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Squat Challenge Accepted, Pinterest (Plus, Butts!)

If you follow anyone on Pinterest — friends, a coworker, your dad — you have probably seen some variation of the 30-Day Squat Challenge, often accompanied by a photo of a cute butt.*

So, never one to shy away from a challenge or photos of butts, I decided to start 2014 off with an untested, unaccredited workout routine found in the darkest nether-regions of the Internet (hello, fitness boards on Pinterest).

Here are the before photos:

heart butt

Before shots of my butt. Ha ha ha. Butt. Awesome pants by Nina B. Roze.

And now, here’s a recap of my 30-day transition from non-squatter to squatter — photo results at the end!

Day 1: Excited to get started! Also, it’s January 1, so I’m massively hungover! The challenge starts with 50 squats, which didn’t sound like that many to me. I watched a video online to remind myself of proper form, but also counted on my husband to shout corrections at me, because what is more fun than telling someone you love that they are doing everything wrong? Also, I was blocking the TV, so “Move it” may have been less inspirational-fitness-class-instructor and more guy-just-trying-to-watch-Arrow-over-here. Anyway, it turns out 50 squats is a LOT of squats. I was, embarrassingly, a little winded by the time I finished, and I definitely felt it in my quads and hamstrings. The challenge culminates with 250 squats. I cannot see this happening, but I’m trying to be more of an optimist in 2014, so… maybe?

Day 2: … and I’m already cheating. OK, I did the 55 squats, but my form wasn’t great. I don’t have a mirror, but I could tell. My knees hurt when I was doing them, and that seems wrong. Still winded by the finish.

Day 3: My knees are still a little achy, so taking it easy and not going too low/deep in my squats, but maybe that’s worse for my knees? I don’t know. I need a squat coach. (Maybe he would shout “You don’t know squat!” at me when I got sassy.) Not enjoying them yet, just kind of slogging through today’s 60. The good news is that, so far, it doesn’t take me long to complete all of them. That should be encouraging for people who are short on time.

Day 4: Rest day! Including rest days seems un-challenge-like, but I’ll take it.

Day 5: 70 squats, and I felt pretty good! My knees weren’t bothering me today, and I think doing the squats in running tights helped stabilize my muscles.

Day 6: Today I worked out in our gym (it’s a rest day for me from running, and the wind chill is -42 or something crazy), so I was able to complete the prescribed 75 squats in front of a mirror with an eye on my form.

Day 7: A treadmill run to avoid the icy conditions outside, and 80 squats in the gym. Again, having the mirror helped.

Day 8: Rest day!

Day 9: 100 squats. Feels like a milestone.

Day 10: Drunk squats! OK, not really, but I didn’t have time to do the squats in the morning after my run, and then after work I met my husband for dinner, and completely forgot about the squats! When we got home and I remembered, I had already had a Manhattan and a Sapporo. But doing them is what counts… right? Probably German athletes drink like 5 beers during every workout?

Day 11: Had to cram 110 squats in fast in between my Saturday morning group training run and getting to my shift on time. I did them, but my right knee was aching from the run and the squats were not feeling great. I tried to focus on using my glutes and other muscles and less at bending at the knee, but it was awkward.

Day 12: Rest day!

Day 13: 130 squats! I think I’m starting to get the hang of this!

Day 14: 135 squats, and I’m feeling like I’m getting stronger. I’m still not able to drop it very low, but I’m getting there.

Day 15: AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Totally forgot to do my squats today. Totally, totally. I had a group speed-workout in the evening, came home, and did not even glance at the squat calendar on my fridge. I woke up in the middle of the night and remembered. The good news is, Day 16 is supposed to be a rest day, so I’ll just swap the two workouts.

Day 16: Not a rest day. 140 squats. I don’t think switching the two days will matter in the long run, but I had intended to adhere to the 30-day plan as closely as possible. But oh well! I don’t even know who made this plan. Some joker, probably.

Day 17: 150 squats! And seriously you guys, I’m getting so much better at these. What has helped me, mentally, is really the stupidest thing: There are all these shirts on Pinterest (I know, I know, I have a problem) that say “Drop it like it’s squat” or “Drop it like a squat” (I guess the second one is technically better?), and thinking about dropping it — “it” being my butt, and like just letting go and physically dropping it as low as possible without losing form — has seriously helped. Like an uptight workaholic in any rom-com, I had to learn to relax and just let go in order for my squats to become more effective and efficient.

Day 18: What a day! I’m not trying to use this challenge as a vehicle to complain-a-brag, but my running has kicked back up again, and I had a 12-miler today, then 7 hours of on-my-feet work, then 155 squats. I’m feeling it.

Day 19: 160 squats! Extra-motivated today because there were two other people in our building’s gym, and normally it’s empty. Had to really make my squats look good. Oh, vanity!

Day 20: Rest day! Really starting to appreciate these.

Day 21: Freezing after a 7-mile run tonight in about 11-degree weather. I decided to take a hot shower and warm up before doing my 180 squats, but man, I probably didn’t need to; I got hot fast once I started the squats. They are no joke.

Day 22: Another late-ish, almost-forgot-ish, round of squats! 185 tonight. Feeling a little burned out, but I got ’em done. Stairs are becoming problematic. Do-able, but dread-able.

Day 23: 190 squats.

Day 24: TGIFRD (Thank God It’s Friday and a Rest Day)

Day 25: Another close call. I had a hectic Saturday, so I was on the sofa, luxuriating in sitting while drinking a greyhound, when I remembered the stupid squats. But, 220 done!

Day 26: Hard to believe I had to do more squats again today, after yesterday’s epic 220! My legs were quaking by the end. I think doing more than 200 squats might be crazy. It’s mentally challenging to get started and know that you have 100 to do, then 100 more, then 25 more.

Day 27: Polar Vortex returned, so I hit the gym for 6 miles on the treadmill (not my fave) followed by 230 squats. I was watching “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” the entire time, so that definitely helped me escape mentally while exercising indoors.

Day 28: Rest day!

Day 29: Pants! Too tight! I did my squats after my run tonight, but my insulated tights are not very flexible, resulting in 240 not-that-great squats. I gave it all my all, but I was really warm and really unbendable. Too bad, but there is still one more day left… 250 squats tomorrow night!

Day 20: The challenge ends not so much in a shout, but in a whisper. I was tired and sore and couldn’t get into it. Sorry, folks. But woo hoo! Challenge complete, and 250 squats done today!

Let’s see how the ol’ butt-butt is looking, with side-by-side shots:

total desk butt

Pinterest makes it look *way* easier to create before and after photos. They are actually impossible.

OK, I know it may not be glaringly obvious in my crappy comparison here, but there is a HUGE difference in butt shape and lift! I was honestly astonished when I opened up the new photos next to the old. After only 30 days, I see an impact of the squats.

Pinterest: 1. Skepticism: 0.

Let’s take a closer look.

I ned to figure out PS stat

Wow. Math doesn’t lie, and I’m pretty sure that lovely curved line I drew in Photoshop counts as geometry.

There’s definitely more of a roundness than the previous desk-butt flatness.

So, start squatting, you guys! I’m going to try to keep it up now that the challenge has ended.



*We never said you’d find the cute butt here. Head on over to Pinterest, weirdo, if that’s your thing.

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Lively Athletics


03 Feb, 2014



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