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What I Learned About My Body From the Squat Challenge

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at KU chapter.

If you have a Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, you have probably come across the “Squat Challenge.”  The Squat Challenge is a 30 day squat schedule that involves increasing the number of reps every day.  The advertisements for the challenge use slogans like “Do you want a bigger butt” or we are shown a picture of a woman with a round derrière with the subtitle, “she squats.”  All are attempts to get women to join in on this booty-obsessed craze.


Thanks to Beyoncé and Kim K, toned thighs and plump butts are now considered sexy on a woman and has resulted in women adding squats and lunges to their daily workout plans. Every workout class, plan and video includes some type of squatting, but what they forget to mention is the strain that squatting puts on your knees. I learned this the hard way.

When asked of her workout routine, Kim says she does dumbbell squats and lunge variations.

Like most girls my age, I wanted a bigger butt.

I would grab mine in the mirror and pray to the a** gods that it would magically get bigger. After realizing that the a** gods didn’t exist and, if they did, couldn’t hear me and also discovering that I couldn’t afford butt injections (aka the reason Kim’s butt is so perfect), I settled for the Squat Challenge. I would do squats or lunges three times a week and sometimes with weights in my hands.

About two weeks into my challenge, I started feeling a twinge in my knees every time I bent down to squat. I ignored the twinge, thinking it was just part of the challenge and it was normal. “No pain, no gain,” I would remind myself; but, little did I know, I was really hurting myself. Soon the pain didn’t just occur when I squatted; it was there all the time. I would wake up with sore knees and had to limp my way around campus. I stopped squatting and started icing the area, thinking that the pain would go away soon, but it didn’t. 

Over semester break, I got an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon and learned that I had patella strains in both knees and I needed physical therapy. He told me that my bone structure and the way my knees naturally turned in made squatting the worst exercise for me. He also told me that doing squats is basically like putting your entire body weight just on your knees. Most women’s joints aren’t strong enough for that kind of pressure. Three months later, I am still doing physical therapy and battling constant flare ups of tendonitis and bursitis. I have to ice my legs three times a day, take pain meds and wear knee braces to class.


This has not only affected me physically, but more than anything, it has affected me mentally. Being an athlete all of my life and being lucky enough to never experience an injury, it is extremely hard to go from being active to not being able to walk without feeling pain. There are days when I don’t feel like leaving my bed and there are also days that I get so frustrated that I force my body to do things that it isn’t ready for, which just sets me further back. However, this injury has taught me some valuable lessons.

1.   Love your body (or in this case, love your booty).

Obsessing over body image is unhealthy. Comparing my body to celebrities and trying to change myself to impress others is what got me in this mess in the first place. You should exercise to be healthy and fit, not to get your body to look like someone else’s.

2.   Listen to your body.

If your body is telling you that something is wrong, or if something doesn’t feel right, you should listen and stop what you are doing immediately! We are all built differently and our bodies respond differently to exercise moves.

3.   Get help ASAP.

Don’t wait until the last minute to tell someone that you’re hurting or that something is bothering you. The faster you speak up, the faster you can heal.

4.   Give your body a break.

I know many fitness trainers say “no days off,” but give your body some time to rest and recoup. Your body should be pampered and your health should be treasured; taking a day or two (or more) off won’t hurt. 

This blog is not to scare you away from doing squats or tell you not to do them, squats are a great way to get toned. However, you need to educate yourself on how to do squats correctly and you should see a physician before you start an intense program like the Squat Challenge.

Lastly, I know this may sound cliché, but love what God gave you, whether it’s a little butt, crooked smile, big thighs or little boobs. You don’t need to change or pray to the body gods; you are perfect the way that you are.  Sure, it’s okay to want to better yourself, but make sure it is for the right reasons. If I could go back in time I would have never started squatting, because having a big butt is not worth jeopardizing my health.

P.S. If you see me limping around campus, give me a pat on the back (or, even better, a ride to class); either would be greatly appreciated.