The Last 6 Weeks

During all my time training, I have always believed that physical training should have an impact on mental strength. If the training does not harden the mind to adversity, then it was not worth doing.

Long runs, ruck marches, or body weight exercise sessions or a mixture of the three are excellent in developing the mind to push forward after you think the body’s done. In the weight room, higher reps with lighter weights, modified by shorter rest periods helped to achieve this. Doing multiple two-a-days during the week, were and still are a great way to build stamina and mental endurance.

There were times when someone from higher up would come and do PT with us in the morning. Their usual response would be “great workout”. But it was the comments the following day of “I can’t hardly move, I had to take it easy today” that were the most telling. What they failed to realize was, the guys, despite the earlier workout, were out the next day hitting it just as hard despite the sore muscles and feet. They had trained their mind over the course of weeks and months to perform at a high level despite discomfort. They would do this 5 days a week, and many times with added tactical training during the day. When we went to the field for extended training, the hardships and physical demands were both physically and mentally easier to overcome. They actually enjoyed the field work, and were able to learn something instead of focusing on how much it sucked.

So, the last 6 weeks, I have learned a new way to really develop the mind for hard work by way of high rep heavy squats. I wish I tried these earlier. Every time I got to the squats, that one set of 20 reps, it was a mind game. As the bar got heavier, the mental fight just to start the set got harder, and the rewards were just that much greater.

The Program I worked up was simple :
Mon and Friday were the squat focused days.
Tue. and Thu. Were work capacity focused wed. was stamina focused.

Following this schedule I believe helped keep up and improve my run, and cardiovascular, as well as build strength.
Over the next few posts I’ll explain each day in more detail, and my lessons learned, but I will explain the squat days now.

Monday- a real basic program, and you can tailor to suit your needs, but the focus of the entire workout is the 20reps of the squat.
Warm up- I used the Burpee pull up, and step ups on an 18″ box for this. 10 sets of 5 with 10 step ups between BPU’s. Every week I added another set.
Now to the weights (set the wgts to your abilities)
Over head press with a 2″ bar- 3×10
Bench press- 3×10 with a 2″ bar ( I did this the 1st two weeks, 3rd and 4th week were 10 x 3 with chains; 5th was floor press, and 6 th was 5-4-3-2-1-1-1 working up to a 1 rep max)
Bent over rows (BB)- 2×15 with a 2″bar
Squats- 1×20 take your 10 rep wgt, and do it 20 times. Do several warm up squats of 2-3 reps to working up to your Work load and get your technique dialed in ( I never did high rep squats, so I picked 205 as my start weight) every squat day following add 5 pounds to the bar. If you have a good day, go up 10 pounds, but this is slow cooking, so be very careful with the 10lb jumps. I did one 10 jump from 215- 225, and another at 270-280. If you fail to make 20 squats, that is your load for the next squat day.
DB pullovers- 1×20
Calve raises- 60reps with weight
Farmers carry- medium wgt for distance (you will not do any DL’s so this will help support some of the hand strength and traps)

Friday- this is a much shorter workout, and is a in and out day.
Warm up- 3×10 buprpee pull ups, and 10 step ups 18″ box. ( Keep these sets the same, until week 4, where you do 5 sets thru wk 6)
“The Chain”- start at the 20 dumbell side of the rack. Do a one arm DB swing to over head, shoulder press, curl, and shoulder press. Keep the movement strict as possible. 1 per arm and then move up 5 lbs, another set. Keep going up the chain till you can no longer curl or press the weight. ( inspired by Herman Goerner. He used this as his warmup using kettlebells)
Squats- 5lb heavier than Monday ( again do some warm up sets and work up to your load for the day)
DB pull overs- 1×20
Calves- 3×20 reps

When you get under the bar to squat- you have to set your mind to the fact that the only way the bar is racked is after 20 reps. You can rest between reps all you want, but the bar stays on your back till 20. Every rep is to parallel, no half/quarter squats. No belt, chalk only, breathing, and extreme focus on each rep.

(NOTE- never do this outside of a squat cage/ power rack, with pins set for safety)

The workouts should last just about an hour, to and hour and a half including the warm ups. Try your best to keep it at an hour though. If you go over 1.5 hours, you need to adjust the work load.

Another key point to this is eat like a horse- no dieting or calorie restricting. You need to be tired of eating while doing this. Lots of meat, protein, milk, high calorie meals- clean as you can make them, but high calorie. Those that want 6 weeks of cheat days, this will do the trick.

When I began, I had high hopes of hitting 300×20 on the last day of the cycle, but it was not happening. My friday workout at 270 went very well, and with two solid days of rest, 280 seemed possible. That monday I got stuck at  14 reps after i nearly fell back on lockout. Discretion played the better part of valor and i had to rack it. My last day, my buddy counted my reps, and checked my squat depth, and i got stuck in the hole on number 16. I am already planning my strategy for the next 5 weeks, and 280  will fall when I start another 20 rep cycle.

These past two weeks have been loosely planned in and out days, with only 1 heavy day per week, 2 stamina days, and 4 days of rest. On the heavy day, 5 reps is a breeze mentally. These are still hard workouts, and very high volume, but the added rest helped to tend to some old nagging aches and pains (not to mention a rest for the mind).

Give 20 rep squats a try, and see where they take you.

Till next time, take care, and good lifting


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