Stacia’s personal challenge of the week is squatting 20 times, 8 repetitions a day to improve her leg strength and hip flexibility. To see her upcoming challenges, check out her challenge of the week page under the Agenda tab.
OK. Honestly, I’m not that disciplined about the 8 reps per day part, but in my defense, I always did the 20 consecutively.
At the end of the week, I still did 20×8 squats, just not divided equally throughout the seven days like it was supposed to be. But I did it!
I do feel my hips becoming more flexible, and my inner thigh muscles stronger when moving up and down the stairs. As a matter of fact, I found myself walking more often than before I did my squats. On most days, I even did additional crunches just to work out the largest muscles of my body – up from my abdomen and down to the buttocks.
Squats have been considered the ultimate move for total-body workout for the busy ones who can’t squeeze in some time to hit the gym. Might as well consider squeezing your core and your glutes right at this second (while you can), right?
Noted as the best overall exercise (after pushups), the move works two major parts of your body – the core and the legs. Daily, we use our core to balance our stance, and we move our legs to, well, get to places. In fact, the leg muscles the largest groups in the human body. When you hit the spot, you will burn more calories throughout.
“You get greater overall muscle and strength gains from the squat than from any other exercise….Squats create an overall anabolic environment in the body that maximizes gains from other exercises [in your workout],” says Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D., C.S.C.S., an exercise researcher at the University of Connecticut.
Most people simply forget this fact, forgo the leg workouts, and lift those heavy weights to work their T-shirt muscles instead (shoulders, arms, chest). Best of all, you can skip the weights altogether when doing squats, and the exercise is still effective. In any case, strong legs are the essential building blocks you need to carry yourself forward.
When you target your core and your hip areas to the max, your upper and lower back will straighten accordingly to your abs and obliques. Abdominal and back muscles work together to keep your posture balanced during the movement.
What I learned from my first challenge here is that it’s nearly impossible for someone else to inculcate daily instructions until you obediently follow the lesson yourself, believe it in your heart that you’ll get through the challenge. As a result, after only a week of doing lots of squats, I found my Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR) getting noticeably smaller. I also have more pronounced muscle tones on my legs. On any normal day, I have improved my posture even when walking for hours in heels. So, even though squats give me burning sensations throughout my body (and my skin always flush), the glowing results are worth it.
Picture from Women’s Health magazine