Steve Shaw’s 20 Rep Squat Routine for Fast Mass

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Mission: Build muscle mass quickly. The tool: 20 rep squats.

For a while I’ve wanted to put together a rock solid muscle building program centered around 20 rep squats. This is it. You will be performing your main 20 rep set on Monday, and two 15 rep sets with the same weight on Friday.

The rest of the program targets the entire body. The focus will be – of course – on progressive overload.

Related: 10 Reasons You Need to Squat

I suggest following this program for four months. Included is a sample eating plan. It’s a more aggressive diet, aimed to help the average 18 to 25 year old male pack on mass fast. If you are over the age of 35, drop calories down to 3,000 per day. If you are very skinny and struggle to gain weight, bump calories to 4,000 per day.

Tiger Fitness Editorial Director Steve Shaw performs a 20 rep set of squats in 30 seconds.

20 Rep Squat Routine

Here are the nuts and bolts of the program. You will be lifting three days per week:

  • Monday – Workout A
  • Wednesday – Workout B
  • Friday – Workout C

Squats. Start with 45% of your one rep max and perform a 20 rep set during Workout A. Each week thereafter, add 5 pounds to the bar. Continue progressing until you feel like you might fail on a set before reaching a total of 20 reps. At this pound back off in weight by 25 pounds and start climbing again.

During Workout A you will also be performing a second heavier set. For this set, add an extra 10% to the bar and perform as many quality reps as possible. Stop this set when you feel like your form is slipping, or if you might reach failure on the next rep.

So if you were using 185 pounds during your 20 rep set, add 10% to the bar for this set – or about 18.5 pounds. Round up to 20 pounds and go for it.

During Workout C you will be using the same weight, but trying to perform two sets of 15 reps. If you can’t get there, don’t worry. Just perform as many quality reps as possible without hitting failure.

Pull Ups. If pull ups are too easy, add resistance, Start by placing 5 pounds on a weighted belt, add progress slowly. If pull ups are too difficult, use inverted rows instead.

Deadlifts.  Deadlifts are performed rest-pause style. Start with about 70% of your one rep max. Perform as many doubles as you can during a 10 minute window. Knock out a double, rest only briefly until you catch your breath and mental sanity, and hammer out another double. When you are able to perform eight or more doubles during that 10 minute window, add 5 pounds to the bar.

Progressive Overload. For all other exercises, use the same weight for each set of a given exercise. When you are able to perform the stated number of reps, add a small amount of resistance. This is key. No progression, no muscle being built. Adding weight using good form is your primary concern during this program.

Workout a
20 Rep Squat Routine
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats  1  20
Squats + 10% Weight  1  AMRAP
Dumbbell Bench Press  3  15
Pendlay Rows  3  12
Seated Alternating Dumbbell Overhead Press  2  12
Dimel Deadlifts  1  20
Superset: EZ Bar Curls and Dumbbell Skullcrushers  2  12/12
Workout B
20 REP SQUAT ROUTINE
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadift Doubles – 10 Minutes  1  AMRAP
Push Press  3  12
Pull Ups or Inverted Rows  2  15
Dips – 2 Minutes  1  AMRAP
Planks  2  120 sec
Superset: High Box Step Ups and Bodyweight Lunges  2  10/20
Superset: Dumbbell Curls and French Press  2  12/12
Workout C
20 REP SQUAT ROUTINE
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats  2  15
Bench Press  3  15
Dumbbell Rows  2  15
Hang Clean  2  8
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts  2  12
Superset: Barbell Curls and Cable Triceps Extensions  2  10/12

3,500 Calorie Muscle Building Diet

  • MTS Whey

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    Breakfast – 8 ounces of whole milk, banana, 1 cup cooked oats, 4 large eggs

  • Snack – 1.5 scoops of MTS Whey shake, 1 ounce of almonds
  • Lunch – 6 ounces of ground beef, 1/2 cup fresh salsa, 1 medium potato
  • Pre-Workout – 1.5 scoops of MTS Whey shake, 1 apple
  • Post-Workout – 3 scoops of Huge Gainer
  • Dinner – 8 ounces of chicken, 1 cup cooked rice, 1 cup veggies, 8 ounces of whole milk
  • Before Bed – 1 scoop casein protein powder mixed into 8 ounces of Greek yogurt

The nutrition for this meal plan breaks down as follows:

  • 3506 calories
  • 299.2 grams of protein
  • 307.1 grams of carbs
  • 121.76 grams of fat
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Name: Steve Shaw

Bio: I don’t believe in magic training systems or rep ranges. My philosophy is simple: remain consistent, use the best possible exercises, focus upon progression and enter the gym looking to maximize each set. When you maximize each set, you maximize progress. Easy, obvious, insanely effective.