After reading the article it was obvious that the author was putting his own twist on the program to "WOD it up" and in doing so was drifting away from what was actually written by Randall Strossen in his classic text from 1989, "Super Squats".
|The ORIGINAL 20 Rep Squat Program.|
In a nutshell Mr. Strossen's program recommends performing three weekly workouts, all of which begin with a set of 20 reps in the squat. Interestingly this article recommends four workouts per week and two of the days are back to back, which will interfere with the lifter's recovery. This makes me doubt the author has actually performed Mr. Strossen's program himself. Now the key to selecting the appropriate load is to use something you can get a comfortable set of 10 reps with on day 1 and making yourself get 20 reps with it. Whatever it takes, you do not rack the bar until you've completed the 20th rep. This is where the term "breathing squats" originated, in order to get all 20 reps the last half of the set is usually done in the following manner, one rep followed by a few deep breaths. It is brutal. Then you add 5lbs per workout. A little quick math shows that three weekly workouts over six weeks will have you squatting 90lbs more than you did on day 1 for your 20 rep set.
You follow your 20 rep squat set with a set of 20 dumbbell pullovers, a classic exercise recommended for expanding the rib cage, then an upper body press and an upper body pull exercise. This isn't the time to focus on driving up your 1 rep max in the bench press, let alone your Olympic lifts as recommended by the article I read. The upper body work should be performed as maintenance as the goal is to put everything your have into your squat set. A couple of sets of abdominal work and you're done. Go eat and rest.
This program is not meant to be repeated throughout the year. It is meant to be a six week "punch in the face" for those looking to gain muscle mass, fast. The other key to this program is rest and recovery. You have to slam calories and not engage in other activities that interfere with your ability to recover. This program is about building muscle mass. If you are worried about your six-pack or improving your wall-ball accuracy, this isn't for you.
While there are no rules in training, and anyone is free to train any way they prefer, it is disturbing too see the classics being bastardized. Perhaps I am a curmudgeon, but to see the modern day fitness industry talking about 20 rep squats and making documentaries on stone lifting without tipping a hat to Randy Strossen, Steve Jeck, or Peter Martin pisses me off.
That is one of the things that makes me sad about the current state of the strength world, so many young lifters do not know the history of their sport, or worse, the names of the people associated with it.
If you are interested in the real 20 rep squat program, I strongly encourage you to visit ironmind.com and grab a copy of Mr. Strossen's book, a book that Steve Jeck suggested should include the warning of "for mad men only!"