Written by Adam Robertson
In 1968 John McCallum introduced one of the most savage workout regimes ever, and in 1968 squats and milk was born.
When you first hear squats and milk, you are often met with strange looks however despite the peculiar name squats and milk has proven itself multiple times to be one of the most effective hypertrophic workout plans created. So what makes the squats and milk program and why is it credited with creating the sort of leg gains that Tom Platz is still remembered for today?
As another name of the program suggests “The 20-rep squat program,” you perform 1 set of 20 reps of squats per session. On the face of it, this seems remarkably easy however it is anything but easy. The reasons why it’s actually incredibly taxing both physically and mentally taxing is because you squat heavy for 20 reps.
The rule is you start with 60% of your 1 rep max and each session you add a 2.5lb plate each side so consequently each session you increase the overall weight by 5lbs. The next catch is you squat THREE times a week! 1 set of 20 squats 3 times a week. This means 60 reps of squats per week and 15lbs of weight added each week. Over the course of the 6 weeks, which squats and milk are recommended for, this would result in an enormous 90lbs of weight added to the bar.
Rarely in the name of plans does it specify the dietary requirements, however very few plans are this intense and require so much protein to facilitate optimal recovery. Like the squatting requirements, the milk intake is shocking. The original plan suggested GOMAD; this is not a term used to get pumped up.
Instead, it stands for a Gallon of Milk A Day. So why so much milk? The idea of GOMAD is simple, training such big muscles with so much intensity so often is going to be incredibly taxing, and milk is one of the cheapest and macro-nutrient rich foods to base such a program around. The GOMAD diet has the benefits of a gallon of whole milk containing 120g of a protein of which 80% of which is casein and 20% is whey.
In addition to this, it will be an easy way to increase your calories and carbs sufficiently high for such a gruelling plan. In essence, you will gain weight fast, as this plan leads to huge amounts of muscle gain.
There are multiple reasons why this is such an incredible plan:
#1 Tests Your Mental Strength
By the 15th rep of squats, you will be in agony, sweating out of breath and your legs will be shaking, but you still need to do 5 more reps! Even for some of the most experienced lifters, it will be very easy to walk away from a plan like this within the first or second session as the pain will be too much. If you want to be challenged this plan will not disappoint, it will build your resilience which will translate to not your just training but your whole life!
#2 Break Through Plateaus
One of the fundamental facets of muscle growth is progressive overload, ie, the process of adding in either more weight or more reps each session, forcing your muscles to get stronger and grow as each session more is asked of them. The brilliance of the squats and milk program is each session you are forced to lift more weight the very definition of progressive overload.
It is simple, you have to commit to completing 20 reps, and until it is done, you cannot rack the bar. This might mean taking minute long breaks between the 18th, 19th and 20th sets however in this plan that is okay. The plan is beautifully simple, every session you MUST lift more weight.
#3 Helps Weight Gain
If you are a seasoned lifter, it might take years to add 90lbs to your squat in a conventional hypertrophic rep range, ie, 5-12 reps. However, by deviating so much from what most lifters are comfortable with it allows for massive increases in the amount you will be able to lift. Some strength coaches state their lifters could lift their previous 5 rep max for 20 reps by the end of the program!
#4 Shock Your Muscles
It is extremely easy to stagnate by lifting in a similar tempo or rep range for too long. As a result, this solicits limited amounts of muscle shock which can dampen long-term progress. Going for such an extreme departure from what you are used to, will promote huge gains which you otherwise might not have thought possible!
Be warned this initially seems strange for multiple reasons. Firstly it appears that the program doesn’t allow for enough time for your muscles to recover. However, this is not as big an issue as one would imagine, as you are not doing that much volume each session, after all, it is only one set!
Indeed as you are not training maximally with regard to the absolute weight being lifted (60% off 1RM), it is not a real issue. Secondly doing 20 reps seems like a lot of reps to do in one go. This is true, however as you are only doing 1 set, you have to make each set count for enough muscle damage to last you 48 hours!
Squats: 1 set 20 reps
Military Press: 3 sets of 12
Bent over Rows: 3 sets of 12
Bench Press: 3 sets of 12
Stiff Leg Deadlift: 3 sets of 12
This plan can build legs like Tom Platz, however, use with caution as it is incredibly difficult to stick to, however, if you can find the mental strength to stick with this plan milk becomes your bulking friend and your legs will grow more than you thought was possible!