Simo Survives Super Squats

Those of you who follow my training log will know I have just finished 6 weeks of the Super Squats program. I promised I would do a write up and share my thoughts about the last 6 weeks. There is quite a bit here so sorry for the long post. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed running it.

Firstly for those who don’t read my log, a little about me. I am a 47 year old husband and father of three, who has a full time job 5 days a week and a bunch of other family commitments outside of work. One of the kids has just started high school and the other two are still at primary school. Why tell you that, well I guess I wanted to convey that I am not in the prime of my life where muscle building is concerned, that training is only a small part of my overall week and that I don’t live at home with my mum and have lots of time to sit around on the couch.

I have been lifting weights on and off for 30+ years but have taken many breaks in that time (some of them for multiple years), most recently I have been training in the gym consistently 2 to 3 days a week, for nearly 6 years prior to running super squats. My usual training is focused on building strength, in particular for powerlifting.
I remember first seeing the Super Squat program back in the early 90’s when squatting to get big was all the rage. At that time, I was running the typical 4 day a week bro split so wasn’t really interested. More recently @T3hPwnisher on here got me interested in this program and @tlgains ran the program which further peaked my interest.

As part of my usual training year, I will run one or two hypertrophy blocks, so figured why not run this as one of those blocks. I bought the Ebook and read it many times before committing to the program. I decided that given my age it felt like now or never for me to have a red hot go at it.
I ran the program 3 days a week, training in the evening Monday, Wednesday and Friday and did some conditioning work on the other 4 days of the week, comprising of burpees and some sandbag work.

Stats: I am 5ft 7ish or about 171cm,
At the start of this program I was 88kg or 194lbs
At the end of 6 weeks I was 95.5kg or 210.5lbs
A total weight gain of 7.5kg or 16.5lbs - I say weight gain because obviously only a portion of this gain would be muscle. Having said that I increased size everywhere – legs expanded to the point work pants were uncomfortable, upper body swelled to a point work shirts were tight particularly in the arms and shoulders and of course my power belly grew too.

Before and after pics hopefully paint a better picture than I can put into words:

Before Pics


After Pics


Food for thought

• Eating the food required for this program is at times, harder than doing the squats
• The hardest meal to eat for me was the one straight after training, but it is also the time you feel most hungry
• After 6 weeks I don’t want to see another egg, I have no idea how bodybuilders eat 12 every day for years.
• If you choose to have scrambled eggs then slightly undercooked runny eggs are easier to eat that over cooked dry ones.
• A little sauce with your eggs helps to break up the monotony - Ketchup, hot sauce, HP sauce its all good.
• Having pre prepared food for me was a must. In order to eat all the food, having it already prepped and ready to go and to not have to think about it made it easier.
• Food that requires less chewing is a good idea. My two servings of chilli con carne a day with rice were always quite wet / saucy which made it easier to eat with minimal chewing.
• I didn’t have a gallon on milk a day, but I did drink a fair amount. I now wonder why I don’t drink more milk all the time. It is nice.
• I have never fully understood the importance of water and hydration as much as I have when running this program. Even when I was a long distance runner, whilst I always drunk enough water to stay hydrated I never focused on it the same way I did whilst doing super squats. I literally felt like all I was doing was either eating, drinking water or going to the bathroom. I was drinking all day and even then, I woke at night with a mouth drier than an Arabs sandal and was drinking more during the night.

In the Gym

• I started the program squatting 110kg (242 lbs) for 20 reps, this was a little under my 10 rep max but I wanted give myself space to progress each workout. I finished the 6 weeks with 130kg for 20 reps (286lbs).
• The squats are very much a mental toughness exercise. The first few reps you want to go faster because you know what’s coming, but the breathing reps make you slow down. For me it started to get hard around rep 8, not grinding it hard but legs and lower back feeling the weight. When I hit 10 I know its now just a case of breathing and taking my time, but the body wants to go faster because it just wants to finish. From 15 to 20 it is a game of resting long enough between reps so that you know you will get the next rep, (all that standing and breathing does give the legs a little break and makes the next squat easier) and not standing so long that you fatigue your whole body especially for me my lower back. One side of my brain is saying “take a few more breaths it will make the squat easier”, and the other side is saying “get this fkn weight off my back”
• I added 2.5kg (5lbs) to the bar every time I was able to hit 20 reps. I did not manage to hit 20 reps every session through the 6 weeks. Any times I was unable to hit 20 I rested just long enough and then went back and did the missing reps.
• Whilst I didn’t hit 20 reps on the squats every session, I did complete every one of the 18 sessions in the 6 week program, no matter how sore I was or how much I wanted an extra days rest. Every session I pushed hard on every exercise.
• Other people in the gym will think you are a maniac when you do this program. Especially as they watch you grunt through your last 5 squats and then watch you kneel at a bench like you are in church for the next five minutes trying to breath. And if you try to speak in that 5 mins it comes out like you are talking in tongues.
• Whilst this program is known for the squats, I was surprised by the impact the rest of the program had on me. The behind neck press really improved my shoulders and triceps. The high rep bench press three days a week had me wearing polo’s to work because my shirts got uncomfortable, the rows and curls made me remember I had biceps (it’s true @TrainForPain ) and the high rep Romanian deadlift (with straps) smashed my lower back, glutes and hamstrings. Other than the 20 rep squats, this program was like a step back in time for me to when I started training as a teenager.
• This simple full body template works it is as simple as that. You just need to train hard enough to make it work. And therein lies the rub for most people.
• The numbness in your legs whilst doing super squats is real but the shoulder pain is something else altogether. The overall body soreness I experienced by week 4 was not like normal DOMS. It was more like deep pain in nearly every muscle and nothing really helped. By week 6 I was so sore it was hard to find a comfortable position to sleep.
• The absolute worst part of this program is any exercises you have to do after the squats. I was so happy that pull overs came next because it meant I could lie down. Even if that was balancing across a bench.
• I relearned that building size is so simple. It’s not easy, but it is simple.
• Doing super squats in a commercial gym and watching everyone else train or pretend to train between hanging out and having conversations, you realise why so many people don’t get results. There wasn’t a single minute in the 60-75 mins it took me each session where I had the breath or wanted to talk to anyone.
• After over 30 years of training (on and off) with weights and doing all kinds of other training, I have finally started to understand a little of how getting big and strong works and why hypertrophy blocks are an important part of the overall picture. This 6 weeks was completely different to the strength blocks I usually run but doing it has enabled me to learn or relearn many things:
o Your body doesn’t know how heavy the bar is.
o Your brain will fool you into thinking things are hard in order to help preserve the body, if you want to get big or strong you have to ignore it.
o When you take away all the variables of weights and percentages all you really have left is work, hard work.
• Doing this program after a few years of training for powerlifting and having a regimented approach to training definitely helped me be successful. I think if I tried to do this when I was in my 20’s I wouldn’t have lasted 6 weeks.
• I had to turn off my powerlifter brain for this program after week 3, and stop thinking about numbers and reps and narrow my focus down to just work. This was very hard for me to do after a few years of very specific weight and rep focused programming.

Other things to consider….
• You go to the toilet a lot on this program, Moisturising baby wipes and Vaseline are your best friends.
• Any shorts or pants with elasticated waist or stretch denim are ideal when running this program. You will also need bigger shirts as your upper body will swell up like a balloon.
• I think it helps if mentally you are prepared to get blurry whilst doing SS. If you eat properly you are going to gain weight fast and that means losing definition fast too.
• The levels of general fatigue by weeks 5 and 6 were something I wasn’t expecting. If you are ever having trouble sleeping then get on SS, it made me sleep like the dead every night. Other than when I woke to pee and drink more water of course.
• Extra weight and fatigue combined with night dryness has made my snoring next level. The rest of the family were not that happy.
• The mental games that happen are something I wasn’t really prepared for. I started the program squatting a little light to give me time to progress and get used to the squats. This was a really good idea as it meant the first week was hard but not too difficult and the real work started in week 2. By the end of week 3, I was already starting to have doubts and question why on earth I was doing this program. My mind kept trying to find ways to make me stop or change the program. Maybe go to 2 sessions a week, maybe only do 3 or 4 weeks, your knee is sore you should probably stop. Add to this the anxiety leading into some session and self-doubt this program creates and it is a total mind fk.
• Part of doing this program was learning or creating a coping mechanism for getting through the 20 rep squats. I eventually realised that being very uncomfortable is part of the process. Once I accepted that the 20 rep set was going to be painful no matter what, I was able to learn how to cope with it and just endure to the end. Once I started to understand this it made all the sessions easier.
• I did daily conditioning or daily movement on my non gym training days throughout this 6 weeks. This was just simple 10 min burpees sessions and a little bit of sandbag work on the Saturdays. Whilst it isn’t recommended to do conditioning whilst running super squats and it was hard and sore to do the burpees. I felt for me some daily movement did help work through the soreness and set me up better to be able to get through the next gym session. As the bodyweight increased across the 6 weeks, the burpees did get harder and harder and I did reduce the volume and intensity to a bare minimum by weeks 4 to 6.

Overall, I am really happy with how the program went and the progress I made across the 6 weeks. I hit multiple PR’s on various lifts and ended up with a bodyweight PR in that I finished the program the heaviest I have ever been.

Would I recommend this program for other people? Absolutely I would, but …there is always a but. For me I don’t think I would have been as successful on this program if I ran it too early. By that I mean I needed to have developed consistency and discipline through repeated effort first. If I did not already have a level of discipline and consistency in my training, I think I would have stopped before the end of the 6 weeks. Now others may be different and if you are game to try this program and think you can stick to it, then it is a great way to develop that discipline and consistency. Just be prepared for a physical and mental battle that will test you every step of the way.

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Stunning write up and great tips. This should be the go to post for anyone looking to run super squats.

Well done @simo74

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I know it’s a squat program but I’m impressed the most by your back and shoulder progress. Really impressive in 6 weeks!

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Thanks @carlbm glad you liked it

Thanks @aldebaran, I would say this is an abbreviated full body program rather than a squat program. Yes the 20 rep breathing squats are a component and the they are the part that tests the most. But this program still focuses on the rest of the body and has you pushing hard to add weight to the bar or reps every session. I agree with you though, I too was blown away by the upper body progress (and pain) in 6 weeks.

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Amazing progress, @simo74, and an amazing post. There’s so much incredible information here, thanks for taking the time to write that up.

Great work! It’s been awesome to watch you crush this program.

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Incredibly well done. You never fail to impress

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Thank you sir. Right now it feels like it crushed me. But hopefully all that pain is transformative and I come back stronger.

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Thanks @TrainForPain, sometimes I think I do alright for an old bloke :wink:

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Thanks for writing it up @simo74 ! Great job!

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Fantastic write-up. An absolute blue print for anyone looking to take on the program. Specifically breathing between EVERY rep, because it makes it HARDER when you do that, which is the goal. Crushing the food, and showing just how much you can grow in 6 weeks. You’re looking meaty!

STOP DOWNPLAYING WHAT YOU DID DUDE! The self-deprecation is wholly unnecessary. You did something awesome: celebrate it. You EARNED this.

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Thanks brother that means a whole lot. It’s feels hard to celebrate when you are still so damn sore. You are 100% right though, I bloody smashed this and it does feel good.

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Is it weird if this makes it easier for me?

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@simo74 Hell yeah dude!

Not weird at all: it just means you’re doing it wrong, haha.

Taking breaths between squats is NOT the same thing as a breathing squat. The breaths on a breathing squat are a workout in and of themselves.

You are trying to take in the DEEPEST breath you have ever taken in your life. You are filling your lungs (not your stomach) as full as they possibly can expand, then forcefully expelling the air. You’ll sound like a freight train in the gym doing it, and you do it for at LEAST 3 breaths. This takes a LONG time, and makes the bar hanging out on your back agonizingly painful. A set that should take around 1 minute is now taking 5.

From my most recent workout, I do a set of 20 squats, in it, I take breaths between reps

In no way are those “breathing squats”. There, I am breathing to recover. With breathing squats, you’re doing the opposite: you’re breathing to make things HARDER.

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Lol this was exactly what I thought.

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“You’re not weird, you’re wrong” will be spilling out of my mouth at every meeting for the next month; I’m genuinely appreciative.

@simo74 I obviously look up to anyone who is a father first. You absolutely killed this and role modeled work ethic. It shouldn’t go unnoticed that, while you’re doing this misery that even 18-year-olds won’t take on, you also said “I don’t think I’m doing the conditioning I should”… so you added burpees instead of whining about life. You were obviously inspiring enough that your own son joined you, and I know that’s like sharing a beer with a unicorn and a dragon at your local watering hole.
Anyway, well done sir.

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Thanks TFP this made me smile. Yer it was great to have the little man join me for a few burpee sessions along the way. Funny thing is I didn’t have to encourage him in any way. He just saw me doing the work and either asked me up front, what burpees are you doing today dad or if I asked him do you wanna join me, he said sure dad. Watching him getting up and down like gravity doesn’t apply to him really makes you understand the term use it or lose it.

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Simo this was such a…. SUPER WRITE UP. Dude everything you said was spot on about the program. Eating on that program was so mentally exhausting and personally I found myself having to piss a lot during the day and at night. Those progress pics… you look SUPER massive Simo.
You’ve made it dude, it’s done, you ran Super Squats dude. Remember that Super Simo, not only are you physically strong, you’re mentally strong. Now carry that mindset into your next training block, life, whatever and crush it my dude, you never gave up.

It’s a bird…it’s a plane… It’s SUPER SIMO

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As someone who has also run the program, you know exactly what this really means Tim. This point can not be emphasized enough. If you can stick out the 6 weeks, this program changes your mindset around hard training and opens the door for so many other improvements in the future.

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Finally got around to reading this. Awesome write up and incredible job Simo! You’re looking strong dude.

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Thanks @boilerman it was a wild ride that’s for sure.