So you've decided to join the LIVESTRONG.COM 30-day Squat Challenge? Awesome! We're so happy to have you with us! It may not always be easy, but in the end it'll all be worth it.
Before we dive into week 1 (officially starting Thursday, August 1, 2019), let's talk basics. If you haven't already printed out your squat challenge calendar, you can find it here. Once you have that, you're pretty much good to go!
If you're new to these exercise challenges or it's been a while since you've done a ton of squats all in a row, here are some tips to help you make the most of the next 30 days.
1. Keep your calendar where you’ll see it.
Whether you print it out or save a digital copy to your phone or computer, keep the squat challenge calendar where you'll see it every day and be reminded to do your squats.
Or if you want to take reminders to the next level, set an alarm on your phone for the same time every day so you always make time and never have an excuse to forget.
2. Take before and after photos.
You're going to be doing a lot of squats in the coming month. By the end, your booty will be looking good! It's often really motivating to have a visual reminder of how far you've come and how your hard work has paid off.
So grab your phone and snap a selfie before you start the challenge. Then, after the challenge is complete, compare the photos side by side and take pride in all your effort. If you want, share your pics on social media with the hashtag #SquatStronger.
Read more: How to Take Your Before Photos
3. Join our Facebook group.
If you're going to stick with this for the full 30 days, it helps to have a group of people cheering you on and keeping you accountable. That's exactly what the LIVESTRONG.COM Challenge Facebook group is all about.
You'll find thousands of members just like you getting their squat on each and every day. We'll also be posting articles, answering your questions and being generally supportive of each other — regardless of fitness level or goals.
4. Break up the total into smaller sets.
Day one you hit the ground running with 50 total squats. If you're new to working out or it's been a while since your last workout, that may seem intimidating.
So here's an easy way to do it: Take each day's total and break it into smaller sets. For example, on day one, you can either do five sets of 10 all at once or 10 sets of five throughout the day. Or any other combination that works for you. Just make sure you do them all each day.
5. If you’re a beginner, try some modifications.
Some people have the hip flexibility to squat all the way until their butt touches the ground. But if that's not you yet — either because of your fitness level or injury status — go easy on yourself.
First you can adjust how low you go in your squat. Only go as low as you can without your knees going over your toes. If that's only a few inches, then that's where you start.
You can also adjust the width of your stance. Spread your feet wider than hip-width apart and point your feet out to the side. Then perform your reps like that. (These are called sumo squats, since you kind of resemble a sumo wrestler when you do them.)
And contrary to popular belief, squats can actually help strengthen injured knees, depending on what kind of injury you have. So as long as your doctor or physical therapist has given you the OK and you don't have a lot of pain while squatting, join us!
6. Keep things interesting with variations.
Bored of the same old, same old? Work in some squat variations. You don't have to do the same ones for the full amount each day, but if it keeps you from getting bored, throw in a few sumo squats, prisoner squats or single-leg squats for fun.
7. Take advantage of the rest days.
All work and no rest makes for some very sore and overworked glutes. So when you see "REST DAY" on your calendar, follow the schedule! Rest days are when your muscles actually get stronger. Working out causes micro tears in your muscle fibers, and taking time off allows them to repair.
On your off days, show your glutes some love by doing some stretches or foam rolling. And get the blood flowing by doing a little bit of light cardio. Walking, hiking, swimming and biking are all great options.