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Duke McCall
06-04-2010, 11:47 AM
I needed something different to do between Oly training cycles. Mike Mckenna suggested that I try a 20-rep squat progression over the course of three weeks, starting at 80 kilos for 20 reps the first week, 90 kilos for 20 reps the second week, and 100 kilos for 20 reps the third week (working on various pulling and pushing lifts on my "off" days). The insanity of the idea appealed to me, so I gave it a shot.

20 reps at 80 kilos left me in a puddle on the floor. I lost all feeling in my legs and nearly blacked out while struggling through 20 reps at 90 kilos. Last night, I decided to try 20 reps at 100 kilos. At rep number 5, the enormity of the task began to sink in. I decided to take it one rep at a time and focus on just that rep. That approach worked until rep 15, when I began to lose control of my legs and struggled to remain upright. Somehow, I managed to knock out the last 5 reps without falling over.

It simultaneoulsy was one of the worst and most rewarding lifting experiences I have ever had. The thing that is truly remarkable about it, though, is that (based on my 1RM) I should not have been able to lift either 90 or 100 kilos for 20 reps. Of course, I did not realize that until I sat down this morning and did the math.

I know this sort of progression at high reps is not new, but it helped me realize that the "plateau" I had been stuck on recently was purely psychological. I now know that I can lift a lot more than I thought I could.

I do not know if others have used this sort of progression with similar results, but I highly recommend it. (I may think differently tomorrow when the DOMS sets in, but right now I am walking on air).

Gant Grimes
06-04-2010, 12:11 PM
Solid.

Derek Simonds
06-04-2010, 12:31 PM
Duke awesome job. 20 rep squats were the one of most miserable things I have ever done. I did them for 3 weeks in a Dan John template and hated every minute of it.

Arien Malec
06-04-2010, 12:36 PM
A good way to spread the horror out a bit is 5/3/1.

5/3/1, starting with a very modest weight, will take you into similar territory on the 5 week. My last 5 week was 90kgx16 reps, which, while not as horrible as 20 reps, is still pretty bad. It does provides a significant benefit. My calculated max jumped > 10kg in 5 weeks based on one week of hell, two weeks of pain, and a rest week.

Gant, I believe, has a variation of just one week of hell (does max reps the 5 week and the 5/3/1 week, but with the 5/3/1 week, you hit failure before you start speaking to Jesus).

Gant Grimes
06-04-2010, 12:41 PM
Gant, I believe, has a variation of just one week of hell (does max reps the 5 week and the 5/3/1 week, but with the 5/3/1 week, you hit failure before you start speaking to Jesus).

5s week is the money week. I rep out my presses the whole cycle. I typically rep out my squats in 5s, 1s, and sometimes 3s. I rep out on DLs on 5s and 1s. I recover better that way.

John Alston
06-04-2010, 12:44 PM
Good times. How big are you, Duke? When I did 30x85kg (~bw) I needed someone counting the last 10 for sure.
This kind of fun is best done in a good gym with good camaraderie and cheering, and ideally with something on the line.

Duke McCall
06-04-2010, 04:45 PM
Thanks, Gant and Derek.

Arien, I'll try the 5/3/1 approach . . . some day (but not anytime soon).

John, I weigh 68 kilos. I cannot imagine 30 reps at any weight. I also agree that this sort of feat is best attempted in a gym with lots of friends around. I lost count (a couple of times) on the 20 reps at 90 kilos and am pretty sure I ended up doing 21 reps instead of 20. Counting was not as much of a problem at 100 kilos because I had to pause to catch my breath between each rep. I would have felt much better with some spotters around, though.

Allen Yeh
06-04-2010, 04:49 PM
Awesome. Good job, 20 rep squats are terrible.

Chris Butler
06-04-2010, 08:15 PM
The thing that is truly remarkable about it, though, is that (based on my 1RM) I should not have been able to lift either 90 or 100 kilos for 20 reps. Of course, I did not realize that until I sat down this morning and did the math.

I know this sort of progression at high reps is not new, but it helped me realize that the "plateau" I had been stuck on recently was purely psychological. I now know that I can lift a lot more than I thought I could.
My grandfather used to call this "bumble bee psychology". He would say that "If the bumble bee knew the laws of aero-dynamics he would know he can't fly. Fly he does though!"

Way to rally!

Kevin Perry
06-04-2010, 09:13 PM
Good job, I agree about the psychological part. I think that has hugely held me back on the squat as I still have yet to pass 300 and likely it's psychological.

20 rep squats suck

Steven Low
06-05-2010, 06:45 AM
My grandfather used to call this "bumble bee psychology". He would say that "If the bumble bee knew the laws of aero-dynamics he would know he can't fly. Fly he does though!"

Way to rally!
Except that myth has been proven untrue. Decades ago. Basically, laypeople warping some pseudoscience gave rise to that..

But yes, psychological aspect is very important for tough challenges.

Chris Butler
06-05-2010, 08:39 AM
Except that myth has been proven untrue. Decades ago. Basically, laypeople warping some pseudoscience gave rise to that..

But yes, psychological aspect is very important for tough challenges.He also believed that butter was a lubricant for the body and that you needed it to "greeez ur insides" LOL!

Gavin Harrison
06-06-2010, 08:57 AM
Except that myth has been proven untrue. Decades ago. Basically, laypeople warping some pseudoscience gave rise to that..

But yes, psychological aspect is very important for tough challenges.

Who would have guessed that "bees can't fly if you apply SCIENCE to them" ... got disproved :rolleyes: