T Nation

20 Rep Squats: A Road to Injury?


It seems like a lot of people get injured when doing the 20 rep squat program. Is all the positive feed-back from this program worth the risk of possible injury?


I never had problems with it. I did the Super Squat routine that Ironmind has. Worked great for me.



I don't think I've heard of anyone doing it and getting injured... If you do stupid shit with any training program you're gonna hurt yourself like.


I'll chime in and say that I've never been hurt doing 20 rep squats. Doesn't mean it can't happen, but I think most of the time these types of injuries are just uncovering weak links in the chain, and aren't the CAUSE of the injury. We all have imbalances and old injuries (that we know or don't know about) and overuse injuries years and years in the making that have nothing to do with weight training. But, once we step under a weight and start testing these sub-standard areas we uncover the flaws pretty quick.

It's like driving a beat up old car. It drives fine years and years then you drive it into one too many potholes and the engine falls out. Did the pot hole cause the issue? Well, it uncovered the fact that your engine mounts have been rusting away for years. So do we warn people never to drive on streets with bumps ad pot holes? You could, but that would make life awfully hard, and we already discovered that the real issue was the engine mounts. So when people complain about avoiding this exercise or that lift, they are typically drawing the wrong conclusion between cause and effect.

Of course, the average "Don't throw a 45lb plate into the air and catch it with your teeth" is sound advice, but your typical "don't squat, don't overhead press, etc..." isn't.


I've just read a lot of people get this terrible headache in the back of the head.

I've never tried 20 rep squats but I recall one time doing high reps and this headache exploding in the back of my head, kept me out of the gym for a month or so. I guess I'm a bit afraid of the 20 reps because of the above reason.


apart from the urge to vomit, never had any bad feeling while doing 20reps.


Probably from holding your breath, squeezing your neck and/or crunching your teeth.


I hate those because puking is inevitable, If I do not puke I know I did not put enough weight on the bar.


I never heard of anyone getting injured either. I've had my figertips go numb, but I just decide I'm not going to be a pussy, and finish the set.


Haha, I get the hand/arm numbness too. It's a great feeling after racking, puking, and deep breathing to feel all the blood come rushing back.


You should take up golf.


I don't quite understand the need to puke on a workout that's all about being anabolic, but I've run 20 rep squats before and I'm presently using an RE protocol with my squats, and have received no injuries training this way.


I got a head ache like that from bcaa's you on them?


Behave yourself.


Not at all. It happened a while ago, twice actually. I squat in the 4-6 rep range most of the time now.


I did a 20 rep squat program last winter and put on about 20lbs of BW and my squat poundages took off. Never puked, never hallucinated, but definitely suffered a bit. I got up to ~30lbs more than I thought I would be able to and got a decent carry over to my 1 rm. I ran it for about 5 or 6 weeks, w/ 2 sets of 20 a week before I stalled out.

I've also suffered from exertional headaches, and I attribute it more to an inflamed trap then anything breathing related. Ibuprofen allowed me to get through workouts, when without it my head would be pounding doing my warm up sets. This occured before the 20 rep program, which I got through relatively pain free.

The only negative experience I had was an extremely tight lower back, that required me skipping a couple 20 rep workouts and doing some decompression hangs, near the end of it.


This is interesting. I've been suffering from headaches recently and wasn't sure why. In the last couple of weeks I've been doing significantly higher volume than in the past. It isn't 20 rep sets but 40 reps spread out over a number of working sets and 70 reps including warm ups and whatnot. This is 3 time/week.

It's to the point where I had abrasions on my traps from the bar and my upper back feels it more than anything else. Good to know. I guess I'll just keep hammering back the ibuprofen.


Stretching my traps helped too, the levatator scapulae in particular. I'll move my neck all over the place and find where it is tight. Holding a heavy dumbell to anchor the shoulder or reaching behind yourself to grab a piece of a chair is also another way to do it.

Then sometimes instead of pushing your head, just dig your fingers in and hold on particularly sore spots.



Yea. In my case it was the traps, seems like it's so close to the skull that it makes your head hurt.

I had to take off from training for a while though. I also got massages on my back and trap area a few times a week until I was able to go back to training without pain.


Thanks. That was on my list of mobility/stretching but I'd never done it.

To another posters point, I'd had a number of issues about a month before my last meet. None of them were injuries but imbalances in my body that became apparent when I got under a bar. Weak lower abdominals translated into severe quad pain due to a chain reaction from my body overcompensating.

I now spend quite a bit of time doing stretching and mobility work particularly for my hips. If you have a job where you sit on your ass all day hip mobility sucks.