even have to think about.
Imagine yourself in front of a thick forest where you can’t see anything in front of you but you need to get from one side to the other. You have to go through it, so you will need to make a path by cutting it with a machete. The first time you walk the path, cutting it down as you go, you will barely leave a trace of the way you came in. That means that when you return for a second time, it will be difficult to find that exact same path again. It will take a lot of journeys before you have cut out a path that is so clear you cannot miss it. Then it will be easy. Neural pathways are just like that path in the forest.
You must repeat them consistently until they become as routine as brushing your teeth.
HOW TO DO THE NEW 30 DAY SQUAT CHALLENGE?
No spreadsheet. No burning legs. No stress.
All of the glory with none of the pain!
WAIT FOR IT, WAIT FOR IT….
You only do 1 squat, every day, for 30 days!
It´s so diabolically easy, it's genius!
You might be ready to close this article and consider it a few minutes of your life wasted that you'll never get back, but stick with me because this is important, and best of all it works!
HOW COULD 1 SQUAT A DAY BE ANYTHING OTHER THAN A WASTE OF TIME?
Let me be upfront, and brutally honest with you, and say that most people will never hit their fitness goals because of their unrealistic expectations, for lack of understanding the process.
You want to transform yourself to the physique of pro athlete/fitness model in a matter of months.
Do you remember though how I described earlier about the importance of habit?
This is what you should be focusing on, because the number is never as important as the habit.
THE HABIT IS WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO ENGRAIN, NOT THE NUMBER!
Ok, so maybe you say 1 is pointless!
IT’S DEFINIETLY NOT! THE HABIT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING…
I cannot stress this enough. Consider these words to be my frustrated attempt to shake you out of the quick fix loser mentality, and offer you the opportunity to join the ranks of the inducted who work-out as routinely as they shower.
You are trying to build a habit and doing a brand new motor pattern can be a huge stresser on your nervous system. To go from not much, or even not having done any exercise in a long time, to everyday, is guaranteed failure in my books for 99.9999999% of people!
Despite what popular culture may tell you, you are not the 0.00000001%
YOU ARE NOT THE CHOSEN ONE!
BUT WILL THAT REALLY GET RESULTS?
I get the logic of traditional 30 day challenges! The idea is to do a lot and get some really quick, and awesome results by doing it everyday, or nearly everyday, and then calming down once the 30 days are over, when your butt will be firmer than firm.
But it never happens that way. It’s like a diet where you think you’ll just eat like a rabbit for a few weeks, and then you’ll miraculously, finally be able to ‘control’ your food! The diet industry is profiting by billions each year, and they’re not making money because their meal-plans are working wonders for you!
None of us are naive here, and we know that's not how businesses work.
WHAT ARE THE RULES & CAN YOU DO MORE THAN 1 SQUAT A DAY?
First, before deviating from this seemingly simple task, ask yourself the following questions and try to answer as honestly as possible:
What is it that´s so important about achieving this goal?
How many times have you started an exercise routine, or gym membership with good intentions and then quit?
What will happen if you quit another exercise routine again?
How will you feel?
How will it affect your motivation?
How long do you think it will be until you try again?
How valuable would it be to you to ingrain a new habit to last a lifetime?
IT AIN'T EASY
Please don't be fooled into thinking that my 30 day challenge is easy!
Ok, the squat itself is easy, but the actual challenge part is to focus is on building mental fortitude.
MENTAL FORTITUDE IS THE AIM
Anyone who has ever held a regular physical practice will tell you that the fight is mostly in the mind. Once you can master your thoughts, the actual exercise is just a temporary discomfort that you know will pass.
This challenge is designed to be so out of the box, that it interrupts your regular patterns of behaviour of taking on too much and quitting.
The following are my hot tips to give you the best possible chance of completing your first 30 day squat challenge
1. PICK A TIME TO DO SQUATS EVERY DAY CONSISTENTLY:
Being consistent with the time of day you do it can be very useful for many. As soon as you wake up is a great idea because then there are no distractions, because believe me, life will bring you distractions as soon as you push the play button on the day.
2. CHOOSE THE NUMBER OF SQUATS YOU WANT TO DO EACH DAY:
I know I've just stressed how important it is to engrain the habit of doing just 1 so that you don't quit, but if you you don't even think that 1 squat is worth your time and effort, then you might never even start, and that definitely won't serve you.
Sooooooooo, if you´re absolutely determined to do more than 1 a day, at least pick a reasonable number. 5-10 is a good start.
I tried a 30 day squat challenge many years ago and honestly, by the number 20 I was bored, and sore. Especially doing them every day.
MAKE IT SO EASY THAT YOU CAN'T QUIT
Pick a number that doesn't leave you panting, sore, and especially not wondering how you´ll climb the stairs. Make it so easy that you can't quit.
My best advice here is that the number you need to be doing to stay motivated is probably lower than you think.
3. PICK HOW MANY DAYS A WEEK YOU SHOULD DO THEM?:
Again, you may decide to deviate from the plan of doing squats everyday, and that's ok (he says begrudgingly) as long as you are consistent.
3 days of 10 squats as an example, may be far more manageable for you.
Pick the days you want to do them, and stick with it.
I personally include squats in my regular routine, doing anywhere from 2-3 times a week.
Based on your prior experience with exercise, what's your realistic amount of days you can really exercise for you to have any chance at being consistent?
Just as a generic prescription (please take with a pinch of salt), I would give the average person who never exercises 2-3 times a week. In fact, I would recommend that for most people.....after I recommend my 1 squat a day programme!
4. LEARN TO LET GO OF THE EGO:
1 squat a day, totalling to roughly 30 squats in a month will not remould your ass! I can promise you that.
What it gives you is a foundation so that the next month you can start focusing on strength and aesthetics.
Again, if you choose to ignore my best advice and do more than 1 a day, but still want to be strategic and hold yourself back, and do a seemingly conservative amount, e.g. 10 squats, 3 days a week, then consider that over that month you will do roughly 120 squats.
Now that's a modest number for many, and will probably only take you a maximum of 5 minutes in an entire month!
Whether it's banking one month of 30 squats, or 120 squats, it still means that you are gaining strength, developing at a consistent pace, and will still have energy for the next month, which is far better than doing 2000 squats in 20 days, and then quitting, and never doing them again.
5. DON'T OVERTRAIN:
You feel great and you just want to do another 10, or 20, or even 50! That’s fantastic! Exercise is meant to be fun and you should do what feels right in the moment, but REMEMBER, REMEMBER, that you’re trying to build a habit, and if you’re too sore to train for the rest of the week, your habit will take a hit. You have to ask yourself, “If I miss 2 days this week, how motivated will I be to continue next week?
Not to mention that when we have success one day with a workout, psychologically it can be easy to consider that achievement as your new checkpoint (the minimum that you must achieve). If you spontaneously decide to just 30 squats one day, instead of 10, you are likely to now think anything less than 30 is failure, and that can breed demotivation for upcoming days as you dread the thought having to compete with your new high number.
6. DON'T WORRY IF YOU MISS A DAY:
Here’s where the champs will define themselves from the wannabes. You have to expect interruptions and you have to let yourself off the hook for missing workouts. Sure it sucks, but in the grand scheme of things, forgiving yourself as quickly as possible is key.
That doesn’t mean an easy get out card, where you’re really just making excuses to not do the workout. You have to be real with yourself. If you’re missing a workout because you’re physically shattered, or you’ve unexpectedly been invited to a dinner, then live. If however you just don’t want to get up from the sofa because you’ve got indigestion from dinner then you might be using weak excuses.
7. LEARN HOW TO ACTUALLY DO A PROPER SQUAT?:
Now all that’s left is actually doing the squat. Here is a great instructional video on how to squat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aclHkVaku9U
Stand with your legs roughly shoulder width apart (feel free to go as narrow or wide as is comfortable- Everyone’s hips are different)
Push your butt back
Keep your back straight, with your chest and shoulders up
Look directly in front of you and focus on something at your eye level
Sit down into an imaginary chair keeping your knees in line with your feet
Go down low enough that your knees are bent to a 90 degree angle
Push up from your heels into a standing position
WHAT IF YOU CAN’T DO A SQUAT?:
Not being able to squat shouldn’t stop you from doing this. Check out these videos to help. Please check with your medical professional before trying these to ensure they areas suitable:
This is for anyone who has bad mobility in the hips, and cannot do it, but would still like to build up to doing it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJBLDJMJiDE
If you have bad knees, then the following exercises might be useful for you:
Single leg Romanian dealdlift- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoKjrvJi-Iw (You don’t need weights like in this video- bodyweight can work just fine)
Ballet can also be very useful- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeSVHYSMItg
So if you’re ready to learn a new amazing exercise that will look after you and your health for a lifetime, then get started. Pick a start date. Pick how many squats you’ll do, and pick how many times a week. Make it so simple that you can’t fail, and don’t start unless you’re ready to really commit. If you hate it, stick with it. When 30 days are up you will have the great satisfaction that the reason you don’t squat is not because you don’t have what it takes, but just because you don’t like it.
ARE YOU UP FOR THE CHALLENGE?
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