159 of 171 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2000
Most exercise books are a joke. Bodybuilding books are often written by or for steroid users. Aerobics books are afraid to ask the reader to work hard. Fitness books are written by celebrities no real knowledge except how to get an open line of credit with their plastic surgeon. Ab books tout the perfect exercises to reduce the size of your waist. (Sorry, only diet books can help there.) This book is the real deal. Time and again, people in the know, from Olympic weightlifters to elite track athletes, refer to the 20 rep squat program as the best strength and mass building program ever. Strossen's "Super Squat" book is the benchmark book on the subject of 20 rep squats.
That said, there are some weak points in the book. While consuming milk may be one of the most simple, effective, and obvious protein supplements around, many trainees and nutrition experts question the wisdom of consuming as much milk as Strossen recommends. Some question the effect on cholesterol levels and many claim the 30 lbs. of weight gain will be a lot of fat gain. Another issue is Strossen's claim that the pullover exercise will increase the size of the rib cage. While the exercise itself is good, this claim is unsubstantiated.
The worst flaw is that the book recommends squats - a lot of squats - without delving into the technique of what is essentially a fairly technical lift. Many novice or uncoached lifters perform the squat in a technically unsound and unsafe manner. In weightlifting, poor technique is usually the cause of injury; rarely is injury the direct result of the actual amount of weight lifted. A few diagrams and photos would have been very helpful. The average reader should supplement this book with another reference source on how to actually perform the squat safely.
103 of 110 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2000
"Super Squats" espouses the revolutionary theory that if you lift huge weights for huge reps, you're going to get huge muscles. No exercise except possibly the deadlift works the body as hard as the squat does. The heart and soul of Strossen's system is the twenty rep breathing squat. Load the bar to a weight you would normally do ten reps with. Do twenty, taking at least three deep breaths between each rep. Next workout increase the weight and do twenty more. Keep the auxiliary exercises to a minimum. Using Strossen as a guide, I devised a three exercise workout: twenty rep squats, bench presses, and bent rows, and it proved a very satisfactory workout indeed. Do those three exercises and do them heavy, and you cannot help but get strong. A word of caution: Squats can be dangerous. If you want to lift heavy on squats, get Stuart McRobert's "The Insider's Tell-All Guide to Weight-Training Technique." The book is a gold mine of information on how to perform weight training exercises properly and without injury.
112 of 124 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2001
There's a lot of good stuff in this book, and the fundamental premise -- that single sets of 20 rep squats will pack on a lot of muscle -- is too well documented to seriously dispute. (There is some dispute as to whether it's a good idea anyway, see, e.g., Pavel Tsatsouline's Power to the People.) But remember, this book is 12 years old, and weight lifting theories change all the time.
This is not the book to buy to start you off in weight lifting. It's message is pretty darn simple, and can be conveyed in a review. Do single sets of 20 rep squats 2-3 times a week. Take in a boat load of chow and get plenty of rest, add 5 lbs. to the bar every week, and you'll get a lot stronger. Some of the information conflicts with other sources, which seem to me to be more up to date and better reasoned. The best iron game writer around is Stuart McRobert, whose Beyond Brawn and Insider's Tell All Handbook to Weight Training Technique should be the core of your training library. (Strossen won't mind this recommendation, he and McRobert seem to be pretty well acquainted and mutually admiring.)
So, bottom line, if you're already well on your way down the training path, Strossen's book is an interesting read, but it's not going to serve as the basis for a comprehensive training program.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2005
This book gives simple, but useful information on how to gain weight and strength. The program is very straightforward and definitely works - you perform a simple weight lifting workout (one to two sets/bodypart with only basic moves) and follow this with squatting 20 reps with weight that you would normally only be able to do 10 times. The last 10 reps are done with as much rest and gasping/deep breathing as needed. On the next workout you add five pounds to the squat and do it again. Obviously it's not an easy program and done correctly the 20 reps will be the hardest lifting you've ever done.
This program does add weight and strength effectively. However, the advice I this book is often taken to literally. Here are a few points:
1. The advice to drink one gallon of milk a day is acceptable, unless you're lactose intolerant. If you cannot handle dairy products, drinking so much milk will make you very sick. This may seem obvious, but many seem think the milk is central to this program and drink it despite being unable to handle dairy products......maybe explosive diarrhea and intestinal cramps makes one stronger? The point is that to make gains on this system, you need to ingest plenty of quality calories. This is not surprising since the book is about gaining weight and strength.
2. It's stated that most people can do this program three times a week; i.e., Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Actually relatively few people can lift such heavy weight and recover that quickly. Most people on this program will need two to three days off between workouts to make gains on this program. Older individuals will need even more time. This is especially true for the "hard gainers" who are likely to be interested in this program. Rapidly gaining weight and strength requires hard workouts, food, and sufficient rest.
3. To do this workout you have to know how to squat with good form and technique. This routine requires very heavy weight for 20 reps. Thus, unless you know how to squat with good form, your chances of being injured are very high. There is a strong tendency to round your back or bend your knees inward on the last few reps. Doing so could result in severe injury. To do this workout, you need very good form. Also there are some 20 different ways to perform the squat. The author does not discuss this. Also not wearing not a belt while squatting is just terrible advice.
4. The program is not for serious bodybuilders with years of experience, nor for beginners. The program was invented prior to there being a great difference between bodybuilding and weight lifitng. It's ideally suited for people who want to put on a lot of muscle in a short time (for example football players). Also, DO NOT try this routine without some lifting experience, the chances of serious injury are too great.
5. As the author states, the program works for 6 to 8 weeks. Staying on it longer is both very difficult and counter productive. It's a good program for someone who wants to add weight over a month of two, but no useful as a long-term program. I've found it useful as a routine to be done once or twice a year. the squatting is so difficult that doing this routine often is too difficult.
My advice with this program is to read the book and be willing to apply common sense and adapt it to your needs. The program does work, but it's simplistic, can be dangerous if ones squatting form is poor, and must to be approached with care and an enormous amount of motivation.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2003
This incredibly simple and brutal program will work wonders for both beginners and advanced trainers. The 20-rep breathing squat technique has been around since the the early part of the 20th century, and probably has resulted in better total body results than any other weight training program. The only complaint that I would have is the somewhat overblown claim of "How to Gain 30 Pounds of Muscle in 6 Weeks" in the subtitle. While it may be possible for some new weight trainers to quickly add 20-30 lbs. of bodyweight (including some fat gains), most individuals will likely achieve lesser gains. The program is deceptively simple, but is painful and requires more mental discipline than most other weight training protocols.
Randy Strossen makes no claim to have invented this classic program. Instead, he readily acknowledges the writings of other authors like Peary Rader and John McCallum, providing anecdotal proof that this program has been utilized successfully by generations of drug-free weight trainers. There are no glossy pictures in this book, just straight forward training advice that works for those who will apply and stick with the program.
I was fortunate to have been introduced to this technique when I first began lifting 25 years ago and I can assure you it works. But it is not easy. Heavy squats have helped me to add over 75 pounds to my naturally ectomorphic frame. I still like to use this program in the winter to add a few pounds of muscle mass. If you have never done the 20-rep squat, you will be in for a unique exercise experience. With a minimum 3 deep breaths between reps, each rep takes about 8-12 seconds. Completing a 20-rep set in this manner takes up to 3-4 minutes, and the entire upper body will be completely exhausted and shaking from the effort of holding the bar on your shoulders for this time. This is the ultimate total body exercise. The other exercises in the program are basic compound movements.
Beginners can probably follow the 3-workouts/week schedule, and the more advanced trainers will likely cut down to 2/week (as you become stronger and tax your recovery abilities to a greater degree.) Like any good training program, this protocol only works until your body adapts to it. In the book, Strossen suggests incorporating a 5x5 program - another classic training program - as an alternate program to the Super Squats routine. (I believe the program is will be most effective when it is "periodized" with various strength or hypertrophy-oriented programs.)
Like any other bulking program, results are also very dependent on your nutrition. If you follow the book's advice of drinking up to a gallon/day of milk, you may end up gaining a fair amount of fat (unless you are a teen with a superfast metabolism.) It is probably better to eat good quality lean proteins and clean carbs throughout the day, and to take protein supplements as necessary.
Get ready to squat big, eat big and grow big!
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2004
Like many muscle builders, I have avoided doing squats. My bench was always busy while the squat rack stood solemnly across the room, waiting for me to stop procrastinating and do what needed to be done. Now I realize that the squat is the true Grandaddy of mass building movements. The 20 rep, single set squat routine has made a believer out of me. I don't drink all the milk listed in the routine, I don't know if I could if I wanted to. I'd have to contract my own dairy tanker. But yes, keep your protien high and get plenty of sleep. I start preparing a day in advance to squat, I make sure I'm rested and mentally prepared for my big set of 20.
One thing that helped me tremendously was just starting light and slow. Practice your form and feel the involved muscles as you execute the movement. Many of the guys who have intimate knowledge in this will tell you Form and Focus and proper breathing (blocking)is critical.
Stick with the program and see the results. I can say I now enjoy doing squats. I really enjoy them after I'm finished with my set. I swear, the endorphine rush stays with me all day. I'm tired and sore but happy.
Make squats the foundational movement of your routine, you will grow.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2005
This book is an excellent purchase for anyone who is beyond the beginner stage in strength training and needs some serious progress to kickstart a mundane routine. I can say with a few caveats that this book worked very well for me, and I am neither a genetically gifted strength trainer, a steroid user, or someone whose life is devoted to training. I will present you with the facts: when I undertook this program, I just barely managed the twentieth rep in the squat with 225 pounds on the bar, my bodyweight being a low bodyfat 185 lbs. (I'm five feet, nine inches tall) After five weeks of diligent attention, I thought the program had run its course and I needed something new. By that stage, I was barely managing the nineteenth repetition with 265 lbs. as the load. My own bodyweight had climbed to 194 lbs. with no visible difference in bodyfat percentage. For someone highly experienced in the squat and far from an "untrained and out of shape" person, I found this to be extraordinary progress, especially considering the fact that I normally respond better to more sets and less reps. I also found it to be a "plateau buster"-- meaning the change it wrought on my nervous system benefited me even after I stopped using the program and returned to my usual methods. In the big scheme of my strength training past and present, therefore, I consider this book to be the best twelve bucks I've ever spent.
Now for the caveats and a few other points: the book is not very well written, and I would caution the buyer to not expect a scientific blow-by-blow on why the program works. The guys at Ironmind are behind the times on the cutting-edge side of things, but they sell effective, 'steak and potatoes' advice learned from hard-won experience. Don't worry about the system functions; just try the program and see if it works for you.
Secondly, if you are not already an expert on proper squat form, I advise you to find an expert and have him/her teach you the lift and be strict about your adherence to mechanics. This book will not help you in that regard. It unforgivably lacks a pictorial step by step on how to perform the squat, which must keep me from giving it the five stars it would otherwise warrant. This is also partly why the book is unsuitable for beginners. The old timers at Ironmind may be right in assuming that the squat is the king of all gym exercises, but they are out of touch in seeming to think everyone knows how to do them properly. I would venture to say that 95% of gym occupants do not use the squat, and of the remaining 5%, 95% of them don't properly execute it. So shame on Ironmind for not including a thorough squat tutorial.
I would also like to clear up a few seeming misconceptions: first of all, this program does not require that you drink a gallon of milk a day. Strossen's actual RECOMMENDATION is a half gallon plus plenty of wholesome foods and rest. Make use of organic skim milk and you mitigate most of what's detrimental about milk, anyway, so I don't know why there's such an exaggerated fuss over the milk. Secondly, the prescription is not as simple as "20 rep squats." It requires much more weight than what you would use in a normal 20 rep set. Read the book to get the rest of the specifics, and while you're at it, enjoy the stats, stories, and undeniable wisdom of the old timers!
42 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2001
I am pretty surprised at the reviews on this book. I was at a stuck point in training. I'm no one big when I started. I weighed 140 when I started lifting, and gained five pounds by myself training in a year or so. At 145, I couldn't gain no more. I was getting more definition, but size wasn't coming to me at all. Guess my body doesn't have the muscle fibers to get big, WRONG. I decided to read books and finally purchased super squats. I find this book fantastic. Let me explain. When you do your first set of 20 reps, make sure it is very easy that you breeze through it with ease, then increase by five pound each work out. Proper rest and nutrition you will be able to keep going up higher and higher, IF I repeat IF you have the heart and desire. You have to discipline yourself on this program. Also you must be very hungry to get big!!!! If not yes, this program is useless, but if you want to gain that weight, you can. I gained 27 pounds in 8 weeks on this program. I now weigh an amazing 172. Like I said to do this program you must devote yourself a 100%. Proper warm up is a must, otherwise yes you will get hurt. If you are getting hurt, your body is telling you things. One you haven't warm up enough, wear more warm clothes and drink tons of water, cause you will get hurt if you don't. Don't blame the book. One thing I had to do to do this program was to make a tape of songs that make me go nuts. You can't listen to some song that will put you a sleep. You must act like your going to war and get psyched up, otherwise don't train, you want it or you don't, SIMPLE. I gained great mass from this book... Good luck to anyone who buys this, and remember if you don't want to gain size don't buy this book!
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2004
I read the book cover to cover and did the program- 20 squats twice a week, lot of milk (but not a gallon a day like he reccomends) I had never squatted seriously before- and I started with a 100lbs for 20 rps. It was tough but not my max. Slowly, with a lotta hard work (its DAMNED hard most of the time), I progressed over about 2 months to 200 lbs for 20 rps, and I gained a good 15 pounds of muscle (mostly in my legs) I did the next workout too early and my progress sort of halted- I'm off the program and doin lower reps (current 3 sets of 10) but i'm thinkin of gettin back on it. I'd definetly recommend it to a anyone whose never done the 20 rp squat before, as in 2 months on the program, i went from sqatting a weight 20 times that i couldn't squat ONCE when i started. Hows that for progress?
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2009
it will be the foundation of your entire lifting career. in fact, i just ran the supersquats and ended up with a 32 lb gain, now i'm two weeks into the 5's and up 5 more lbs for a total 37 lbs! with no supplements! and i'm 37 years old! serious, i've run the supersquats about 15 times successfully. the most bw gained in 6 wks was 32 lbs (on my first run, 20 years ago) and now 32 lbs again. think it is a hoax now? the number one factor determining success was whether i drank a gallon of whole milk a day. if i didn't drink my milk, my weights would feel heavy, my bodyweight collapsed, and my resolve crumbled. the muscle cells need the fat to fuel their little building factory, like a baby gets pudgy before a growth spurt. for me, every 12 lbs was 1" on the thighs, 1/2" on the pipes, and 1/2 shoe size. everyone feels there are nuances that mr. strossen doesn't go into depth about. he didn't go into them because they are mostly individual, like did you use an olympic or power stance or another one is warm up sets. additionally, real experienced people will want to squat last, they really know how to get alot out of each rep, squat deep, and just punish their quads. there is nothing left after squats. finally, start at a weight that will let you finish. take a running start by jumping 10 lbs. a wo (5 lbs. per side) till it gets hard, then jump 5 lbs a wo (2.5 lbs. per side). around this point on there are no other thoughts but 'oh dear god, finish, finish, what number was that?' once it gets really hard just try to keep from quitting, even if it feels too heavy. the milk will keep your recovery, strength, and size out in front of the poundage for that wo. i'm always excited on monday (after two days off), scared i misjudged the poundage for wednesday, and begging for god to help me survive fridays wo. experience says perfect your form: arch your lower back with a high bar position to get out of the hole, or look down as you drive out of the hole and cram the bar into your upperback with a low bar position. i know it is hard to keep focus on any one thing besides basic survival, but these 'drive' focused postures will keep your strength late in the set. if you make it they will save a place for you in valhalla. bless you, mr. strossen, for all time.