30 Day Squat Challenge

30 Day Squat ChallengeThe 30 Day Squat Challenge is an exercise program I stumbled on recently. It’s a workout trend that seems to be catching on universally, especially among women who are using it to shape-up their backsides.

If you’ve followed this site, you probably already know that I’m a big fan of squats. If I was told to choose only one exercise to do for the next year without hesitation I would pick squatting. The number of benefits that come from doing squats is hard to beat.

What is the 30 Day Squat Challenge?

It’s a simple 30-day exercise plan, where you do a set number of squats each day with a rest day thrown in every 4th day. You start by completing 50 squats on Day 1, and slowly increase to a maximum of 250 by Day 30.

What are the Benefits of the Program?

Squats obviously help strengthen and tone your leg and butt muscles, but they also:

  • Improve abdominal and back strength
  • Burn calories from all the muscles involved
  • Promote general flexibility

Since this program involves body-weight squats only, the challenge can be done anywhere.

  • The squats can be done in the comfort of your home. There’s no need for equipment of a gym membership.
  • The progression is structured in a way to make it challenging, but manageable–even for someone who has been away from exercise for a while.
  • This program is a great place to begin for anyone who wants to get into the habit of working out regularly.

Completing the Program

Follow along with the table below to complete the 30 day squat challenge. Print out or save the schedule below to stay on track. It’s okay to take short breaks if you’re having trouble completing all the repetitions for the day.

squat challenge template

How to Squat with Good Form

  • Your feet should be about shoulder width apart or slightly wider. An easy way to figure out where your feet should be is to stand in a relaxed stance and then take a small hop in front of you. Where your feet land should give you an idea of the proper positioning
  • Look straight ahead and keep your back straight as you lower yourself down by bending your knees
  • The movement should resemble sitting down in a chair
  • Only lower yourself down as far as you feel comfortable
  • Don’t let your heels lift off the ground
  • Your knees should travel over toes or slightly outside them. Avoid knee valgus or letting your knees bow in
  • Hold your arms out straight in front of you during the movement to keep yourself balanced

For more detail, see: Proper Form for Body Weight Squats

Is the Squat Challenge safe?

Squatting is one of the most natural human movements. That being said, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before attempting any new workout, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while or have a history of knee or hip problems.

Staying on Track

With any exercise program, the key to success is consistency. Mark your calendar with the daily number of squats for each day or leave the schedule someplace where you’ll see it everyday. 

Most important, have fun!

Think about how great you’ll feel once you finish all 250 squats.

Want to add in some work for your mid section? Take a look at the plank challenge

Good luck!

Comments

  1. Katrina says

    I have just started the 30 day squat challenge and just after one day I can hardly walk. I am not huge. I am 5’5 and weight 182 and I am 35. So, I need to lose weight and tone, but how can I continue without hurting so bad. I don’t think I can do day 2 until my muscles are better. I am going to try but I also don’t want to make it to where I can’t walk and have to stay in bed for a few days. That would be pointless. Any suggestions please?

    • says

      Are you feeling muscles soreness in your legs? Almost everyone experiences delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after they start squatting. My legs will get really sore if I take a month off from squatting and then start back up again. It’s the most noticeable after the first session and usually lasts a few days. The muscles eventually adapt to the new exercise and the soreness stops happening.

      I follow this rule: If the muscles are sore to the touch and the pain limits my range of motion then I’ll take a few days off. If there’s only mild soreness I’ll continue to workout. A lot of times exercising will make the muscles feel better. So for the squat challenge, I would try to get through day 2. The soreness probably won’t get any worse. If squatting is too uncomfortable then you have to listen to your body. There’s no harm in taking a few days off before starting up again.

      • angel says

        i’ve done a week of squat challenge but took 2 weeks off after the first week and want to continue the challenge do i start from again from 50 or continue from were i left off.

    • Kaylee Coté says

      I started this challenge about 3 days ago, first rest day, yay! I’m 5’3 and about 150. Most of the weight is in my legs. Should I lose weight in my legs more than gaining muscle? The last thing I need is fat on top of muscle -_-

  2. Oz says

    Hello Katrina, I’ve also started the 30 Day squat challenge. I’ve just completed Day 6.
    After the Day 1 squats (I do mine last thing at night), I woke up to find that I could hardly get off the bed. My legs were so sore and stiff, it was unbelievable. During the course of the day, my feet threatened to buckle under my weight, and I actually thought I’d fall flat on my face. I’m 5’9, 128 pounds, and I hardly ever exercise. I’m primarily doing the squats to tone my legs and bum. So what I’m trying to say is that your soreness is not abnormal. I thought there was no way I was going to do Day 2. But I pushed through it and I’m so glad I did. The worst is definitely over after Day 2, no more soreness. My body has stopped complaining and finally accepted the situation. So just hang in there :)

  3. Jack says

    I did day one yesterday and my muscles are definitely sore to the touch! My gosh I am so out of shape. I haven’t exercised in years other than light walking on an elliptical machine. I’m going to try again tonight but if I can’t make it I will give myself a few days. This page has been helpful, thanks a lot!

  4. Julie says

    I am now up to 100 and my muscles have been feeling fine, only slightly sore occasionally, but my knees are starting to burn! Am I doing something wrong? Thanks.

    • says

      Hey Julie, congratulations on getting to 100. If you’re feeling something in your knees that doesn’t seem muscle related definitely spend some time reviewing your form.

  5. Terri says

    I started the 30 Day Squat Challange on a Sunday, April 14th. I am now on Day 25!!! I do my squats in sets WHILE I’m at work. Everytime I go and use the restroom, I do them. That way, when I make it home, its DONE! I enjoy it and I feel GREAT to be actually finishing something I started!!! Aft I finish, I will continue to do at LEAST a hundred a day. If I can, I’ll do more. BUT no less than 100. AND I’m gonna start walking too!

    • Cathy Cardona says

      Congrats you are almost done!! Have you lost any weight? Or do you see a difference in your body?

    • says

      Hi Ruth. I can’t comment on your specific case so if you have concerns the best thing to do would be to talk it over with your doctor. I will say in general that body weight squats like the ones in the challenge are fairly safe. The motion used for squatting is similar to getting up from a chair or picking something off the floor. The challenge just takes that movement and has you repeat it over and over so you build strength.

  6. Lisa says

    Hi! I’m on day 2, feeling mildly sore but not unbearably- if I find the higher amounts of squats difficult as I go on is if acceptable to do them in sets? Or should it be all in one go? What’s best? Thanks. Lisa

    • says

      Good question Lisa. At the higher amounts it’s better to break them up into sets. You’ll get more benefit by doing them slowly with good form and taking rest breaks when you need to rather than trying to get them all in one shot.

  7. jo says

    Hi, I see you have a 30 day squat challenge to target legs and bum do you have a challenge that targets the belly / waist area? Also I would like to reduce bust any good exercise ideas for that area? Jo

    • says

      Thanks for the question Anne-Marie. You don’t need to hold the squat position. Just go down and come back up. Pausing at the bottom will make you lose the benefit of the stretch reflex that helps you on the way up. Holding can make the muscles work harder, and you’re welcome to try that as a variation, but that also might make it difficult to finish all the repetitions.

  8. L O'Brien says

    I started yesterday and have been splitting them up good to know that its allowed. I have CFS (sometimes called ME) so am taking it slowly. Really excited to see what the effect will be on my stomach mostly although lift and tightness everywhere would be lovely.

    • says

      It’s great to hear you’re doing the challenge–I’ll be rooting for you. Squats really are an amazing exercise because they work so many things at once. Stick with it and you’ll be happy with the changes you see.

  9. Mary says

    I’m on day 3 and have just had a baby so I really hope it’s not done in vain and that I actually see some positive results. I’m also doing a weekly exercise class, a weekly 2 mile walk and so can’t wait to see the results. Keep up the good work everyone!!!

    • says

      Great work Mary! It sounds like you have a solid plan to follow. I always try to schedule time for long walks during the week. It’s probably one of the best things you can do for your health. Lots of luck and I’m sure other people will be inspired by your effort.

  10. Mich says

    So what happens after day 30? Obviously you want to maintain the results, but 250 squats daily is a bit of an ask long term.

    • says

      Great question Mich. If you want to maintain your results and continue to get the benefits of doing squats you’ll want to include them somehow as part of a regular exercise program. Some people will restart the challenge from the beginning. Starting back at Day 1 gives your body a bit of a break and this way you already have a set plan to follow. If you want to make it harder, just add a set amount to each day’s total. You can also build your own program based around a number of squats that is more reasonable, but still challenging for you. For example, you can set out to do 60 squats 4-5 times a week. Then every week or every few weeks increase the number of reps by a small amount.

      If you like the idea of doing different fitness challenges and want some variety, I’ll also be posting a new challenge at the start of every month. Good luck!

  11. Tanya says

    I did the whole month challenge, today is my last day. Is it safe to just keep doing this challenge. I do 6 sets of 50 and take Sundays off cause that was the challenge I read to do.

    • says

      Hi Tanya,

      Congratulations on completing the challenge! I think the answer to your question depends on the person. In the short term, doing a high volume of body weight squats (in your case 300) is safe as long as you’re using good form and your body has adapted to it–meaning the muscles and joints are mostly recovered from the previous day’s exercise when it’s time to workout again. Not everyone will be at that level after finishing the challenge and you really have to base it off how you feel.

      There is also the risk/reward factor to consider when talking about how to best include squats in your workouts after the challenge. Too much of any exercise can end up doing more harm than good. For a long-term program most people would probably be better off using a lower number of reps (see my previous comment) and adding more variety. If you wanted to stay with doing 6 sets of 50 I would lean more towards doing it every other day and not 6 days a week.

    • says

      Hi Mandy, I understand your concern. I cannot give you specific advice so this is something you need to consult with your doctor about. Generally, there are a number of things that can cause knees to make noise with squats and often times if there is no pain or swelling associated with the noise it’s not a big deal. Have it looked at though because there may be things you can do to stop the crunching or at least lessen it. All the best.

  12. Samantha says

    On day 10 and loving it, I’m using a 5k kettlebell for extra resistance. Will definitely start from day one when challenge ends.
    I’m guessing that it would be ok to alter the challenge (I.e sumo squats or other variations) next time? Thank you!

    • says

      Hey Samantha! I like your idea of using a kettlebell. Adding resistance might not be suitable for everyone during the challenge because of the high reps but it’s definitely something to consider for anyone looking to progress or increase the intensity of their squat workouts. If you’re repeating the challenge sumo squats would also be a great variation to use. Keep up the good work!

  13. Lucy says

    Hi James. I just finished the squat challenge yesterday. It was hard, but I managed to get through it! I was wondering how I should continue now that I am done? Is there a certain number I should do each day?

    • says

      Congratulations Lucy! I’m happy you stuck with it to the end. You question is something I think a lot of people are wondering. First thing you should do is take a few days off to celebrate! Then, here are some of the options I like:

      -Repeat the challenge. This gives you a nice structured program to follow and there’s probably still a lot of benefit you can get out of doing it a second time. For added difficulty you can add light weights or combine the squats with another exercise like crunches.

      -Do the same number of squats everyday. Choose a number of reps that’s challenging and stick with that. How many? I think somewhere in the 50-150 rep range is good. Anything higher is probably overkill and could get boring. Just like with the challenge, give yourself a few days off each week to rest.

      -Start a new workout. After several months of doing the same routine your body is going to become adapted to the exercise. This means you’ll still be burning calories but might not see any more changes in the shape or size of the muscles. This is fine if you’re happy with the results and just want to maintain what you have. To keep progressing after that point you’ll want to look into a program that adds resistance and includes other leg exercises.

      I’m enjoying this challenge so I’m going to repeat it after this month. Then I’ll stick to do around 100 body weight squats a day along with the workouts I normally do at the gym.

      Hope that helps!

  14. Imogen says

    Is it okay to skip the rest days if you feel fine? I’m on day 4 but I feel I can do more squats rather than rest, if I do more squats today will it be less beneficial in the long-run?

    • says

      Thanks for the question Imogen. It’s better to keep the rest days. More is not always better and even though you feel fine, the exercise is still a form of stress on your body. Many of the benefits that come from exercise happen not during the workout, but during the time in between workouts when your body has a chance to recover. Resting now helps make sure you’re getting stronger and recovering properly to be able to get through the rest of the program. Sure you could probably get by skipping the rest days early on if you’re already well conditioned to squatting, but even then it’s not the best habit to get into. I like your enthusiasm though. Good luck!

  15. Kim says

    I thinking about starting the 30 day squat challange but, I’m curious if the squats all must be done at once or can be done in reps or through out the day? Thanks!

  16. says

    Hi, I’m on day 23 and enjoying it even though its getting harder. I’ve been matching squats and sit ups but have now limited myself to 120 sit-ups a day as I’m really struggling to do more. I’m still upping my squats per day. How long before I start to see a difference in shape ? I’m following a healthy diet as well. I’m 5ft 1 in and weigh 9 stone 3 pounds at present. I want to continue after the 30 days. I walk to and from work. 3/4 hr each way. Plus I’m on my feet all day in my job up and down ladders bending stretching and lifting. Plus I walk the dog as well.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Viki. It’s hard to put an exact time frame on when you’ll see results since everybody progresses at different rates. Exercise and a healthy diet are by far the important factors for changing the shape and appearance of your body. From what you wrote it looks like you have those things in place so keep doing what you’re doing.

      Another point to mention is that because we are with ourselves all day long it’s hard to see the gradual changes that happen with our bodies. That’s where taking before and after pictures, or trying on clothes you haven’t worn in awhile to see how they fit, can help you get a better sense of your progress. The scale is not always the best indicator when you’re trying to lose weight since you can lose fat and look leaner but not see a big drop in weight since your body composition is changing.

    • Sara says

      Hi Viki,

      I am 5ft 10 and weigh 11st. I have actually put on weight since I started but am on day 9 and can already see and feel a noticeable difference on by upper thighs and bum.
      Loving the challenge. 100 squats done before 6 am :) feels good.

    • says

      Hi Vicky, I’m afraid I can’t answer this because it’s something that you need to discuss with your doctor. I know some women whose doctors were fine with them squatting and doing other exercises right up to their due date, but there are also some cases where exercise might not be advisable. Your doctor is the one who can tell you what’s best for you.

    • says

      Hey Mark, that’s how old I am so your question is one I asked myself before putting this article together.
      Here’s what I’m looking to get from this challenge:

      Improved strength and muscle endurance – I’m not expecting to build a lot of muscle from these, but the ability of the leg muscles to resist fatigue has carry over to other sports and activities
      Better conditioning – this gets your heart rate elevated and delivers a pretty good cardio workout
      Mental toughness – I like the idea of taking on a new challenge and seeing it through
      Better flexibility – I started doing body weight squats last year as a way to work on my ankle and hip flexibility. Since starting them my form when I’m squatting heavy with a barbell has improved a lot.

      I recognize everyone has different goals (not that guys don’t want to look good in jeans too) but I think a program like this has elements almost anyone can benefit from.

  17. Chris says

    Started yesterday I got up this morning feeling slight ache in top of legs and bum apart from that I’m ok bring on today :) I think I’ll do them while standing on my till at work lol :)

  18. Sharon says

    Hi, I love this challenge, I frequent the gym so have found this fun more than chore. As a pointer to others I get my squats done just before getting in the shower in the morning so that it’s done for the day, it’s a great way to start the day.
    When the 30 days are over would it be better to keep the number up or to use a weight resistance with less squats?

    • says

      Hi Sharon, that’s a tough one to answer because it depends on your goals and what you enjoy doing. Once you’ve mastered the form and just using your body weight starts to become easy, adding weight and lowering the number of reps would be the typical progression to up the workout intensity. I prefer that as a long-term plan over doing super high reps.

      • Sharon says

        Thankyou for your reply :).
        My goals are to tone but not to bulk. I think I will go for the less reps, as you say, with a low weight for more resistance.
        It’s a very addictive challenge and definitely has had the domino effect with friends, it’s spreading like wild fire.
        Sharon.

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