One of the oldest approaches to building muscle is ‘Squats and Milk’.

This was a method used to great success by some of the biggest old-school natural bodybuilders such as Steve Reeves, John Grimek and Reg Park.

A word of caution however: this workout is not for the faint hearted. You will need a sick bucket at the ready!

What is Squats & Milk?glass of milk

Squats and Milk, also known as Breathing Squats or the 20 Rep Squat Routine, is a brutal training regime which is aimed at piling on as much muscle as quickly as possible.

It primarily involves 20 reps of heavy squats every session in addition to drinking a gallon (8 pints) of milk every day.

Importantly the 20 reps must be performed at your 10RM.

This means that you bust out the first 10 as normal reps, then for the following 10 reps you perform breathing squats, so you are taking 5 deep gulps of air between each agonising rep.

The combination of the high volume heavy squats and the absolute tsunami of milk and calories will shock your body to the extent that it will have no other choice but to grow!

The Workout

Exercise Sets & Reps
Behind the Neck Press 3 x 12
Squat 1 x 20
Pullovers 1 x 20
Bench Press 3 x 12
Bent Over Row 3 x 15
Stiff Legged Deadlift 1 x 15


  • After each workout add 5lbs to the bar for your Breathing Squats.
  • One cycle of Squats & Milk should last 6 weeks and comprise 3 sessions per week.
  • Ensure that the form of your squats is as strict as possible: below parallel etc.
  • Lift raw – no belts or straps.  


As mentioned above, a key component of this routine – especially if you want to maximise gains as much as possible – is consuming an obscene amount of calories.

Full cream milk was the order of the day 50 years ago – and it still works just as well today (provided you don’t mind putting on a little bit of unwanted bulk in the process). The alternative is to use semi-skimmed, which based on its macro nutrient profile will still provide an ample increase in calories.

Milk Type Full Fat Semi Skimmed
Total calorie intake


2,955 calories in 8 pints 2,273 calories in 8 pints
Total Protein intake 145 grams 164 grams
Nutrition  Values per 100ml  Values per 100ml
Energy 270kJ (65kcal) 210kJ (50kcal)
Protein 3.2g 3.6g
Carbohydrate 4.7g 4.8g
Sugars 4.7g 4.8g
Fat 3.6g 1.8g
Saturates 2.3g 1.1g

We can see that for full fat milk, protein intake is slightly lower than semi-skimmed and depending on the rest of your diet, you may benefit from additional protein sources such as whey protein or protein snacks. If you shop around online, you can often pick up a great deal. Its worth checking the usual suspects such as Amazon, Ebay, Bulk Powders and Myprotein and occasionally good deals on Henry’s Myprotein discount page pop up. These days we are lucky enough to be living through a supplement boom, where you can get hold of some really awesome products to supplement your diet and help you hit your daily macros with relative ease.


There is no denying that you will gain weight and gain strength on Squats and Milk, even if you are a hard gainer you will make good size and strength gains. However, due to its simplicity and the likelihood that you will significantly exceed maintenance calories, you will gain a fair bit of body fat over time (more fat than muscle). Whilst I was drinking significant amounts of full fat milk, my body fat slowly crept up over 2 months and I decided to cut.

Its difficult to say exactly how much you will gain as everyone has different lifestyles, metabolisms, diets etc but as a rough guide 2-3kg in the first week (due to initial retention) followed by 1-2kg a week each week after that. If you want to reduce the amount of fat you are gaining I would try to reduce the quantity of milk down so you are only gaining 1kg a week.

Wrapping it up

All in all, Squats and Milk is a great workout for anyone looking to shake things up and add some serious size to their frame.

Ultimately, if you can make it through the pain barrier, you will be rewarded with some major gains by the Muscle Gods.


Are you a hardgainer or ectomorph?

Squats and Milk.

Have you hit a plateau in your training?

Squats and Milk.

Are you looking to resolve the conflict in Libya?

Squats and Milk.

It’s that simple!


This post was written in conjunction with Henry, a fitness blogger and health fanatic with a passion for heavy squats and distance running. You can find him blogging over at GymTalk.

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