If you are a typical hard-gainer and struggle to put on weight then this hard-gainers squat routine is for you.
This routine was originally called the “squats and milk” routine due to the fact that trainees would ingest a gallon of milk a day whilst following the protocol. The hard-gainers squat routine has been around sinse the 1960’s making it one of the older programs still being used by those seeking to become the best versions of themselves.
Peary Radar the founder of Iron Man magazine used these to put 100 lbs on his frame and he was a self – professed hard-gainer.
These bad boys, also often referred to as “breathing squats”, have been advocated by many trainers. Dr. Randall J. Strossen helped bring them to the fore in the late 1980’s with his book “Super Squats: How to Gain 30 Pounds of Muscle in 6 Weeks.”
Chad Vaughn, 9-time U.S. National Weightlifting Champion, has stated
“I think these are great to test and develop mental and physical toughness,”
A master of understatement, but he’s right they certainly test your ultimate limits.
Additionally they will assist you to maintain form and breathe under tension, positively reinforcing posture and motor patterns.
I used this hard-gainers squat routine as a teenager myself and can attest to its effectiveness. When used in conjunction with a diet that includes ingesting a gallon of milk daily, the gains in size and strength are significant and impressive.
Peary’s results are not unusual, in fact you might even get “accused” of using anabolic steroids. My bodyweight increased from 140 to over 180lbs in a few months utilising this routine in conjunction with other bodybuilding movements. Alongside this physical transformation came significant increases in strength across the board on all compound movements.
How is the 20 rep hard-gainers squat routine performed
Lets get down to brass tacks, 20 rep squats are not about putting an arbitory load on a barbell and just doing 20 repetitions of the squat. That will avail you little in terms of size and strength gains. Neither is it about doing 20 quarter squats with a heavy load.
It is about choosing a weight that would normally be a 10 to 12 rep full squat maximum and then squeezing out another eight to ten reps in the same set. It is a lot harder than it sounds, and done correctly it is brutal.
When performing this set of 20 squats every rep should be full and taken to just below parallel. There should be no half-arsed squats performed. You are merely kidding yourself if you do not use a full range of motion, and you will derive minimal benefit doing half squats with this routine.
In order to be optimally effective then the range of motion needs to be full. This ensures complete thigh and glute activation and optimal time under tension. Peary recommended holding the breath during the squat and taking breaths between repetitions.
This is one of the hardest training protocols around and like “German Volume Training” will push your intestinal fortitude to its limit.
This is why it is so effective. The systemic effects of this set are such that the body is forced to adapt – it has to get bigger and stronger. However, in order to maintain the same level of intensity it is important to increase the load periodically also, in fact you should be adding 2.5 to 5 kg per week to the bar.
A Set From Hell
From my own experience of performing this I will say it is a set sent from hell, but understand it has to be hard to be effective. After rep 10 you should feel like you are unable to do many more.
This is when it gets really hard. From here it is all about the mind. Your body will tell you to stop. Around rep 15 it becomes something of a hellish nightmare.
Your heart will beat so fast, and the pain of the accumulated waste products, as the muscles continue to contract, will be such that you think you’re gonna die. I kid you not.
A voice in your head will urge you to quit. but you must override this, take deep gulps of air and squeeze out the repetitions. Do not think about how many reps are left to complete. Just take a big breath and perform another rep.
I will re-iterate this is not for the faint-hearted. This set if done correctly will push you to your limit and will prove to be a very unpleasant experience.
As previously stated the set should be able to be performed with a weight previously assumed to be a ten rep max probably around 75% of your 1 rep max.
Trainees who weather the storm inevitably develop significant psychological as well as physical strength. They learn to disassociate themselves from the pain in order to complete the set. Their mind and body is forced to adapt and consequently they become extremely tough.
Training frequency of 20 rep Squats
Opinion is divided on the optimal frequency of perfoming this protocol. Many trainers like to schedule up to three workouts per week, each containing one set of 20-rep squats, adding around five pounds to the bar every time. Others say they should be performed only once per week. They put an enormous strain on the central nervous system(CNS) so it really depends on your experience and your response to this level of intensity.
Even many experienced athletes, employ just two workouts per week when they initially tackle this challenge, starting each workout with 20-rep squats and training the rest of the body at relatively low volume as well.
I personally would not advocate using this more frequently than twice weekly. It can be combined with other lower body accessory work as part of your leg day.
It should be understood this protocol is primarily designed as a bulking routine and is most effective when used in conjunction with a high calorie diet including ingesting up to a gallon of whole milk per day. Even the hardest of hard-gainers will increase bodyweight utilising this routine a couple of times weekly and drinking seven gallons of milk per week.
If you are struggling to gain weight and size give this routine a run for at least 6 weeks. You will be glad you did. I guarantee you will get bigger.