We can just agree to disagree. Every guy will have to make up his own mind. You will find just as many "Gurus" that recomend 20 reppers as you will those who dissaprove. I guess as long as guys are squatting, I'm happy :)
I've done 20 rep squats a couple times in the past and the thing I remember is that it feels like my lower back is getting worked more than my legs. By the end of the workout my lowerback is so pumped up and can hardly stand up, but my legs usually don't feel like they've gotten worked that much.
Anyone else notice this?
I guess it depends on your technique and form. My quads, hams, low back, and shoulders are ALL fried at the end.
Can I ask a question kind of off topic?
How do you ramp up, or warm up to a 20 rep set?
It is interesting to see everybody's take on the breathing. As I see it, there are two ways to do the breathing; one makes it easier and one makes it harder.
My typical breathing protocol makes the 20 rep set easier to get through. Repping out the first five reps, then only increasing the breaths to recover as the set progresses, speeds up the lift. You won't be holding the bar as long and it makes the exercise easier.
True "breathing squats" make the exercise even harder. In a true breathing squat you are required to take exactly three lung-filling breaths between every rep. This prolongs the set and fatigue plays an even greater role.
It's not uncommon to have a 30 to 50 lb difference between "huff and puff" squats and "breathing squats".
Another thing to note is that the goal of 20 reps sometimes gets in the way of actually just doing a set to the best of your ability. Get someone else to count for you, that way you don't have to think about what rep you're on. So you stood up on rep 20, ok then why not go for another?
It seems no matter how hard I try that the body finds a strategy to finish the set. With compounds fatigue always sets in at different rates. Something Is going to give eventually, whether it's a set of 5 or a set of 30, it's that crucial form deviation that holds us back. You enforce the idea that it's acceptable to let the weight dictate how your body will move.
One way around the problem of your lower back going is to do a few sets of front squats before the back squat, maybe do some GHR's or SLDL's to strengthen the posterior chain.