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.

Goal Progress – Q1 2012

I’m quite goal conscious and have become more so in the last couple of years. I think that writing down and thinking about measurable, concrete goals is the way to a happy life. Writing them down and having measurable targets makes sure that you know what is required to get to where you want to be and you’ll know when you reach that point.

I have some pretty ambitious goals for 2012 and, as we’re 1/4 of the way through the year already, I thought it’d be a great time to think about where I’m at in relation to where I want to be. I’m not going to go in-depth for every goal, but I do want to hit the highlights.

Fitness

I divided my fitness goals into two categories: speed/strength/power and endurance. I’m doing OK on both at this point, but have suffered some injuries in the last two months that have been a little bit of a setback. I’m confident that I’ll reach the following goals this year:

  • Squat 405 Pounds for 12 Reps
  • Deadlift 405 Pounds for 12 Reps
  • Bench 275 Pounds for 12 Reps

You’ll notice those goals are all endurance related. I took some time off from going heavy with weights to practice going for higher reps and it has been going pretty well. That’s why I think I’ll hit the above goals for sure.

The following goals are a little iffy, and I’ll explain why after the list

  • Squat 545 Pounds for 1 Rep
  • Deadlift 575 Pounds for 1 Rep
  • Bench 405 Pounds for 1 Rep
  • Run 1 Mile in 5:30
  • Run 3 Miles Contiguously in Less Than 20:00

First, I haven’t been running as much as I should be. Quite frankly, I think that running is boring (outside or inside) and just do not like it at all for some reason. I’d much rather do plyometrics or iron cardio style workouts and that is holding me back.

Second, I’m starting to get afraid of going very heavy with my weights. After suffering a strained or torn shoulder tendon and some knee issues so far this year, I really need to give my body a break from the heavy weight to heal up a bit. I plan on doing that over the next few months and then trying to train heavy again. At that point, it may be too late to actually hit my strength goals in 2012, but that’s OK.

Career

My career goals are proceeding along just as planned and I’m on track to hit all of them. For review:

  • Gross $180,000 in Revenue – I’m on track to make over $200,000 this year based on average daily income extrapolated out
  • Keep Contractor Expenses Under $12,000 – This does not look like it’ll be a problem based on the fact that I’ve only paid out $2,500 this year and we’re already 1/4 of the way through it
  • Increase Effective Hourly Rate to $250 / hr – This seems to be the least likely to happen as I’ve had some projects that ran over by a lot but it is still hovering up around $180 / hr
  • Reduce Business Maintenance Expense to Less Than $100 / month – I believe I’ll hit this as I’m hovering around $100 / month and have a few places I think I’ll cut in the next few months
  • Go to a Professional Conference – I’m heading to Future Insights Live here in Las Vegas in about 4 weeks, so that will cover this one
  • Release Another Product for Sale – I completed this one earlier this year by releasing Viral Downloader with Chris Guthrie. It wasn’t a raving success, but it was a good experience and just about paid me back for the time I spent on it.

I’m pretty excited about the progress I’ve made here and a lot of that is due to better organization and heartier work patterns. I don’t see anything going wrong here, hopefully.

Personal

I’m not doing so great on my personal goals. That doesn’t mean that my personal life is bad or anything, I’ve just been shifting my energy in different directions and may need to rethink some of these things based on the fact the weather here is ridiculously nice and most of my personal goals involved staying inside (something I’m not sure I want to do that much as long as I’m living in Las Vegas).

The goals I’m closest to are write 200 articles on a personal website and get picture in Muscle & Fitness. This website is something I enjoy writing on and I’m trying to stay consistent (that’s why I’m writing this post!) and Muscle & Fitness recently introduced a section where you can send in your picture and they’ll feature you. Based on the last two months, I think I should be able to score a picture in that section in the coming months.

Review

Overall, I’m happy with the way I’m going this year. Angela and I are really happy and enjoying our lives here in our (still new) city. I may not hit every goal that I set at the beginning of the year, but they’re helping me experience life and become a better person.