The classic barbell squat is quite possibly the greatest all-around exercise—it targets your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as the rest of your body. And to reap the muscle-building benefits of the beloved move, you don’t need to train like a powerlifter. Instead of upping your weight, increase your reps. Doing more than 10 squats per set induces significant muscle growth, and is a strategy endorsed by strength coaches like Bret Contreras.
“The 20-rep squat protocol has packed more mass on lifters’ thighs than just about any program out there,” says Contreras.
Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that muscle grows to the same extent when you push lighter weights to failure as it does when you lift heavy loads to failure.
Become a better athlete and build lower-body muscle in just four weeks with this high-volume legs-training program:
The 100-rep squat workout
Do this training program on Mondays and Thursdays for the next 28 days. Use no more than 95lbs the first week. Rest 45 seconds between sets of squats. Perform exercises 2A and 2B with 45 seconds of rest after you’ve completed each back-to-back move.
1. Barbell squat
Reps: 30, 30, 20, 20
Drive your hips back and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause, and return to the start.
2A. Barbell Romanian deadlift
Place a loaded barbell set at mid-thigh height in the rack. Grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip, and step back. Brace your abs, and drive your hips back until your trunk is nearly parallel to the floor. Squeeze your glutes, and push your hips forward to return to the start.
2B. Barbell hip thrust
Sit on the floor, and rest your back on a bench positioned parallel to the bar. Roll a loaded barbell up your thighs, so the bar sits on your hips. Squeeze your glutes, and drive your heels into the floor to lift the barbell. Maintain a straight line through your shoulders, hips, and knees. Return to the start, and repeat.