20 Rep Squat Routine - Off Days, What to do?

Today is day 2 of my 20 Rep Squat routine and wanted to know what you all thought about doing on the days in between. Lifting only 3 days a week seems lame and not enough in burning calories.

I have bookmarked the original program but it seems random in that is had squats, deads, shoulders same day and minimal and NOTHING the other days.

Would doing the 20 reps followed by some deads, leg curls, leg extensions on the same day be good?

Then a normal shoulders workout the next day, back workout the next day, then a day of heavy cleans, heavy snatches?

I’m trying to lose fat, burn calories and get stronger (might be asking for too much).

Thanks in advance!

3 days is plenty. Read a book on your off days.

Wrong routine to lose fat. You might, but that is not the main goal of the program.

If you need more then three days, you are doing it wrong.

The first time I did the program, I stopped after 4 weeks. 100% because I didn’t eat enough.

So for 6 weeks I should just follow the routine bellow? Been making good gains in the my cleans, gonna be hard to lay off those. I can’t see how my back or shoulders will grow on this plan. I usually do 5-6 exercises twice a week for my shoulders and back.

John McCallum’s Original 20 Rep Squat Routine (1968)

Exercise Sets Reps
Behind The Neck Press 3 12
Squat 1 20
Pull Over 1 20
Bench Press 3 12
Bent Over Row 3 15
Stiff Legged Deadlift 1 15
Shrug 1 15
Pull Over

When I ran the program, I followed the super abbreviated version in the book that was just Bench, squats, pull overs and rows. I alternated between that and a day that was Overhead press, squats, pull overs and chins (I actually swapped out bench with dips because I was a rebel like that).

Did you read the book Super Squats? It explains a lot of how to run the program, and I find many folks who fail on this program didn’t read the book. The fact you’re trying to lose fat and get stronger on this program is worrrisome, as it’s not built for either of those goals. It’s purely a mass building program.

On my non-lifting days, I’d train my neck and grip and that was it. Recovery is pretty crucial.

I ran that exact program back when I genuinely had no idea what I was doing. (The McCallum one, not the Super Squats one.)

The real focus of it is the squats and the pullovers. The rest is kind of “filler”, imo. It’s not that it won’t do anything, but the focus should be on doing everything it takes to make sure the squats go up every single session, which includes conserving energy on the off days, getting lots of rest, eating a ton.

You’ll start appreciating that somewhere around week 5.

The first few weeks were easy, but when it started getting hard, it got hard. I could usually build a good amount of momentum up to about rep 13, and then the last 7 reps took a lot of mental work to get through.

It’ll be good though. Think of it as willpower training.


If you decide to do a program, do the program as it is set out

If you don’t like something about the program, just pick a program you do like

Just do some easyish cardio.

If these are your goals, presuming in order of importance, then you’re using the wrong tool/plan for the job, as has been said. Trying to progress on 20-rep squats while following a fat loss nutrition plan is pretty close to a waste of time.

Thanks guys for the replies.

I’m 34, 5’6 and around 160lbs and prior to Thanksgiving was really dialed in, moving up in lifting weights (squat, clean, front squat), injury free and dropped a size or two in pants. My best back squat was 305lb about 5 years ago and just the other day I did 275lb and not really following a program but lifting hard and at times to when I’m dizzy, really pushing myself especially on the cleans and front squats.

I’d rather lift heavy, high intense to burn fat than do cardio. I do cycle but waiting for the rain to stop.

After holidays and reading about Smolov Jr programs, I came across the 20 rep squat routine. My ultimate goal is lean and some abs (never had them) and figured I’d try something new, challenge myself. First two workouts of the 20 rep were easy. I did read that around the 3rd week is when it gets tough. I might give it a go, do body weight stuff and cardio on the off days.

I feel as though your emphasis has been misplaced entirely if your goal is fat loss. You seem more concerned with a method of training to promote fat loss, when in reality nutrition is going to be what gets you there. It’s pretty much impossible to outtrain a bad diet, and the 20 rep squats program tends to create such ravenous hunger that sticking with a solid nutritional strategy becomes difficult.

If your ultimate goal is to get abs, dial in your nutrition and pick a sensible weight training program with a logical progression scheme, like 5/3/1. Every time I’ve had abs, I was never doing cardio, mainly because eating in such a way that results in abs means that I need to DECREASE activity, not increase it. Your calories are going to be low, and your recovery is going to be taxed.

Look into complexes if that’s the case. There are probably a dozen good articles discussing them. This is one. 2-3 days of complexes, 2 days of basic strength work (nothing insane or overly specialized), and a tightened up diet should get you on track.