If you’ve been following along with the LIVESTRONG.COM 30-Day Squat Challenge, you’ve officially made it to week 2! If not, catch up here. You might feel a little sore, and that’s OK. Be proud of yourself for the progress you’ve made so far.
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You may have heard the saying, “You can’t get the butt you want by sitting on the one you have.” And while that’s pretty much true, there are three ways to improve your booty that may actually involve sitting down. Here they are:
1. Eat Right
Just as abs are made in the kitchen, so is your butt. You’re doing a lot of squats, working up a sweat and really taxing your muscles, so you need to fuel your body properly.
While all macronutrients (carbs, fat and protein) play an important role in a solid nutrition plan, if a bodacious backside is your primary goal, focus on upping and improving your protein and fat intake. Generally, the ratio you want to aim for is 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fat and 30 percent protein. But every body is different, so you may need to play around with your ratio a bit.
That doesn’t give you license to eat steaks and cheese all day, though (don’t we wish)! Make sure they’re coming from quality sources. For protein, which helps rebuild muscle, go for eggs, chicken and salmon (or quinoa, lentils and almonds if you’re a vegetarian). For fat, opt for avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
Read more: 20 Best Muscle-Building Foods
2. Take Rest Days
Surprise, surprise! Muscle isn’t actually built in the gym or during your workouts. It’s built when you’re resting between your workouts. When you’re doing a ton of squats, you’re actually causing micro-tears in your muscle fibers (which is why you feel so sore the next day).
Your muscles are designed to repair these tears and get stronger — kind of a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” thing. But if you don’t take rest days, your muscles never get the chance to fully recover, and you’ll continue breaking down muscle without giving your body time to build itself back up. So your gains will plateau and you run the risk of some really unpleasant symptoms of overtraining.
Consider this your permission to take it easy every once in a while (every four days for the purposes of this challenge). Because it’s not only your body that needs it, your mind does too. Clock out and give yourself permission to relax.
3. Stretch and Foam Roll
On that note, if you really can’t sit still on your off days, make it an active-recovery day by doing some stretches and foam rolling. Don’t know where to start? Try these:
Thread the Needle
Lie on your back and bend your left leg, keeping your left foot on the floor. Cross your right leg over so that your right ankle rests on your left knee. Grab your left thigh with both hands and pull it toward your chest until you feel your glutes stretch. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.
Half Pigeon Pose
Start kneeling, and then extend your left leg straight back behind you while you stretch your (bent) right leg in front of you. Your right shin should be perpendicular to your torso. Sink into the stretch as much as your flexibility will allow. You can even fold over your front leg for a deeper stretch. Again, hold for 30 to 45 seconds before switching legs.
From standing, step forward so that your right foot is a few feet in front of your left. Bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle. You can drop your left knee to the floor if needed (and maybe place a folded towel or blanket underneath). Place your hands on either side of your right foot or rest them on your right thigh. Push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your glutes. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds before switching sides.
Glute Foam Rolling
Grab a foam roller, sit down with your legs straight out in front of you and place the roller under your hamstrings (or you can do one leg at a time). Brace yourself with both hands behind your back. Now roll forward so the foam roller rolls under your butt. Whenever you feel a particularly tight spot, stay on it for no more than 20 seconds or make small rolling motions back and forth to massage the area. You can also lean slightly to the side and roll out each side of your glutes.
Read more: How to Stretch Your Butt Muscles
What Do YOU Think?
Have you being doing your daily squats? Have you joined our challenge Facebook group? What do you think so far? Are you sore? Are you doing any modifications or variations? Share your stories and questions in the comments below!