This is part 1 of a series of articles giving modern updates to tried and tested and AWESOME OLD SCHOOL methods of strength and muscle building. Part One: Super Squats (Information from the book ‘SUPER SQUATS’ by Randall J. Strossen Ph.D.)
The ‘super squats’ or ‘squats and milk’ program is famed for its ability to pack on muscle, quickly, and also infamous for its intense and difficult workouts!
It has to be the BEST example that “simple does not necessarily mean easy!”
Super Squats proposes to help you quickly gain muscle and strength by completing the following:
- Pick a weight for squats that you can lift for ten reps and no more
- Do one set of 20 reps without putting the bar down
Seems impossible! But there lies the biggest, perhaps only theory on how this program will increase muscle mass….
DOING TEN MORE REPS THAN YOU THINK YOU CAN DO, WILL MAKE YOU GROW
There is also a basic program in the book which I probably can’t share here completely due to copyright laws but consists of the following exercises:
Seated Press Behind Neck, Bench Press, Bent Over Row, Curls, Squat, Straight-Legged Deadlift, Calf Raise and Crunches.
So lets give super squats a quick overview and then see how modern strength and conditioning research could improve the program…..
- Short Duration
- Employs Progressive Overload
- Increases Muscle Mass
- Makes you slower
- Increased risk of injury
- Could cause muscular imbalances
THE main concerns then, with 20 rep squats, are the increased risk of injury due to intense muscular contractions whilst in a fatigued state, muscular imbalances caused by a focus on one main exercise for the lower body ‘THE SQUAT’, and the “LEARNED SLOWNESS” because of the slow pace of the movement during the long sets (up to and over 3 minutes for one set is possible!).
However, 20 rep squats increase the levels of Growth Hormone post-workout. GROWTH HORMONE stimulates protein synthesis and muscle growth! If we are to improve upon the SUPER SQUATS program it is essential not to lessen the stimulated release of this hormone cos it makes you HUGE!
SO we must keep the benefits of the program whilst decreasing the risk of injury, keeping some sort of max strength/acceleration focus and promoting muscular balance.
I should also point out here that completing 6 weeks of the super squats program should possibly be made mandatory by law, as it creates INTENSE MENTAL TOUGHNESS. So I definitely do not want to make the program easier!
Here are my thoughts then, on how the super squats program may be improved upon:
- Box Squats instead of free-standing Back Squats
- Warm-up with some foam rolling, postural exercises, mobility work.
- Complete some sort of Strength/Power work first in the workout
- Complete your one and only set of 20 rep squats using BOX SQUATS straight after your strength/power work.
- Superset 2 assistance exercises for the quads/posterior chain
- Superset 2 assistance exercises for the upper body (Optional)
This workout can obviously take many forms as I’ve left a lot of room for interpretation, but the main bad points that I pointed out earlier have been rectified; Now we are increasing or at least maintaining strength/power, we are working towards better muscular balance, and there is a decreased risk of injury.
Here are further explanations to my suggested improvements:
- Squatting to a box limits the amount of weight you can use, it also requires much greater control whilst lowering the bar, plus you have to begin each upward movement from a dead start, this will prevent any bouncing, excessive forward lean etc. therefore increasing the safety of the movement.
- Warming up correctly will reduce the risk of injury and can increase performance. Especially if you add in a few jumps, power cleans or any fast movement that uses the muscle groups and movements you intend to train in your workout as this ‘excites’ the nervous system.
- Completing some strength/power work first in the workout ensures that you at least maintain your levels of strength and speed whilst completing a program that relies on a submaximal load lifted at slow speeds.
- Supersetting all your assistance exercises means you can get some decent volume in whilst keeping the workouts short, again this is where you could program in some more muscular balance work, it’s also nice to get out of the gym relatively soon after squatting to get some food in and start growing!
I recommend you complete your NEW SCHOOL super squats workout twice a week, add in one or two more sessions for upper body each week. Be sure to eat enough to grow and get plenty of sleep. Work hard and enjoy the growth/pain!
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