The Squat Challenge
Alright, where to start… there’s this challenge circulating Facebook titled “squateggedeon”. Essentially it is a challenge for the month of April in which you complete anywhere in the range of 50-300 squats per day with a rest day every five days (see below)
There is also a push up contest that goes along with it (could not find the picture). This contest ranges from 10-100 push ups per day.
I guess I should start with the positives of this lovely challenge. If you do not currently workout- at all- it gets you active. I am a firm believer that any activity is better than no activity. To be honest, I definitely debated writing this blog. I am well aware that it will offend some (okay most) and don’t want to come across as an “exercise snob”.
But this is the stupidest challenge I have ever stumbled across. Let’s clarify that; one of the stupidest (I’ve seen a few dumb trends in the last few years – cabbage soup diet anyone?).
Let me start by taking a look at the daily activities of the average person. Most people sit for an 8 hour work day, normally, leaning forward to do some sort of computer/study work. We also sit while we drive to work (and what do we do when we drive to work? We lean into the steering while with our arms forward). Then, we come home, make dinner (while leaning over to chop vegetables and cook), sit at the table (again leaning forward to our plates- do you notice a pattern here?). After dinner maybe we do something active- but not likely. The rest of the night is spent -you guessed it- sitting on the couch. Do you sit up properly when you watch tv? I surely don’t.
So it’s safe to assume, that the average person, spends roughly 14 hours per day sitting and leaning forward. When you place your body into this position you naturally tighten your quads and your chest (the anterior muscles of your body). This is one of the main causes of low back pain and rounded shoulders.
Now let’s take a look at that challenge. The main muscle group worked in a squat is the quads (front part of the legs). Ladies, I will later explain how squats alone will not give you a “nice ass”. Next comes the push ups- which we all know work the chest and shoulders.
So if you spend 14 hours per day shortening the anterior muscle of your body (specifically quads and pecs), why the hell would you spend a full month dedicated to only shortening them further?! Because that’s what happens when a muscle contracts: the agonist of the muscle shortens.
This challenge is ludacris. If you want to give a challenge, have people do chin ups and deadlifts. Hell, even lunges or hip presses would suffice if there is a lack of equipment! At least those exercises would focus on countering the low back pain and hunch back created from sitting all damn day!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love both of the exercises- squats in particular- but in that amount of excess with nothing else to balance the muscle groups- it’s just moronic.
Now just a side note here for those ladies looking for a “nice ass” from completing all those squats. Unless you actually complete your squats to parallel or below you’re barely even activating your glutes (those are the muscles primarily responsible for your butt). So unless you plan on loading up a bar and squatting a full range, you can kiss that nice ass dream good bye. But don’t worry, you’ll have great muscular endurance in your quads!
Now like I said before, I fully support activity over no activity. But a common rule of thumb for not only good posture, pain allevience and a gorgeous back side is to start by strengthening the posterior muscles and stretching the anterior. Then, start with a 2:1 ratio of back to front. I adore a good squat but squats in isolation and without weights will not give you the butt you’re looking for.
So instead of completing insane amounts of one exercise, try pumping out some chin ups picking up weights off the floor – aka. Deadlifting.