Performing one set of 20 repetitions of the squat – if done properly – is a devastatingly effective way to build strength and improve your overall fitness level.

For the inaugural edition of the Health and Fitness Advice Training Journal you’re going to hear about Jill and I as we perform “20 reps set” on a workout-by-workout basis.  This workout was performed on Thursday, January 15th..

The warm-up for the workout consisted of some calisthenics, a few warm up sets of hang cleans and split jerks and a couple of warm-up sets in the squat before the main event.  For a cool down we walked on the treadmill for about 5 minutes and performed some dynamic flexibility moves. The entire workout took approximately 40-minutes with the bulk of the time spent preparing and cooling down.

Jill used 115 pounds in the squat for her first workout, which is just about equal to her body weight. The term “20 reps set,” carries a lot of meaning at my gym and in the high school where I serve as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. 

Regular visitors to should remember the item I posted on this workout some time ago, but just to make sure everyone’s up to speed on what this beauty/bastard of a workout is, I’ll provide a brief review. The workout is as simple as it is grueling; do one set of 20 repetitions of the back squat. 

The key to getting the most out of this workout is to choose the appropriate starting weight for the first workout, which should be a weight that would be the maximum you can do for a three set of ten repetitions workout.  Except now you are just doing one set of 20 reps.

This workout is performed every 10 days or so to allow for total recovery, and during the time you are doing the 20 rep set of squats you won’t be doing any other leg exercises. Because of the unique high intensity nature of this workout, you’ll only do it six to eight times over a two to three month period. As you progress, ten to twenty pounds of weight is added each workout, depending on what your starting weight is and how you performed the previous workout.

Check back in about 2 weeks to see how we do with our next 20 rep set.


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