20 Rep Squats...

GHoosdumGHoosdum Icrontian
edited June 2009 in Fitness
Since I moved to California, I've been so busy that I'm slacking in the gym. I joined a gym almost immediately when I moved out here, but then I only went twice! In my few spare moments, I watched as most of my previous gains began to melt away: I saw myself becoming physically smaller.

I finally got fed up and decided to do something. Because I want to remake my previous gains in a short period of time, then build on that, I decided on a 20 rep squat program. They are supposed to be fantastic, in the short term, for building all over muscle mass.

These programs have been around forever, dating back to the pre-steroid days as "squats and milk" which was basically a program of 20 rep squats and a gallon of whole milk every day!

I chose a program of 20-rep squats plus a few complementary exercises, every 2 to 3 days. Because my squats were so weak, always my worst exercise, I started out the first day with just the bar for my 20 reps. Then I felt okay so I added 20 pounds for a single set of 10. I can tell you, I was really feeling it the next day!

Here's what I did for my first two workouts in the program:
Squats 1x20@45, 1x10@65
Pullovers 1x20@25
Rope Triceps pushdown 3x10@80
Military Press 2x10@35
Compound Row 3x10@65
Dips 1x10,1x4 (to failure in second set)

Squats 1x20@65
Pullovers 1x20@25
Triceps extension 3x10@30
Military Press 2x10@40
Compound Row 3x10@70
Pullups 1x5,1x4 (to failure in both sets)

Along with this, I'm taking in as much protein as I can add to my diet in reasonable ways, trying for that 1g per pound of goal body weight.


  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited May 2009
    I see no lower back or chest exercises. You're hitting your tris really hard, but there's no bicep work and nothing on your list works the forearms.

    Also, 20 rep squats is basically a waste of time. Go past 10 reps and you're just breaking down muscle.

    Eat more protein, target 6-8 reps and fix your workout and you'll see real results. Size comes from the kitchen.
  • NomadNomad A Small Piece of Hell Icrontian
    edited May 2009
    You sure you can't find another day of the week to lift, even if it's three non-consecutive days? It would add a lot more diversity to your routine.
  • GHoosdumGHoosdum Icrontian
    edited May 2009
    I can add more variety, but I was on a 5 rep program for a year and hit a really solid plateau. I figure that a totally different routine is a way past the plateau.

    As for the lower back, I had a personal trainer tell me that back extensions and such were just a recipe for injury, and that due to the range of motion of our spine, doing an exercise akin to the yoga locust pose was all your lower back needs for stability.

    The reason I'm doing no major chest exercises right now is because the same personal trainer said my muscles are imbalanced between my chest and my upper back, so he suggested I do no bench press until I strengthen my upper back to pull my shoulders back from being hunched forward.

    I'm hitting the triceps pretty hard because I literally watched as my triceps size melted away in a matter of months, while nothing was really lost from my biceps. I'll go back to a workout that works everything once I restore this balance.

    I've never thought to really work out my forearms because I thought they got a decent workout as a support muscle group for anything else my arms do. If that's inaccurate, what forearm exercises would you guys suggest? I have no real experience with targeting the forearms.

    I know that the size comes in the kitchen, my gut has been telling me so by being the only thing growing as my muscles have shrunk lately. :-/
  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited May 2009
    A 5-rep program is a strength training program. I'm not sure if you were trying to accomplish size or strength, but you wouldn't have developed (significant and long-term) size with it. Now you've completely changed gears and are performing a muscle endurance program while your stated goal is size.

    What is your actual goal?

    Basically I think that the personal trainer is giving you "safe" advice, but it's mostly bullshit. Back extensions are perfectly fine provided you do them intelligently and don't hyperextend your spine when doing them. Deadlifts are perfectly find if you do them intelligently and don't try to lift way more than your lumbar system can support when training.

    It's basically impossible to hurt your lower back if your start light and train incrementally up to larger weights at 5 pounds a week, maybe 10 in the beginning.

    Good form epitomizes safe biomechanics, and safe biomechanics will ensure the safety of your many body parts.

    I'm not really convinced the personal trainer knows what he's talking about. He's clearly clueless about safe ROM (range of motion).
  • NomadNomad A Small Piece of Hell Icrontian
    edited June 2009
    With any form of exercise, you run the risk of hurting yourself. If you pay attention to what you're doing and listen to your body, it's mostly avoidable. What concerns me is the sheer volume you're doing.

    20 rep squats are more of a shock technique than a long-term training plan. I'll do a month of lower-rep, high-weight leg work, then one day I'll do three sets of 20 at 225#, throw up in the bathroom, and then barely be able to move the next day. It's useful for tossing your body out of its routine occasionally—there is value to that.

    However, it is extremely difficult to progress in strength or size with that many reps. Consistently working more than ten reps, you move beyond hypertrophy and are training endurance.

    So, you need to decide what your goal is. Do you want to get more muscular, stronger, are you looking to run or cycle, etc.?
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