They are the most low-key of exercises. No tech, no bells and whistle. Just you, your body and your great attitude. You can do them while you’re talking on the phone, playing with the kids, waiting for a bus, or watching TV.
We’re talking about squats! One simple, but incredibly effective, all-in-one game changer for your glutes, thighs and core that burns calories as it builds muscle.
It’s easy to add a 30-day squat challenge to your daily workout routine. All it takes is a few extra minutes of workout time. The long list of benefits will be worth it!
The Benefits of Squats
Increased Body Strength and Muscle
Not only do squats build strong legs, they promote body wide muscle strength by impacting the release of testosterone and human growth hormone which are instrumental in increasing muscle mass.
The gift that keeps on giving, squats continue to burn fat even after you’ve stopped exercising. And as you gain more muscle mass, you will burn more calories per day. It’s a win/win.
Improve Circulation and Say Goodbye to Cellulite
A few sets of squats every day will get your blood flowing and help maintain proper circulation. Not only will your heart thank you, but the more robust your circulatory system remains, the less you will have to deal with seriously unappealing cellulite.
Regular squats will stretch those tight quads, hamstrings and calves, helping you maintain the flexibility necessary to avoid injury.
Your upper back, lower back, chest, shoulders and stomach are essential to successful squats. Perform them properly will greatly improve your upper body posture.
Strengthen the Core
Performing squats engages the stomach muscles, and lower back which are the key to a strong core.
Abs, Legs, And Butt
You may doubt one simple exercise can tone so many muscle groups. But when you check out your legs, abs and butt after your 30-day squat challenge, you will be a true believer.
As a low impact exercise, squats done correctly will not wreak havoc on backs, knees and ankles.
Run a Little Faster
Research shows squats improve speed as well as strength and agility.
As a functional exercise, squats duplicate movements we need to get us through our daily lives. Becoming proficient in squats not only makes us stronger, it makes it easier to sit, lift, bend down or pick up items off the floor, keeping us more efficient for real world tasks.
Mix It Up With 7 Squat Variations
To keep your squat challenge fun and fresh every day, rotate these 7 squat variations:
Main Move: Body-Weight Squat
First, here’s how to do a basic body-weight squat.
Stand as tall as you can with your feet spread shoulder-width apart. (A) Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Pause, then slowly push yourself back to the starting position. (B)
Body-Weight Jump Squat
Place your fingers on the back of your head and pull your elbows back so that they’re in line with your body. (A) Dip your knees in preparation to leap. (B) Explosively jump as high as you can. When you land, immediately squat down and jump again. (C)
Stand holding your arms straight out in front of your body at shoulder level, parallel to the floor. Raise your right leg off the floor, and hold it there. (A) Push your hips back and lower your body as far as you can. Pause, then push your body back to the starting position. (B)
Wide-Stance Barbell Squat
Hold the bar across your upper back with an overhand grip. (A) Perform a squat with your feet set at twice shoulder width. (B)
Barbell Siff Squat
Hold the bar across your upper back with an overhand grip. Before you squat, raise your heels as high as you can (A) and hold them that way for the entire lift. (B)
Hold a weight plate in front of your chest with both hands, your arms completely straight. (A) Perform a squat while holding the weight in place. (B)
Dumbbell Split Squat
Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length next to your sides, your palms facing each other. Stand in a staggered stance, your left foot in front of your right. (A) Slowly lower your body as far as you can. Pause, then push yourself back up to the starting position as quickly as you can. (B) Switch legs and repeat.
Hold a dumbbell vertically next to your chest, with both hands cupping the dumbbell head. (Imagine that it's a heavy goblet.) (A) Brace your abs, and lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. (B) Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position.
Before You Begin…A Few Squat Form Tips
As with any other exercise, it is important to perform your squats correctly.
Follow the basic squat form tips below to get the biggest bang for your buck while remaining safe and injury free.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes facing forward.
Place your hands on your thighs, gaze upwards and lift your chest high.
Bend your knees, placing weight on the heels, and sit back.
Keeping the head and chest upright, slide your hands down your thighs, ending where your elbows reach your knees (your knees should not go beyond your toes!)
Hold for five seconds.
Rise up, pressing through the heels, and straighten out the hips until you’re in the starting position.
Repeat 2-3 sets of 15 to 20 reps, at least two to three times a week.
Commit to the 30-day squat challenge and watch the magic happen!