The 20-Rep Squat Question Hail to the dinosaurs!

Training questions are like bananas – they come in batches. One of the common questions over the past few weeks involves the 20-rep breathing squat. Folks want to know how much weight to handle when they begin to perform 20-rep squats. So let’s talk about that today. And pay attention, because this is one of those topics where there is some very seriously BAD advice carved in granite tablets and presented to the world as Training Gospel. The BAD advice on 20-rep breathing squats is as follows: “Take your absolute top, maximum weight for TEN reps – and then perform TWENTY reps with it!” That’s the time-honored formula, and it’s been repeated over and over again so many times that it’s probably one of the best known “rules” out there. It gets repeated because it’s dramatic and it’s impressive and it gets you fired up and rarin’ to go out and do some heavy squats. And it makes an important point about 20-rep breathing squats – which is, you really need to work hard on them. But you DON”T do it by charging off and doing 20 reps with your 10-rep maximum the very first time you do breathing squats. Instead, you do it this way – slowly, progressively and intelligently: 1. Take 50% of your 10-rep max and do 20 reps. 2. Perform each rep in letter- perfect form. 3. Concentrate on your breathing. 4. Work to make this the bets set of squats you have ever done. 5. Immediately after the squats, perform 20 reps of the breathing pullover with very light dumbbells (no more than 15 pounds) or a 15 to 25 pound barbell. Do NOT go heavy on the pullovers. They are supposed to be very light, because all you are trying to do is to expand your ribcage through deep breathing and stretching. In your next squat workout, add five or ten pounds to the bar and perform another PERFECT set of 20 reps. Continue in this fashion, slowly and steadily, until you are handling your maximum possible weight for 20 reps. At that point, try to add weight when ever possible. By starting with an EASY weight at the beginning, you develop good habits for your breathing squats. You learn to perform each rep in absolutely perfect form. And you learn

Start light.they sell a ton of sizzle for each ounce of the steak you want. you quickly fall into the “Can I do it?” mentality – and pretty soon. designer sweats. YES. the pioneers of the Iron Game had equipment that was crude by today's standards and none of the food supplements or drugs that have spawned the current crop of bodybuilding and lifting champions. you develop a success-oriented mentality and approach each workout with plenty of confidence. It makes the exercise far less productive – and much more dangerous. consider getting big and strong by lifting weights the old fashioned way. da Vincian equipment.D. And I’ve seen plenty of other people make the very same mistake. I’ve made the very same mistake I’m telling you all about. you are going to work them hard. if you start light and build up. and have a great day. Nonetheless. Very hard. And look forward to some good old-fashioned hard work – and some GREAT GAINS! As always. That’s not good. In contrast. a decade before Arnold was born. The above advice also applies to 20-rep deadlifts or any other high rep “death set” or “death march” exercise. You may very well get to the point where you are handling your former top weight for 10reps for a full 20-reps in the breathing squat – but don’t try to START there. keep the above points in mind. convoluted routines. no matter how much chrome you have pumped in gyms that look like medical clinics or fern bars. If you start too heavy – which is what most guys do – you almost always begin to perform your reps in lousy form. and work your way up. if you start too heavy. So if you’re thinking about doing 20-rep squats or deadlifts. make it a good one. these . thanks for reading. You cut your depth. In addition. That's because muscledom's marketers hawk personal trainers. If you train today. I know. chances are good you have never heard about one of the most effective ways to build muscular size and strength. I’ve been there. Ph. Strossen. you don’t get your full 20 reps – and then everything starts to fall apart and your progress comes to a crashing halt and you burn out big time. you are not going to go full-bore the very first time you try them. Half a century ago. Super Squats Book Excerpt How to Gain 30 Pounds of Muscle in 6 Weeks By Randall J. But NO. You drop and bounce. Bulging with Basics Veteran gym rats to focus for the full 20-rep set. You don’ t raise your chest and shoulders as high as possible when you breath between reps. You start to lean over and look down at the floor in-between reps. mega supplements and name brand gyms . Before the next time you lace up your Reeboks. You round your back.

plenty of good food. you won't build muscular size or strength. trainees are advised to eat a lot of wholesome food. drink at least two quarts of milk a day. Can you go a bit more into that? Rippetoe: This isn't something I dreamed up. or rather. 20-rep squats are not a beginner's . a couple of other basic exercises. and to get plenty of rest in between the twice. With one set of squats plus a couple of sets of bench presses and bent over rows as the prototypical routine. who carried a calf a given distance each day in ancient Greece . Second. These two elements are what separate the men from the boys and produce results. The principle of progressive resistance goes back to Milo of Crotona. transforming proverbial ninety-eight pound weaklings into hunks who no longer have to worry about getting sand kicked in their faces. look at twenty pounds of lean beef in the butcher shop and picture that much mass added to your chest. getting bigger and stronger for his efforts. increases one's strength enormously. Make no mistake about it. Men who have been unable to register significant gains with other routines were suddenly gaining twenty pounds of muscle in a month or two. Adding five or ten pounds to your squat bar every workout simulates the process of carrying a growing calf and most the calf grew. but just one set. and the general caution is to err on the side of doing too few additional exercises rather than too many. urbanites especially. That's it: one set of 20-rep squats. so did Milo. but not easy.D. and gives the cardiovascular system something more than a tickle in the process. Perry Rader's old programs from the '40s and '50s involved 20-rep squats. milk and rest. Back to the squats…. ……… Taken from pages 21-23 of Super Squats by Randall J. About the only drawback to following this routine is that you will outgrow your clothes. That sort of progress turns befores into afters. however.twenty reps in the set. In addition to the 20-rep squats. do twenty reps . The nucleus of this venerable program is one set of squats . oh. Additional exercises are kidding. T-Nation: Speaking of stupid shit. By requiring twenty reps with your normal ten-rep poundages. these workouts hardly compare to the half-day affairs common to today's bodybuilding and lifting stars or to what's hyped in the glossy muscle magazines. a section of your book Strong Enough?: Thoughts from Thirty Years of Barbell Training talked about the mental benefits of 20-rep squats. The system that produces these results is simple. Ph.hardy souls developed a system virtually guaranteed to pile muscular bulk on even the frailest physique. a system that works as well today as it did then. load the bar to what you normally use for ten reps. this one set of 20-rep squats is not your ordinary cup of iron tea: Whatever our recipe might lack in complexity of volume will be more than recouped in intensity. Now. First. Strossen's written about it. every single workout. you are forced into overload mode. It builds real muscle. All those training cliches like "no pain. two or three sets of several other basic exercises at most. by simultaneously embracing the two cardinal principles of weight training: overload and progressive resistance. arms.or thrice-weekly workouts. shoulders. Strossen. crazy shit. The overload principle states that unless you do more than you are used to. no gain" reflect the overload principle. But. back and legs. those squats! The specific approach to the 20-rep squats is nearly as simple as the overall program. find it more convenient. add at least five pounds to the bar. If you have trouble visualizing these results in bodybuilding terms. to be sure.

but I must constantly earn this in return. I can't squat in the morning or I would be too anxious to sleep the night prior. For an actual." This was used again in "Super Squats" by Dr." Most people can't deal with that for a long period of time. no shit. and I'm kind of stupid about that kind of stuff. right? No!! No selfrespecting LIFTER would ever show such disrespect to his brethren! John McCallum was the first man I read that said it bluntly: "Load the bar with your normal 10 rep poundage. everything. I know which plates will be loaded on which side and in what order. At least I couldn't. No kidding. Then you're gonna finish the 20th rep. But it's terribly useful for short periods of time. set of 20 squats. right? I mean. the realization occurs. I know the sight of the bar. The Battle for 20! by Sean Toohey Squatting is no big deal. You'll get tunnel vision and your hearing will change while you're trying to catch your breath.crank a few reps and you're done. I squat in the evening. The day that bar gets too whippy is the day it retires. But most people can't stand to do the damn thing. I must prove myself to a chunk of iron. That damn bar is one judgmental bastard and accepts nothing less than a true test before it grants me approval. My wife grins her. you're going to pick a weight that you previously thought was your 10-rep max. It does make you tough. 20-rep squats do a marvelous job. and you're gonna breathe a little bit. Maybe it is an addiction. "I married a maniac" grin and says not a word. By the time I arrive home I'm in "squat mode. you won't go more than six or eight weeks. rise and test the flex." Think of it as approximately the same mental attitude necessary to rush a machine gun nest. I'm so glad that's over with." And then after about five minutes. But for an intermediate lifter who wants to take six or eight weeks and grow some legs. The next hour is what keeps her husband sane. Once thoroughly warmed up I nod at my bar. They start in your head.thing. All kinds of weird peripheral central nervous system effects will take place. The bar always has my respect. check my foot placement and immediately soften my focus. It feels much like an amusement park ride that has just . and it is one of mutual respect. "I gotta do this again next week with another ten pounds. and you think. I don't know. you drop in the hole and rise again with a barbell nestled comfortably on your shoulders -.every descriptor of an exercise and turn the volume knob to 10 (or should I say 20!?). And finally. Oh shit. because beginners can't possibly do them correctly. "Oh my God. What you normally find is that you're laying on the ground. If you're doing it right. Step into my cage. I know the smell of my basement. 20 rep squats are the ultimate exercise in that they take every aspect -. One step back. Its a relationship my bar and I have. and she knows this. and they end in your head. My basement is where the serious psyching occurs and I get down to business right away. Strossen and it is worth carving into a plaque and mounting over the squat rack. You just can't. Now do 20 reps. or if you are looking for cuts you flex your thighs between reps as Ahhhnold suggests. and you'll somehow get it back in the rack. And I see that squat happening all day long. and then you collapse. and Jesus is gonna be talking to you about this time. It nods back (don't believe me?) and we go to work. you're gonna finish the 19th rep. And you're going to do 10 reps with it. Then you're going to do the 11th rep. all day long I anticipate what I am attempting that night. nest the bar into position. I always know the first rep. the echo it makes.

I can't say enough about the horribleness of those reps.the only thing keeping the contents intact is the weight you are fighting.. and I play a mind game that allows me to psych for one rep and ride the coat tails for another.. Sixteen and seventeen just plain suck. its heavy enough. and I can literally feel the heartbeat in my neck as I lay on the bench or floor.. The pain is severe and immediate. They hurt because your body is just mashed like a pancake. The rise out of the hole is pure agony and made all the more miserable by the fact that I'M STILL NOT DONE! Keep your FORM!!! ONE MORE!! ONE MORE!!! YEAH!!! And down I go. Your back and legs are screaming at you to let them out of this hell. down. FOCUS! Down. It nods back. no rest. My back is getting pumped and the burn is starting. My dues are paid and I get to be a lifter for another week. "God Almighty. get Six! SIX. And I'm redeemed. and I strive on. and my entire body gives out. Your abs are flexed enough that if that bar came off your shoulders you would puke -. There is no end in sight for them so you have nothing to anticipate. With luck I land on the bench a mile away from me (1/2 step) and do a few pullovers to assist my breathing. I have a hard time adjusting to the feeling of empty shoulders at this point. EIGHT DAMMIT!! GET IT NOW! Bang.. help me get these reps! Keep that burn AWAY!" More reps. Chalk up 9 reps. Down in the hole and up. 5 reps.. And at this point I know that if I rack the weight I have failed. Just to make sure I'm approved I nod at my bar.. The rise out of 20 is fueled by one sentence: "RACK THE BAR!!!" I always get 20 if I get 19. Bang. I like rewards. lots of breathing. Pumpers that can out squat me in pounds would rack the bar now. up. Nineteen is always doubtful and I'm never sure I will make it given how long 18 takes to complete. and they take too long to complete the mission. I'm actually feeling it at the end of that 5th rep. SIX! C'mon. Fourteen and fifteen come after coaxing myself not to die.begun to move. I mentioned before that the psyching starts now. thoughtless and empty. up. By 12 reps I can see the doubt in my mind but I cannot even pay a split second of attention to it or I am done. THIRRRRTTEEEEEEENNNN!!! Ahhh yeah. Six and seven are history and gone from my mind.. And I rack the bar. As it subsides I lay there on the ground. . I also know that every rep I continue through from here is my reward. "YAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!" The breath forces itself out now and 18 is done. and I notice that the rise from the hole is getting fearsome. My thighs fibrillate from the shock and my back is screaming in agony. I usually cannot see for a minute or two. that hurts.

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