by Will Owen
I’m a huge fan of bodyweight exercises for the reason that you can use them for a great workout anywhere. And perhaps the king of all bodyweight exercises, is the squat. Squats are awesome because they provide a great workout for multiple muscle groups, including the butt, thighs, and core.
It’s for that reason that 30-day squat challenges have become increasingly popular over the past year. There are hundreds of variations available online, but generally they all involve squatting almost every day for a month, starting at 50 reps on your first day and finishing at 250 on your last.
As much as I love anything that gets people moving, particularly squatting, that kind of challenge simply won’t help you reach your goals. 50 squats in one day is too difficult for most beginners, and even if you could do 250 squats with perfect form, you will be training for muscular endurance rather than strength (which is what leads to the toned look). It’s the same reason you wouldn’t do 50+ reps of an exercise in the gym.
Instead, the focus should be on fewer, quality reps that get tougher over time (like using heavier weights in the gym). I decided to use this principle to create a different kind of squat challenge that will give you the best possible chance of safely getting a toned butt and thighs, along with improving your technique. Here’s how it works:
- You will do a different squat variation each week for a month. The variations get more difficult as the month progresses.
- Each day has a target number or reps for which you should aim. You can do them all in one go or spread them out throughout the day.
- If you fail to reach the target number of reps with perfect form you must go back to the beginning of that 7 day period.
- You may not have heard of each variation, so how to do them properly is explained below.
This is the beginner challenge. Once you have mastered the basic bodyweight squat there are two more challenges for intermediate and advanced squatters that you can find on Travel Strong.
Counterbalance Box Squat:
- With your feet shoulder width apart, keep your chest up and arms out in front of you as a counterbalance.
- Sit back and down onto a surface, such as a chair or stool. Let your butt touch the surface, but don’t sit down.
- As you descend make sure your knees are tracking over your toes.
- Return to the starting position by pushing through your heels and squeezing your glutes.
Prisoner Box Squat:
- Keeping the tips from above in mind, place your hands behind your head rather than out in front of you.
- Use a lower chair or stool than before to make sure you are squatting deeper.
- Over the course of the week keep lowering the surface until your thighs are parallel (or lower) to the ground when in the bottom position.
Counterbalance Air Squat:
- Remove the chair or stool and put your arms out in front of you.
- Squat down as before, ensuring that your thighs are parallel to the ground (or lower). The deeper you squat the more muscles you activate.
- Remember to keep your torso as upright as possible by keeping your chest up.
Prisoner Air Squat:
- Put your hands behind your head once again and continue squatting as low as you can.
- Remember: chest up, feet shoulder width apart, knees tracking over toes, sit back, and push through your heels.
- By the end of the month, you should be able to do a basic bodyweight squat with great form.
So what are you waiting for? Take on the challenge and share it with your friends! We can’t wait to see your results!