Welcome to the December Squat Challenge!
Squats challenge the entire lower body by working the muscles around the hip, knee, and ankle joints. They make us aware of our core and posture by aligning the spine. And they fire up our body’s largest metabolic engines – the quads and glutes.
First, a few tips. If you have tightness in any of the lower body joints or muscles, stretch and/or foam roll before starting. So, standing calf and ankle stretch, thigh foam roller, or ankle over knee stretches are good starting points.
Ready? You’ll do a new body weight squat each week, and repeat it two more times that week.
I’ve included a brief video for each week. Having a recovery day between is preferable, but do what suits you best. For each exercise, do the recommended number of reps with 30-60 seconds of rest in between.
WEEK ONE: Basic Squat plus Pulse
With feet wider than knees and toes and knees pointing forward, squat by sitting back. Lead with hips, not knees. For pulse, lower into 1/2 squat and do 10 pulses, staying low. Do 10 squats followed by 10 pulses for 3 sets.
WEEK TWO: Sumo Squat plus heel raise
Step feet wide with knees and toes aligned, out about 45 degrees. Squat down so knees remain above heels at the low point, pressing hips back. For heel raise, lower to 1/2 sumo position and hold while raising and lowering heels. Do 10 squats followed by 10 heel raises for 3 sets.
WEEK THREE: Hungarian Squat
Place one toe or foot on bench or step behind you and step other (working) leg forward. Align front knee over your heel. Bend both legs to lower into split squat. Maintain tall spine. Do 10 reps per leg for 2 sets.
WEEK FOUR: Reach Squat
Perform Basic Squat with arms elevated as straight as possible alongside your ears. Maintain a long spine and sit back with hips leading (not knees). Do 10 reps for 3 sets.
WEEK FIVE: In and Out Squat
Start with feet and knees parallel and forward. Squat in parallel, then step one foot out and squat wide. Step back to center, squat, then step the other foot out and squat wide. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps for 2 sets.