Want a stronger lower body (and a rockin' behind)? Drop it like a squat! Squats are one of the best exercises (if not the best) you can do for your bottom half. If you're after a stronger booty and leaner legs, join the 30-Day Squat Challenge.
For this month-long challenge, LIVESTRONG.com has teamed up with trainers from Fhitting Room, a workout studio and streaming platform for HIIT and strength fitness classes. These FHIT Pros, led by Ben Lauder-Dykes, will help you master proper squat form, introduce you to modifications and variations and motivate you to finish what you start.
Remember: Aim high, squat low!
How the Squat Challenge Works
While you can start this challenge whenever inspiration strikes, we're kicking off the next official round on Saturday, August 1, 2020. And even though you can do it on your own, we recommend joining our Challenge Facebook group for support from our community and expert guidance.
Each day, you'll do a set number of squats (see the calendar below), resting every fourth day. (Your legs will need the break!) You'll start out with 50 squats on Day 1 and finish with 250 on Day 30. Most days in between, you'll add 5 squats to the previous day's total. But on the days after rest days, you'll ramp it up and add either 10 or 20.
Don't worry if that sounds like a lot: You can break your squats into as many sets as needed or try different variations to find what works for you. What matters most is that you just get squatting.
Click here for a printer-friendly version of the challenge calendar!
How to Do a Proper Squat
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Turn your feet to point out to the side just slightly.
- Hinge at your hips and bend your knees (as if you were going to sit in a chair) while keeping your chest up.
- Either raise your arms out in front of you at shoulder height for balance or bring your hands up to your chest.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor, and don’t arch your lower back.
- Now check your knees: They should be pointing in the direction of your toes (not collapsing in or bowing out) and shouldn’t extend past your toes.
- Once you’ve lowered as far as your hip mobility will allow, squeeze your glutes and stand back up — and repeat!
Squats may seem like a simple, natural movement, but you always want to make sure your joints are aligned properly before you bust out 50 to 250 in a row.
"The most common mistake I see with the squat is too much of a hinge without a bend in the knees," Lauder-Dykes says. "Other mistakes are shifting your weight either into the forefoot (which reaches the knees too far forward) or shifting of the weight back into the heel (which will limit the amount of ankle flexion that can occur)."
Experiment With Squat Modifications and Variations
Another great thing about squats is that they're easily modifiable to match your fitness level. If you're a beginner or have knee issues, you have a few options.
"You can modify the squat by performing an isometric hold, also known as a 'wall sit,' so that you get some load through those muscle groups," Lauder-Dykes says. "You can also focus on only emphasizing the eccentric or lowering portion of the movement."
This creates more continuous tension to strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments in your knees, which improves overall strength and can also help with knee pain, he says.
If things really start to hurt during your squats — even with modifications — stop and reassess. You might need to take it easy with some lighter exercises and stretches.
Other popular squat variations include sumo squats, where your feet are set much wider than hip-width apart, and squat jumps, where you explode off the ground once you reach the bottom of the squat.
If you're really advanced, you can add weight either with dumbbells held at your shoulders or sides or a barbell across your chest or back. Just make sure that your form is flawless before attempting these progressions and that you don't add too much weight at once and end up injuring yourself.
How to Join the 30-Day Squat Challenge
Step 1: Keep Your Challenge Calendar Handy
Print out or save the 30-day calendar above and use it each day to help you stay on track. Do the prescribed number of reps each day, then check off each day as you complete them. Before you know it, it'll become habit!
Step 2: Connect With Us on Facebook
For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with the LIVESTRONG.com team and the FHIT Pros, join us in our Challenge Facebook group. We'll share tips, photos and more! Plus, we'll answer all your questions.
Each week, we'll have a different focus, as well as lots of motivation to help you through the challenge. Here's what you can expect:
Step 3: Master Your Squat Form
Warm up to the challenge by practicing your squat form with just a few reps each day. Check your form in a mirror to make sure you're aligned and ready to go.