The Myth Behind Super Squats by Randall J. Strossen

Many authors of strength literature present the barbell back squat as the most effective exercise a natural bodybuilder could do to gain large amount of muscle mass in the whole body. The majority of the currently famous training programs for beginners are built around the back squat. The reason for that is that the majority of the training gurus out there are heavily promoting powerlifting weight programs to novices. While this is the current trend, the idea that squats are the key to improved musculature is not a new one.

On February 1, 1989 Ironmind Enterprises published the book Super Squats: How to Gain 30 Pounds of Muscle in 6 Weeks by Randall J. Strossen (Ph.D.). The book was supposed to present a way to gain enormous amounts of muscle mass in a little over a month (six weeks) by doing basic exercises such as: squats, press behind the neck, bench press, pullover, barbell rows…etc. The heart of the program was, of course, the squat and more precisely the so-called high repetition breathing squats.

“Breathing” in “breathing squats” stands for taking a breath in between repetitions. The trainee is supposed to inhale and exhale deeply after a repetition is completed. Of course, the name because even more obvious when breathing squats are performed for high repetitions. Squatting movements are targeting primarily the large muscles of the upper leg (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes) and those of the back musculature (lattissimus dorsi, spinal erectors, trapeziums muscle). Since those muscles form a large portion of the human musculature, the cardiovascular system of the trainee is put to tremendous test, and therefore the lifter’s breathing during the exercises is very pronounced and heavy.


Note: Performing breathing squats for high repetitions (15+) is so hard that some people refer to the exercises as “widowmaker squats”. The idea is that squats done for high repetitions are so painful and tough that they can actually result in death, leaving someone a widow.

The original program outlined by Randall J. Strossen in his book Super Squats is based around one set of breathing squats for 20 repetitions and looks like that:

Exercise

Sets and Repetitions

Press behind the neck

3 x 12

Squat supersetted* with pullover

1 x 20

Bench press

3 x 12

Barbell Row

3 x 15

Stiff legged deadlift

1 x 15

Pullover

1 x 20

*supersetting – performing one exercise immediately followed by another with no rest in between;

Note: The program is done 2-3 times a week and if the bodybuilders has successfully done all planned repetitions more weight is added to the bar.

While breathing squats form the heart of the training program, the nutritional aspect is covered by the consumption of large amounts of milk. In the book Super Squats Randall J. Strossen presented the following training principal originally elaborated by Joseph Curtis Hise:

heavy breathing squats + healthy food + milk + rest = incredible growth of muscle volume and strength.”

This is why the program Super Squats recommends that natural bodybuilders consume about a gallon of milk a day in order to receive the nutrients required for muscle repair and growth. While all of this old-school talk sounds delicious and wonderful, there is more to the story, as always. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is part of a carefully elaborated marketing strategy supposed to convince the individual to buy a certain product and/or idea. To understand why the results presented in the book Super Squats by Strossen are over-exaggerated, to say the least, we have to debunk a few popular myths.

MYTH: SQUATS STIMULATE AND INCREASE THE NATURAL PRODUCTION OF TESTOSTERONE IN THE HUMAN BODY.

The idea that squats and deadlifts somehow magically increase the natural production of testosterone has been going around for decades. Unfortunately, it’s false and there is absolutely no scientific evidence backing the idea that the testosterone released after a heavy set of squats or deadlifts is worth looking into as far as muscle hypertrophy (increases of muscle size) is concerned. Here’s one study which actually proves otherwise: {source}

In brief, worrying about slight hormone fluctuations that might give you a .01% benefit is pointless and a detour away from your initial goal and possible success.

MYTH: CONSUMING ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF PROTEIN AND OVERALL CALORIES (OVEREATING) STIMULATES THE MUSCLE GROWTH.

People like Randall J. Strossen, Mark Rippetoe, Pavel Tsatsouline and Marty Gallagher are well known for promoting overeating to the point where the individual simply hates food, if any respectable muscle size is to be built. Unfortunately, they are extremely wrong on that issue. While supplying your body with sufficient amount of calories and muscle building macro-nutrients (protein) is important, the main muscle growth determining factor is the level of testosterone.

There is a misconception that humans can somehow re-program their bodies into doing something. It can never happen. The human organism has been carefully designed by the creator (whoever he/she/it/them is/are) to function in a specific way, and while human actions can cause different reactions, the fundamental core mechanisms are never changed. In other words, you can eat all you want – the body will decide what to do with the extra food, not you. If there are excess calories, they are stored as fat cells.

When you consume more protein the body does not think: “Hey, I got more protein, time to make them biceps swollen.” No! The body always wants to be economic and does all repairs and maintenance at the lowest possible price. In other words, the body thinks like this: “Hey, I got some extra protein today, but I have already repaired the broken tissues from the workout today. I don’t want to lose that extra protein and will convert it to energy and store it as fat for later use.”

Over the last half a decade Mark Rippetoe has been promoting the idea that overeating builds muscle. His is known to advise his novice and advanced lifters to use consume between 4,000 and 6,000 calories a day in order to get strong and big. Sadly, many are following his results and end up looking like THAT {Not-Safe-For-Work}. Are those the results you want? {you decide}

Super Squats by Randall J. Strossen may sound like a great book, but the results are well over-hyped and simply a marketing gimmick. While breathing squats are extremely hard, the body can only build so much muscle naturally and there is no amount of exercise that can change it. Even if you vomit during your squats or even collapse, it does not mean that you will get bigger or transform yourself into Batman. The only thing that’s happening in your favor is that you are improving your cardiovascular health and increasing your pain tolerance along with getting better at breathing squats. The extra pain, unfortunately, does not equal extra muscle mass, but in the end of the day the choice is up to you.

{you decide}

Additional notes:

Warning!

Breathing squats could be dangerous because during the last repetitions the technique of most trainees usually goes out of the window, and serious trauma to the lower back, knee or hip may occur. In general, complex exercises like squats and deadlifts should always be performed with a strict form in order to avoid spinal injuries. However, most people often sacrifice their form when the weight gets too heavy or they are simply tired. That’s why NattyOrNot.com does not recommend that you do breathing squats unless you are already experienced with the basic back barbell squat, and know for sure that your technique is correct.

Disclaimer: NattyOrNot.com does NOT support the usage of illegal substances. The content above is solely for informational purposes and is NOT written by a medical professional. The website is not responsible for any kind damages that may be caused by the uploaded articles – the very same way a knife seller is not responsible for the actions of his clients. Be wise – love yourself and your body.

One comment

  1. Rick bolten

    This workout is taken from the old 1940’s Squats and Milk workout . I do not wholeheartedly agree with your view on testosterone increase or excess protein consumption .I do agree with your opinion that yes breathing squats can be dangerous. I would like to point out that his instructions in the book can lead to injury and /or burnout. there is a proper method to building up to the 20 rep breathing squats that are not shown. As with many of the reproduced “old timers” workouts much is left out and discarded for example what is now out there as Hackenschmidts workout , the routine used by Marvin Eder, Reg Parks , Dan Luries methods all compromised by greed and a quick sell and though may contain part of the workout it does not include all and the whys hows and explainations of methods

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