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Breathing Squats - John McCallum

I know breathing squats were discussed on these forums before, but I am currently reading “The Complete Keys to Progress”, by John McCallum and it’s hard for me to blow something off that a guy like him has so much belief in.

So lets rehash this topic… what do you guys think about the effectiveness of breathing squats? And not necessarily just their ability to “expand the rib box”, but their effectiveness as a muscle builder compared to heavier/low rep squat sets.

I’ve used the super squats program before which is based around the breathing squat. I would say if you have been using a high set/low rep routine for a while now, the breathing squat will knock you on your ass. The 1x20 routine for legs will cause pain and muscle growth like never before - I highly recommend giving it a try.

Breathing squats will cause major growth not because they ‘expand your rib cage’, because the breathing technique allows you to override your legs more than you ussually do.

I dunno, I did the Super Squats program, as per the book, about three years ago. I did it faithfully, have no doubt that I busted my ass on the squats (to the point where I fucked up my back on my last workout when my spotter sucked and I eked out the last three reps anyway), and didn’t see “amazing” gains. My scale weight went up by a couple of pounds, but nothing extraordinary.

I may not have been eating quite as much as the book recommends, but I was eating 5x a day and getting over a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.

I also felt that because the squats were so completely draining, my progress on the other big lifts (especially bench) stalled or even went backward. But, all of that being said, I’m happy I did the program, because it’s incredibly hard, and teaches you to put training pain and training effort in perspective. Makes you mentally tougher too, to some extent.

Yeah, most people tend to follow the plan as per Randall Strossen’s “Super Squats” book.

McCallum’s plan is similar in that I believe it also advocates full body multiple time per week workouts.

I haven’t looked at the original breathing squats program which I believe was written by Mark Berry in the first half of the last century, but Peary Rader (Founder of Ironman) wrote a system based on them back in the 50’s, and he certainly felt it was the most effective program given his 20-30 years of firsthand experience in the trenches in the days when milk was pretty much the only “supplement” people used.

From what I’ve read, results may vary, but hey it’s only a 30 day experiemnt, the worst that can happen is you learn something about yourself.

[quote]John K wrote:
From what I’ve read, results may vary, but hey it’s only a 30 day experiemnt, the worst that can happen is you learn something about yourself.[/quote]

nice angle John K!

are you guys meaning to say that you DON’T breath during normal squat sets of say, 5 reps?
wow, the only time I hold my breath is maybe for 1 or 2 rep sets.

i really like doing those. they’re preety frickn demanding and if i do them for say 3 weeks i’ve found i need to eat more and sleep more than usual to keep feeling good. for that reason i try to do them in the morning so i get the benefit of eating all day plus it’s easier to get to bed on time. for me just paying attention to that seems to be the difference between getting some gains or just getting tired.

Breathing squats are systemic in nature, they efect your entire body inside and out, as well as your mind. For that reason you simply cannot over do them as so many try to.

It is easy to overtrain on a breathing squat routine by 1)doing too many sets of the squat, 2) doing too many other exercises, 3) trying to do other heavy exercises along with the squats, and 4) training too often.

To succeed you have to specialize on doing 20 rep breathing squats, everything else is secondary. You must complete the twenty reps no matter how hard they seem by exercising your will power, and still add five more pounds the following workout.

Because they are so demanding one set is all that is required. Two sets are just too physically and mentally demanding. You need to recover between workouts so two days training per week is nescessary. Eat a full weight gaining diet with lots of protien. Do a few light exercises to stimulate upper body growth, nothing too strenuous. Expanders are good in this case if you do six to ten exercises one set only using 12-15 reps each.

Every strength athlete and body builder from the 30s, 40s and 50s (the pre-roids era), used breathing squats with success. Doug Hepburn, Paul Anderson, Steve Reeves and Reg Park all used them with great success in their chosen field. I went from using 125 LBS to 250 LBS for 20 reps in the breathing squat and gained 6 inches on my chest.

Give them a try. They still work today, that is if you work hard enough at them.

In the pre-roids era of the 40s and 50s everybody who was anybody built up on 20 rep breathing squat programs. I used them successfully, going from 125 on the bar to 250 for the 20 reps to gain over 6 inches on my chest.

Whereas back then breathing squats were a specialization routine unto themselves people nowadays go wrong trying to just add them into a routine.

If you want to specialize on breathing squats (and you should), try this routine:

  1. crunch situps - 1 set, 100 reps
  2. breathing squats - 1 set 20 reps
  3. dumbell pullovers - 1 set 20 reps

The pullover is kept light 10-20 lbs tops concentrating on deep breathing as the arms go back behind your head. You can add a few other light exercises to stimulate upper body growth such as calesthetics or expander exercises. But let the breathing squat be your only heavy weight exercise in this program. And you must train only two times per week.

Do them like this; take the weight from the bar and step back a few feet. Do the first 5 reps with 1 full deep breath between each squat, 6-10th reps take 2 deep breaths between, 11-15th three deep breaths, and 15-20th four (or as many breaths as required to complete the set).

You have to work extremely hard and on top of that you have to keep on increasing the weight you are using. For that reason will power is extremely important. And because it is so mentally and physically enervating one set twice a week is tops.