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Gaining Muscle With Squats And Milk

Strength Oldschool

By Lee Hayward

Squats and Milk Program - Tom Platz High Rep Squats

The 20 Rep Squat Routine

One of the fastest ways to gain size and strength in the entire body is by following the 20 Rep Squat Routine (aka the “squats and milk” program). This is an old time workout routine that has been around for over 50 years, but it works awesome for fast gains. Even if you are a hard gainer.

The way it works is you train 3 days per week
(i.e. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)

Each workout you will start with full squats. Do 2-3 easy warm up sets to get the blood flowing and to warm up your joints. Then take a moderate weight and do 1 set of 20 reps. For each rep take a couple big mouthfuls of air, hold your breath, squat down and up, and repeat. As you progress through the reps you will need to take more breaths in between reps. During reps 15-20 you may need to take 5 or more big mouthfuls of air in between reps. It takes me up to 3 minutes to complete 1 all out set of 20 rep squats.

Each workout add 5 lbs. to the squats and get all 20 reps. This is the key to making serious muscle gains with the program. You have to make 5 lb. jumps in weight each workout.

When doing this program you should do full squats. I personally squat down until the backs of my legs touch my calves. This will make the squats far more effective for muscle growth.

Tom Platz Ass to Grass Squats

Full Squats

Another thing, do NOT wear a weight lifting belt while doing the 20 rep squats. By squatting with out a belt you will strengthen your lower back and it will be easier to take deep breaths while doing high rep squats.

Make no mistake about this routine is brutally tough, those 20 rep squats will take every bit of energy that you have, but the gains are awesome. This routine will stimulate your entire body to grow bigger and stronger. High rep squatting stimulates the central nervous system and has a progressional muscle building effect on the entire body. This will cause muscle growth in the arms, chest, back, and shoulders, as well as the legs.

Arnold and Dave Draper High Rep Squats

After you finish the 20 rep squats do some other supplemental exercises to complete the workout.

For example, you could do a circuit routine of:
Chin Ups, Dips, and Sit Ups.

  • – Do a set of chin ups for as many reps as you can do
  • Rest a minute
  • – Do a set of dips for as many reps as you can do
  • Rest a minute
  • – Do a set of sit ups for as many reps as you can do

Repeat for a total of 3 sets of each exercise.
And strive to perform at least 1 additional rep on each set for your next workout.

The other exercises that you do after the 20 rep squats can vary depending on your training goals and personal preferences.

Instead of a circuit of chin ups, dips, and sit ups you could train chest with one workout, work your back with the next workout, and do some arm training with the next workout.

The main thing is that you start each workout with the 20 rep squats and add 5 lbs. to the bar each time. This progressive overload will force your muscles to grow like nothing else.

Dave Draper and Arnold - High Rep Squats

Tom Platz did high rep squatting as a regular part of his workout routine. Not only did he have huge legs, but he was huge and thick all over.

Bulk Up Diet – Squats and “Milk”

Gallon of Milk

As for your diet you need to eat as much food as you can, and as often as you can. The program is called “squats and milk” because the old timers used to drink at least 1 gallon of milk every single day to help them gain weight with the program because milk is high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and calories. But remember this was back in the day before protein powders were available like they are now. So ‘milk’ was the old timers protein drink so to speak. You don’t necessarily have to drink a gallon of milk each day to follow the 20 rep squat program. Just make sure you eat a high calorie, high protein diet.

A typical days eating for the 20 rep squats and milk program would look something like this:

Eggs, pancakes, piece of fruit, and a glass of milk

Bran Muffin and a glass of milk

Sandwich (i.e. meat, cheese, tuna fish, etc.)
piece of fruit and a glass of milk

Granola bar, couple slices of cheese, and a glass of milk

Generous portions of meat (i.e. chicken, beef, pork, etc.)
Pasta, Rice, or Potatoes
Green veggies
Glass of milk

Sandwich (i.e. meat, cheese, tuna fish, etc.)
 Piece of fruit and a glass of milk

*Also be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day

This is just a sample eating plan, you can change it around to suit your own tastes. But you get the idea of how much you should eat and how often in order to gain size and strength.

If you strictly follow the 20 rep squat program and consume a good high calorie diet you can realistically gain approx. 10-20 lbs. of muscular bodyweight within the next 2-3 months.

Lee Hayward

To all Strength Oldschool fans, thank you for spending the time to read this article by Lee Hayward. If you're a fan of Tom Platz, check out the video below:


All the best and keep training hard,

Strength Oldschool

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