Keeping Up With Jonesy: Squats to Success

Tue 15 Apr 2014

Dan Jones, the mastermind behind your favourite cycling videos including Backstage Pass, the #OGERocks music videos and My Piece of the World, has embarked upon a personal challenge to get healthy. These weekly posts are Dan’s attempt to share his journey with you. Six weeks in and Dan explains how much more enjoyable training is becoming and how he plans to keep the lifestyle going.

2 - Unnamed


So we are almost halfway with the weight loss. After a two week stint in Belgium and knocking back the offer for frites and a few beers, another 2.5 kilograms has disappeared taking the weight down to an even 97.4 kilograms. The math is simple, we need to drop another 12.4 kilograms by the start of the Tour de France to get back to 85 kilograms, which is a kilo per week from here on.

Since starting challenge I have had a lot of people tell me that the initial ten kilograms would come off pretty easy but the last 10kg is when it gets hard. Hard? How can it be hard when I can clearly see two reasons why it's already easier!

The first being that exercise ten kilograms lighter is way more enjoyable, and I mean way more! I can still remember the first run with Andy seven weeks ago. My boobs were bouncing, heart rate pounding and the brain almost going into a full meltdown screaming "stop you bastard this is killing me!" You don't feel as many joint pains when you're lighter, and after a while the momentum from sticking to a new healthier lifestyle is much harder to break than to keep going. You enjoy good clean foods and you don't crave processed crap.

The second reason is that this is a lifestyle change, not a diet. Not something to do to get to 85 kilograms and then stop. This is forever. So the only the hard part for me at this point is the need to drop the next 10 kilos as fast as the first 10. This will obviously require some more intense training and the nutrition has to be spot on. All I can say is I am up to the challenge!

This weekend is still a bit weird for the routine. I'm off with the Paris-Roubaix crew on Thursday, then away each weekend following for Amstel and Liege. Then at the end of the month it's a five day training camp with Andy in Morocco of all places!

Till next week, wish me luck!

3 - Unnamed


With Jonesy still on target with his goals I'd like to make special mention to one particular exercise that has helped Jonesy get this far: squats! This simple exercise is perhaps the most important of any of the resistance exercises Dan does and will continue to do on a regular basis.

Here are just a few of the benefits of squatting and why I've added it into Dan's program:

1. Functional - The squat is, in essence, an exercise we perform every time we sit down. It is a compound exercise engaging multiple muscle groups at the same time, through a wide range of movement. 

Squatting with either body weight alone or by adding weights will improve the strength of your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles in a single movement. 

This will not only make your activities of daily living easier but it'll help reduce the risk of those niggling injures you might get when doing simple chores around the home or at work.

2. Increases balance and flexibility - In addition to the strength gains of the major muscle groups of the legs, squats also work the smaller stabilising muscles of the lower back and pelvis (core), which help support and strengthen your joints, further protecting you from injury.

A full body weight squat performed correctly will also effectively improve range of motion at the hips, knees and ankles. 

The above mentioned have already helped reduce Dan's knee pain and (touch wood) he is yet to have any major aggravation of his previous shin splints injury.

3. Metabolic benefits - squatting stimulates the release growth hormone and testosterone, the necessary hormones for muscle growth, as well as improving insulin sensitivity and accelerated fat burning.

Squats, along with other resistance exercises, will increase your metabolism much longer than endurance exercise alone, meaning you'll burn fat for longer after you finish training.

Doing higher repetitions also will lead to an increase in mitochondrial and capillary density in your muscles. This translates to improved muscular endurance and the food you eat will more effectively be delivered to your muscles as fuel, rather than being stored as fat.

4. Performance benefits - multiple studies have shown squats to improve performance in sprinting, vertical jump, as well as endurance running and cycling efficiency. So regardless of the activity you might be training for, squats are likely to help.

5. Time and cost effective - can be done at home, using just your own body weight and you don't need to spend hours doing them. At the moment Dan is doing three sets of 20-30 repetition body weight squats per session. Down the track we'll introduce weighted squats into his program but for now this is sufficient for our current goals.

There are a few trends in squatting at the moment, particularly the 100 squats a day challenge. These programs may work for some people but in Dan's case our goal has always been to create a program that lasts longer than 30 days and is sustainable, therefore I have encouraged Dan only to do squats two or three times per week. 

This frequency for Dan allows sufficient time for muscle adaptations to occur as well as minimising the risk of overtraining, burnout or boredom.

It's tricky to explain the correct way to squat without demonstrating it so I've attached a link which best demonstrates the correct body weight squat technique.

Next week I'll cover the importance of regulating stress and sleeping patterns and why they're so important in Dan's new lifestyle. Until then, thanks for the encouragement via twitter @ozdanjones and @andrew_gerrans and to those who have joined us or donated to our Everyday Hero's page - Keeping up with Jonesy.


Fueling a Fat Burner
Support Systems
One Month In
Staying on Track