Squat/Pull Up Challenge for Total Gym

Feeling like you need a little pick me up after the winter season? If so, I’ve got a squat and pull up challenge for you that will test you physically as well as mentally! The rewarding results are positive strength gains, plus the added bonus of a little lift on the backside and a toned upper body! Doesn’t sound so bad, right?

There are many fitness challenges out there to try. A lot of these “challenge trends” have a basic plan that involves bodyweight exercises performed over a certain number of reps, which then increase over a pre-defined period of days or weeks.

You might be asking yourself whether these really work and which program is the best. But, honestly, I think any program can be a good one as long you are motivated and inspired to try it. I feel the best way to challenge yourself is to have a specific goal, a timeline to obtain it, and the willingness to stick with it and get results you want. The challenge I’m about to walk you through should not interfere with your current routine, but it will certainly enhance it by adding an extra element and a goal to achieve over a set period of time. If you are new to fitness routines, ease into it and pace yourself slowly with the goal in mind. Your strength and muscle memory will quickly improve.

The most beneficial and effective workouts are ones that combine full body strength movements in all ranges of motion, cardiovascular exercises of anaerobic/ aerobic movements, and flexibility training to recover the muscles for the next workout. I’d advise that you keep your routine versatile and to evolve it continuously so that you can challenge your entire body; but take on this squat and pull up challenge to add a physical and mental challenge to achieve.

What is A Squat?

The squat is considered to be one of the best lower body exercises for developing muscle, increasing strength gains, and preventing injury. Performing squats is a great way to improve your stability, since they strengthen your hips and thighs, and it’s also a great way to prevent injury since the exercise strengthens a variety of lower body muscles at once. Here are some more benefits of adding squats to your routine.

The Benefits of Squats

1. Squats build overall muscle in the quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, core, and calves, which gives you a foundational base for overall strength.
2. Squats burn a lot of fat. Since squats are a great way to build muscle, and since muscle burns fat, having more muscle on your frame will blast more calories, which in turn burns more fat tissue.
3. Squats are a functional movement that relates to everyday activities such as sitting, bending, and other primary movements – which means there’s practical benefits to performing squats beyond just the health benefits.
4. Squats aid in balance enhancement. The gluteus medius and minimus are the muscles used for balance, and squats help to strengthen these muscles. To make sure that you’re distributing your strength gains evenly to both legs, try doing a single leg squat.
5. Squats strengthen the core and increase power. When done properly, squats keep your core remains contracted and activated during every movement, which stabilizes the spine. Power is increased by generating a strong effort to burst out of the lowest point of the squat, which helps in other movements.
6. Squats strengthen the joints, which also prevent injury. The hips, knees, and ankles joints work together to distribute the strength load and reduce the stress placed on once singe joint.
7. Squats have variety. Squats are highly adaptable. You can position your feet wide, narrow, angled, dynamically, statically, iso-metrically, unilaterally, and by adding different tools such as barbells, hand weights, med balls, bands, boxes, kettlebells, or a stability ball.
8. Squats are cheap and can be done anywhere! They don’t require an expensive machine or equipment. Bodyweight squats can be just as challenging by changing the range of motion and adding pulses or place a weighted backpack on your back for added resistance! Plus, you can do them at home, in the gym, or outside. When you have little time or don’t know what exercises to do they are the ‘do anywhere exercise’ to sculpt your glutes.

What Are Pull Ups?

Pull ups are one of the most difficult exercises that you can do with your upper body, but they also have numerous benefits. Many would avoid this exercise because it is quite challenging, but the difficulty is a good sign: it indicates that you can improve your overall strength by being able to lift or ‘pick up’ your entire body’s weight.

The Benefits of Pull Ups:

1. Pull ups work a variety of muscles simultaneously. The forearms, biceps, triceps, and lats have to engage in order to pull up your bodyweight.
2. Pull ups add cardiovascular strength. Pull ups will increase your heart rate by performing a certain amount of reps or timed intervals while building strength!
3. Pull ups are a great compound exercise. They target the back, arms, and core to develop complete upper body strength.
4. Pull ups increase hand and finger strength.
5. Pull ups increase posture and flexibility.
6. Pulls ups have variations. Experiment with changing the hand positions (palms facing in, underhand, overhand, uneven).
7. Pull ups are cheap and can be done anywhere. Just like squats, pull ups can be challenging just by using your own body’s weight. If you do not have a gym, find a playground at a park, a tree you can toss a towel or rope over, or find something you can use to perform the exercise anywhere you are!

The Squat & Pull Up Challenge:

If you decide to try the Squat & Pull Up challenge, make sure that you max out on as many reps as possible during each workout.

Goal: to increase the number of squats and pull ups performed for one set during a 30 day period.

How to begin the Squats & Pull-ups Challenge:

1. Determine your maximal reps for squats and for pull ups. (Don’t worry if it’s not many). Record this baseline number.
2. Each day increase the number of reps by as many as you can. Remember you are only doing one set, so do your best. Record that number and try for at least one more rep the next day.
3. Over the next 30 days, keep performing the exercises during your regular workout for 1 set until failure and record the number of reps for that day.
4. Even if you do not work out everyday, try to do this challenge 5-6 days per week for 30 days straight so that you stay consistent and honest with your goal.
This challenge is set for a period of 30 days to give a deadline goal date. However, there is no stopping the challenge here. You may always want to incorporate these two powerful exercises into your routine and continue to record how many reps you can perform. Perhaps you add a new twist to the challenge by changing the exercise or by adding extra weight to the exercises. Whatever you decide, I always recommend incorporating squats and pull ups into your routine for overall strength, power, and functional development so that your body can perform at its optimal best always.

Progression Tips
The Challenge at the gym, home, or outside:
• Bodyweight basics- perfect form with chest lifted, core engaged, and knees in line with toes. Be sure to lower the body to 90’ each rep.
• Advanced- add external resistance and keep it consistent for the 30 days.

Pull Ups:
• Beginner tips at the gym- use a bench for spotting to step down to, hold the pull up position at the top and lower slowly, jump up to the top position and lower slowly, or try using a spotter at your feet
• Advanced- no bench or spotting help. Just go for it!
• Be sure to lift your bodyweight leading with the chest to the bar, breathe, and use as much control as possible.

The Squat and Pull-ups Challenge on the Total Gym:

• Incline 8
• Beginners perform bilateral, regular, squats.
• Advanced perform single leg squats.

Pull Ups:
• Beginners incline 5
• Advanced incline 8
• Keep the grip consistent for the challenge.

Not convinced to put your body to the test? Well, ask yourself these questions:
You workout, but do you push yourself hard enough? Do you have a goal to obtain or are you just going through the motions?

Can you commit to adding this little challenge to your routine?

I bet your answers state you up for a goal and ready for this 30 day squat and pull up challenge this month to increase your muscular strength, ‘lift’ and sculpt your glutes, and define your upper body strength to the max!

Now get to it and see what you are capable of achieving!

Maria Sollon

Maria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a freelance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, newsletters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work. http://www.groovysweat.com http://www.groovysweatstore.com (purchasable workout videos) http://www.youtube.com/groovysweat (workout clips)

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