"There's a reason the Squat has been dubbed 'The King of All Exercises."
That is a direct quote from Aaron Ausmus, the head strength and conditioning coach for the University of Southern California football team.
Aside from strengthening your legs, squatting promotes strength gains all over your body. The amount of muscle groups that are activated and engaged while squatting isn't limited to the legs. You tap into the core, the back, the shoulders and the neck to help stabilize and move the weight through the range of motion.
With all these benefits, it begs the question—can you squat every day?
Absolutely! There is no published research I've found that says otherwise. Champion weightlifters and power lifters do some form of squatting every single day that they train. With appropriate volumes and intensities, quality food intake, quality sleep and good warm-up strategies, any person with any amount of experience can successfully incorporate daily squatting into their life.
For those interested in general fitness improvement, committing a period of time to squatting during every workout can be a full, challenging way to get in better shape.
And we are approaching the best time of year to try it out for yourself: SQUATOBER!
Squatober is a month-long celebration of everything Squat. It's a pre-programmed month where Squats are done (along with select exercises targeting the upper body) Monday through Saturday of every week. Sunday is the day of rest, and the month of knee-bending culminates with a world wide PR Party Celebration where each person goes after a shiny new PR for their Squat!
Squatting every day, or in the case of Squatober, almost every day can be highly beneficial. But, like anything, how you go about squatting that often is very important.
I caught up with Ausmus, the SquatFather himself, to get some of his thoughts and opinions on squatting every training day. For those who do not know Aaron, he is an NCAA D1 shot put champion and strength coach. He has experience throughout the SEC and is now in his second stint as the head football strength coach at USC. He is also the creator of Squatober.
According to Aaron, the biggest obstacle to overcome when endeavoring to squat every day is your own mind. Doing anything consistently requires a certain amount of discipline. Squatting for 27 out of 31 days in a month requires a lot of discipline. Here are a few tips to help you be as successful as you can be during Squatober.
1. Set a Realistic Training Max
For Squatober, the sets and reps are prescribed with a set intensity percentage every day based off your own max.
If you set a max that is too high, you will struggle and not have enough in the tank for that big PR at the end of the month. If you set the bar too low, you won't challenge yourself enough and that PR will be just out of reach.
Coach Ausmus described setting your initial training max like this. "Pick a weight that you can do every single day no matter what. Don't pick a weight you did once upon a time when you had on a belt and your knees wrapped. Pick a weight that if you drove for 6 hours, you could still get out of your car, do a short warm-up, and hit that weight."
2. Trust the Programming
Don't try and manipulate the sets and reps or the percentages that are prescribed. You have the opportunity to do a full month of programming written by the head football strength coach at the University of Southern California. Coach Ausmus puts a lot of effort into making sure that Squatober is challenging but also something that everyone can accomplish. If you find the percentages too high, lower your training max. If the percentages are too easy, increase your training max. Also, do the suggested warm-ups to prep and prime your body for each day!
3. Prioritize Your Recovery
Recovering every day to hit your sets and reps the next day is vital. Getting enough sleep is a surefire way to do that. Shoot for a minimum of 8 hours of sleep.
If you want to keep your system functioning at its best during your month of daily Squats, fueling it with great food is also a must. Putting more protein in your body will ensure there is enough protein for your muscles to repair every day and sustain you through your lifts.
Coach Ausmus said it this way, "Bang Weights, Eat Steak, Sleep Eight!" Getting a minimum of 8 hours of sleep and fueling your body with the protein it needs will ensure your body and your nervous system is recovered and ready for the next session of Squatober.
4. Stay the Course
Focus on each day as it comes. Don't think of Squatober as the whole month. Think of it as one day you have to come in and hit the sets and reps prescribed to you. Win each day by consistently doing that day's work. If you look past each day, the mountain can seem almost insurmountable. Let me assure you, it is not. You can do it.
5. Find Accountability
As Squatober has grown over the last five years, the amount of people all over the world participating has grown exponentially. Due to that fact, there is no shortage of solidarity when it comes to participating in Squatober. If you have someone expecting you to do your daily lift, that motivation to stay the course comes that much easier.
Having participated in multiple Squatobers, let's tackle a few common questions I've gotten about squatting every workout for an entire month.
How hard is it, really?
I'll be honest, it's not easy. But when has anything worthwhile ever been easy?
But it's just squatting. How is that "worthwhile?"
The short answer here is you are accomplishing something you did not think you can do. That sense of accomplishment can propel you forward in all areas of life. There have been stories every year of people who credit Squatober as the reason that they broke through depression, walked away from addictions, set themselves on a journey back to health and wellness and find confidence to live each and every day to their full potential.
Probably for a bit. However, if you set a realistic training max as stated above and take your recovery seriously, that soreness should fade after a couple days. By the beginning of Week 2, you should be feeling good and moving well!
Is it all Barbell Back Squats?
While Barbell Back Squat is the feature movement, there are days where Front Squat and/or Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat are used instead. I've also seen people who are accommodating an injury do only single-leg squats or belt squats the entire month!
I'm a high school athlete. Should I try Squatober?
As a strength coach, I wouldn't recommend deviating from a program a coach has you on or participating if you're currently in your sport season (football, cross country, etc.)
Are you going to practice what you preach?
Absolutely. This will be my third year participating in Squatober. I would love to hear from any of you and share this journey with you. Feel free to follow my Instagram @CoachTQuick to keep up with my squats and find some accountability.
OK Coach, you've convinced me. Where do I find the workouts?
Great question. The workouts are released every night for the next day. They are posted on the Pen and Paper Strength App's Instagram page.
Squatober is coming! I challenge anyone who reads this to come on this journey with me. It's a fantastic month of knee-bending fun!
Squatober was started as a last-minute idea for some fun between the pro staff at Sorinex and some of their strength coach friends. It has grown into an worldwide event involving thousands of people. People from all walks of life and at all fitness levels have met at the bar and taken the weights to the basement and back.
If you're looking to commit yourself to better fitness, why not join us? Disclaimer: Squatober and its affiliates are not responsible for pants not fitting due to increase in leg size!
Make sure you follow the following accounts on Instagram in order to maximize your experience and get the most out of Squatober: @PenAndPaperStrengthApp, @Sorinex_Squatober, @LiftinHeavyEatingThick, @Sorinex
Photo Credit: Dusan Petkovic/iStock