30 days. No squats. No deadlifts. Barely even a squatting variation. So how'd it go? Just peachy. More here on listening to your body, common-sense mechanics, and the stupidity of fitness memes.
Squats. They're so deeply embedded into our psyche, thanks largely in part to social media, that we feel like fitness failures if we're not doing them. Memes like this one come to mind:
Also, expressions such as:
"Squat, because no one ever rapped about a small butt."
"Squats, the difference between having a butt and having an ASS."
BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH enough already!
Here's the deal: yes, the squat is great. However, that doesn't mean that:
1) It's the greatest exercise for you in particular;
2) It's the best exercise for gaining glute mass (size);
3) It needs to be the cornerstone of your lower body workouts.
Look at a traditional back squat from a mechanical perspective: loading a bar across your upper back, at the top of your spine isn't going to feel so great after a while. Your knees can take a beating, too. Moreover, while the actual research is mixed, squatting and deadlifting MAY increase waist circumference (although the same can be said for weighted ab work, excess intake, hormonal changes, or a combination of all of the above).
So, back to NOT squatting: for a sample of exercises that I performed with joy during my 30-day challenge, check out my original post. The barbell hipthrust and glute bridge have been the meat and potatoes of my regimen for a while now, but over the past month I performed some variation of one or the other 5 day a week. I also revisited some moves I'd neglected for a while (like side-laying clamshells), and began incorporating exercises that I had never tried before (like Good Mornings with a loop resistance band). Instead of missing squats and deadlifts, I was inspired to think outside the box to fill the void left by these two exercises.
Prior to the experiment, I postulated that my hip and waist circumferences would stay the same. I was wrong: a quarter inch has actually moved from my waist to my hips! A small difference, but progress nonetheless.
Most importantly, I physically feel relatively pain-free: knees, hips, and ankles are happy. So happy, in fact, that I'm going to extend my challenge and refrain from back squats and deadlifts for another three months. Hell, I might go on an indefinite hiatus like this guy.
The moral of the story here is this: train based on science, not memes; listen to your body, and preferably, enjoy the process.
Enjoy the gym, enjoy your life!