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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 06-17-2007, 03:51 PM   #1
Alex Nisetich
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There is an "old iron" training program built around squats that is known for stimulating a mammoth hormonal response causing huge strength and size gains. This is the 20-rep squat routine, one of the oldest and simplest weightlifting programs out there, and something that seems very CrossFit to me in its approach.
The core of the routine is the squat, which is done twice a week. The lifter chooses a weight at which he would normally only be able to perform 10 reps, and then does 20. That's it -no other exercises, no more sets. Just 20 super-intense vomit-inducing reps. On non-squat days other lifts are performed, usually of the compound variety.
I have been secretly hoping for a 20 squat WOD for a while now, and I am wondering why we haven't seen one. Is there a reason why we don't do this? I feel like it would work really well with the rest of CrossFit methodology -after all, it is a short, very intense workout that elicits a significant functional adaptation from the body. Would anybody else like to see this workout show up every once in a while?
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Old 06-17-2007, 09:24 PM   #2
Blair Robert Lowe
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Sure, we used to call them Super Squats ( we did back squats for them ) and the coach preferred they were at BW or +. I don't know if we just did one set, though. I do remember feeling shaky afterwards.
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Old 06-17-2007, 10:59 PM   #3
Scott Arnold
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I've read both Super Squats by Dr. Randall Strossen and Practical Programming by Mark Rippetoe. Dr. Strossen's book also calls for adding five pounds to the barbell every workout for six weeks. Practical Programming provides a good context to understand how this 20-rep squat routine could be used to reach your particular fitness goals. But it's more likely to benefit an untrained 'novice', who can and should increase by 5# every workout, rather than an 'elite' weightlifter who's already close to his/her genetic potential. I recommend reading both and you'll see what I mean. I've tried routines from both books and I'd have to say Practical Programming is what I have stuck with for the long term. BTW I recommend reading Mark Rippetoe's excellent Starting Strength, or getting a coach, before starting any squat routine to perfect your technique and avoid injury. Scott
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Old 06-18-2007, 03:28 AM   #4
Cal Jones
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I used to do a workout using a weight I could do 10 squats with, and then do 10 sets of 10. That used to be plenty.
Granted, that was back when I did squats in a Smith Machine but the principle applies. My quads grew really well from this.
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Old 06-18-2007, 02:31 PM   #5
Gant Grimes
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Fellow rugger here. 1) 20RM is GREAT, and 2) don't overdo it.

Years ago, I had spaghetti legs in the late rounds of a fight. My footwork was crappy, and my kicks were nonexistent. Rip had me do a set of 20 for each round with a minute rest in between sets. It came to 3 sets, with each set taking about as long to do as a round. The minute rest reflected the minute rest between rounds.

I was able to eliminate cardio completely and kicked people's heads off in the late rounds. It was the single most effective programming change I had at that point. It was brutal, too. I never finished a workout where I didn't feel like vomiting, and it's the closest I've come to blacking out in the weight room. Incredible.

Be careful. It's easy to over train on this. I wouldn't do it more than once every two weeks. It's intense. There's only been a handful of CF workouts that pushed me that as hard as 275x3x20. I'm about to add it back in to my routine. You'll suffer, but you'll love it!

PS. Perfect for martial arts or rugby.
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:27 AM   #6
Alex Nisetich
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Thanks for the info, guys -I think I'll be using this one for a while to come. Gant, I'm also a martial artist (Muay Thai and Taekwon-Do), and I'll definitely try to be working that 3-round routine into my training. I'm always looking for new ways to train for rugby and martial arts simultaneously, and that seems like a good way to do it. Thanks again.
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Old 06-19-2007, 02:41 PM   #7
Gant Grimes
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Alex, start with one round and work your way up. You need to prime your body and your mind to accept 20RM training. Rip states in Starting Strength that 20RM sets are done "in a state that approaches death." It's not so much physical pain (well, maybe it is)...your body screams at you to rack the weight after 12 reps, and you tell it to keep going. Once you're there, then add sets. Otherwise, you'll be thinking about that 60th rep during your first set and you won't do enough weight. It's not progressive. Use the same weight on sets across.

I hope I'm not overselling this, but it's truly my favorite program. I know it's good for fighting, and I know it will transfer to rugby. I'm about to plug this in to my own program to shed some pounds for mountain bike races. Tomorrow sounds pretty good.
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Old 06-19-2007, 03:37 PM   #8
Peter Dell'Orto
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Nice routine Gant. I'll file that under "things to do."

I had a friend do a 20-rep routine with his 10-rep max for Trap Bar Deadlifts, followed by a few auxiliary lifts. Worked fine for him.
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Old 06-22-2007, 02:00 PM   #9
Gorm Laursen
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I read this thread and instantly had to try it. I started with 60% RM 20 reps as recommended from different articles on the web, but that wasn't nearly enough. I bumped up to 80% RM and that too – even though it did get me slightly colored in the head – wasn't nearly enough (only took 1 min. rest between 1st and 2nd set).

... and there's no soreness as well ...

Fells pretty counterintuitive to do 2x20 reps straight with your 60%/80% RM with so little impact on your system.

I'll go for 90% RM next time ... That'd be fun in its own perverted way.
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Old 06-22-2007, 11:04 PM   #10
Peter Dell'Orto
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I also saw a version of this routine in Paul Kelso's Shrug Book. He swapped out squats for the Clean & Press for 1x20, one set of breathing pullovers, one set each of two different ab exercises (your choice), a set of bicep curls ("for vanity" it says), and ended with "leave the gym - one rep."

The idea is that you should be using enough weight that it's a challenge to finish all 20 reps, especially the last 5, and need to go from a simple clean and overhead press to a full squat clean at the end as the weight feels heavier.
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