How to Build Muscle: The 20 Rep Squat Program

Thinking about how to build muscle? The 20 rep squat program is simple, brutal and highly effective. Give it a try. 


In order to determine what weight you should start with, you need to know your 5rep max Back Squat. If you don’t know it, test it first. 

Then subtract 2,5 kg for every set of 20 you will complete. In 6 weeks you will squat 18 times, so the total is 45kg less that your 5rep max. This is you starting weight for your first set of 20 Reps!

Every new set you add 2,5 kg back on the bar. After 6 weeks you will squat your former 5rep max for 20 reps!

Yes, it will be hard. Yes, you will suffer. Yes, it will be highly effective!

In each session you will also complete a series of other exercises. The following have been chosen to provide more benefit for CrossFit athletes, featuring weightlifting movements that will complement many of the movements and WODs that any CrossFit athlete tackles on a weekly basis. 


  • Monday – Workout 1
  • Tuesday – Workout 2
  • Wednesday – Rest
  • Thursday – Workout 3 
  • Friday – Rest
  • Saturday – Workout 4
  • Sunday – Rest


Workout 1

  • A Power Clean 3×3 2min Rest
  • B1 20Rep Squats 1×20 no Rest
  • B2 Dumbbell Pullovers 1×20
  • C1 Barbell Bench Press 2×10-12 no Rest
  • C2 High Cable Flys 2×12-15 90sec Rets
  • D Triceps Rope Press Down Drop Set 2Sets 60sec Rest
  • E Biceps EZ Curls 21s 2Sets 60Sec Rest

Workout 2

  • A Snatch High Pull 3×3 2min Rest
  • B1 20Rep Squats 1×20 no Rest
  • B2 Dumbbell Pullovers 1×20
  • C1 Bent Over Row 2×10-12 no Rest
  • C2 Bent Over Fly 2×12-15 90sec Rest
  • D Hip Thrust Drop Set 2 Sets 60sec Rest
  • E Calf Raise 21s 2 Sets 60sec Rest

How to build Muscle – Workout 3

  • A Hang Clean 3×3 2min Rest
  • B1 20Rep Squats 1×20 no Rest
  • B2 Dumbbell Pullovers 1×20
  • C1 PullUp 2×10-12 no Rest
  • C2 Facepull 2×12-15 90sec Rest
  • D Military Press Drop Set 2 Sets 60sec Rest
  • E Cross Body Hammer Curls 21s 2 Sets 60sec Rest

Workout 4

  • A – Power Focus
  • B1 – 20Rep Squats
  • B2 Dumbbell Pullovers
  • C1 Super Set – Compound Exercise
  • C2 Super Set – Isolated Exercise
  • D Isolation Exercise Drop Set Method
  • E Isolation Exercise 21´s Method

For circuit use a mid heavy weight that will not blast you totally out. It is thought as a heavier WarmUp.

For circuit C, perform the first set of the compound exercise followed immediately by one set of the isolation exercise. Take the recommended break and repeat for a 2nd set.

For circuit D, start with a weight you can do 3-5 reps with. Drop the weights down as you fatigue for 3 consecutive drops.

For circuit E, use a moderately heavy weight and perform 7 bottom half reps. Next, perform 7 top half reps. Lastly, perform 7 full range of motion reps.

Check out the following articles for more tips and training advice on form, technique and mobility.

Find out what it feels like to complete the 20 rep squat program

how to build muscle squat
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A hypertrophy program is designed not to increase strength or improve athletic performance (although there is an overlap, of course), but to primarily cause muscular growth by increasing the size of your muscle fibres. Hypertrophy is simply the increase in size of an organ or tissue through the enlargement of the cells that comprise it.

Have you ever tried the 20 rep squat program? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.

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