Try The 30-Day Squat Challenge To Build Functional Muscle

Man in the bottom squat position
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you really put your mind to it, the list of things you can achieve in a month is almost endless. You can get a working knowledge of a new language, or become proficient on the saxophone – or even go from a squat beginner to someone who can complete 250 in one go.

In general, 30-day challenges are a great way to work on your fitness, because they give you an achievable short-term goal to keep you focused. The motivation to lose weight or get fitter is obviously no bad thing, but without something clear and defined to work towards, it’s all too easy to skip a session or two then slide back into inactivity.

And of all the 30-day challenges you might try, a squat challenge is one of the best. That’s because the unweighted squat is a strong contender for the finest bodyweight exercise in town. It works almost every muscle in your lower body, hitting big muscle groups like the quads, hamstrings and glutes especially hard. The squat also improves your core strength by strengthening the muscles around your stomach and lower back, and if perchance you’re dreaming of owning a six-pack one day, firming up these other muscles with squats is an important first step towards helping the exterior abs shine.

The squat also builds functional strength by working your legs in a manner that’s typical of the way they are tested through everyday movements and sports. If you want more power and speed in your legs, and increased resistance to injury, you should be squatting regularly.

It’s a challenge with a lot of upside, basically, so get squatting. Below you’ll find pointers on how to squat with perfect form, plus the 30-day challenge itself. Go forth and squat, and we’ll see you in a month, when you have legs like pistons.

How To Squat

  1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, chin up and core braced.
  2. Hold your arms out in front of you or by your sides – just don’t put your hands on your legs, whatever you do.
  3. Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground - the best way to describe it is like sitting down on an invisible chair. Go lower if you can – as long as it doesn’t hurt (and you can keep your balance) you’re OK. If you’re not sure if you’re going low enough, try squatting onto a box that’s slightly lower than knee height. Each time your glutes make contact with it, that’s a legitimate rep.
  4. Stand back up and repeat.

Form Tips

You’re going to be doing a lot of squats over the next month, so you want your form to be perfect. Here are a few common mistakes to look out for and pointers to follow.

  • Don’t let your knees cave in because this will make you less stable and can lead to injury problems. Concentrate on keeping your knees out as you push back up.
  • Keep your heels grounded. You should be driving through your heels to come back up in your squats. Make sure you’re not leaning forwards during the exercise because this can bring your heels up. If you’re struggling to keep them on the floor, put weight plates or something similar under your heels during your squats until you develop the flexibility to keep them on the floor.
  • Point your toes slightly outwards, to 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock, if you feel like your squats are being restricted. This will line up your feet with your thighs during the movement and improve your ankle mobility.

Once you’ve perfected your form, it’s time to take…

The 30-Day Squat Challenge

Perform the prescribed amount of air squats each day. Try to do them all in one set, but if you do need to take a breather, try not to pause again for at least ten more reps. It’ll be tough, it’ll burn, but you’ll have buns of almost literal steel by the end of it. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Day 150
Day 255
Day 360
Day 4Rest
Day 570
Day 675
Day 780
Day 8Rest
Day 9100
Day 10105
Day 11110
Day 12Rest
Day 13130
Day 14135
Day 15140
Day 16Rest
Day 17150
Day 18155
Day 19160
Day 20Rest
Day 21180
Day 22185
Day 23190
Day 24Rest
Day 25220
Day 26225
Day 27230
Day 28Rest
Day 29240
Day 30250

Once you’ve done the 30-day challenge, try to keep it up by squatting at least twice a week.

Pin or print our 30-day squat challenge

Pin or print our 30-day squat challenge

(Image credit: Unknown)
Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.

With contributions from