If there were ever a word that guaranteed to lower your risk of major illness – such as heart disease or cancer – would you want to know what that word is? Exercise. According to NHS Choices, exercise can lower your risk of heart disease by up to 50 percent and early death by up to 30 percent.
It’s no secret that an active lifestyle can come with numerous benefits. According to the 2016 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report, U.K.’s gyms and health clubs have hit a new high with a record of 9.2 million members. On Facebook, others are staying active with 30-Day Fitness Challenges that anyone can log on to, pick a program, and get moving.
While it’s great to see individuals embracing fitness through these new types of trends, the question of the hour is: Do they work? To help us find the answer, we had seven participants – four women and three men – complete the squats portion of the 30-Day Challenge by FitnessRepublic. Participants were told not to change their regular eating or workout habits. The only difference to their days would be the inclusion of squats on the days that required them. Is the answer to a tighter ass, thighs, and hips only 30 days away? Let’s find out.
Our participants aren’t supermodels or famous actors. They are everyday, real life people looking for a simple way to exercise. Some of the participants workout everyday, while others workout every so often when they get the chance from their busy lifestyles. We also have a few that don’t work out at all, but decided to give the 30-Day challenge a try after seeing the hype on different social websites. Our participants’ ages range from low 20s to upper 40s and all have different economic and social backgrounds. No two participants are the same, but they do share one common goal: to complete the 30-Day squat challenge.
Four Weeks of Squats for Women
Our research required participants to complete a specific number of squats per day, with a rest day every nine days. When our four female participants – Vivian, Katherine, Jackie, and Adriana – completed the challenge, however, there were minimal changes to their bodies. The only change was a slight decrease in their backside measurements.
Another 30-day squat challenge from NewHealthAdvisor.com requires the number of squats to increase each day rather than by week. Additionally, instead of taking a rest day every nine days, this challenge calls for a rest day every four days. The visuals on the website show slightly better results because they continually did more squats each day over the 30 days. In order for your muscles to grow, they need to be worked on a little harder each time you exercise. Adding more squats as the days go on will show quicker results because of this.
Note: We recommend consulting with your doctor regarding safety and technique before starting any fitness routine.
Four Weeks of Squats for Men
Similarly, when the men completed a total of 1,315 squats during the 30-day challenge, there were no significant visual changes to their bodies. Our male participants – John, William, and Daniel – worked out more frequently (either once a week, multiple times a week, or daily) while including squats into their daily routine. Height and weight also didn’t seem to make a difference in their results. While participant photos from week one to week four don’t show much muscle gain, they also don’t show a decline in muscle either.
30 Days of Squats, From Beginning to End
Let’s now take a more in-depth look at two of the participants who completed the 30-day squat challenge – Vivian and John. Vivian told us that before participating in this challenge, she almost never worked out. Overall, when we examined her progress, we saw an insignificant increase in muscle around her backside.
John told us that he works out, on average, once a week. Over the course of 30 days, we could see progress around day 10, when his glutes started to look more defined. At this point, John had completed 350 squats.
Did gender play a role in these results? Because men gain muscle more easily than women and John has more testosterone in his body than that of his female counterpart, his results began to show faster than Vivian’s. While John stated that he worked out once a week, Vivian told us that she almost never worked out. Though neither of the results were drastic, being a little more active could’ve given the participants a little more tone and definition.
FitnessBlender.com tells us that the most effective squat challenge doesn’t include repeating one type of squat – instead, the best challenge includes doing 10 different kinds of squats, 10 times each, for a total of 100 times a day four to five times a week. Results may be seen in a week or two, but significant changes won’t come until week four (or week three if you’re working hard at it). Continually doing these squat exercises, for more than 30 days in most cases, can have tremendously better results such as toned glutes, bigger muscles, and a better shaped lower body. Quick doesn’t always mean better.
Backsides and BMI, as Time Goes On
Over the course of 30 days, participants had their waists measured (from the front to the back of the widest portion of their backside), and their body mass index (BMI) tracked. Results show that average backside measurements for women decreased, while backside measurements for men increased. Why is it that squatting makes women’s butts smaller but men’s bigger? It could be that men and women are just built differently.
The male participants were all in good shape and had a healthy BMI. Squatting only added more tone to their muscles, making their backsides seem larger. Because female participants had a higher than average BMI than the men, it’s possible that they saw a decrease in waist size due to a loss of body fat. On average, the female participants lost weight after completing the challenge, while the men gained weight. The average BMI for both men and women only slightly decreased.
Do 30-Day Squat Challenges Work?
Based on our research, the squat challenge made minimal visual changes in our participants’ bodies. . While the visual changes were almost unnoticeable, participants’ measurements did change over the course of the challenge. Of all the participants, there were two that had the biggest body changes: Vivian and Daniel. Vivian’s backside measurements decreased by 4.3%, from 117 centimetres to 112, and Daniel’s BMI increased by 2.1%, from 20.7 to 21.1. Each of the participants, with the exception of Daniel , saw a decrease in their BMI. An increase in BMI is not necessarily a negative result, as long as it’s within a proper range. Becoming more active helped them to lose a percentage of their body fat.
But what about Daniel? He’s probably in the best shape of all the participants since he works out every day. Because of his consistent workouts, it’s possible Daniel’s BMI increased because of added muscle mass. Having a high BMI isn’t a bad thing as long as it’s within the right range. So do squat challenges work? Yes. Do 30-day squat challenges work? Yes, but not nearly as well as they could.
Work Out However You See FitThe Huffington Post states that unless you change the way you eat and exercise, a 30-day squat challenge isn’t going to give you the hot bod you’ve always dreamed of. Having ripped abs or a chiseled backside isn’t easily attainable, but it is possible. Work out as slow or as fast as you need to. What matters is that you’re getting up and being active. Any type of physical activity is better than nothing.
The CDC’s weekly recommendation is at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity physical activity and full-body muscle-strengthening activities on a minimum of two days. Jog with your dog, or ride your bike. “Just Dance” in front of your television screen. Being a better you is important, whether that means participating in a 30-day squat challenge or taking a light run around the neighbourhood. Get up and get active.
Staying healthy is one of the key values of Zava. We care about helping you manage your health and wellbeing in a way that simplifies your busy schedule. Visit us at zavamed.com to learn more.
MethodologyWe enlisted four female participants and three male participants to take part in our research. Participants ranged from 22 to 46 years of age. Participants followed a 30-day squat challenge as detailed by FitnessRepublic.com. The squat challenge was chosen based on the most repinned challenge on Pinterest as of May 15, 2016. Each participant received uniform athletic clothing to be worn for all photos. Participants were compensated for their time and aliases have been used to conceal their identity.
Participants’ height, weight, and backside measurements were recorded before beginning the routine, after completing the routine, and every seven days during the routine. Participants were instructed on general squat form before beginning the routine. Participants were also instructed to not make any significant changes to their diet or exercise routines.
Weight measurements were recorded using a digital scale. Backside measurements were recorded using a tape measure placed around the widest portion of the participant’s backside from front to back. All measurements were conducted while wearing provided athletic wear.