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Thread: I did Off Road's 20-rep squat last night...

  1. #1
    Father of Three Bosch232's Avatar
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    I did Off Road's 20-rep squat last night...

    I deviated from HCT-12 and did 20-rep legs.
    How many of you have ever done this? Holy crap...

    I didn't actually do it with squats, but on the let press/hip sled (it's a knee thing).
    I ramped up to a weight that seemed appropriate, then did two 20-rep sets.

    Let's just say I had leg tremors/spasms for the remainder of the workout last night.
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    Senior Member ELmx479's Avatar
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    You start a thread saying you did 20 rep squats then say you didn't even do squats

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    A gallon a day, everyday! ThomasG's Avatar
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    20 rep leg press doesn't even come close to a 20 rep squat. I'd rather leg press 500lbs for 20 reps than 100lbs for 20 reps on the squat.
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    Senior Member Raleighwood's Avatar
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    lol Off Road didn't invent 20-rep squats. He's just a big advocate for them

    I've added a 20 rep squat set to finish off my Friday work outs... Started with 135lbs and have added 5lbs each week. So far, so good. It's a whole different dimension of training as you have to tolerate the lactic acid build up, fatiguing muscles and loss of breath.

    A big part of its training effect is psychological.
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    Its a knee thing? I personally always felt that leg press was harder on my knees than back squats...

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    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raleighwood View Post
    lol Off Road didn't invent 20-rep squats.
    Lol - Ya, I'm not THAT old

    Quote Originally Posted by Raleighwood View Post
    I've added a 20 rep squat set to finish off my Friday work outs... Started with 135lbs and have added 5lbs each week. So far, so good. It's a whole different dimension of training as you have to tolerate the lactic acid build up, fatiguing muscles and loss of breath.
    Good for you. What kind of breathing protocol are you using?
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    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bosch232 View Post
    II didn't actually do it with squats, but on the let press/hip sled.
    Next time use a compund free weight movement; Squats, Deadlifts, or Trap Bar. It makes a huge difference. If you use a deadlift variation, only rest at the top of the movement.
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    Father of Three Bosch232's Avatar
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    Jeeze, you guys. What a bunch of uptights. You're as bad as my wife.

    I don't have good knees. I have to use the leg press, or nothing. It's the hand that's been dealt to me in life.
    And obviously OR didn't invent them (although he is that old).
    He advocates them. Therefore, I associate them with him.
    Consider it a term of endearment if you must.

    I could knock out about a dozen before having to stop and breathe.
    I could hammer out two at a time up to about 17, then it was about 15 seconds between the last 3.
    Heavier would have been a truer version of the original intent, but again, I need to use these knees for other things in life.

    The point was, I don't get muscle spasms doing other things, so this was new and there was benefit.
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    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    I say good for you for at least trying it with your given limitations. Next time, lockout the weight and take three full breaths between every rep. That will bring a whole new dimension of suck to the exercise

    I still think you should at least try it with a sumo deadlift, might be easier on the knees and more effective over-all than a machine.
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    Senior Member Raleighwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    Lol - Ya, I'm not THAT old


    Good for you. What kind of breathing protocol are you using?
    I try to knock the reps out in 5s. 1 Big breathe per rep, then after 5 squats, I pause and take about 3 deep breathes.

    If I start struggling, I move down from 5 to 2 rep clusters.
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  11. #11
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    I rep out the first five, one breath between each rep. Then I take two breaths between every rep for the next five. Then I move to three breaths for the next five. Then I "Huff and Puff" for the last five.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Raleighwood's Avatar
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    I think a big key to this is breathe management. It keeps you calm, focused and conscious!

    I've seen people panic simply because they didn't know how to control their breathing.
    Last edited by Raleighwood; 08-30-2010 at 04:03 PM.
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    The hardest part is not quitting around rep 12.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    I rep out the first five, one breath between each rep. Then I take two breaths between every rep for the next five. Then I move to three breaths for the next five. Then I "Huff and Puff" for the last five.
    When I did the 20rep squats with a tough weight I tried to knock out the first 5, then did a breath a rep till about number 13. Then I had to take a few long pauses to convince myself that I had to keep going. I'd get maybe two reps with one breath between, then have to stand tall and take about ten deep breaths while I let the acid dissipate and mustered the courage to keep going for another 2 reps. I had to take 2-3 "rests" with 10+ breaths to get through it all. I was surprised how much my chest and arms hurt afterwards. It must be the stress of breathing deeply and maintaining a strong position under a heavy load.

    I look forward to trying them again sometime.

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    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    The heavy breathing and standing with a load adds to the effectiveness of the squats. If you want a real challenge, try using the original breathing method; take 3 lung filling breaths between every rep (no more, no less). It adds a whole new dimension of "BAD" to the exercise.
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    Nothing at all wrong with the leg press. I am not built for squats either...anymore than once a week and my lower back is ****ed. 20 rep squats are actually really dangerous unless you have really good form.

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    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mchicia1 View Post
    20 rep squats are actually really dangerous unless you have really good form.
    How is doing 20 reps with 350 lbs any more dangerous than doing 3 sets of 5 reps with 450+ lbs?
    Last edited by Off Road; 08-31-2010 at 02:42 PM.
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    Senior Member seK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mchicia1 View Post
    Nothing at all wrong with the leg press. I am not built for squats either...anymore than once a week and my lower back is ****ed. 20 rep squats are actually really dangerous unless you have really good form.
    Then you have a weak lower back or bad form.

    The only other explanation would be an injury.

    Humans are generally built the same from what I have experienced; height isn't an excuse considering there are plenty of rather large individuals doing heavy squats on a regular basis. Hell at 6'6" I have no issues squatting other than matching my ego with my ability.

    Although you are right there isn’t anything wrong with leg press but it is in no way a direct replacement for squats.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Jorge Sanchez's Avatar
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    Interesting to read about peoples' breathing techniques for 20 rep squats. Generally, I take a big breath and bang out 5. Then I take as many breaths as I need to, banging out two at a time until I can only do a single rep between breaths (usually around rep 16-18).
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  20. #20
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    So, you are holding your breath for 5 reps?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    How is doing 20 reps with 350 lbs any more dangerous than doing 3 sets of 5 reps with 450+ lbs?
    It is a lot easier to keep strict form doing a 5RM than a 20RM. Typically, a 20 rep squat set is done with a +-15RM weight (or there abouts). This is what makes them so hard. You have to really grind out the last 5 to 8 reps and that is when people typically have a form break down. For me, my lower back is the first to give out because I have a fused lower vertebrae. If I am sitting there with 350 pounds on my back trying to catch my breath, I am not staying tight therefore my back is at a risk. While, with 450 pounds, I may only need to catch my breath momentarily after the 3rd rep or so. Granted I have never done that weight, but for comparison's sake doing sets of 350x5 was a ton easier on my back vs doing 225x20.

    You would never tell a beginner to do a 20 rep squat session since their form is not very good yet. My post was geared towards people who have not perfected their form and/or have lower back issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seK View Post
    Then you have a weak lower back or bad form.

    The only other explanation would be an injury.

    Humans are generally built the same from what I have experienced; height isn't an excuse considering there are plenty of rather large individuals doing heavy squats on a regular basis. Hell at 6'6" I have no issues squatting other than matching my ego with my ability.

    Although you are right there isn’t anything wrong with leg press but it is in no way a direct replacement for squats.
    I have had the following:

    1) Lower back fracture
    2) Two herniated discs
    3) Fused lower vertebrae

    This was all 8 years ago or so but it still affects me today. If I am not careful and I squat too frequently or get stupid and try heavier weight than I can't handle, I am out 2+ months.

    And even with my back conditions, I still squat and deadlift weekly. The only difference is I do very low volume and get my high volume in with back safe exercises. I like leg press for boring but big for squats.
    Last edited by mchicia1; 09-01-2010 at 07:43 AM.

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    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    I'm not going to keep debating the use of 20 rep squats by beginners or anybody else. Either man up and do them, or don't do them, makes no difference to me. Just don't hide behind some thought that they are more dangerous than heavy low rep squats. You are just as likely to break form with a high percentage of your 1RM, and that's going to do a lot more damage when you come crashing down. And for the record, I have a serious back injury that gained me a 65% disability rating. I credit 20 rep squats with giving me my life back.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    I'm not going to keep debating the use of 20 rep squats by beginners or anybody else. Either man up and do them, or don't do them, makes no difference to me. Just don't hide behind some thought that they are more dangerous than heavy low rep squats. You are just as likely to break form with a high percentage of your 1RM, and that's going to do a lot more damage when you come crashing down. And for the record, I have a serious back injury that gained me a 65% disability rating. I credit 20 rep squats with giving me my life back.
    Not sure why you take it so personally. I never said squats were bad or even 20 rep squats for that matter. I simply stated it can be dangerous to a beginner. Mark Rippetoe agrees with me:

    "This isn’t something I dreamed up. Strossen’s written about it. Perry Rader’s old programs from the ’40s and ’50s involved 20-rep squats. 20-rep squats are not a beginner’s thing, because beginners can’t possibly do them correctly. But for an intermediate lifter who wants to take six or eight weeks and grow some legs, 20-rep squats do a marvelous job."

    And no, I did not originally state that because I read this and took it for gospel. I believe what I believe because I foolishly did them for 6 weeks when I was a beginner when my form was not very good and I tweaked my back to the point where I could not bend over for 3 months and could not squat again for 6. I would never have a beginner squatter do a 20 rep routine. EVER.

    Sensei even preaches in some of his videos that if you are learning the form or making an adjustment, it is best to keep the reps low and the sets high and I agree with him.

    If you are already dialed in, then I see no problem with 20 rep squats. I hope to do them again some day.

  25. #25
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mchicia1 View Post
    Not sure why you take it so personally..
    I don't take 20 rep squats personally, in fact I think you would have a hard time finding posts where I directly recomend them to people. What I do take issue with is the whole "safety" topic. Many of us have spent a lot of time convincing new(ish) lifters that squatting is not dangerous, then they read crap like this and suddenly they feel vindicated. To say that squats are safe until you go over a certain rep range is rediculous, Maybe we need rigid guidelines for the squat; is 12 reps okay? how about 15 reps? Will you spontaniously combust if you do 50 reps?

    I remember when Stuart and Brooks had their big falling out. Their disagreement was over the safety of exercises. Stuart was convinced that barbell rows were one of the most dangerous exercises and should not be performed under any circumstances. Brooks claimed they were a highly effective exercise and no more risky than many of the other lifts they were touting. Soon Brooks went to the extreme and started recomending oly lifts and odd object lifting. Stuart went to the other extreme and started recomnding the safety of machines. If they had stayed in the middle and kept recomending the basic lifts with a focus on form, we'd have had a continued resource for basic barbell training.

    I used to rodeo and I rode bulls. This is a dangerous sport and anybody that gets into it realizes there is a risk. When a new guy starts training for bull riding they will get right onto a bull. There is no other way to effectively train for it. You start with a bull called Buttercup and work your way up to the bull called Tornado. Yes, there are slightly less dangerous ways to train, but none that are nearly as effective. You know there are risks when you start riding bulls, but if it's something you want to do then you have to suck it up and climb on.

    Weight lifting is no different. If you want it to be effective then you have to jump into the squat rack. You start with light weights and build up as your form, conditioning and strength improves. There is always a risk when you place a barbell on your shoulders, but we accept those risks because we want our training to be as effective as possible. We could easily play it safe and retire to the leg extension machine, but that's not what we want. We want results, and nobody can deny that 20 rep squats bring results.
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