It all started with my first online workout class a few months ago when the trainer said, "Time for squats." Now, I've done squats in a number of workouts before, but I never gave them a second thought. But, when I began my online workout journey with Barry's Bootcamp and started challenging myself to a workout that pushed me out of my comfort zone, I realized my attitude toward the classic exercise move needed some serious reevaluation.
After 30 days of HIIT classes with two lower-body classes a week, I started to notice definition in my calves, hamstrings, and booty in ways that running never could deliver. What's more, I noticed more drive in my step when I ran, and I felt less exhausted as I logged my miles. That's when my month-long journey of squats began: I challenged myself to complete some form of squat every day for a month in order to keep up my momentum long past my routine HIIT class schedule.
Now I've learned a lot of things as I've been accepting several month challenges during quarantine, but here are my main takeaways.
Discipline is required
As I said, this isn't the first time I've decided to venture into a fitness challenge while in quarantine. I've embarked on a Barry's Bootcamp challenge as well as a running challenge, both of which had some structure to them. This squats challenge was totally on my own: no plan, no real goal, and no one holding me accountable. Needless to say, discipline to finish a squats set each day really caused me to stay focused and as they say, do the work regardless of who was watching.
Variety is necessary
Outside of the fact that I was challenging myself to a type of workout I typically don't perform, I learned how important variety is to keep my workout interesting. I researched different iterations of a squat. I'd mix and match varieties of the movement. Jump squats, sumo squats, squat jacks, split squats: if it involved the squat movement in any form, I tried it. I even added in props like my couch or bands — shout-out to Barry's trainer Tony F. and his Abs and Ass class for introducing me to a million and one ways to utilize my bands. Ultimately, options kept things fun and challenging.
Pairing up is ideal
Although I did some form of a squat each day, don't think I was doing hundreds of squats for days on end. Some days I did a full set. Other days, I incorporated my squats into my everyday activities. While doing a volunteer session of picking up trash in the neighborhood, I added in a few squats while I walked. Most times, I paired up my squats with a run. While I was still in my chafe-free shorts like the UA Meridian Bike Shorts ($60), I'd tack on a few quick squats here and there. Since I was already in the workout mindset, adding in a few extra minutes of work didn't seem so daunting.
The results are slow but real
Probably my biggest takeaway from working out in general is: if you do the work, you will see results. But be patient. I never set out to tone my booty or achieve any aesthetic goal. For me, I'm a runner and almost always have the strength and power of my legs on the brain. Although those both were top of mind for me, any toning benefits I saw were welcome side effects. And yep, I did see results — but I only did so because I was consistent. Doing intensive reps of squats and lower-body workouts a few times a week didn't make me stronger and more toned. Incorporating them into my daily life in small but manageable amounts did.