What is the 20 Rep Squat Challenge?
The 20-rep squat challenge is a unique squat challenge which can be used by:
- People who want to improve their overall health and fitness.
- Athletes wanting more power and strength.
- Bodybuilders who desire huge quads
- Women who want to tone and sculpt their hips, butts and thighs.
- Those interested in better health and lung power.
Who is the Squat Challenge for?
Men, women, beginners and advanced…anyone can benefit from this workout.
First, a few potent words about the squat from the late Dr Fred Hatfield Ph.D., one of the first men in history to squat over 1,000 pounds…
‘The squat more than any other movement has been misunderstood, performed improperly and surrounded by the most incredible old wives’ tales possible’.
Next, let’s clear up any misunderstanding.
Squats and the Heart.
First of all, a healthy heart will not be damaged by heavy squatting.
However, if you suffer from heart problems, high blood pressure or angina, then heavy squats (or heavy exercise of any kind), could precipitate problems.
Squats and the Knees.
Some of us have weaker ligaments and knee joints than others and I am no exception. I suffer with excessive lateral movement of my knee joints indicating weak ligaments.
Therefore, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that monster squats subject the knees to a great deal of strain.
How to Avoid Knee Problems.
First, warm up with thigh extensions, free squats and two sets of warm up squats, the second being a weight acclimation set.
The goal is not to fatigue the muscle but get blood in the area. Therefore, the acclimation set will prepare the body for the heavier poundage.
Squat down until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Some prefer going all the way down but I know from personal experience that this puts my knees (and lower back) in a compromising position.
The key is to lower the bar slowly and never bounce out of the low position. Do not use momentum to lift weight.
Speed and Flexibility.
The 20- rep squat challenge will not slow you down. Ask any Olympic sprinter. Squats are a staple of their routine.
Neither will they make you ‘musclebound’. However, we’re only good at what we practice. So, don’t neglect to stretch your thigh muscles to maintain and develop your flexibility.
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Squats and Butt Size.
Squats are great for a pert bum!
However, heavy, flat-footed squats, leaning forward excessively, may build unattractive muscle on the upper glute area.
But avoid squats altogether and your buns will be flat and have no appealing roundness.
In conclusion: keep an eye on proportion and course correct if necessary.
The 20-Rep Squat Routine.
Now there’s a few variations on the internet as to how to perform the 20-rep squat. I’m including what I believe the original. It’s my favourite and I love it!
- Warm up (never skimp on this!)
- Start with a weight that allows you to comfortably perform 10 repetitions.
- Perform your first rep.
- Take one deep breath.
- Perform rep number two.
- Take two deep breaths.
- Perform the third rep.
- Take 3 full breaths.
You get the idea.
Now, you don’t have to match the number of breaths and reps exactly. For myself, I found the sweet spot around 5 or 6 deep breaths.
Any more, and I became light headed and couldn’t finish the set owing to the crushing weight on my traps.
Benefits of the 20-Rep Squat Challenge.
If you want big thighs, this is your go-to exercise! The 20-rep squat is also a prodigious all-round health builder.
It’s great for:
- Heart health.
- Calorie burning.
- Increasing your resting metabolic rate.
- Releasing endorphins.
- Energy levels.
- Melting fat.
- Healthy mind and spirit.
- Saving time – one set, once per week is all you’ll need! (if done correctly).
Historically, this squat workout was also known as the ‘20-rep breathing squat’. It was traditionally followed by a set of light breathing pullovers to expand the rib cage. A word about pullovers…
Don’t do them!
Never try and develop your rib cage unless you’re built like a dormouse! Keep the bottom of your rib cage tight, not pushed out artificially with pullovers.
Expanding your rib cage will only serve to make you look fat in your normal clothes. Size-at-all-costs is not the goal. But designing a proportional, aesthetic physique is.
Toned Thighs, Curvaceous Hips and a Butt that Won’t Quit!
Remember ladies, the 20-rep squat is great for shaping. Naturally lower testosterone levels will avoid any noticeable bulk. But what will be huge, are the countless health benefits of pushing your body and mind.
Do use a squat rack. This is a very intense form of exercise. Never compromise your safety.Pay attention to form. Don’t lean forward excessively. Keep your head up and back as flat and erect as possible. The bar should rest across the trapezius muscle and the weight distributed evenly along the feet.
Don’t neglect your leg biceps (hamstrings). Their development makes for a dynamic looking leg. Especially when viewed from the side. An imbalance in antagonistic muscles may also invite injury.
Squatting recruits your hamstrings to a certain degree but you must exercise them directly. My favourite – stiff legged deadlifts. I love them!
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Have you attempted the 20-Rep squat yet? What did you think?
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Hello, that is a helpful article. I had never heard of the 20 rep squat before. Once i get my shoulder/pecs straightened out i plan to get back into doing squats again and i will be giving this a go. The straight legged deadlift i haven’t tried at all, I’ve mainly stuck to running, squats and calf raises for leg exercises so far. I think it is time to try a new exercise. thanks.
Hi Adam. Oh my…you’re in for a treat if you’ve never tried the 20-rep squat before. As with introducing any new exercise or routine, take things slowly at first. They’re a great all-rounder and will benefit your heart, lungs…everything! Straight-legged deads are great for hams. I always used to have trouble ‘feeling’ my hamstrings working. As a result, their development was always a little below par. Introducing this exercise changed everything for me. Following on from this exercise, my hams can be sore for days. I’m not exactly recommending this as an effective strategy (!) but it’s a testament to how well they work. Thanks for sharing, Peter.
Thank you for your article. As I understood 20 rep-squats can make legs stronger. It is what I am looking for because I am a long distance runner. What’s your opinion do you think it will be a good way to make my legs stronger and improve running quality or not?
Hi Gedas. The 20-rep squat will without doubt make your legs (and whole body) a LOT stronger. It brings to mind an old bodybuilding mantra ‘If you want big biceps, squat!’ Will the 20-rep squat help you in long distance running? Perhaps not so much. The two goals are are diametrically opposed (strength vs endurance). Squats will build brute strength and power. As mentioned in my post, all world-class sprinters habitually incorporate squats into their training program. Long distance running clearly requires stamina and endurance which requires a different approach. The 20-Rep squat will certainly not hinder your efforts in long distance running but its application is limited. Thanks for reading and leaving your question. Kind regards, Peter.
I have to modify almost all the extreme exercises. I’m just not as limber as my more acrobatic brothers and sisters
Hi Lisa. Thanks for sharing. I can totally empathize. I’ve had a hip and knee operation made from silly fitness mistakes in the past due to poor advice (one reason I started this blog is to help others avoid a similar fate). Many of the exercises I perform involve a degree of modification, mostly a shorter range of movement to alleviate joint stress. But you know what? It doesn’t make all that much difference. I’ve written about full range of motion vs effective range of motion in my post on side delts exercises which explains this observation in more detail. Thanks for commenting. Kind regards, Peter.
Now, this was a great place for powerlifters your pop-ups are great, full of information. My Husband is a Pro-Powerlifter he’s gonna love you site. Pack with strategies and training.
Hi Andre. I’m really pleased that your husband will enjoy the site. After beginning my blog less than four weeks ago, I’ve decided to post more articles on health, fitness, yoga, healthy eating etc. However, in light of your glowing comments I’ll do my best to regularly post articles similar to this. Thanks again, stay strong, Peter.
Great advice. I love doing squats and will definitely try the 20 squat challenge.
What is your view on front vs. back squats?
Hi Juan. Front squats are designed to place more stress on your lower thighs. They were very popular in my old gym which was a hard core bodybuilder’s gym. I tried them on many occasions but I never really took to them. I found the bar placement very uncomfortable. Besides, there were other movements which I found more effective. For example, using the smith machine and placing your feet in front of your body, is a great way to build the lower thighs, as is the hack squat machine. I even used to perform hack squats holding a barbell behind my back – very old-school but is allows you to perform a hybrid sissy squat but with additional weight. I loved leg extensions. Tip: leaning forward will place more emphasis above the knees, whilst leaning rearwards (if the machine permits) throws more stress on the upper thigh detail. Squats (in all their forms) can be troublesome: some folk just aren’t built to squat due to disadvantageous bone lengths or tight achilles tendons, meaning they have to excessively lean forward. Hope this helps. Thanks for commenting, Peter.
Great stuff, thx!