Squats have been called the king of lifts. Once you drape a loaded bar across your back and drop your ass to the grass, most major muscle groups, including your hamstrings, quads, core muscles, and upper back, are put to work. 

Any workout program that doesn’t include the squat is, frankly speaking, not worth your time or money. But would you follow a program that focuses solely on squats? I did, and it was one of the best decisions I made. 

I know, I know — you’re probably going to say something like, “That’s horrible for your knees.” I heard plenty of that when I told people I’d be squatting every day for the month of October (well, every weekday, with weekends off) as part of a social media campaign known as Squatober.

At the end of the month, not only were my knees just fine, but my squat max went up 35 pounds (from 225 to 260), my overall strength increased, I lost some body fat, and I learned some valuable life lessons along the way. 

What is Squatober? It’s the brain child of Aaron Ausmus, the head strength and conditioning coach for the University of Southern California’s football team, and Bert Sorin, president and co-owner of exercise equipment company Sorinex.

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“We really wanted to just find a way to bring attention to this really great, but under-appreciated lift,” Bert told Muscle & Fitness. “But we were just kind of joking around at first.” 

That is, until Ausmus—who writes the workout plan for Squatober—actually squatted every day for a month and found just how beneficial it was. The two started promoting it on social media about five years ago, and now more than 50,000 people follow the @penandpaperstrengthapp page that posts each day’s workout. 

“It’s been absolutely great to see the response,” Bert says. “We’ve had great responses from other schools and their strength and conditioning departments.” 

Here’s a primer on Squatober, why I decided to do it, and the lessons it taught me. 

Anthony O’Reilly is an associate editor at Muscle & Fitness.