Let me be clear, squats are not my favorite. I’ve never really put much of an effort into leg day because let’s face it, when you’re fat everyday is leg day. Couple that with an injury I suffered a few years back to my quads and these have been some of my least favorite things to do. However, as I’ve continued to work out and increase my upper body strength, I’ve started to realize that I really need to start working on my legs as well.
I feel like it’s important for me to mention that before getting into the challenge itself I had been conditioning and working my legs a bit using leg extension and leg curl machines as well as doing seated leg presses with roughly my body weight. On top of that I’ve been doing a good bit of running to build the stamina that I don’t naturally have as someone who is obese. I tell you this because when I first started working on my legs I would often overdo it and struggle to walk or even get up from a chair for days afterward. So if you’re also someone just starting out on this journey, you should probably start slow and build up to something like this.
What’s the Purpose?
So from what I’ve seen and read online, a major reason for most people to take the challenge is cosmetic. Most of the articles I’ve read and personalities I’ve seen talk about the benefits for toning your thighs and butt. Does it really work that well? Maybe. Are there others who criticize it and advocate for a more traditional incorporation of squats into a workout? Absolutely; however I have my own reasons for wanting to do this.
As I’ve discussed in the past, my wife and I are in the process of adopting our daughter from India. She is an amazing young lady, but she has cerebral palsy and as a result has a hard time walking. While we have a wheel chair and other ways to make the world more accessible for her, the reality is that there are some places that she cannot go by herself, but she shouldn’t be excluded from seeing the world from a mountaintop or from experiencing the glory of surpassing the treeline for the first time because of that. I want to build my legs so that I can carry her and take her and our boys on all of the adventures we would want to go on.
Second, about 8 years ago I went out to play rugby with a friend which was a lot of fun. However I underestimated the level of intensity involved in the game. It was my first time playing and I was pretty lazy at the time. I would struggle to run half a mile and my weight training was very limited, but I felt like I had to keep up with these tough young guys who had clearly been playing for years. I pushed myself harder than I had in years and held my own pretty well until the end when I lost much of the strength in my legs. I had strained my quads pretty bad (grade II for anyone who’s curious) and it was a struggle to even stand the next day at work. Every step felt like a knife stabbing into the front of my legs from my hip to my knee. In hindsight, I probably should have gone to a doctor who could have advised me on how to actually deal with it and recover in a healthy way but we were poor and I didn’t have insurance so I just toughed it out until I could walk normally again. It’s still not perfect, but now I can carry on with normal physical activity however those same sharp feelings return if I try to run hard without some serious stretching beforehand. My hope is that since I’ve started getting in better shape and have started training again that I’m finally in a place to strengthen my quads enough to overcome the damage that was done years back.
Now I understand that these goals can be met without some silly 30 day challenge, but another big reason is that I like to push myself. I want to see if I can go from struggling with 20 squats when I started my fitness journey to knocking out 250 in a single go. I know for some it may be easy-enough, but for me it will be an accomplishment that I can be proud of!
Day 1: 50 Squats
Today, as the first day of the challenge, called for 50 squats – more than double what I could do when I first started out. It was tough toward the end but I hit the goal. Afterward I had some pretty strong leg cramps and had to do some major stretching, but as the day has gone on I’ve been feeling much better. Admittedly, I am a little nervous about how I’ll be feeling in the morning when I go back to the gym because the last time I did squats it hurt for days. That said, I’m also pretty excited to push through it and to overcome my own limitations. Again, I’m not sure if I’m up for posting pictures (as many people writing about this stuff do), but if there’s any actual interest I may… or perhaps I’ll snap some along the way and do a before and after post when the challenge is finished. For now, I’m going to go make dinner and get some rest. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.