20-Rep Squat (aka Squats and Milk Routine) Hardgainer Version


The 20-Rep Squat routine is one of those exercise programs for adding mass that has stood the test of time and for good reason IT WORKS!!!  Now it is not a program for the beginner or for the faint of heart but those willing to push themselves the whole way through the 6 week program should see amazing results. After which you need to take a 2 month break before using it again.

The heart of the program as you guessed it is the Barbell Squat or more specifically Barbell Breathing Squats.  For this program you do one super hard set with a weight that you can normally get 10-12 reps with and program yourself to get 20 reps using a rest pause breathing method.  What that means is after the first 10 reps take a few deep breaths and get another rep continue doing this till you get to the target of 20 reps then move immediately over to the pullover and grind out a good 15-20 reps afterwards you can rest 5 minutes before completing the rest of the routine.

Good thing about this program is you are only required to train 2 times a week and only do one “HARD” set  of squats and believe me one set is all you will want to do. This great mass building routine is especially great for hard gainers and/or those with limited time to workout. For those with better than average recovery (definitely in the minority) you might be able to get by with doing this routine 3 times a week. But for the hard gainers out there 2 times a week is more than enough.

Progressive Resistance is Key

To make this program successful like any other workout program it has to be progressively harder.  So after one you reach you goal of 20 reps on the squat increase the weight 2.5 to 5 lbs and shoot for another 20 reps.  Also strive to increase the reps and or weight on the other exercises too.  For example after doing a set of benches for 9 reps try to get 10 the next time and when you reach 12 increase the weight and start back over again.  That is how you get stronger and bigger by demanding more from your body.


Beside progressive resistance another key aspect is proper nutrition.   Most “hard gainers” do not include enough calories throughout the day.  The original prescription was to take in a gallon of milk a day which would give you around an additional 2,500 calories.  But really the key is to just make sure to eat enough food daily to support gaining mass.  That means at least 15-20 times your body weight in calories.   Protein intake should be about 1 gram per pound of body weight. .

The Routine

Before each exercise do two warm-up sets of each exercise for 5-8 reps. One with 50- 60% and the second with 75-80% of your work weight. So for example if your work weight for the squat is 200 lbs use 100 to 120 on you first set and 150 to 160 for the second.  Do this for all the exercises.   Don’t try to add exercises or train more frequently.

20-Reps Squat Routine (Monday & Thursday)

Barbell Breathing Squats   1×20

Dumbbell Pullovers 1 x 15-20

Rest 5 minutes

Stiff Leg Deadlifts 1 x 6-12

Incline or Flat Bench Press  1-2 x 6-12

Chin-Ups or Pulldowns 1-2 x 6-12

Overhead Press 1-2 x 6-12

Rows   1-2 x 6-12

There it is.  Can’t be more simple than that.  Just be sure to follow these 3 simple rules. Don’t try to add exercises or train more frequently.  Strive to do more each workout and last but not least be sure to get in an ample amount of quality calories per day and you can not help but succeed.

If you have used this routine or one like it feel free to leave your experience in the comment section below.

Recommended Reading

Super Squats: How to Gain 30 Pounds of Muscle in 6 Weeks

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