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The question

I really want to get back into shape and lose some weight. My friends seem to be getting results with a "30-day squat challenge" that is popular on Facebook. Does it work? Are those challenges safe?

The answer

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As a trainer I feel slightly ridiculous discouraging any form of exercise, but the truth is, I am not a huge fan of any 30-day challenges.

They are basically a recipe for injury. With the squat challenge, you start by doing 50 repetitions. After 30 days, you are expected to complete 250 squats in one workout. Most newbie lifters, and even some seasoned lifters, can barely do 10 squats with perfect form, let alone 50-plus.

You are better off doing fewer squats, but being sure you do them properly. To lose weight, you want to increase your lean muscle mass so that your metabolism improves. Hundreds of squats (probably done with poor form) are not the best way to get lean. Instead, do three to five sets of squats with a weight you can lift for 12 to 20 reps.

Remember that squats may be a powerful exercise, but they will only produce results when done as part of a well-balanced overall routine. You need to sit less, be more mindful of your daily health habits, improve your nutrition and move more.

Trainer's tip

It is great that you and your friends are trying to be active – just try not to compare yourselves to one another. No two individuals react to exercise in the same way; everyone's fitness and health journey will be unique.

How your body responds will be influenced by your age, gender, genetics, fitness history, nutritional habits and current activity level. If your friends reach their goals sooner, don't get discouraged and use their success as an excuse to sabotage your own efforts. Appreciate and love your body and your genetic window. Work to be the best possible version of yourself!

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Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for over 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.

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