That Squat Challenge…

So I started this ‘challenge’ on Monday the 5th of January..

‘Why?’

I’ve never done one of these 30 day thingies, and I fancied giving it a go. I had looked at the standard lay out of the 30 day squat challenge (Google it, there’s a gazillion of them) and realised none of them would fit in with my work schedule. So I gave up….

…Okay, that’s a lie…I didn’t give up. I thought I would sit down and make my own little plan so that I could do it around work and life in general. I used the standard layout as a guide – 50 squats to start with and then build up to 250 on the last day. I tried to keep the increases around the same amount, and took any big jumps after a couple of rest days. This is what it ended up looking like: Screenshot_2015-01-17-19-01-43 Week 1 was pretty simple! The small amount of squats at the beginning of the week meant that I felt really comfortable going into it, determined even! The end of the week was a bit of a different story though. As you can see from the plan, we headed off to Brighton for Georgie’s birthday, and I had scheduled in a work out on the Sunday after I had finished a few meetings. It was not ideal. By the end of the workout by legs were aching soooo much! But I carried on into Week 2 blindly, not really knowing what was about to come.

Week 2 was going to be a six day straight, and boy did I end up knowing it! I learnt at the 110 mark (Wednesday) that I just needed to smash it out before my body realised what I was doing. So I warmed up, turned my music up LOUD and got on with it. Yeah, I got a few strange looks from the guys in the gym – but who cares?! Not me!! By Friday, I was definitely ready for the week to be over. So, so ready! It’s hard work having so many repetitions of exactly the same thing to do – I don’t know how anyone can actually enjoy it without getting really bored!!

At the end of week two, I was seriously ready to pack it all in. I don’t seem to be able to see any differences in my body, don’t really know what it was actually doing for me, and didn’t know if I could be bothered to carry on.

But I did..! I’m notorious for starting something and never finishing it, so I was determined to carry on. Week Three started well – 140 on Monday and 150 on Tuesday. I always get 30 squats in and think to myself ‘I’m never going to be able to do this’ and then I magically finish it. My quads were in all kinds of pain, but I made sure that I took the time to stretch really well throughout the exercise and especially afterwards. I did one of the days free-standing, as someone else was on the Smith Machine, but it still went well. It felt slightly lighter the on the Smith Machine, but this could be for one or two different reasons;

  1. My technique was different when doing free standing sqauts, or
  2. The bar on the Smith Machine weighs more than I think.

I only had a small amount of time in the gym before I had to get to work – so I ensured that I got everything out of the way quickly! Knowing that I only had half an hour or so actually worked really well for me – it pushed me on – but by Friday, I was super happy that the week was over.

I definitely need to step in here and say how bad I was feeling on Friday evening. I was absolutely knackered, and so so ready for a rest day! It’s really important to take time to rest and recuperate – so always factor that into any exercise regime. 

Week Four – 200 squats on a Monday just got smashed out! Previously, I was working in sets of 20, getting a set out of the way at a time. 200 is a whole load of sets of twenty – too many for my liking – so I decided to smash out 50 at a time before stepping away from the smith machine. In my mind, it makes it so much easier for me to fathom, because I did 50, and I was a quarter of the way through already! Ideal!! Tuesday is the day that I really felt it in my legs, and this has seemed to be the pattern over the past couple of weeks. After a couple of rest days over the weekend, the 2nd day in really hurts. I was getting seriously bored by the end of the week, and by Friday, I was over the moon that the challenge had finished.

“But did it work…?”

I did take progress photos at the beginning of the month, so I could compare them with the end of the challenge. To be perfectly honest – there was absolutely NO change in the bum area (which everyone associates with squats) but my quads are literally rock solid now, and my abs are coming through more. Have a look at my progress photos here..

Squats are a compound lift, and if done properly, will work the entire body. You should really feel it in your abs, back and legs. A really good exercise for reducing Body Fat % and increasing muscle.

Going forward – I will, of course, be carrying on with Squats to enhance my workouts, but I will be doing wayyyy lower repetitions with higher weight. Before, I used to squat 40kg on the Smith Machine (3 sets of 10) so this is something that I will look to work towards.

I won’t say that the challenge has had no effect, because that would be a lie. I just think there is a much better way to go about it…!

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