Sunday, September 9, 2018

30 Day Squat Challenge


60 Years Ago, September 1958

Brandon Guarneri served as a Content Director for STACK Media. He oversaw production for STACK Magazine and created video content with athletes and brands for Prior to that, Brandon was a staff editor for Men's Fitness, where he covered sports training and performance nutrition. He's also written for UFC Magazine, Muscle & Fitness, WWE Magazine and the NY Post.

by Brandon Guarneri (2018) 

The Squat is King for a reason: Locking a heavy bar in place across your back and then going down to parallel and exploding up against gravity builds muscle - and grit - like nothing else. Squats are grueling, yes, but they can't be beat for building lower-body strength and power.   

Now imagine getting under the bar every day for an entire month. That's what Kyle Hunt, C.S.C.S., decided to try with his 30-day squat challenge.

"The thought of squatting every day for 30 days would probably freak most people out," he says. "But they'd be surprised how much carryover there is into everything else they do in the gym."

Hunt's program has you work up to a single rep squat every day for a month. It might sound extreme, but there are tons of benefits to squatting more often. Stronger quads can help you get a bigger bench by creating more powerful leg drive. And stronger glutes can help you lock out heavier weights on the deadlift. Plus, your technique will improve as you train the movement pattern more regularly,  making for a more efficient squat overall.

Complex movements like the squat build the most muscle, and this leads to some extra benefits.

"You're going to have an increase in your natural testosterone and growth hormone levels," Hunt says. Complex movements force the body to produce more testosterone than isolation movements, and that's a good recipe for growth.

There are going to be days when you want absolutely nothing to do with the squat rack, but if you've plateaued and can't add weight to the bar, training just below your maximum load will lead to new gains. If you complete the challenge, you can expect to see a nice increase in your squat poundages.

When you're done with this month, take one or two weeks off from squatting. You can still train legs, but don't squat. You've earned a little break. "You're not going to lose any of the strength gains that you've earned," Hunt says, "and you'll come back to the gym stronger."

The Month Explained
Seven days per week, you'll foam-roll and then work up to a single rep squat with a weight that is 90% of your one-rep max. Don't let the warmup sets turn into working sets, or you'll never survive the whole month. Stick to 5 reps or less in the warmup sets. You want to make as comfortable big jumps as you can. For example, if your work set (single) is 225 (really?) the warmup would look something like this:

Bar x 5
95 x 5
135 x 3
155 x 2
185 x 1
225 x 1 

On four of the seven days (Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri) you'll perform accessory work from a pool of exercises. On these days choose exercises from the categories provided below, and adhere to the prescribed sets and reps, which change weekly:

Week 1 - 4 x 15 reps
Week 2 - 4 x 12
Week 3 - 5 x 10
Week 4 - 5 x 8

Monday: Horizontal Push/Pull

Choose two from -
Barbell Bench
Incline Barbell Bench
DB Flat Bench
DB Incline Bench
Hammer Strength Chest Press
Cable Chest Press

Choose two from -
Bentover 2-DB Row
T-Bar Row
Seated Cable Row
One Arm DB Row

Tuesday - Hip Hinge

Choose one from:
Barbell Romanian Deadlift
Barbell Good Morning
DB Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

Thursday - Vertical Push/Pull

Choose two from:
Standing Barbell Press
Seated DB Press
Seated BB Press
Seated Cable Overhead Press
Hammer Strength Shoulder Press

Choose two from:
Hammer Strength Lat Pulldown

Friday - Unilateral Movement

Choose one from:
Front Loaded Bulgarian Split Squat
Walking Lunge
Weighted Step Up

At the end of the month, take a few days off and set a new squat PR.
Note: If and when Me, Myself and/or I do this layout I plan to micro-load the 90% of max squat single. You know the drill I'm sure. For example, if your squat max is 400, Day One of squatting would be 360 x 1. Add a 1.25 lb. plate on Day Two. Add 2.5 to the 360 on Day Three . . . 3.75 for Day Four, etc. By the 30th day you'd be doing a single with 397.5 and it should feel like just another 90% single. Take a week off and test max. Who knows, the whole thing might be a complete waste of energy and you'll burn out thanks to those tiny increments on that one set of one rep for 30 days. But hey . . .


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