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The 100-rep squat for size, strength and cardio-vascular gains.

The first time I squatted (ever) was about 4 years ago. My training partner was a lot older and far more experienced at weight training than I was, and having seen no real improvement in leg strength or size since I started, he decided we should squat. We began with 30kg with the aim of doing 100 repetitions in one set.

We failed.

It took about 5 sets each, and while the first 30 reps were relatively easy, the rest can only be described as torture. Aside from obvious excruciating burning in my quads, I also experienced extreme pain in the soles of my feet, a sheer numbness in my calves and a lot of discomfort in my back and arms from holding the bar for so long. I also thought my rib cage might explode, although, as a sports therapist, I’ve never heard of such an injury.

Cardio workout

It was a cardio workout as much as it was a resistance workout. I never walked or slept properly for a week because of the pain I was in, and I’m not ashamed to say I almost cried. However, the second attempt wasn’t as bad, and on the third attempt I managed 100 reps without racking the bar once, which was a very proud moment! Within a month I had seen incredible gains in strength and size, and it was all because of squatting 100 reps with just 30kg.

Squats are considered by many experts to be the most beneficial resistance exercise there is, and with good reason. This exercise really is a whole-body workout in itself; targeting the thighs, back, glutes and chest (that’s right, chest). Squatting can also be used for maximising gains from other exercises in a workout, due to vast amount of hormones, such as testosterone, that are released when squatting. For this reason, there is an argument for squatting at the beginning of EVERY resistance workout.

Traditional Back Squat

There are numerous variations of the squat, such as the front squat, jump squat, hack squat, pistol squat and zercher squat to name just a few. However, for the sake of this blog, the focus of attention will be on the traditional back squat, with the bar resting across the shoulder blades. Foot position should be should width apart and pointed slightly outwards, although it really depends on which muscles you want to target. Squatting with your feet closer together will target the outer muscles of the thighs, while a wider stance will focus more on the adductor muscles of your inner thighs.

Get the Pump

Many bodybuilders believe the most effective way to increase muscle size and strength is through the use of something called “the pump”. Basically, the pump involves getting as much blood into a specific body part through the use of various resistance training techniques, such as drop sets. This increased blood flow causes the affected muscle to appear temporarily larger or “pumped” after training, but it also results in an increased flow of nutrients through the fatigued muscle, which aids recovery and maximises gains. For evidence of its effectiveness, I recommend the bodybuilding book, “Get the pump”.

The 100 Rep squat

There is no doubt in my mind that the 100 rep squat definitely gives you “the pump”, regardless of the weight used. The advantage of starting with a light weight, particularly for beginners, is that near the end of this gruelling workout, fatigue may cause a dip in form, which could lead to injury, although this is less likely when using a lighter weight. No matter how strong you think you are, I would advise that you use 30kg the first time you try this. It might also be a good idea to book a week off work before you try it!

One more thing: deep squats only, parallel squatting is for wimps.