There is a growing awareness of squats as an important if not the most important strength training exercise for the lower body. As a personal trainer it’s hard to argue with this fact. But now a number of 30 programs and challenges are circulating around tumblr and the internet for squats. This is one of a number of squat challenges I’ve seen.
The goal of these images usually is centered around the goal of getting a really nice butt like the one in the picture. While I’m sure it’s quite an accomplishment to complete this program. It’s not really training you in the most efficient way or for the right goal.
The volume of squats is way off. Most of these don’t specify if you should do all of these squats in a row, or if they are to be broken up over a whole day or into sets. Who knows what you should do with the 50-250 squats you are stuck with. Lets assume you are supposed to do them all in one sitting. This type of training would actually be preparing your muscles to have improved endurance. Which isn’t a problem except we are trying to get a nice butt! When people get nice butts they get it though muscle hypertrophy (simply put your muscles growing in size). High repetition exercise does not cause hypertrophy. Scientific research has shown that the optimal repetition range is around 8-12 reps per set. So you really should be doing sets of 8-12 squats to be creating that butt you so dearly want.
So cool you say, I’ll just break my 50-250 squats in to sets of 8-12 and I’ll be good! Not exactly, research has also shown that there is a diminishing return on muscular gains after about 3-4 sets of a certain exercise. Meaning that if you do 10 sets of squats you aren’t likely to see better results than if you simply did 3-4 sets of it.
Your ideal squat program should look something more like this. 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
The amount of consecutive days that you squat is way too high. For your muscles to grow they need to be put under stress and then be allowed to recover from that stress and grow. The majority of these programs stack at least 3 days in a row of squats together. The problem with this is that your leg muscles aren’t being given time to recover. Muscles need at least 24 hours to recover after a strength training workout. I honestly recommend people take at least 48 hours between working the same muscle group. When you don’t give your body time to recover you are simply stressing the same muscle group again the next day and delaying or undoing the work you did the day before. By the time you get to a rest day you most likely only get the results of about one days work.
A proper squat program should look more like Squat one day, rest one day, squat one day, rest one day or Squat one day, rest two days, squat one day, rest two days.
There is no indication to add or increase weight. When you start a squat program you might just need to start with body weight only. For a few workouts this might be enough. But over time squats will get easier to the point that it’s not much of a challenge anymore. Think about it, if you can do 250 squats in a row with your body weight, it’s gotten pretty easy. The key is for your muscles to hypertrophy they need to continue to be challenged. This is why you need to start adding weight to keep your squats challenging. I’m not telling you that you need to go into the gym and get in the squat rack and start lifting. If you are progressing from body weight squats you can add weight in a lot of ways. Hold two dumbbells at your sides, Hold something heavy close to your body like a jug of water, wear a backpack weighted down with something heavy like some books. It doesn’t matter if its real weights or something you have around the house, you need to start adding weights when your squats become easy of you will never get any better.
I hope you guys have learned a few things from this post. Unfortunately not everything on the internet is correct when it comes to exercising. But if you are educated and know how your body works and how training works you can better weed out the incorrect information from the good information.