If you try Super Squats, you will be a different person by the end of it.
Note: I am not a medical professional or athletic coach. None of this is medical advice. It only covers my personal experience.
Super Squats is a program published in a book from the 1980s. The program centers around a set of 20 rep squats– just one single set of 20. Unlike how squats usually work, breathing squats involve taking deep breaths after every rep. That’s why the book suggests doing 20 reps with a weight you normally use for 10. That means, besides actually doing the reps, you have to deal with carrying a big load on your back for 3-4 minutes without getting a break. It’s, ah, not that comfortable.
You can buy the book online; it’s better than trying to pirate some third-hand distorted version from the internet that could provide misleading information. Oh, and I know it says “30 pounds of muscle in 6 weeks,” and I’m aware that the internet sometimes loves to latch onto this bit of marketing copy just to nitpick. But, hey, if you’ve ever seen anyone fixated on this detail rather than whether or not the program actually works, that tells us everything we need to know about their opinion.
Yeah, yeah, alright
How it works, in theory
Food: Do exactly what the book says (in short: eat everything you can see and drink a gallon of milk a day).
Sleep: Do exactly what the book says (in short: don’t stand if you can sit, don’t sit if you can lie down, don’t be awake if you can sleep).
Exercise: Do exactly what the book says (in short: 2-3 times a week, for 6 weeks, going up in weight each time).
How it worked, in practice
That was the theory. Practice was a bit different.
I didn’t drink a gallon of milk a day. I understood not doing so would be suboptimal for gaining strength and size. I didn’t care; I chose not to drink a gallon of milk. I did eat a bit more than usual, though I’ve never weighed my food or anything along those lines. My sleep patterns didn’t really change from the norm either.
I also got sick halfway through, so I waited until I was recovered, reduced the weight to ease back in, and got back up to speed. I also never felt 100% ready to lift ever. None of these are excuses for anything– rather, I mention these to illustrate that I didn’t have to be optimized to make progress. It was also helpful to remind myself these were deliberate choices because it forced me to accept any outcomes as the results of my own choices. It made it really obvious where to improve more for next time.
These are two of the most important principles I followed, so I’m going to repeat them again:
Progress doesn’t require perfection.
I have the ability to choose how I go about things, and accept any consequences (both good and bad).
I started by squatting 135 pounds for 20 reps and finished with 195 pounds for 20 reps. On my last day I attempted 200 pounds but only got 13 reps, so I finished with 175 x 10 afterwards.
Did I become physically stronger? Yes, definitely, the weights I started achieving towards the end of the program are personal bests.
But I’ll be honest: the mental side was much harder than the physical effort. A few weeks in, I started noticing that I was getting anxious in the several minutes leading up to the set of 20 squats. During the last of the six weeks, that dread started the moment I set foot in the gym. After finishing the set, I’d lie on the floor and gasp for air, dwelling on the fact that I’d have to do it all over again several days later… with more weight. I often had to actively talk myself through finishing the set, telling myself after 12 reps that I’d quit at 13, and then at 13 I vowed to get 15 and give up, and then once I had 15 I’d say that I only had 5 left and I certainly couldn’t stop until 20. I’d visualize friends standing behind and to the side of me, shouting “YOU’RE NOT TIRED” at my face. Right before the squats, I’d tell myself I would be a different person at the end, because I needed that promise to carry me across the finish line.
Other people may choose to tap into sheer force of will
So, the question everyone seems to always have about reviews like these: was it worth it?
Well, I’ve got an answer: if you run this program, you’ll be a different person at the end.