One of the things I mentioned in my post about the Lyke Wake Walk in relation to getting my body ready for the challenge hike, was a squat challenge.
It all started when I saw SportSeeker Melissa (@Meli770) mention over on twitter that she was doing a 30 day squat challenge. I am constantly inspired by what other people share on twitter (a great place to get to know like-minded people) and I was intrigued. She shared the numbers and technique with me and somehow persuaded me to join in and do the challenge myself. I am no stranger to squats, and know that they can be very beneficial in building core strength, so the challenge seemed a very sensible idea.
My 30 day squat challenge was taken from Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans and looked something like this…
Actually – I have to admit at this point that my 30 day squat challenge took me 33 days to complete. The three extra days were all as a result of very long days at work and being too tired to get up early enough in the morning. I didn’t miss out any squats, I simply had extra rest days and carried on from where I left off the previous day – as all squats were completed I’ll take the 10% increase in days and shrug my shoulders at it!
When I started with the smaller numbers all was good. I like the fact that the challenge jumps up and down so some days you are doing more or less than others – it keeps things interesting and helps to know that you aren’t always having to do more than the previous day. The rest days were also good; it was lovely to see a zero in my note book, that number is very easy to tick off!
There are lots of reasons why squats are great for your body. They obviously help to build muscle in your legs (the whole leg – quads, hamstrings, calves), but they also promote muscle building in your whole body, especially your core muscles including abs and butt, and improving upper and lower body strength. It’s also a functional exercise which means it makes every day activities easier – excellent! Squats build muscle and helps with mobility and balance – three vital things for body health and fitness. There are a few reasons why they are not so good, too, so if you decide to do some make sure you have the technique right and build up the numbers gradually rather than going for 100 the first time you try any.
The big numbers might look scary but actually they are totally doable when you break them down into lots of 15, 20 or 25. I remember setting my alarm early on my first “over 100” day and doing 20, putting the kettle on, another 20, getting the washing out of the machine, 20 more, making the tea, another 20, adding the milk and chucking the tea bag, and the final 20 before putting the washing on the clothes horse and drinking my cuppa. I took this approach to all the big numbers, sometimes doing a few and then walking around the house to loosen my legs off again, before doing the next lot. This was particularly handy when it came to the final push – day 30, 175 squats. By the time it go to that last day the idea of doing 175 squats didn’t bother me at all; I’d already done 150 and a few extras would be no bother. Yes it was tough on my legs and stomach to do that many good reps, and took a little while first thing on a Friday morning, but it was completely fine!
This challenge wasn’t about looks for me, it was definitely about strength. I know I am stronger because squatting is a lot easier now! That’s got to help with the hiking, right?!
I’ve become a little addicted to squats and how easy it is to fit in a few while the kettle is on, while a bath is running, or while the tea is cooking. I’m tempted by a second squat challenge that ups the numbers even more over a month (also Melissa’s fault) – it never hurts to set these mini daily challenges, and with any luck my core muscles will be very thankful. I’ll stick with just doing a few each day for a few days (definitely less than 100!) and then decide.
Have you tried a 30 day squat (or other similar core strength) challenge? I’d definitely recommend it. It (just about) fits in with a busy lifestyle and will make a clear difference to your power over the course of the month. Let me know if you try it.
Check out the SportSeeker blog for lots more sport and fitness inspiration.