This article was originally published in the October edition of Modern Gladiator Magazine.
The truth behind the 30-day squat challenge: Do quick-fix challenges work?
by Nicole Garrett, fall intern 2014 & Jennifer Trimmier, owner Strong Body SA
Most likely you’ve seen a Facebook or Twitter post for the “30-Day Squat Challenge” guaranteeing a firmer butt or the “300 Reps for Perfect Abs” challenge that the author proclaims will make you look like a Spartan right out of the movie 300.
There’s no doubt we all wish and hope for results in the short timeframe these challenges promise, but the sad truth is these promises are downright false.
Doing only high repetitions of the few exercises prescribed in these challenges will not give you the butt or mid-section of your dreams.
We’d all like to believe that getting our desired fitness results can happen this quickly, but we also know that it just doesn’t work that way. It may seem that doing 50 to 100 squats every day is a logical way to get a firmer butt, but when you look at that plan compared to a well-rounded fitness regimen, it’s easy to see the flaws of the “one exercise helps all” challenge.
Any qualified trainer will agree that doing the exact same exercise over and over day after day is not beneficial and can actually be detrimental to overall fitness goals.
The key to optimal fitness and toned muscles is typically a full-body routine that may put a little more focus on a person’s weak areas.
There are over 600 muscles in the body that work together, and to focus on just 2 or 3 is silly when the ultimate goal is a toned physique. The butt alone, or gluteal region, contains 9 different muscles. The squat actually only works 1 of the 9—the gluteus maximus.
So it’s easy to understand why a 30-day challenge focusing on 1 glute muscle could produce less than desired results for the rear.
If one really wants to achieve a firmer butt, there’s a need to work most or all of the muscles in that region as well as around it to maintain stability and proper balance in the musculature.
This balance is very important in every fitness program. Moreover, training any one muscle too often can eventually deplete the muscle rather than build it. This is due to the body becoming immune, or reaching a plateau, then slightly decreasing in strength due to overuse. It is very important to have a proper balance and variety for each muscle group to achieve the best and most long-term results.
So how long does it take to burn fat and build lean muscle in the buns and thighs—or any other problem area for that matter? Trainers get this question all the time and while the answer really depends on the person, their goals, and their commitment, there are some general guidelines that may help everyone understand that the most important thing when striving for fitness goals is consistency.
First, let’s clarify: There is no quick-fix way to build lean muscle that lasts. In order to gain lasting results in the healthiest way possible, follow these 3 steps:
1) Stay away from quick-fix fads!
There’s no surprise here after what we’ve already said. Being fit is not something that happens overnight. Exercise at least 3 to 4 days a week. Include some kind of resistance training program. If you need help creating this program, invest in a personal trainer or use a reputable website that offers goal-based strength training plans. Bodybuilding.com or T-Nation.com are two that have helped numerous people reach their fitness goals for free.
2) Mix it up!
(See Jennifer’s past article 3 Proven Methods to Get More Out of Your Workout for more on this.) It’s okay to work legs a few times per week, but instead of just doing squats, try adding other leg and glute exercises.
Lunges, weighted step-ups, and single-leg elevated split squats are a few that will target all of the gluteal muscles—something that will truly help you get the butt you’re dreaming off.
3) Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Have you heard the saying, “You can’t out train a bad diet”? It’s true! Nutrition and fitness go hand-in-hand.
In order to get the best results, a proper diet is required. Most agree that this is the hardest part and possibly the part of your regimen you’ll want to get some professional help on.
General rules include not over-eating or under-eating and ensuring you’re getting the proper amount of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat) your body needs based on the goals you’ve set.
Remember, consistency is key,
so try to fuel your body consistently with lean proteins, non-processed carbohydrates and healthy fats. We still haven’t answered the question posed from the beginning: How long does it take? If you must have an answer, give yourself 12 dedicated weeks following a consistent fitness regimen including a healthy, balanced diet.
Some programs can get you where you want to be in as little as 8 weeks, but there’s no doubt that 30 days is not near enough time for the body to make significant, noticeable, and lasting changes.
Moral of the story:
Throw away that 30-day challenge that only focuses on 1 body part or a few muscles. Following the guidelines above is much more likely to produce the tight buns and washboard abs you dream of. Nothing worth fighting for comes easy, so you must be willing to put in the effort today, tomorrow, and throughout the long-term in order to achieve the results you want today, tomorrow, and in the future.