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FITNESS CHALLENGES: THE PROS/CONS

Fitness Challenges The Pros Cons

Here’s the thing: there’s nothing wrong with trying to improve yourself – and a challenge might be a good way to motivate yourself. But we should probably discuss whether it’s the best way to go about it and since I’m not really doing anything else right now it seems like a good time.

 

Firstly, the ground rules. For any exercise strategy to work you’ll need three things:

  • Effort – is what you’re doing challenging enough to make your body respond?
  • Consistency – are you doing it regularly enough to build on those responses?
  • Progress – are you increasing the challenge regularly to ensure you keep responding?

 

So let’s apply this to the idea of a typical “squat challenge” – a month of daily routines of bodyweight squats. If you’ve never done squats, it will be a challenge to your body and induce a response (stronger booty). The almost-daily nature is certainly consistent. And the escalating challenge is as progressive as a drama major. So from the outset, it seems like a winner.

Not so fast.

Let’s look closer. Starting with effort – how much is too much? Could this challenge be excessive for some? Absolutely. And that could lead to an injury. Same for consistency – if your body is not getting time to recover it might break down instead of build up. Not good. And then let’s discuss the nature of progress. So you get to the end of the month. Now what? Just keep adding squats ad nauseam? Just squat from sunrise to set? This is your life now? I’m mostly joking.

 

My point is this: muscle growth is caused by three interrelated things:

  1. Muscle tension – the amount of weight you’re putting on the glutes
  2. Muscle damage – the microscopic tears that happen every time you contract your glutes
  3. Muscle fatigue – the chemicals released when the muscle runs out of juice

 

Why am I telling you this? Because if you want to keep improving that badonkadonk, you’ll need to keep increasing at least one of those three factors. (And fyi: most of your strength gains in the first few weeks are due to neurological changes – not muscle gains.)

Will it be fatigue? There is only so tired you can make a muscle. When it’s done, it’s done. And increasing the volume of squats will take longer and longer. So, perhaps damage? Firstly: ouch. Secondly: there is a definitely such a thing as too much damage (obviously). And so: to my point. Smart money says increasing the tension is your best bet to continue improving. That means more weight i.e. put something on your back before you drop it low and pick it up slow.

And so my conclusion:

  • Squat challenges can be a great jump-start to rearranging the junk in yo trunk
  • With great power comes great responsibility – don’t stick to a program if it’s hurting you.
  • Our bodies don’t change overnight, nor even overmonth (it’s a word now ssshhh) – you need to keep progressing for far longer than a month to make proper changes and that probably means more tension i.e. resistance i.e. weights/bands/whatevs.
  • Remember: effort, consistency, and progress.

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