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20 Rep Squat
Based Strength Training

The squat is the king of all body-building workouts. If you want to get strong and increase the amount of strength that you have, your inner core strength as well then squats are without a doubt the best way to achieve that. There are a number of ways to go about it but your mind set is important.

High rep squats work wonders for building muscular bulk and strength, not just for the legs, but for the entire body. The program is ridiculously simple to follow, brutally hard to do, and extremely productive. It's so productive, in fact, that anyone who does any version of this program correctly will gain size and strength.

If you want to get big in as little time as possible, this is where you should start. What follows below is the outline a 6-week program that has put slabs of muscle on everyone who has ever followed it. It is time to stop living in Tiny Town. This is your ticket to Hugeville.

You have to be mentally prepared or you will not make it. Pain and fear will be there with you, tempting you to stop, telling you to give up. Your body will be screaming for you to listen to it, and the little voice in your head will be begging you to cease and desist. Tell them to shut up. You've got some growing to do!

Squatting a heavy weight for 20 reps will not feel natural for your body. It will hurt. You will feel dizzy and light-headed. You will probably want to vomit. Go ahead. Your body may decide to completely shut down and leave you in the bottom of a squat, unable to rise. Obviously, safety is of primary concern.

The program is ridiculously simple and the chances are that a lot of you have heard of the 20-rep squat program at some point along the line. It is an old-school approach to putting on size that was common a few decades ago when men were men and drugs were unavailable. You do one set of 20 reps of the squat, plus a few other exercises.

Every successive training session you add 5-10 lbs to your squat weight. It has been touted as one of the most effective programs ever designed for adding muscular size and strength in a short period of time, and with good reason; it works!

Before discussing the actual program, you must understand the psychology of 20-rep squatting. You can't just go to the gym, put some plates on the bar, start squatting and hope for the best. This program is as much about focus and mental toughness as it is physical exercise - probably more.

DO NOT attempt a 20-rep squat program without a power rack or safety pins. Being stuck under a heavy barbell in the bottom of a squat with no place to go while you are gasping for air is not a good scenario. Listed below is the ideal way to go about your 20 rep squat program.

Let's jump right into it. The heart and soul of this program is the barbell squat, done for 20 reps. Please notice this is not a "Smith machine squat," or any other machine squat, for that matter. There are tons of gimmicky machines that promise to deliver a "safer" squat.

You'll be plenty safe as long as you are in a power cage or have sturdy safety pins for your squat rack. Moreover, your technique will always be your greatest safety. It's important that you note whether this is an Olympic squat or a powerlifting squat; the techniques will be entirely different.

If you are unsure of your technique, find an experienced powerlifter (preferably one who has competed) and ask him to teach you the proper form. Listed below are a few pointers to make sure that your form is correct. The correct form when doing a squat is vital.

With a straight (not to be confused with upright) back, keep a fairly close grip on the bar and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Push up on the bar slightly as if you were going to do a behind-the-neck press. Do this before you ever lift the bar clear of the pins. The purpose of this is two-fold: it will create a "shelf" just below the traps for the bar to rest on and the tension in the shoulders and upper back will stimulate the upper body while keeping it rigid and safe. The feet should turn out slightly for most people and the knees should track over the toes. Do not allow the knees to buckle in at any time. If they do, you will die.

Your gaze should be forward or slightly upward. Looking down will round your back and compromise your structure. This increases the chance of injury. Your body tends to follow your head. Rolling a bar over the back of your head in the middle of a squat set does not make for productive training.

Keep the abdomen tight and keep the anus contracted, especially in the bottom position. It sounds strange, I know, but there are horror stories throughout the iron community about people who neglected this important point.

Load the bar, get under it, tense up, and lift it clear of the pins. Step back, take a deep breath and begin. Squat all the way down, at least to parallel. Come back up, take a few deep breaths, and squat again. The further you get into the set, the more of an issue breath becomes.

In fact, old-timers sometimes called them "breathing squats". By the time you get to the last few agonizing reps, you will be doing more breathing than squatting.

One of the reasons so much growth is stimulated on this program is that the muscles of the upper body are constantly working to support the weight and to fill the lungs with air. Take as many deep breaths as necessary between reps.

You must keep complete focus throughout the entire set. Convince yourself before you even get under the bar that you WILL NOT quit. The only reason to stop short of 20 reps is going into the hole and being physically unable to stand back up. It is going to happen at some point; you will get into the bottom position and your legs will simply stop working. That's okay; next time you simply load the bar to the same weight and attack it again.

The length of the cycle is six weeks. This is a good amount of time for building size and strength without going into overtraining and burnout. Longer than six weeks usually amounts to diminishing returns. The standard protocol in the beginning is to train three times per week on non-consecutive days.

A sample program for someone with good recovery ability might look like this:

Squat: 1x20
Pullovers: 1x20
Stiff-legged deadlift: 1x15
Pullovers: 1x20
Bench press: 2-3 x 10
Bent row: 2-3x15
Military press: 2-3 x 12

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