20 Rep Squat for Massive Gains

If I had to choose only one exercise to cover my legs workout that would be 20 rep squat.

I've been doing this program for quite a while and let me tell you, it's the best leg workout I've ever done.

It's known that the best way to build mass on your legs is doing high reps. That doesn't work for the upper body but when it comes to legs, trust me, it makes the difference.

20 rep squat workout is also the hardest and most demanding, probably this is why I know only very few people that do it.

It takes a lot of physical energy and not only. You have to be psychologically prepared to challenge yourself.

20 rep squat

20 Rep squat: the hardest workout I have ever tried! (Yeah...it's not me in the pic)

Before you start convince yourself that no matter what, you won't give up. During the first 10 reps it will seem quite easy, but the last 10 reps will more likely kill you (if you use the right weight)!

At the beginning it'll take you a while to understand how much weight you can load. If you've never done 20 rep squat it's hard to guess.

Basically the rule is always the same, go to muscle failure after 20 reps. This means that you shouldn't be able to perform the 21st rep.

So it's critical that you load the correct weight that allows you to perform 20 reps at the most.

How Much Weight Should I Load for a 20 Rep Squat?

Ok as I said, this will take a little bit to figure out.

If you normally do 10 reps with 150 lbs. for example, try with 50% first and see how it goes. Don't stop until you go to muscle failure, even if it's 30 reps...

The first time will help you understand how much you can load. If you can do quite more than 20 add weight at your discretion. Only your body can tell you how much more you should load, follow your instinct.

And of course, if you can't do more than 15 reps you need to decrease weight.

After you figure it out, try adding 2.5 or 5 lbs. every time. Obviously it'll come the day that you can't move up with weight any more, otherwise you will explode like a balloon, but as long as you can improve go for it.

Be Strong, Get Things Done!

Your mind will play a very important role in this workout. Don't listen to that voice that tries to make you quit...I hear it all the time:

It's too hard, you can't do it...

20 reps makes no sense, it's insane and doesn't work!

Come on take it easy and keep doing your 8 reps like always...

This is what my mind tells me every time I do the 20 rep workout. No matter how you prepare, your body begs you to quit every-single-time.

But YOU don't listen, keep squatting. Convince yourself that you can do one more rep, then one more again, come on one more!


Take Your Time and Be Safe

The number of periods that I used is not casual.

When you do 20 rep squat you need time, especially if it's such a hard and demanding exercise like squat.

Your body is put under a big stress, your heart is pumping like crazy, fatigue is huge.

Breathing correctly is one of the keys to succeed.

The first 10 reps can be done with no problem, at your standard speed, but from 10 to 20 slow down. Take a few more breaths when your up, breath as much as you need. Your brain needs oxygen, your muscles too. Feed them properly.

When you're ready squat down while taking a big breath and then push up and exhale everything you have, empty your lungs. It's vital that you don't hold your breath during the effort.

You will notice that the last 5 reps seem to take forever, you will hate the idea of squatting down again...that's where your mind has to be strong.

Breath some more if you need...but make it to 20.

One suggestion, hold your anus tight when you squat down...it could sound silly, but if you heard the horror stories that I heard you wouldn't risk having something that looks like a bunch of grapes sticking out of your anus...!

I found a video on YouTube that explains pretty well how to approach the 20 rep squat:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujWMxWtgPD0]

20 Rep Squat Facts

Let's go to the point, if you persist with it expect big gains.

It's one of the oldest lifting programs there is. Introduced in 1968 it's known also as "Squats and Milk" because lifters used to drink a gallon of milk on this program.

Bodybuilders that developed the biggest legs said they where training with 20 reps of squat.

They suggest to squat 3 times a week with 1 set of 20 reps for each workout. 6 weeks on and then 6 weeks off.

I don't do this for the reason that I don't like training the same muscle (especially one of the biggest) several times a week. But also, it's true that if you can do 20 reps you have to use lower weights, much lower weights than your maximal, and that might allow you to work out up to 3 times a week.

What do I do?

One day a week only, 1 set of 20 reps plus 1 set of "how many I can" with the same weight. I tried the "suggested" routine, but after seeing that I couldn't recover properly I soon switched to one day a week.

This works well for me, if you can do it 3 times without overtraining issues stick with it, you'll see much bigger gains than me!!

Proper Nutrition

Poor nutrition = poor gains.

Even the best workout program will fail if you don't follow the correct diet along with it. They used to drink a gallon of whole milk while on this program, does it sound crazy?

Little bit, huh?

The choice is yours, protein shakes, whole milk, weight gainers...you need calories.

It may sound too much, but that's how you build muscle.

The thing is: 20 rep squat helped many to build big and lean muscles beyond their legs. The upper body benefits from this workout due to the quantity of testosterone and HGH released naturally in your body.


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2 Responses

  1. Avatar michelle
    i am a female who wants to bulk up my legs. how much should I do with this 20 squat. I have been doing 40lbs start
    • Cristian Cristian
      Choose the weight that allows you to do 20 reps. If you feel that you can do 10 more, it's too light. If you can't do more than 15 reps, it's too heavy. Try different weights and when you find the weight that you can lift 20 times and no more than that, it's the right one.