100 Days of Squats, a Retrospective

On June 9th, I finished 100 days of consecutive squatting. I was inspired to take on this challenge by Cory Gregory after an article of his was published in FitnessRX for Men. It promised increased strength, better endurance, and the ability to call yourself a badass and mean it.

I’ve taken the last week or so to really think about what I learned from the program, both about my body and about myself, and to figure out how to share the parts that I think are most important. I’ll get to that later in this post, but I think its important to identify a couple of things first; where I was when I started, and what the workouts that I did over the course of my 100 days actually looked like.

My Starting Condition

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first. I’m 5’10” tall and weigh around 200 pounds. The weight fluctuates from 195-205 depending on how gluttonous I’m feeling in any particular week. I hesitate to give an exact bodyweight percentage, but I’m definitely under 10% and most likely around 8% most of the time.

I’ve been weight training consistently for about eight years now with very little in the way of breaks. My morning routine is essentially:

  1. Wake up
  2. Prepare for workout
  3. Workout really hard
  4. Get on with my day

It has been that way without exception ever since I started to recover from my busted up shoulders in college. My workouts prior to this program were already heavy on squats, with me squatting at least twice a week with many weeks containing three legs days depending on how I was feeling. I love squatting, especially because it doesn’t put stress on my shoulder joints, which are definitely the weakest parts of my body. I tend to squat like a hybrid powerlifter / bodybuilder, with a mix of high-rep and high-weight workouts.

One important note: I lift raw, meaning I don’t use a weightlifting belt, knee wraps, wrist straps, or any other form of assistance. That’s how it has been for about six years now and I love it. I feel like it protects my body because I’m not able to push myself past the threshold of what I am physically able, and gives me a limit to push against as I drive for new performance.

The Workouts

The article that Cory Gregory published was a little light on details of what you were supposed to do from an actual implementation standpoint. He had listed a typical workout that he would do, but the most important part I gained from his writing was to just do some type of squats every day for the 100 days and you’d fulfill the requirements. As a note, he later published a four week squat everyday workout that I know some people have been following that is much more prescriptive. It might be a good place to start.

I always squatted first before working out whatever other body part I was targeting on a specific day. I felt like it got me in the mood to push myself harder with the other work I was going to be doing. In general, the workouts looked like one of the following two options:

High Rep Workout: Pick one of high-bar back, low-bar back, or front squat and do five sets of 12.

High Weight Workout: Pick one of high-bar back, low-bar-back, or front squat and do (back/front) 135/135 x 8, 225/185 x 8, 315/225 x 8, 405 / 315 x 3, 455 / 365 x 1.

There were times during the 100 day program where I didn’t have access to a barbell for some reason or another. On those days, I did 5 sets of 20 bodyweight squats to keep my streak alive. Reasons for being without a barbell include traveling for business (conferences / consulting) or being out of my house and thus away from my gym because of home repairs.

Without exception, I made sure that I did some form of squat workout every day for 100 days. That includes flag football game days where I’d get up before my games, get my squat workout in, and then go play football. Once, I didn’t have time to do it before my games so I had to do my squats after a doubleheader in the middle of the afternoon. That was probably the toughest single day of the 100 days.

My Impressions and Conclusions

If you check out the #squateveryday hashtag on Twitter, you’ll see tons of testimonials from people about how they’re hitting new PRs and really upping their squat game, doing things that they’ve never done before. That’s awesome! Unfortunately, those things didn’t happen for me.

I loved the program, but I was already a 500 pound squatter at sub-200 pounds when I started my 100 days. I’m not an elite strength athlete by any means, but that’s a lot of weight to move around. Without dedicated strength training, there’s very little room to grow from there for someone at my weight and height.

As such, I didn’t expect to get substantially stronger because I structure my training to ensure a good mix between athleticism (to make sure I continue to be good at flag football), strength (for my ego), and physique (for my vanity).

The reason I did this program was to test my mental fortitude. Could I really do something hard for 100 days without breaking? Could I push myself every single day on something that I enjoyed initially but I knew would turn into a slog after a while? Apparently the answer is a resounding YES. I’m proud of myself for completing the program.

Now, I intend to apply the principles to other facets of my life, especially my business. A lot of what makes a business person successful is the ability to continually do the small things that add up over time to make a big difference. Now that I was able to spend 100 days in a row doing something I really enjoy, I’m looking for the equivalent challenge for my business life.

As for squatting, I love it and will continue to do it. I’d like to hit a high-bar back squat of 405 x 8 and a front squat of 405 x 1 (in the same workout) by the end of the year. I don’t have any doubts that I’ll hit those marks as I push towards them consistently.

101 in 1001 Wrap Up

**Update: I think we did a pretty decent amount of things on our list and I’m proud of us. It was a great way to plan ahead and also to see how our plans changed/evolved over 1001 days. I hope our next 1001 days are just as exciting!

I got inspired by a post my friend Kate made about making a list of 101 tasks to complete in 1001 days. I thought it was interesting to make a goal list with a time frame other than just a year. So Nick and I sat down and made a list of some things we wanted to accomplish in the next 2 3/4 years. Our list ended up being more than 101 items, but then again, we did break down our travel plans to all of the specific places we wanted to visit – vacation planning: complete :) End Date: May 3, 2015

Updates

The List

  1. Go to a MNF Bears game
  2. Go to a BCS Bowl game
  3. Mob Museum
  4. Springs Preserve
  5. Natural History Museum
  6. Neon Museum
  7. Mystere
  8. Absinthe
  9. Jubilee!
  10. Jabbawockeez
  11. See Book of Mormon
  12. Shark Reef Aquarium
  13. Bodies Exhibit
  14. See Wicked @ Smith Center (Aug 29-Oct 2012)
  15. Zarkana
  16. Hike @ Mt Charleston
  17. Do all Red Rock Canyon hikes
  18. Go to the shooting range
  19. Zombie Store
  20. Grand Canyon
  21. Build Warthog airplane model
  22. Build and launch a large scale model rocket with E engine
  23. Go to a Renaissance Faire
  24. Buy Nick a bike
  25. Go bowling
  26. Go to the Polish Deli off of Charleston
  27. Knit a blanket
  28. Buy a house
  29. Build a home gym
  30. New bedding
  31. Print and frame wedding pictures
  32. New dinnerware
  33. New flatware set
  34. Get knives sharpened
  35. Get a stand mixer
  36. Get a grill
  37. Ship Nick’s workshop to new house
  38. Go to a professional conference
  39. Eat at Gordon Ramsay Steak
  40. Eat at 12 restaurants on the Strip/Downtown (12/12)
    1. StripSteak
    2. Mon Ami Gabi
    3. Javier’s
    4. Gordon Ramsay Steak
    5. Lombardi’s Romagna Mia
    6. Olives
    7. Cabo Wabo Cantina
    8. Serendipity
    9. CraftSteak
    10. Mesa Grill
    11. El Segundo Sol (a solid whatevs – check out Javier’s at Aria instead!)
    12. Andre’s
  41. Try sushi
  42. Make pasta from scratch
  43. Try deer or elk
  44. Go to Farmer’s Market
  45. Make a monthly budget
  46. visit Dad in Alabama
  47. Visit Chicago
  48. Visit Mom & Grams
  49. Visit Dad in Indy
  50. Visit James in Washington
  51. Go on a bro-cation
  52. Go to Hawaii
  53. Volcanoes National Park
  54. Coffee plantation and roast our own coffee
  55. Punaluu Black Sand Beach
  56. Akaka Falls State Park
  57. Go to San Diego
  58. USS Midway Museum
  59. Balboa Park
  60. SD Model Railroad Museum
  61. San Diego Zoo
  62. Botanical Building and Lily Pond
  63. SD Bay Walk
  64. Sea World SD
  65. Go to Boston
  66. USS Constitution Museum
  67. Boston Public Garden
  68. Go to New York City in the Fall
  69. Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island
  70. WTC memorial
  71. Times Square
  72. Little Cupcake Bake Shop
  73. Central Park
  74. Lombardi’s Pizza
  75. Empire State Building
  76. Grand Central Terminal
  77. Metropolitan Museum of Art
  78. Metropoitan Opera House
  79. NY Public Library
  80. Rockefeller Center
  81. Radio City Music Hall
  82. Go to Washington, D.C.
  83. All museums of the Smithsonian
  84. Korean War Veterans’ Memorial
  85. Vietnam War Veterans’ Memorial
  86. FDR Memorial
  87. Library of Congress
  88. Jefferson Memorial
  89. Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial
  90. National Portrait Gallery
  91. National Air and Space Museum
  92. National WWII Memorial
  93. Capitol
  94. Lincoln Memorial
  95. Dr. MLK Jr. National Memorial
  96. Ford’s Theater
  97. US Botanic Garden
  98. US National Arboretum
  99. US National Archives
  100. Supreme Court
  101. Washington Monument
  102. Georgetown University
  103. National Zoological Park
  104. National Museum of Crime and Punishment
  105. White House
  106. Albert Einstein Memorial
  107. Bureau of Engraving and Printing
  108. International Spy Museum
  109. Embassy Row
  110. Navy Museum
  111. Theodore Roosevelt Island Park
  112. Get a puppy