The 10 Minute Bodyweight Squat Challenge

by Al Kavadlo on March 8, 2016

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Al Kavadlo Squat challenge

“I want to get in better shape, but I just don’t have time to exercise!”

If you’ve been a fitness trainer for more than about 15 seconds, you’ve probably heard this excuse from at least a dozen different people already.

It’s probably the most common rationalization folks use to justify their lack of regular exercise, and it may very well be the lamest.

The truth is, you can get a challenging and effective workout in just 10 minutes, and anyone who says they don’t have 10 minutes is just kidding themselves.

What I’m about to share with you is so quick and simple, many people may question its effectiveness. If you are one of those people, all you’ll need to verify the power of this workout is to try it for yourself.

Here’s the challenge:

Begin by setting up your feet in a comfortable squat position. The toes may be turned outward slightly or your feet may be placed parallel. Set a timer for 10 minutes and start the clock.

Your objective is to perform as many slow, controlled squats as possible, while using a full range of motion. Aim to make each rep last for three full seconds. You may take as many breaks as you like, but your feet must remain flat on the ground where they began for the entire time.

Grace Kavadlo Close Squat

After about 30-60 seconds, your legs will likely begin to experience a burning sensation. Keep going: this workout will be a mental challenge as much as a physical one. Only take a break when you absolutely have to, and even then try to keep it to 10 seconds or less. As you go on, the amount of breaks you need and the duration of each break may start to increase. This is fine.

The first time you attempt this challenge, aim for 100 squats. That’s an average of 10 per minute. If you are sticking to the 3 second per rep rule, that’s 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest every minute for ten minutes. Not too bad, right?

By the same token, the highest number of squats you could complete in ten minutes at a 3-second pace is 200 reps. Though very few will accomplish the full 200 on their first attempt, I encourage you to do this workout once or twice a week until you can make it without stopping. A good method is to add 10-20 reps each time. I guarantee that if you eventually build to the full 200, your legs will be stronger, and your ankles, hips and knees will feel great, too.

When you’re ready, the 10 minute squat challenge can eventually become your warm-up before practicing pistol squats and other one legged squat variants.

Al Kavadlo Pistol Regression

Here are a few more things to keep in mind:

– An ideal squat starts with a tall chest, neutral spine, and flat feet. As you initiate your squat, your hips will move back while your knees slide forward slightly, allowing your ankles to flex. Your heels need to remain on the ground throughout the movement.  Keep your chest upright and your back straight during every rep. You may be surprised by how much you’ll need to engage your abs and back to maintain your posture.

– In order for a rep to count, you must descend until the tops of your thighs are at least parallel to the ground. The range of motion at the top of the squat is also crucial. Do not shortchange yourself by failing to fully extend your hips and knees. I can’t stress enough how important it is to go all the way down and all the way up.

– Arm position is up to the individual, but most people find that reaching their arms forward on the way down helps facilitate proper form.

– Don’t rush. The goal is to perform every rep with precision and control.

This workout will likely leave you sore for at least a day or two the first time you try it, and possibly a lot longer than that if it’s been awhile since your last leg session. This is good. Work your upper body in the meantime (maybe a ten minute push-up workout the next day?), then do your squats again once you’ve recovered.

Also, if you’ve got time to stretch after you’re finished, a standard toe touch and/or quad stretch on each side would probably feel nice, but I totally understand if you’re too busy. Ten minutes is all I initially asked for; I didn’t mean to get greedy.

Al Kavadlo Squat


Al Kavadlo is the lead instructor for Dragon Door’s Progressive Calisthenics Certification. Recognized worldwide for his amazing bodyweight feats of strength as well as his unique coaching style, Al is the author of five books, including Raising The Bar: The Definitive Guide to Pull-up Bar Calisthenics and Pushing The Limits! Total Body Strength With No Equipment. Read more about Al on his

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  • Aleks Salkin

    I’ve been falling more and more in love with high-rep training lately, despite (or possibly because of) my long-term aversion to it. THIS might very well be one of the best and most sinister 10-minute, high-rep workouts I’ve seen! I can’t wait to give it a try!

    • Right on, Aleks! Let us know how it goes. 🙂

      • Aleks Salkin

        Will do!

    • John Du Cane

      Aleks, I think squats are a fantastic bang-for-the-buck energetically. Look forward to hearing how you do…

      • Aleks Salkin

        I couldn’t agree more, John! I’ll let you know how it goes when I muster up the courage to do it 🙂

        • John Du Cane

          “Muster up the courage”? Come on Aleks, just do it!

          • Aleks Salkin

            All right, fine!

  • Danile de Hombre

    The 10 Minute Bodyweight Squat Challenge is definitely going to be included in my workout session…..gracias!

    • John Du Cane

      Danile, let us know how you manage!

      • Daniel de Hombre

        I will 🙂

    • De nada! 🙂

  • Allan Gavito

    That’s a great workout Al, bw squats are very underestimated generally, but do them in their hundred’s and you begin to understand their value. The best I’ve ever done is 240 pistols alternating from leg to leg in around 44 min’s.

    • John Du Cane

      Wow Allan, that is very impressive indeed!

  • Matt Schifferle

    This is a great challenge! Can’t wait to get crank’n on it. Nothing beats waking up with a little soreness in the legs the next day. Thanks Coach!

    • Thanks, Matt! Let us know how your legs feel tomorrow. 😉

  • John Du Cane

    As I mentioned in a comment on my personal FB page, I took this Challenge on Saturday and managed 194 consecutive below-parallel squats in the 10 minutes, I miscounted as I had intended to hit the 200 max possible when performing as Al requests at an average of 3 seconds per squat. Would have posted the video proof but felt I was leaning forward a little too much on some of them. I will redo soon and hit the 200 with improved form….:)

    I wrote to Al that his Challenge post had an interesting timing for me, as I had just been mulling over working up to doing 1,000 consecutive squats (the most I have ever done before consecutively was 500 Chinese Wall Squats about 15 years ago). My heart rate was at 125 after the 194 in 10 minutes, so I am expecting to have build up slowly to achieve the full 1,000 safely. Probably add an extra 100 reps per month… will keep you posted:)

    • I might have to give your 1,000 squat workout a shot myself…

      • John Du Cane

        If anyone can do it, you can Al:) And hey, it will only take 50 minutes…

  • Kishore

    Somehow my previous comment isn’t here. Maybe it got vanished or something. Anw, great article Al. 🙂

    • John Du Cane

      Kishore, this one got through, so you could try reposting your original comment…

      • Kishore

        I hope Al doesn’t mind if I hijack his post to ask you a few questions John.

        1. I’m a calisthenics hobbyist/enthusiast – as in, I don’t train people for money, nor am I a certified trainer. Are people like me allowed to attend PCC/SCC? I won’t exactly “use” the certification for any personal business or anything. I just think I’d find the PCC/SCC highly useful to gain insights and better ideas to train and etc from you all.

        2. How different is SCC from PCC? I mean, if I attend PCC, then would I be missing out on anything in the SCC?

        3. I think this was mentioned somewhere, not sure, I might be wrong. If I attend the SCC, then if I attend the PCC, would I get some sort of discount for the PCC? Like, paying just the difference or something? If yes, then how much time would I have to attend the PCC before such an offer goes away?

        • John Du Cane

          No problem:
          1. Anyone can attend either an SCC or PCC and we always have around ten percent if not more who take the workshop strictly for their own benefit.
          2. SCC is an entry-level cert. Everything taught at the SCC is taught at the PCC.
          3. We did make a discount offer of this kind when we announced the first SCC. We discontinued the offer when we announced further SCCs. However I am personally rethinking that decision and will shortly be announcing the return of a discount offering for those who have taken the SCC and register for a PCC. Watch our site for more details very soon!

  • Kishore

    Reposting my original comment cos it got lost:

    This is an amazing way to workout. Just 10 minutes. I can do a 100 squats quite easily right now, I’ll take up the challenge of 200.

    It’d be a killer to workout the upper body with this 10 minutes too. So far, I can manage 87 incline pulls (chest height bar, feet exactly below bar) at 2-1-2 cadence. It’s fun too.

    I read in an article where The Great Gama used to do 1000s of squats per day. High rep squats also give you an amazing cardiovascular workout too. 🙂

    Great article Al 🙂

    • Thanks, Kishore! You can certainly apply this concept with other exercises.

  • Mohammed

    This sorta thing will have to be a finisher for me; don’t think I’ll be able to control my reps on the harder leg exercises if I do this first.

    It definitely would work as a great finisher + cardio workout. 100 or 200 is nice goal to aspire to. Thanks, Al

    • I think you can do it first as long as you take a long break afterwards. But your method sounds good, too!

  • Thomas Fuchs

    I will do it! Different to other exercises, squats for me get EASIER during a set, after 50 reps or so, the body adapts during the set … but never tested how many I can do. 😉

    • The burning in the legs comes and goes, but I definitely get winded after enough of them!

  • Edward Graham

    What are your recommendations for high-mileage joint and connective support? I’m thinking vegan or vegetarian, i.e. “cruelty free.”

    • John Du Cane

      Bone broth and any other foods high in collagen would be my number one recommendation…

      • Edward Graham

        Whole Foods has meat products system where they’re treated well, like Free Range, as opposed to capsules from factory farms. Perhaps this is a place to start. Fallon’s books look interesting. Seems a real balance to putting hooves on dirt to regenerate the soil, and taking meat for food.

    • This workout IS my recommendation for strengthening the knee joints and connective tissues. Just make sure you go slowly on every rep.

      • Edward Graham

        Excellent! Some of Systema includes thirty seconds down and up, with breath work. Ive also got Packback to deal with. The recommended shoe inserts stabilize the feet laterally, and I’m duck footed, they cause the knees to be unlocked and therefore bring the Glutes online, not a bad thing, but anterior/posterior moment of movement is still somewhat unstable. The maxim ” Movement starts with the knees,” is relevant here, as I find my weight centering moreso into the pelvis. And that affects breath. There’s a lot of difference training with squats than just shambling along with a heavy pack all day.

      • mising

        Squeezed out 110 in 10 min! My 46 yo thighs feel like rubber now, and my knees sounded like an elephant dancing in a vat of rice crispies, but I toughed it out. You can do it! Just go slow and take longer breaks if your actual joints start to hurt.

      • Edward Graham

        I’m working my with Systema breathing on this. Harder, a rebirth of sorts, but worthy.

    • Larry Richelli

      Yes, going vegan will help lots…though not many would agree.

  • This seems like a very fun challenge… putting it on the calendar for today! 🙂 Thanks for the awesome idea, Al!

    • Right on, Adrienne! You got this!

    • John Du Cane

      Good to hear!

  • Great challenge, Al! I suppose you could do this as a way of progressing through some of the various stages of PCC or Convict Conditioning as well. Starting with 10 minutes of the easiest squat progressions and working your way towards the pistols. Not sure one could continue the trend with all of the master steps, unless of course, you are a true bad a$$!

    • Thanks! And you’re 100% correct – This concept can be varied in many ways!

  • RedTed

    Great article Al! I use these types of methods very regularly in my own training – very useful when “stealing” a bigger chunk of time is impossible! As I tell my clients – “you can ALWAYS do something” and if not 10 mins, then try 5 (if you don’t have 5 mins then you’re REALLY in trouble!) I shall share this post with my “gang” as I’m sure they’ll sit up and take notice to you 🙂

    Thanks for ALL the great work from ALL you guys – much appreciated 🙂

    • You are very welcome! Hope the rest of your “gang” can benefit from this training method as well. 🙂

  • Benjamin dumbrell

    The problem here is this is a challenge, not a training method. Challenges can be fun sometimes if your into it but it doesn’t really help anyone, and it’s not really progressive apart from adding reps which when doing normal squats does next to nothing. I miss Paul Wade’s articles, always insightful, interesting and most important of all it gets real results. Old school for life!

    • Actually, it’s a challenge AND a training method. As for your assertion that this article “doesn’t really help anyone”, the rest of the comments here would suggest otherwise. The only thing not helpful on this page are your condescending remarks.

      • Benjamin dumbrell

        Positive comments here don’t mean anything, fans will like what you say no matter what, and everyone is condescending even if you don’t realise. You have been condescending to weight trainers and bodyuilders in the past, I’m just giving my opinion which is what a forum if for.

        • AppalachianMatt

          You’re talking about different methods of training and yes these are challenges but can also be used for training. We used things like this all the time in the Army to build endurance and strength in my Spec Ops unit. Maybe you shouldn’t be so sensitive when someone else has a different idea or method.

          • Benjamin dumbrell

            Maybe that’s why the army doesn’t have the strongest or fastest people.

          • AppalachianMatt

            That’s b/c we run to the fight not away from it.

          • Benjamin dumbrell

            You mean sneaking around in the shadows murdering people? You are a real hero.

          • AppalachianMatt

            Haven’t done that myself so not sure where you’re getting your info from. Oh yeah that’s right, you’re one of those who just likes to hear your own voice. But before you whine and rant again about things you obviously have no clue about the method Al is trying to utilize is a phenomenal way to train. It’s not an everyday type thing that you do for weeks on end but its still very effective. So have a great day and get out an enjoy life, you never know when your time is up.

          • Benjamin dumbrell

            So You’ve never been in a fight either? Tisk tisk, guess its what’s to expected from a keyboard warrior.

          • AppalachianMatt

            Trolls are so annoying. I never said I’ve never been in a fight, I never said i didn’t kill anyone in combat. But I get it. This makes you feel strong and masculine. You have nothing of value to add to this conversation and besides its not like we could ever meet in real life. It probably wouldn’t end well for you but as someone who never underestimates anyone I’ll leave it at this. If you want to go home and tell your friends (online probably) that you won an internet conversation then that’s cool with me. Honestly the only reason I even responded is b/c you’re a troll. Why even come on this site and comment if you know you don’t care about what Al writes? Of course people are going to be nice to Al when he posts something. Its his site. All the man is trying to do is give people ideas but along comes billy badass to throw in his two cents. We can do this all day but for what? You going to comment on this forever? If it makes you feel better then you are the man. I mean who isn’t scared of Benjamin dumbrell? I’ve read your youtube comments on other people’s vids so we all know you are a bad man (commenter).

  • Victor Bonnici

    Hey Al buddy,

    Thanks for the challenge. I just did 182 non-stop full squats in 10 minutes. so my average was slightly slower than 3 seconds per rep. I’m proud of what my 57 year old body can do. You keep it up, my friend, and you’ll still be stronger than me when you’re my age;-)

    • Right on, Victor! 182 is excellent!

      • Victor Bonnici


    • John Du Cane

      Very good Victor!:)

      • Victor Bonnici

        Thank you!

  • Livleen Kaur

    This looks awesome!! Thank-you Al – you’ve done so much for the world of fitness. Getting people to use their bodyweight – no need for expensive equipment nor driving to an expensive gym. You put fitness back into the people’s hands. I applaud you for this and will work on this challenge as well as the push-up challenge. I love you guys!!!!

    • Thanks for the comment! You are very welcome! We’re Working Out!

  • AppalachianMatt

    Knocked out 150 and man do I feel it. Good Stuff Al. Always on point.

    • Nicely done, Matt! Thanks for your support.

  • I struggled to do 15 free squats in a set a year or so back, so many things aching. I persevered though & now some days get 500+ done. I’ve started doing “toothbrush squats” – 10 slow & deep in the morning when I clean my teeth. From these I get an indication of how I’m doing & what I might do that day. Another 10 at the end of the day before bed also seems useful. I’m a great advocate now for regressions & simple movements. I do a lot of squat pulls – using a horizontal bar to stretch out the lats too & give a bit of extra support where needed.

    Betweeen 40% to 75% of any endurance effort is always the challenge in my experience – distance running, swimming, sets of 101. Doubts set in, aches appear & an itchy nose or elbow often distract the focus. After 75 it’s the homeward straight & there endorphins start flowing around 95 & after that it’s the start of enlightenment. Until the next set…

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