With my stress fracture clearing up mid-November, I was eager to get back into the swing of things. However, us runners often rush back into things and expose ourselves to risks. So, in addition to increasing my monthly mileage in December, I wanted to strengthen my legs and try something new. Squats have always been a weakness of mine. My long legs make it hard for me to achieve good form, and I never really started squatting until my senior year of college, with our soccer strength and conditioning program. So my challenge for December was everyday squats.
To be totally transparent: there were three days during the month that I didn’t squat. There were two days in the middle of the month that I was sick, and couldn’t exercise at all, and there was one day around Christmas that I couldn’t fit them in. That being said, squatting 28/31 days isn’t bad. I wasn’t in the gym every day, though.
I mixed up my routine. I squatted in the gym on average 4 times a week–twice with heavy weights and low reps, and twice with moderately heavy weights for more reps. The other days I would balance it out with bodyweight squats, mobility squats, and/or squats with light weights, just focusing on form.
Here’s what week 2 of my squatting looked like:
Day 1: 3×10 goblet squats w/ 50 lb. DB; 3×12 squats w/ 95, 115, 125 lbs. (in rack)
Day 2: 3×5 squats w/ 115 lbs.
Day 3: 30 mobility squats
Day 4: 75 lightweight squats (both dumbbell and barbell squats)
Day 5: 15×85 lbs (2x); 10×95 lbs (2x), 5×115 lbs
Day 6: 75 bodyweight squats
Day 7: 10 mobility squats, 4×10 goblet squats w/40 lbs.
You can see how it’s easy to vary the routine. This keeps it manageable and challenging. For anyone that’s interested in trying, I recommend going about it in these steps:
- Determine what your one rep max is. Go into the gym with a friend who can spot you, and find out the most weight you can lift in one rep. This is your starting point.
- Create a plan; construct a schedule that details when you’ll lift heavy and when you’ll rest. It’s much easier to stick to it that way. Remember, rest doesn’t mean a day off–just focus on mobility and stick to bodyweight or light weights.
- Have fun! Seed how far you can come in one month. Do it with a friend. Challenge and encourage each other.
- At the end of the month, see how you feel and retest your one rep max.
For myself, I increased my one rep max by 20 lbs. It now sits at 155. I hope to get it to 175 soon, but I have been slacking on my squats this month! I also felt so much stronger as a runner. My hip mobility increased dramatically, and my legs felt amazing. It’s important to focus on recovery with this. Stretching and foam rolling every night will make it so much easier to squat the next day.