Colin Ayliffe is a certified Personal Trainer and Holistic Lifestyle Coach with over 10 years experience in training clients. Colin is Head Trainer at Court House Squash and Wellness in Hamilton. He graduated from the University of Surrey with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Science and is also a CHEK Practitioner, Golf Biomechanic and accredited by the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

The 30 Day Squat Challenge seems to be all the rage at the moment and I know many women in Bermuda have been following this exercise programme religiously. A quick Google search yields more than two million hits and its own facebook page is proving its popularity.

It’s catching on very quickly here on the island too as the workout is designed to get those backsides in shape with summer on its way. It is a simple 30 day exercise plan, where you complete a set of squats each day with a rest day every third day. You start by completing 50 squats on Day 1 and increase the squats by 5 repetitions each time until you reach 250 squats on Day 30.

The squat is one of the seven primal patterns that are essential for optimal human movement along with bending, lunging, pushing, pulling, twisting and walking. Every one of us can squat to a certain extent. Each time we play sport, get into a car or just stand up from a chair it is all squatting! If we cannot squat then we cannot function and this will lead to injury and difficulty in carrying out everyday tasks.

As a personal trainer I am an advocate of the squat and ensure all my clients can and do squat at least once a week. This is because the squat offers a lot more benefits than just a firm butt. More than you would probably ever think about.

Squatting is critical for our digestion and elimination. Humans are the only animals that have to push feces upwards due to the anatomy of our colon. The invention of the modern toilet doesn’t require a full squat and this has contributed to the massive increase in constipation in our modern day life. All because not enough people are squatting anymore.

To give you an example, if you ever look at images of rural farming communities like the Chinese working in the rice paddies or Pakistanis collecting in the wheat fields you will notice how natural it is for them to squat until their hands reach the floor or torso is completely relaxed and supported by their thighs. That is an optimal squat.

Squatting like this results in the thighs compressing the lower abdomen, with the right thigh  compressing the origin of the colon and pushing our waste upwards into the transverse colon, while the left thigh compresses the descending colon and moves our waste into the sigmoid colon and ready to be eliminated through the rectum.

If we are not squatting frequently then the stomach can be forced to hold onto its contents and this can lead to heartburn, acid reflux and poor digestion. Full squats also create a wave of pressure by the thighs compressing the internal organs in the abdomen and by the action of the diaphragm as we breathe which helps mobilise these organs and can dramatically aid digestion and elimination.

Any squat should ideally be performed with just bodyweight or a weighted bar for optimal results as it requires us to balance our centre of gravity over our base of support. Follow these guidelines for an effective bodyweight squat:

 Stand with your legs about hip-width apart and toes turned out to 30°.

 Inhale and draw belly button towards spine to engage the deep abdominal wall muscle.

 Keep eyes level with the horizon, chest lifted and maintain the normal curve in your lower back. Do not lean forward or round the back.

 Initiate the squat from the knees then immediately bend knees, hips and ankles simultaneously to lower into the squat.

 Knees should stay in line with the second toe on each foot. Do not let knees drop inwards.

 Keep your heels pressed into the floor and go as low as comfortable with good technique.

 Stand up from the squat by pushing the earth away from under you and release breath through pursed lips.

Repeat for the required number of repetitions. Eight-12 is a good starting point, unless you are doing the 30 Day Squat