Final Week — My Muscle Challenge
Ok, it’s been a full on month so far — so many squats! By now you should have a solid, strong foundation of squat skills that will benefit so many things in your daily life.
What’s the plan for the last week of June?
There are so many squat variations, and they all shift your focus to different skills and muscles. For the final week, we’ll introduce a few new ways to squat and let you set the pace — get started below…
Front squats encourage you to really keep your core engaged in order to keep your back and shoulders upright. You’ll also find the muscle burn is more concentrated on your quads (front side of your thighs!) so it’s a great balance to traditional back squats.
If you don’t have access to a bar, use anything (within reason, start out with 5–10kg) that you can hold across your collarbones — try a backpack loaded with books, or even your kids (their wriggling adds another layer of challenge!).
Prisoner squats require shoulder & chest mobility in order to keep your hands clasped behind your head as you squat. It’s a dynamic movement, able to be performed quickly and for as many reps as you’re capable of!
Keep your elbows pointing straight out to your sides, and make sure your stomach is tucked in tight — you want to make sure the power for this move is coming from your legs and glutes, not from your back.
Make the prisoner squat harder by squatting down slowly (count to 4) then exploding up and jumping as high as you can. Land softly straight into another slow squat down, and repeat!
To do a split squat, elevate your back foot then adjust yourself to look like you’re in a lunge position, only with your back foot raised. These are excellent for single leg strength — we all have a preferred side which naturally ends up stronger. We’re only really as strong as the weakest part though, so isolating each leg is a great way to even this out.
Drive your hips down and slightly forward, making sure that you’re squeezing your butt as you push up through your front heel. Your back foot is there for balance more than anything, it shouldn’t be carrying much weight at all. Play with the height of the back foot, trying higher and lower and feel where it’s harder — that’s probably where you’d benefit from some attention!
Sumo Squat Lift
Sumo squats move your feet wider than a traditional squat, and point your toes further out to the sides. This targets your hip flexors and inner thighs, while encouraging stability through your knees.
Adding a weighted lift increases the number of muscles engaged in this movement, and requires you to use muscles in your upper and lower body together for a full body burn.
Use a light weight to start (3–5kg) with straight arms, drop down into a sumo squat as you let the weight pull your arms down, then as you drive up use your glutes to power your arms straight up above your head. Try doing 2 counts down, 2 counts up, or 4 counts down and 1 count up for explosive power!
Walking lunges are another excellent way to improve your single leg strength and your balance, while requiring muscles from your head to your toes to be switched on and engaged.
These can be done with a light weight in each hand, but you’ll get just as much from these with just your body weight. It’s super simple — from a standing position, take a large step forward so your front knee and your back knee are at 90 degrees. Lean forward slightly, engage your core, and push up through your front leg, and step forward again into a lunge with the other leg this time.
Joining us on this challenge?
Tag us #MyMuscleChallenge #MyMuscleChef in your photos and tell us how you’re going — then follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for motivation, technique tips, and more ways to max your squat potential.
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If you’re experiencing pain, dizziness or other alarming issues, please check in with a health and fitness professional in person to make sure there are no underlying issues that need addressing before continuing with this challenge.