It’s safe to say that squats are one exercise in which everyone wants to be stronger with. The increase in strength you can achieve from performing squats in your legs, back and core is of tremendous value towards other exercises. However, sometimes performing squats themselves can be a difficult exercise for some. This can be from many different issues from bodily injuries from sports, weightlifting or even just poor joints naturally. Whatever the issue is, everyone who performs squats has a love/hate relationship with them. Squats are one of the greatest exercises we can perform because they work almost our entire body, around 80% or more during this single motion. If you’ve ever wanted to attempt 20 repetitions on squats, you know that this is difficult to perform. However, one can make it easier to achieve 20 reps on squats with a few adjustments.
First Up: Stretch!
The first thing is to make sure that you stretch your body before performing any weighted exercises at all. Not stretching before you lift weights can result in an easy muscle injury. So stretch out your body for a good 10 minutes or so not just before performing squats, but before performing any exercise routine in general.
Don’t Go Too Light
When performing these 20 reps, make sure that you aren’t using extremely light weight that makes it way too easy on yourself. Start with a warm up of around 10-12 reps at 30-50% your max weight and keep working up from there in weight until you get to your working load. For this, set you working load capacity at around 70-80% your maximum, as you would usually use to perform your typical reps in your sets. The reason for this is to ensure that the stimulus you are providing your body with during these 20 reps is enough to increase blood flow, nutrient flow, and allow the muscles to be properly worked during this exercise. Once you have your weight load figured out, make sure your stance is properly adjusted. Each person has a preferred stance that allows him or her to be more comfortable with squats. This is the position you want to be in.
Watch Your Form
When you begin to start your 20-rep set, make sure after your stance is in check, that as you are bringing the weight down to the ground, you are keeping your body tight and stable. If you feel like you are bending your back too far or your legs are shaking, rack the weight and take a break for a few minutes before trying again. If you are not tight and stable during these reps, chances are you can possibly injury yourself. If these issues are not a problem for you when you start, the next step for you is keep your head up and facing forward. This is to help provide balance with each rep. If you have a squat rack that is in front of a mirror, I recommend using the mirror to help guide you on your stance to ensure that you’re not tilting the bar towards one side, which can also make the reps harder.
If you do not have a mirror to look at while squatting, the use of a spotter to help guide the weight down properly so it remains balanced is a great idea. Next, make sure you inhale each time you are going down and exhale each time you are pushing the weight up. Its common for people lifting weights under strain to struggle and hold their breathe. This will only make things harder by not breathing properly. Also make sure that as you are going down, you are going down far enough to activate the entire leg and glute region. To do this, try going to down to about 90 degrees or even a little past with each rep. By stopping short you are decreasing the amount of muscle activity in your legs.
Don’t Worry If You Don’t Reach 20 Reps
As you are working in your 20-rep set, keep in mind that if you do not reach those 20 reps and stop short a few that is perfectly fine. However, usually the case in which people fail to reach 20 reps at one time is not due to muscle failure or fatigue, but rather the mind telling them they cant continue any further to complete the remaining reps desired. If you can get your mind in a state that believes 100% that you can perform these 20 reps no matter what your body is telling you, even if you have to stop at the top for a second or two before performing that next rep, that is great! If you aren’t squatting at your absolute maximum, you should have no reason besides mental discouragement that you cannot perform 20 reps at 70-80% your max weight load.
The Benefits of 20 Squat Reps
So what is the benefit or purpose of performing 20 reps on squats? The first is that it’s a great way to break your mental barrier and give you an understanding that in most cases, and with all exercises, that when you think you are at failure or cannot lift that weight, you are wrong. You are discouraging yourself and by breaking that barrier mentally you will be able to become stronger with each exercise and become closer to your goals. The other major benefit of changing your squat routine up and performing 20 reps instead of 8-12 reps as most people do, is that you are providing your body with a new stimulus it isn’t comfortable with. This will create a larger activation in muscle stimulus, which in return will result in increase muscle breakdown and nutrient flow to the regions worked, which in return result in an increase in muscle tissue in your body. So not only will you break your mental barrier, you will gain muscle mass as well.