This squat challenge isn’t about accumulating reps or finding a one-rep max, though you will see an improvement in these areas. It’s about improving your overall squatting mechanics, which will allow you to lift more weight more efficiently and earn faster gains.
Your body moves along links in a chain, but if there’s a kink in a link, the rest of the chain suffers. For example, during a squat, tight ankles force your knees back over your heels, pulling your torso forward as counterbalance. This draws the movement out of the posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes) and into the quads, the weaker link where squats are concerned. Finding and maintaining the proper squat position means freer movement, a stronger squat, and a reduced likelihood of injury and movement dysfunction.
Take the Squat Challenge
The goal of this challenge is to sit at the bottom of a squat, unassisted, for a total of 10 minutes. Sound like a long time? It is, but to improve squat mobility and reverse the negative effects of sitting for hours, you need to be able to spend a significant amount of time in this highly functional and natural position.
Your ultimate goal is to get into the bottom of your squat and stay there — in position — for the duration of time. You should maintain an upright torso with your toes forward and your feet about hip-distance apart, your feet should be flat on the floor with most of your weight in your heels and your knees should stay in line with your toes.
Ten minutes might not be possible at first, so start with five one-minute holds with a one-minute rest in between, or 10 rounds of 30-second holds alternating with 30 seconds of rest. Gradually increase the work intervals and decrease the rest to work up to the full 10 minutes. Once mastered, you can do your 10-minute squat hold preworkout or postworkout as often as time allows.
But First, These Stretches
Before you begin your challenge, spend one minute in each of these stretches to prep your body for the upcoming effort.
This stretch targets the adductors and inner groin so you can assume a shallow squat position.
Get into a tabletop position with your elbows under your shoulders, forearms flat on the floor and your knees under your hips. Slide your knees apart as far as you comfortably can, keeping the inner edges of your feet flat on the floor, and draw your hips back slightly to align with your knees. Hold and breathe. As your muscles lengthen, sink deeper down into the stretch.
High Lizard Lunge
This lengthens the hip flexors and the hamstrings, which can pull your torso forward and out of position when tight.
Get into a push-up position with your hands under your shoulders and your head, hips and heels aligned. Bring your right foot outside your right hand and press your right knee into your right shoulder while keeping your back leg strong and straight. Lengthen your spine by drawing your chest up and forward and hold, or drop down to your forearms if mobility allows.
Do one minute on each side.
Cross-Legged Forward Fold
This stretch opens your hips like the frog and stretches your lower and upper back for improved depth and torso position.
Sit cross-legged with your knees stacked over your ankles. Walk your hands forward and fold at the hips, pressing your sit bones down as you reach forward. Relax your spine and allow your head to drop.
Tight hamstrings can tilt your pelvis down posteriorly, making it difficult to keep your spine long and your torso upright.
Start in a low lunge with your left knee down, right knee bent. Place your hands on the floor on either side of your right foot, then straighten your right leg, flexing your foot and pulling your toes toward your shin. Draw your chest forward and down toward your foot. Repeat on both sides.