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Fact checked by Kirsten Yovino, CPT Brookbush InstituteFACT CHECKED
October 04, 2022
Beloved by gym goers everywhere, squatting is a fundamental movement pattern that is a crucial component of functional health. And let's not forget the aesthetic appeal as well, as it can help you build some killer quads.
Given the popularity of the “100 Squats a Day” challenge, common questions arise about the benefits, setbacks, and results that this challenge provides. So, what exactly happens when you commit to performing 100 squats every day? Let's find out!
We’re diving into everything you need to know about the challenge before you get after your 100 squats a day.
In this post, we'll discuss:
The 100 squats a day challenge involves completing 100 bodyweight squats for 30 consecutive days. This challenge is accessible and achievable for many. The squats are completed using your bodyweight with proper form and range of motion.
There is no strict rule on when to complete the squats. As long as you complete 100 repetitions within your day, you’ve accomplished the goal of the challenge.
As for repetition schemes, the 100 squats can either be done unbroken or broken up into sets and repetitions. Here are examples of how you can complete your squats in one given day:
As you can see from the above examples, there are many ways to structure how you will complete 100 squats within your day. The best option is the one that feels best for your body and is one you’ll stick to consistently. Explore different sets, reps, and timing of day for your squats and see what suits your body.
You may be thinking: Why should I take on a challenge like this? First, it’s a fun way to incorporate more movement into your routine, especially if you’re struggling to consistently stick to a workout split.
Second, this is a challenge that will motivate you. You’ll feel like you've progressed when you accomplish this task for the day, proving to yourself that consistency pays off. If you can consistently accomplish 100 squats per day, what else are you capable of doing?
Staying consistent with this challenge can influence you to keep going for more than 30 consecutive days. Here’s what you may start to experience throughout 7 days, 30 days, and a whole year of squatting.
This will be a new adjustment to your exercise routine and a shift for your body. You’ll start to recognize how your squats feel and whether 100 repetitions is achievable for you. You’ll start to notice how muscle recovery plays a big part in making sure you feel rested and ready for the next day of squats. You may start to feel sore, challenged, and motivated to keep going.
After a month of consistent squatting, you’ll feel like this is a solid part of your routine. By this time, you’ll have a solid understanding of your squat form and how your body responds to frequency over time. If you decided to add resistance throughout the month, you may have noticed strength and mobility gains within your squat pattern. You may even notice a small amount of muscle gain.
By day 30, checking off 100 squats per day will just be one of your daily habits. If you're still using a basic squat with only bodyweight at this point, it may be time to determine how much weight to add or whether it's time to include a squat variation, like sumo squats or a goblet squat.
At this point, if the only exercise you're doing is the squat, you should also consider adding an upper body bodyweight move, like push ups.
Holy moly! A whole year of squats. Assuming that you’ve followed progressive overload, you’ll make significant progress in your squat, as long as you're recovering and avoiding pushing through pain. If you've added weight to your squat throughout the year, you may even notice changes to your body composition.
You’ll feel more confident in your squat form. Be proud of yourself! Performing 100 squats every day for a year is quite the feat.
Think about it this way. You probably do a significant amount of squats in your daily routine already. Every time you sit down and get back up, you’re doing some version of a squat pattern. With intention and a goal that keeps you motivated, you can accomplish 100 squats per day.
If you are fairly new to squatting or if after a long hiatus, you're just getting back into that 3-day workout split, 100 squats can feel challenging and seem daunting for an everyday task. The most important component to focus on is your squat form! (We'll discuss how to do bodyweight squats below).
As a squat novice, split up your 100 squats into sets and repetitions. If at any point you feel that your body needs less intensity, decrease the repetitions. Remember, this challenge is more so about consistency than anything else. If you need to start with 50 or 75 squats, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to bump up your reps to 100.
No matter what fitness level you’re at or what structure you’re choosing to perform your 100 squats, how your squats feel and your ability to recover will determine if it’s safe to continue the challenge. If at any point you feel pain throughout your squat (muscle soreness is normal, joint pain or a recurring pain point is more of a red flag), stop and reassess your squat form.
Lower the reps, take more rest days, or modify your bodyweight squat to a box squat instead. Avoid squatting through pain and revisit the challenge when your body feels ready to. If you choose to complete bodyweight squats for the challenge, the recovery is typically an easy one for the body to handle. If you add resistance to your squat, it may take your body a day to recover from the volume of tension put on your legs.
Help your body’s ability to recover by stressing the importance of sleep and focusing on proper nutrition, plenty of water, and stretching/foam rolling to relieve sore areas of the legs. Recovery is crucial. It’s a big component of your physical progress.
A review to keep your body safe through the challenge:
The results of completing 100 bodyweight squats per day are dependent on your starting point of the challenge. If you are brand new to squatting, this challenge will provide several positive outcomes like instilling a new, consistent habit into your routine.
With consistent squatting every day, intentional reps will help build stronger squat form, mobility, core awareness, and postural awareness.
If you are already working out consistently and have a strong foundation for bodyweight squats, there are ways to make sure you keep challenging yourself through the 100 squat a day challenge.
One important component that the 100 bodyweight squat challenge does not include is the principle of progressive overload. When applied to your 6-day workout split (or whichever split you're following!), this looks like a gradual increase in weights, frequency, or the number of repetitions of specific exercises. This stimulates a challenge for the body and is an attainable way to keep track of how you are progressing in your workouts.
If you are just starting and using this challenge as a way to incorporate more movement, bodyweight squats will most likely challenge you just enough. If you want to make your squats harder, use additional resistance like bands, kettlebells, dumbbells, a barbell, or sandbag.
Remember, you want to gradually increase the repetitions to make sure your body is adapting to the demands you’re putting on it. An example is to start the first week off with just bodyweight squats, add a 20-pound kettlebell to week 2, bump it up to an empty barbell in week three, and finish off week 4 with a barbell and additional weights.
Calorie burn during exercise is specific to the activity or exercises done, duration of exercise, and your body’s weight. On average, one moderately intense bodyweight squat burns about .32 calories.
Multiply this by 100 squats and you will burn around 32 calories. The most accurate way to track calorie burn is by wearing a heart rate tracker. These heart rate trackers take into account a lot more details like your age, weight, and activity level to give you a more accurate average for caloric expenditure.
Also, if you're doing this to lose weight, we highly recommend lifting weights (following a structured program), incorporating healthy nutrition practices, like prioritizing high protein low-fat foods, and then adding 100 squats a day as a supplementary tool. To lose body fat will take more than just performing daily squats.
Considering partaking in the 100 squats a day challenge? From improved strength to increased mobility, there are plenty of positives to doing so.
Working the glutes, hamstrings, and quads daily can strengthen the lower body muscles, leading to muscle hypertrophy, and help your overall movement quality. Over time, 100 squats will start to feel more achievable and less strenuous for your lower body muscle groups, hence a sign that you have built strength within your squats.
Bodyweight squats are not only a great strength exercise, but they’re also an efficient hip mobility exercise. They also enable the ankles to move through their adequate ranges of motion. Challenging your body with 100 squats a day is also a great opportunity to prep your body and open up the joints to prepare them for additional movement throughout your day.
Practicing bodyweight squats can allow you to complete squat repetitions. Inhaling on the way down while keeping the abdominals braced and exhaling on the way up is the proper approach to bodyweight reps.
The core’s role in squats is to stabilize the body throughout the entire range of the squat. Building a solid foundation with squats can lead to higher core awareness, a stronger core, and a lower risk of injury.
The body relies on main compound exercises that will strengthen your overall posture. During squats, the upper body works with the core to stabilize the body through each repetition. The more you can familiarize yourself with squatting patterns the better your body awareness will become. This will translate to your posture and alignment through movement.
Before jumping into the challenge, take a look at the cons. Remember, with overuse comes a higher risk of injury.
Squats are a compound exercise, meaning they work your entire body and require a substantial amount of energy. Be mindful of how your body is feeling when you are completing the repetitions. If you are a beginner and squat form is continuing to bother you, take your time and focus on every rep.
Keep in mind: When it comes to exercise, focus on quality, not quantity. Optimize this challenge by focusing on your form and incorporating other lower body exercises, like the ones in this leg workout, to help you gain strength in your lower body. Loading your squat with improper form can lead to strain and potential injury.
Although this is a fun challenge to get after, including other exercises and following a standard strength and conditioning program is optimal for your quality of life. Squatting every day (or doing any same exercise repetitively) does provide your body with a great lower body load but including some variety can optimize your physical results.
It takes practice and willpower to adapt to a new habit. Staying consistent with a workout routine can feel like a chore. The key to sticking to your 100 squats a day is to ease it into your routine while making it accessible and fun!
New habits can put a mental strain and take the fun out of the goal. When you feel like you need rest, take it. This challenge will give you a sense of accomplishment and it will make you feel like taking on new habits is manageable. Who knows? Once you get into the swing of things, you may find yourself continuing to add challenges to your exercise routine, like tackling the sumo squat or these assault bike workouts, for example.
Completing 100 squats per day will not contribute to building muscle unless you incorporate the principles of progressive overload by an additional load to the squat. Bodyweight squats can still provide you with ample benefits like staying consistent and active.
It will also help you improve your form, technique, and stability. If you’re doing 100 squats a day with progressive overload and correct form, you will see an increase in strength gains in your lower body. You’ll find points in your squat form that can be improved and you’ll build an overall strong squat.
Adding weights is a great way to progressive overload, but you could also continue challenging yourself by introducing a different squat variation to your routine. You'll emphasize different muscles with different squat variations, and you can slowly add weight to your new movements as well.
As for how many squats for progressive overload, if you're not adding weight, you'll need to continue adding more squats (yes, more than 100!) to continue making gains.
A study examined the effectiveness of an 8-week, 100 squats per day program on adolescent boys. The study’s results showed an overall decreased percentage of body fat, increase in muscle size, increase in knee extensor strength, and improvement in vertical jump capacity1.
Although this study found great results, it's important to remember the trial group consists of adolescent boys. This means we cannot assume these results will be the same for all people of different age ranges, fitness levels, and sex.
Based on additional science-based evidence, recent studies have shown the effects of several training variables on muscular strength gains. These variables are a key component of a successful training program.
The research shows that there is no correlation between the frequency of training and strength gains when the overall training volume is the same2. In this case, when the training volume of 100 squats a day stays the same, there is no proven outcome of significant strength gains.
Looking for some real-life examples of average people trying the “100 Squats a Day” challenge?
Here are a few "100 squat a day" experiences to check out:
The testimonials of the above people can give you a good idea of what to expect and feel throughout the challenge. The participant's results varied, but every person had a valuable takeaway that they learned during the challenge.
Your motivation to do the 100 squats a day challenge should align with your fitness goals. If you are looking to reintroduce movement into your daily routine and improve your habit of staying consistent with a fitness regimen, this is the perfect challenge for you.
If you are looking to gain strength and max out your back squat, this challenge is not the one for you unless you choose to follow progressive overload techniques. And if this challenge is supplemental to a fitness routine that you’re already doing, great! Just imagine how strong you'll feel after knocking out a few of these dumbbell leg exercises and then completing the 100 squats a day challenge as a finisher.
Have fun with it and keep moving. Your intentions through this challenge may change, but no matter what, you will be pushed and tested outside of your comfort zone to stay consistent and complete this challenge!
Ready to assume the squat position and get after the challenge? Let’s make sure you’re squatting with optimal form.
There isn’t a one size fits all approach when it comes to performing 100 squats a day. Some people will benefit from squatting every single day and others won’t. Depending on the outcome that you’re looking to achieve, this challenge may be the perfect one to catapult you back into a consistent movement routine, or it may fatigue you and increase your risk of injury due to poor squat form.
According to the studies shown, it is still unclear whether frequency alone has a significant impact on muscular strength. Approach this challenge with intention and a certain goal in mind that feels right for you. And once you master the squat, don't forget to move on to tackling lunges!
Other Squat Variations To Try:
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