Well, it’s about time we found out.
Breathing squats have long been touted as a heavenly saint for gaining mass. Intermittent fasting à la Leangains supposedly facilitates mass gain without fat gain. Is it love at first sight?
Before I catch hell, let me say that I’m not an ideal candidate for this program. Since recovering from a broken foot, I gravitated towards minimalism. This past summer was nothing but deadlifts, dumbbell floor presses, chin-ups, push-ups, and assorted carries. I was perfect for me at the time.
But since venturing into heavy loading in November, the nerve pain in my foot has grown. I hold no interested in having 315+ on my back. So lowe(er) load high repetition squat work is ideal. Come March, I play many sports making it impossible to run this program then. So now is the perfect imperfect time.
A quick disclaimer: despite often spewing athletic nonsense, this quest has no athletic bearing. I’m in it solely for the guns y’all.
IMPORTANT LIFESTYLE NOTES
Sunday I usually eat whatever I want in unlimited quantity. Sometimes it’s as innocent as wine, spaghetti, meatballs, and calzones. Othertimes it’s as naughty as nachos and Newcastle Brown Ale. Following this “feast” day, I fast. The fast lasts either 24 or 40ish hours, depending on how terrible I feel.
All other days I follow a Leangains-esque intermittent fasting template. Wake up is at 6-7AM followed by a couple cups of coffee. Training goes down from 12PM – 2PM (round about). Following that is my first meal: a huge bowl of oats, chicken, sporadic vegetables, and my very own super special protein pudding (three scoops of protein and cinnamon mixed with a tiny bit of water). But there’s a universal law: an oatmeal volcano must be architected to house to protein pudding. Oatmeal volcano’s make me very happy.
I don’t normally measure servings, but curiosity got the better of me one day. My volcano was constructed upon 1000-or-so kcals worth of oats. The second bowl in the picture of above houses couscous, chicken, and vegetables.
Later on I eat more meat, vegetables, chicken, and mucho eggs—it’s very Precision Nutrition inspired. So I don’t 100% carb load on training days. Assuming successful oatmeal volcano creation and consumption, further carbs make me gassy. Sometimes, however, I’ll indulge and suffer (as with the couscous example above, or the wheat berry example below). On off days, it’s all meats, eggs, cheeses, and vegetables.
- My upper body lifts are pathetic. Just more proof that getting strong in barbell lifts isn’t always the only way to look semi-respectably muscled. Long live chin-ups and deadlifts.
- I’m not at the stage of training advancement I should be. Ideally, I would have already busted through linear progression with the rows and incline press. But, as mentioned, this will serve as that. And if there are hormonal benefits from 20 rep squats, it will make it more meaningful, as my lower body strength is “good” enough to benefit from the 20 reppers.
- Most traditional twenty rep squat programs call for three training session per week. Because I’m an idiot, asshole, and jackass, I will be training four days per week. But the program is rooted in a high-low central nervous system activation scheme. Therefore—outside of shoulder presses—recovery shouldn’t be much of an issue given my body’s current level of adaptation.
- Did I mention my upper body strength is pathetic?
- Warm ups start with dynamic stretching and transition to 6 round of: 10 jumping jacks, 5 pull-ups, 5 squats, and 5 push-ups with some hanging leg raises mixed in. It may seem excessive, but I’ve built tolerance for these movements.
- Some front squats are done before the breathing squats. Idiotic, I know, but it will serve future-me better because they are my primary squat lift.
- My journey will be chronicled on Twitter under the hashtag #20REPEXP. So if you search twitter for “20repexp,” you will find a sporadic log with pictures (I already posted before pictures). Detailed updates will be posted weekly on this here blog.
The program alternates two basic workouts, and is a modification of a program Aram Hamparian used to throw around.
Day One (Wednesday)
A1) Incline Press 2-3×12
A2) Romanian Deadlift 2×15
A3) Kip-Ups, Unilateral Shock Absorption Work
B) Barbell Row 2-3×15
C) Breathing Squats 1×20
D) Breathing Pullovers 1×20
Day Two (Thursday)
A1) Overhead Press 2×10
A2) Barbell Curl 2×10
B1) Dips 1 x as many
B2) Close Grip Chins 2 x as many
C1) Hanging Leg Raises 2 sets
C2) Calf Work 2 sets
D) Gymnastics and Tumbling Circuit
Day Three (Saturday)
Same as Wednesday
Day Four (Sunday)
Same as Thursday, except with Dumbbell Overhead Press
- Incline presses, romanian deadlifts, and barbell rows work up to a max rep set. If the rep range is hit on one of the sets, five pounds is added the following workout.
- Kip-ups and shock absorption work is for my foot (and because kip-ups are way cool).
- Breathing squats are done with 2-5 breaths per rep. If the reps are hit, ten pounds is added for next workout.
- Pullovers are done with twenty pounds, inhaling mega air and stretching the chest as much as possible.
- Dips and chins are rep progressions unless thirty is hit in one set.
- Gymnastics and tumbling: planche progression held for thirty seconds, some rolls, handstand progression held for thirty seconds, some rolls, front lever progression held for thirty seconds, and some rolls. This “circuit” is repeated twice, keeping the heart rate going.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
Back to the original question: how would intermittent fasting and high repetition breathing squats effect body composition? Give me eight to ten weeks. I’ll let you know then.