The Myths Behind Super Squats by Randall J. Strossen

| by Truth Seeker |

Many authors of strength literature present the barbell back squat as the most effective exercise for a natural bodybuilder. Consequently, the majority of the training programs written for beginners are built around the back squat. This may be the current trend, but the idea that squats produce quick and extraterrestrial hypertrophy within the body of a natural lifter goes back many years.

In 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 material presented a way to gain an enormous amount of muscle mass in a little over a month (six weeks) by doing the following exercises: squats, press behind the neck, bench press, pullover, barbell rows and stiff legged deadlifts. The heart of the program was, of course, the squat and more precisely the breathing squat.

“Breathing” stands for taking a breath in between repetitions. The trainee is supposed to inhale and exhale deeply after a repetition is completed.

The squat hits the back and legs. Since those muscles groups form a large portion of the human musculature, the cardiovascular system of the trainee is put to a tremendous test too.

Performing breathing squats for high repetitions (15+) is so hard that people refer to the exercise as “widowmakers”. The idea is that squats done for high repetitions are so painful and tough that they can actually result in death and leave someone a widow.

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


Sets and Repetitions

Press behind the neck

3 x 12

Squat super-setted with pullover

1 x 20

Bench press

3 x 12

Barbell Row

3 x 15

Stiff legged deadlift

1 x 15


1 x 20

The program is done 2-3 times a week. If all reps are completed, more weight is added to the bar.

Note: High rep squats are dangerous because more often than not the form of the lifter is atrocious during the final reps.

While breathing squats are the core, the nutritional aspect is covered by the consumption of milk.

In the book Super Squats, Randall J. Strossen presented a 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 natural bodybuilders are advised to consume about a gallon of milk a day to grow. While this old-school talk sounds delicious and wonderful, there is more to the story. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is part of a carefully elaborated marketing strategy designed to convince the individual to buy a product and/or an 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.


The notion that squats and deadlifts increase the natural production of testosterone is supported by many experts. Unfortunately, it’s false. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that the testosterone released after a heavy set of squats or deadlifts is worth looking into as far as muscle hypertrophy 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.


People like Randall J. Strossen, Mark Rippetoe, Pavel Tsatsouline and Marty Gallagher promote overeating as a way to build a lot of muscle mass. Unfortunately, past a certain threshold, the extra food does not result in extra muscle growth. Everything extra is stored as fat cells.

In the past, Mark Rippetoe was a heavy supporter of overeating. According to him, beginners and advanced lifters should consume between 4,000 and 6,000 calories a day to get big and strong. Just type “starting strength before and after” in a search engine, click on images, and you will witness the atrocities that this plan has produced.

In conclusion

Super Squats by Randall J. Strossen may sound like a great book, but the results are over-hyped to the point where the whole thing seems like a marketing gimmick. The body can only build so much muscle naturally. You cannot break the natural limits simply by exercising in a specific fashion. Even if you vomit during your squats or even collapse, you will not break the natty chains.

In this case, the extra pain does come with extra muscle mass. Moreover, you will probably get fat and experience stomach problems if you drink that much milk. My advice is to stop looking for shortcuts and just train in a more conservative fashion. At the end of the day, however, the choice is yours.

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  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

    1. Arnold

      Every one that I knows this routine fails! It takes gut to do this routine! Instead of milk I used Milk protein powder and it worked! After 6 weeks you change into a regular full body routine. I am a natural trainer.I was blessed to meek Don Hale and a bunch 0f old school body builders and I used Rheo h.Blairs protein drink wich has protein raw organic eggs half and half 3xaday with digestive enzymes ,and I grew! I started at 180lbs . In a year I went to 215lbs .So stop complining and get to work!


      I honestly have to say..,, that you are WRONG !!! This isn’t a “marketing gimmick”. I know, because I did it. I drank a gallon of milk, and did the 20 rep SQUATS ( and vomitted at times ), and took my SQUAT from 135 x 20 to 280x 20, which took my weight from 162, to 206 pds in 5 months ( I ran the program on and off in that time ). My strength went through the roof on all of my other exercise to. My pathetic bench went from 185 x 4 to 225 x 12 for several sets, curl from 100 x 8 to 165 x 8, my press went up to 205 x 6 (standing ), which I don’t even know what it was prior . My “strength confidence ” was unbelievable, as was my progress. All of my friends thought I was on the gas, and I ABSOLUTELY wasn’t, or would ever be. The problem is, it is EXTREMLY HARD, to do 20-REP SQUATS, so people make excuses, and say it doesn’t work. IT WORKS, IF YOU HAVE THE BALLS TO STICK w/ IT !!!

  2. Mike Chomin

    Have you ever followed this routine exactly as outlined?

    1. Rick

      Yes with the exception of the diet. It does work, you will put on size without a doubt I just did not need the amount of calories he recommended as I am a meso/endomorph and need to watch the smoothing out, I did have advice from “old timers” who knew the original routine from the days of Grimek and Marvin Eder also used it. What is written here is not the exact routine in the book and also the book leaves a few things out.

      1. usesomebrain

        “Yes with the exception of” means “No”

  3. Craig

    I remember using this system when I was nearly 16 years old. (Around 1990) I was hyperactive and had a huge appetite anyway.I was consuming rice and tuna/pasta and tuna by the salad bowl (I kid you not) along with 4 litres of milk , eggs, liver, anything and everything I could chuck down my throat. Heck I was already eating so much before this program. I weighed 5 and a half stone soaking wet with a sky high metabolism yet I managed to add 5 to 10 pounds of weight on the squats every time I trained which was 3 times a week. Within 3 months (I decided to do it for 12 weeks) I had gone from 5 and a half stone to 9 and a half stone. A solid addition of 42 kg of muscle. I was still ripped to shreds where you could see my serratus, heck I looked like a human anatomy book of muscles. I then proceeded to go back to running long distance (Half marathons/marathons as I got older) but continued with a tamed version of the super squats program to maintain my strength base. In the military I was deadlifting 145kg for reps at a body weight of 73kg (8% body fat) while doing marathons and half marathons and some triathlon training. In short. For me it worked. It really worked well and it served me well. I used to eat 6 to 7 full big meals every single day to the point where other military personel would ask me if I wanted hiking boots for my dinner.

  4. Jeff Farelli

    I have used heavy high rep squats for years. They give you the biggest bang for your buck. The key to not burning out is cycling your poundages knowing when to cut back and changing set/ rep schemes. I have never suffered an injury on high reps. I recommend this program, keep your protein intake higher, you don’t half to go crazy with the milk to reap any of the benefits, start with a 45lb if u half too! My best ever was a 270 for 20 reps,no belt no wraps, and all parallel. Recently I cycled back to 205 for 20 reps. I try to squat once a week, it works for me….. know your own self and do what works for you.

  5. Keith

    I am afraid I have to discount your review if the 20 rep squat program, why? Because you sell your own programs and books.
    99% out of a hundred, when someone reviews a product and they slate it and sell their own products means only one thing.
    Hundreds of people have used the 20 rep squat program with desired effects. Yes of course some have failed but then again with all programs, some are successful and some people are not.
    I would not follow the gallon of milk per day not unless you are seriously underweight otherwise eat regularly take protein and creatine to help you in your way and use common sense, sometimes you may not be able to increase the weight as prescribed then you add a less weight to the bar.
    Use common sense and it will work for everyone

  6. Ron

    Wieder so ein Faktenchecker, der Reputation auf der Arbeit Anderer aufbauen möchte.
    In den 90ern haben meine Kumpels und ich Alle zeitweise nach Strossens Programm trainiert. Wir sind Alle massiger und stärker geworden.

    Ich trainiere jetzt seit über 30 Jahren und mir geht dieses ganze Gequatsche um das Training herum tierisch auf den Sack.

    Trainiert einfach hart und schwer, futtert (und trinkt) fleißig Proteine und genießt in der übrigen Zeit euer Leben!, v. a. die analogen Parts!

  7. matt bowen

    First, the origin of the milk component came solely from Paul Anderson’s 1950s legend. Strossen wrote Anderson’s biography, The Mightiest Minister. Secondly, versus barbell on shoulders squats, Strossen promoted using his squats hip belt. I have one and HIGHLY recommend it. This eliminates the spinal compression / contortion risk and allows gaining the same benefit with much less weight burden.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Yes, hip belt squats are underrated, mainly because they require an expensive machine/setup. I had a ghetto setup at home (DIY dip belt + T-bar handle loaded with plates) for a while. It wasn’t comfortable.

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