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5 Brutally Effective Squat Routines

5 Brutally Effective Squat Routines

by: Brandon Richey

5 Brutally Effective Squat Routines

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So today’s post is obviously about the one exercise that will humble ANY athlete or serious fitness junkie. The key to any smart strength program, whether the goal is bodybuilding or performance, is having a strong foundation. The foundation of every smart strength and conditioning program begins with squats. 

Talking Squats…

So for today’s post I decided to pass the reins over to my friend Henry (Editor-In-Chief) from over at Gym-Talk. I thought a good strong topic on squatting was needed and so Henry was kind enough to deliver by offering up some great leg pounding strategies for you to implement on your own right here today. Take a minute to check this out and let us know what you think. 

by: Henry Croft

Ahhh, squats. The king of exercises. The Big Daddy. The Lift of the Gods.

Is there anything that this mighty exercise can’t do?

Want to build muscle mass? Squat. 

Want to build strength? Squat.

Want to solve the problems in the Middle East? Squat.

It really is that simple.

However, some squatting routines are much more effective than others when it comes to results, and usually the common denominator is balls-to-the-wall hard work. 

No surprises there!

So, without further ado, the following workouts are, in my experience, the best of the bunch when it comes to building unmitigated levels of muscle and strength at the squat rack over a short period of time.

Warning: These 5 workouts are definitely not for the faint of heart. Prepare for pain, soreness and a crippling onslaught of lactic acid that will make you question why you ever picked up a barbell in the first place!

The 20 Rep Squat Routine

This is the program that I’m currently working through and it is without doubt my favourite routine for building size, boosting endurance, and making your body feels like it’s gone through 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. 

Also known as ‘Squats and Milk’, this routine has you drinking a gallon of milk a day and performing 20 reps on your 10RM on squats every session.

How is that possible?

Well after your first 10 reps, each subsequent rep is performed with breathing intervals: squat, take 5 deep breaths and the top of the concentric movement, and squat again.

During 1 6 week cycle you should aim to be adding 5 pounds to your 20 rep squat each session.

Savage stuff!


Performing 10 sets of 10 reps is an approach many of you will recognise from the infamous German Volume Training program.

Busting out 10×10 squats is an insanely difficult – yet devastatingly effective – way to build quads so large and powerful that they will resemble a large oak dining table. 

Commence each cycle with a weight that you can easily lift for 20 reps, which should roughly work out at 50-60% of your 1RM.

This is essentially a hypotrophy program as the total amount of time under tension is inhuman.  

And prepare for DOMS so bad that the sight of any staircase will have you weeping with fear!

Stronglifts 5×5

Everyone’s favourite strength workout, and for good reason.

The 5×5 method, pioneered by one of my personal heroes Reg Park, is my go-to regime for building crazy levels of strength in my legs, as well as the rest of my body.

I favour Medhi’s ‘Stronglifts’ variation of the 5×5 approach, which although is quite dull and repetitive, is without peer when it comes to rapid progression.

And that’s why we’re all here isn’t it, for the gains!

Every workout commences with 5×5 to failure on squat, followed by 2 more 5x5s on either bench press, bent over row, deadlift, or military press.

Just to give you an idea of just how effective this routine is, the first time I performed the program my 5rm squat increased by 90 pounds in just under 2 months!

‘The Elevator’

This is essentially a pyramid routine.

Using a fixed weight, you work all the way up from 1 rep to a set of 10 reps, and then all the way back down again.

1 rep

2 reps

3 reps

4 reps

5 reps

6 reps

7 reps

8 reps

9 reps

10 reps

9 reps 

8 reps

And so on… 

Bear in mind that the primary goal of this routine is not to go heavy but to work your way through some serious volume to trigger muscle hypertrophy. 

Much like the 10×10, expect to be crucified by DOMS for the next few days!


Another simple yet effective squat routine to build absurd levels of strength.

Start with 5 reps and then work your way down to 1 rep, getting progressively heavier on each one so you are always hitting failure. 

I tend to follow the last set of 1 rep with a quick dropset, usually of 8 reps using the weight which I previously performed 4 reps on.

Prepare to use the floor as a landing zone after that!

A word on nutrition

While performing a cycle on any of these ball-breaking routines, it is essential that you are absolutely ploughing through the calories to maximise size and strength gains. 

The 20 Rep Squat Routine, for instance, insists on sinking a gallon of milk a day.

While sticking to this is not entirely necessary, it is important that you are hitting some pretty major macros. 

I’d suggest stocking up on some basic supplements to give you that extra calorie boost (hint: you can get some huge bulk savings by using a Myprotein discount code, for example).

Wrapping it up

So, there we have it.

5 brutal squat routines which will not just trigger hypertrophy and strength gains but will also toughen up your mental reserves too.

I hope you enjoyed this post and hopefully it’s given you some ideas of ways to turbocharge your standard squat program.

Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions or if you have any other squat workouts that you’d like to share with us.

Also, I would like to thank Brandon for having me on today as a guest on his wonderful website.

Keeping clanging and banging, guys!

About the author

Henry is a lover of all things fitness, including marathon running, martial arts and strength training. You can find him blogging over at GymTalk.

I hope you guys enjoyed today’s post. Henry did a great job of laying it all out for you right here. Please make sure you drop us a comment or question below in the comment box. Remember that most anyone can train hard, but only the best train smart my friend. 

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Thunder Thighs…Do You Want Big Legs?

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5 Brutally Effective Squat Routines



I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Hey Brandon:

    All time honored and well substantiated Squat Routines with major improvement the reward for anyone willing to take up the challenge. I’m certain you have heard every excuse there is under the sun for not squatting and what it all comes down to is this: Squatting is flat out painful, hard work.

    No other single exercise takes it out of you and then puts even more back on you like squatting. I favor cycling German Volume Training 10 X 10 with the Power Lifting 5 X 5 scheme. I’ve done the 20 Rep Squats and Milk protocol as well … talking to Baby Jesus was I on the last several reps.

    People can talk about the trials and tribulations of any other single exercise all they want … nothing will kick your ass and kick up your progress like squatting … it’s my favorite form of misery.

  2. Doc you are exactly right. Squatting is a staple. I like to vary mine, but it is a staple for me in addition to deadlifting. The 2 combined have blessed me with the maximum amount of total body strength that the good Lord will allow me to have and I know it has done the same for many others as well.

    I’m totally with you when you reference the pain of squatting, particularly in high volume. I’ve also spoken to the baby Jesus many times as well my friend. High volume squatting will humble any athlete, period. The discomfort can become more tolerable as long as regular practice is maintained, but it’s still no joy ride.

    Regardless the rewards are huge. Thanks for posting up Doc! I always look forward to your feedback.

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