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Build Mass With Squats and Milk

Follow this intense, high-rep program to build serious muscle in just 6 weeks.

By Jon-Erik Kawamoto, CSCS, CEP

An old time routine consisting of 20-rep squats has been successfully used to put on size and improve strength in a short amount of time, even for the hardest gainers. Also known as “breathing squats,” the workouts focuses on high-repetition squatting 2-3x/week combined with a higher caloric intake, traditionally consisting of 1 gallon of milk/day, among other calorie sources.

First explored by John McCallum in 1968, the book Super Squats by Randall J. Storssen was released in 1989. It outlines a 20-rep squatting workout that claims to put on 30 lbs. of muscle in just 6 weeks. This overly basic program has you in the gym no longer than 3-hours per week—great for anyone leading a busy life. However, I should mention it's by no means easy.

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20 Reps of Hell

There are several versions of 20-rep squat workouts. Each workout would start with a basic warm-up followed by the heavy set of 20-rep squats immediately followed by 20 pull-overs to expand the rib cage and to add size to the chest. Some rules on the squat are as such: squat as deep as possible for maximal range of motion (try to touch your hamstrings on your calves) and lifting belts are not allowed. Remember, half-reps will only get you half the results. It might be obvious for some, but back squats are recommended as more weight can be used. Also, the bar can "rest" on your back between reps.

Sounds simple enough but there is one catch—the weight you'll use for the 20-rep squats is your 10-RM (rep max). Doesn't make sense does it? That's why they are referred to as breathing squats—the pain, metabolites accumulating in your legs and your cardiovascular system get pushed into overdrive as you grind out one rep at a time after completing 10 reps. Big gulps of air fill the time between reps as you mentally and physically prepare for the next rep. In the subsequent workouts, you would add 5 lbs to the heavy squat set, aiming to complete all 20 reps.

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