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Congratulations to Nino and Kira on the birth of their first daughter, Olivia Kathleen DePaola!

20 Rep Squats
by Christian Fox
 
            Holy Cow! What’s gotten into our water? As you likely have seen or experienced, we’ve started a new strength cycle at CFSBK. The squat programming is something that many of you have not seen before. We’re doing 1 work set each exposure, and that one set will be for 20 repetitions. This is a new challenge to your body, but also to your mind and will. 20 reps is a LONG set, and it takes a bit of fortitude to stay under the bar and keep moving down and up. As this is quite a departure from the way we’ve programmed the squat variants in the past, here is a short write-up on it…
 
 
Why? – Mainly twofold. One reason is the added volume. We’ve been working 3 sets of 5 reps or less (15 or fewer reps total) for some time now. The increased volume will stimulate muscle growth, and more muscle equals stronger. Once the bar starts to feel heavy you’ll have to literally use your whole body to move the weight. It’ll call in some muscles you may not have squatted with before. If you’re trying to gain muscle mass then the next 4 weeks will be a good time to add in some extra calories, especially on squat days.
            The other reason for 20 reps is mental. 4 sets of 5 does not 1 set of 20 make. It’s a different approach to the lift, and sometimes it’s good to break up monotony. This is a new challenge.
 
How? – Warm up the lift like you’re warming up for a set of 5. Here’s a sample warm up for a work weight of 200lbs. 45x5, 95x5, 135x5, 165x3, 190x2, and 200x20.  Some people like to do single rep at a weight heavier than the work weight so the bar will “feel” lighter. Since the work weight is significantly sub-max you can do this, but I think it’s unnecessary. Importantly, this is NOT 20 reps for time! These sets can last quite some time. Once you get to the halfway point it can almost become rest/pause training. Some programs call for 3-5 deep breaths in between reps making a set last as long as 3 minutes. The point is to take your time. Reps 10-15 should feel hard, with the last few being a real struggle. It will be hard, don’t stop when it starts to feel heavy. Breathe and keep going. If you crank out 20 reps without slowing down you’ve gone too light. Re-assess. We’re doing 20 reps for exposures 1-6, then a back off exposure, and finishing on exposure 8 by testing a 1RM. Ideally you are adding 2 ½ - 5 lbs to the bar in exposures 2-6 so plan accordingly.
 
What if I don’t get all 20 reps? – Go at the same weight next exposure. If you miss the reps for 2 exposures in a row drop back 5-10 lbs.
 
Do I have to do 20 reps? – Yes.
 
Really? – Ok, maybe not if you haven’t completed at least 1 squat exposure of sets across in a linear progression, either with us or on your own. If you’re new out of Foundations this may apply to you. Talk to your coach and ask if you should do 5x3 instead. If you have significant movement impairments that will be made worse by adding intensity you may also be better served by 5x3. Again, just ask.
 
What else? – Surprise! 20 rep squats will likely make you sore. This can be especially true the first few exposures. We’re going to be doing power cleans this cycle to keep additional squatting to a minimum, so that should help. Keep in mind that muscle soreness doesn’t have to be an impediment to a good training session. Here’s what you can do as well:
 
-Eat! Right after your squat workouts, have something to start the muscle recovery process. I don’t care if that means GOMAD, or 3 oz of chicken breast with ¼ cup of rice and 1 Tbsp of macadamia butter (you Zone freak you) just eat. You already do that though, don’t you?
 
-Move! Light calisthenics, foam roll/lax ball work, and some stretching can work wonders on a set of sore legs and hips. Wait, you already do this too? I’m sorry.
 
-Dose! Do your fish oil thing. Here’s the deal, yo! I’m really preaching to the choir here. Jiggy. CFSBK Gals and Guys do all this stuff already.
 
            One last thing…ENJOY your squats! 3 Cheers to squats!
__________________
On December 11th, CrossFit Hoboken will be hosting their annual Winter Challenge.  We sent a team last year and would love to send some folks this year too!  Dan L has alright signed up and offered to drive 3 more people.  Interested? Sign up today!

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Reader Comments (22)

Welcome Olivia! Congratulations, Kira and Nino!

Thanks for the write-up, Chris. The bit about taking it nice and slow on the 20 reps is especially useful.
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSamir Chopra
"What else? – Surprise! 20 rep squats will likely make you sore. "

Hahahaha, oh, SO SORE! Gah! Today I can walk normally again instead of just hobbling around. Did I leave some cocky comment on Monday about more weight or more reps? I hear you, karma. I hear you and humbly apologize...
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelon
(edit: that was Saturday, not Monday. geeeenius.)
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelon
Conratulations Kira and Nino!Mr. Fox, a wonderful write up, as usual.
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Mak
Big congrats to Kira and Nino! Welcome Olivia!!!

Great write-up Mr. Fox. I've never done anything like it before, so I was excited to try something different. The part about it being "a new challenge to your body, but also to your mind and will" is SO true. I was actually surprised by how much I wanted to let the bar slide right off my back during my latter reps. I was also surprised my how out of breath I got. Definitely plan on taking these slower next time in order to control my breathing.

Looking forward to these high rep exposures! Would love to hit a new squat PR at the end of the cycle!







November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJess
Congrats Kira and Nino! 105lb Back squats with Micheline. Freaking hard, but I didn't really slow down, so I may have to reassess my weight. When I did these last Friday I was hurting bad, so did a fair amount of foam rolling when I got home...let's see how hobbled I am tomorrow.

Nevertheless, really dig these high reps.
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenn Maldonado
Congrats Kira and Nino!

And as per Mr. Fox - 3 Cheers for Squats, indeed!!!
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAvi
To follow up on this 20 rep squat stuff. If the weight is light all this additional volume wont be a huge impediment to your recovery. However if you're an experienced lifter with a well established 1RM, once the weights get up around 65-70% of that 1RM you need to be careful. True 20 rep squat programs are designed to be used by people who's training is limited to only lifting 3 days a week. If you're doing 3 other days of crossfit on top of 2 intense 20 rep squat days there's a risk of burnout. Skip an exposure or squat with lower volume that day, something like a 3x3 at 80%. I'm not saying to run off on your own program, I'm telling you to use caution when playing with powerful medicine, watch your dosage.

Finally I want to preemptively sooth the nerves of lifters who may not hit a new 1RM in a few weeks. Some of you will, some of you may not. New lifters probably will. For the more advanced lifters it's going to be predicated on putting on some muscle. If you do, you'll have more mass available to move the bar. If you don't the high power muscle fibers (the ones used in 1RMs) are going to be a little under trained since they don't get used on 20rep sets. There's still value to be had in what you did though, Fox mentioned the mental aspect of pushing through difficult reps and there is the opportunity to get intimately connected with your squat over the next 3 weeks.
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy
Since we are all nerding out today, I'd like to ask why we started our clean cycle with singles yesterday (as opposed to doing triples or whatever). I'm sure this has something to do with the nature of the lift, and some training objectives the coaches have in mind, and I'd love to learn.

November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSamir Chopra
Babies and crazy new squat cycles, excitement all around. Thanks for the infos Fox and Jeremy, I really appreciate the xtra info on why we're doing it, what to expect and how to cope. :)
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBethany
Congratulations Nino and Kira! Olivia is a beautiful name.

Good luck with the squats folks!

(Go Eagles)
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJr
Really interesting write-up Chris, we used to do something like this at Crossfit Culver City. Is there a way to work this into a linear strength program? Maybe on the low intensity/low volume day instead of heavy front squats?

Best

Jake

November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacob Glazebnik
Jake - 20 reps at the weights we're prescribing would fit as a high volume or repetition day to complement a max effort day.

Chopes - It's good to have a current number >90%/1RM to base the rest of the month on.
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFox
Thanks!
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacob Glazebnik
1. Caption contest for tomorrow's blog photo on the cfsbk facebook machine: http://www.facebook.com/CFSBK

2. Today's MOD was steak, steamed veggies and water.

3. Re: 20 rep squats, I'd just like to say that we often get really obsessed with our 1RMs. But a 1rm is as valid and important as a 3rm or a 5rm or in this case, a 20rm. Stronger is stronger. For some this will translate to a new 1RM and for many others it will not, but it will provide a 20rm benchmark for everyone.

Like J said, this is a high volume set and can really beat the piss out of you. Listen to your body and back off according to his recommendations if you feel like you're just not recovering from workouts.
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Osorio
These workout WO explanations are excellent-- it's great to hear the logic behind program (and that there is a logic behind it :-)

I'm still working my linear progression so I can't thrash myself with this 20 rep set just yet. I am deloading a bit between bi-weekly PR attempts— doing the heavy every 2 days is just getting to be too much. Today I did that with Front Squats, my first real FS workout since Jeremy taught me a few weeks ago. I did 145x5x3 for the work sets. It was good, but my right wrist/elbow got funky-tight on me. The last few reps were tough as I wanted to lean forward which then brought more pressure on my arm. Definitely going to take some getting used to the FS— just the bar position alone is a challenge. This Thursday I attempt 247.5 x5x3 for my 1.5x bodyweight Back Squat goal. I'm going to knock that shit out.

After the FS, I then did push presses and screwed up my neck/shoulder. I did 130x3x4 work sets and I must be turning my head when I have to strain to get it overhead. Not enough push I guess. I did the same thing Sunday-- it took 2 days to get better and now I've tweaked again. Need to review with J.

Today was probably my last trip to NY Sports Club. Good riddance.
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRob Is
Did tomorrow's work tonight...20 rep set: (45x5, 45x5, 95x5, 135x3) 155x20I missed last Saturday's exposure so I was kind of guessing what weight to use here. This wasn't too bad at all--not a vacation by any means but the last reps weren't that much slower than the beginning. Plenty of room to grow.Then 5 rds of 25 DU and 10 K2E. 12:22. Double unders are going lots better; I'm sure they don't look great but I was able to get the 25 in only 4 or 5 sets instead of lots of singles.Then active recovery. Good times!
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkatie
so i thought the 20 rep thing was like a 1 time deal, experiment. now i hear we are going to do this a lot! ack. fear. run.



November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSameer Parekh
@SBK:

Front Sq:90x3x5Back Sq: 110x3x3

Jerk Rebounds: 60x2x5

HSPU: 5, +vest x4 x2
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterYoon
20 reps? Better y'all than me, yikes!!

Strength Cycle B, Week 4 - Volume Day

Had to redeem myself after a soul-crushing session on Sunday that threatened to mushroom into an existential crisis.

Squat

w/u: 45x5, 65x5, 85x5, 105x5, 115x2, 120x1work: 127.5x5x5

Crisis averted.

Working on keeping my back set, again. Some progress. No hip tweaks today.

Bench

w/u: 45x5, 55x5, 60x5work: 67.5x3x5

Chins

Backslide. Didn't have it in me this week. At least I hit 7 the final two sets.

blue band 6,7,7

Supplemental progressive pushups: with a bar on the first hole of the rack, two sets of 5 reps.

PWO MOD: lamb.
November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichele
Took 6pm Active Recovery. Good stuff for my stiff legs!

Then,Strict Press:(45x5, 55x5, 65x3) work: 70x5x3-felt good. I used a slightly narrower hand position and felt much more solid.
November 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJess
Came in to do Helen and work on my double under's. Pr'd d/u's at 65 and did "Helen" with "6 strict pull-ups" in 10:25.

November 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDhalioua

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