You’ve probably heard of the squats and milk program. It's been around for over 50 years, and is a very effective approach to packing on muscle mass.
On squats and milk, you train 3 times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday – performing a 20-rep squat set, immediately followed by a light weight set of barbell pullovers. The point of the pullovers is to “stretch” the rib cage.
One of the hidden keys to the success of this program is progression of weight. Squats and milk recommends that you increase the weight you use for your 20-rep squat set by 5 pounds every time you hit the gym. That’s a 60-pound weight jump each month. This is the primary reason why this program works so effectively.
The program also advocates eating as much as possible, as often as possible. And to wash down the food, it’s recommended that you drink a gallon of whole milk (not skim, 1% or 2%) per day.
On the surface, it appears that milk is the driving force behind the weight you will be gaining on this program. In actuality, overall caloric intake is a greater indicator of how successful this program will be for you. Eat more, grow more.
But the whole milk plays a vital role. It adds liquid calories, and lots of them. A gallon of whole milk contains 1,920 calories. This virtually insures that you will be eating a minimum of 4,000 calories per day, which is a great start for hardgainers.
It’s Time For a Change
The squats and milk program has rarely been modernized or updated. I want to do just that, and give you a program that will turn you from skinny and weak, to strong and brawny in no time.
I’ve added in several core, heavy compound exercises, and removed some old school elements such as barbell pullovers. You will be working out three times a week, full body style. I have kept the focus on squats, but dropped their frequency to twice a week in order to make room for deadlifts. Call this blasphemous if you will, but I call it a needed change.
This program is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for those who fear adding on a few extra pounds of fat. It’s time to grow, so let’s go…
The New School Squats and Milk Routine
- 20-Rep Squats
- Bench Press, 3 sets x 5 reps
- Barbell Rows or Yates Rows, 3 sets x 5 reps
- Seated Overhead DB or BB Press, 2 sets x 6-10 reps
- Romanian Deadlifts, 2 sets x 6-10 reps
- Deadlifts, 10 singles
- Closegrip Bench Press, 3 sets x 6-10 reps
- DB or BB Curls, 3 sets x 6-10 reps
- Ab Work, 2-3 sets
- 20-Rep Squats
- Dips, 3 sets x 6-10 reps
- Pull-ups (or negative pull-ups), 3 sets x 6-10 reps
- Upright Rows, 2 sets x 6-10 reps
- Standing or Seated Calf Raises, 2 sets x 10-25 reps
Program Overview and Notes
The new school squats and milk program has a basic structure. On Monday and Friday, you will be performing a 20-rep set of squats, along with a chest, back and shoulder exercise. In addition, on Monday you will be hitting your hamstrings, and on Friday, your calves.
20-rep squat sets. It may take a while to work up to a 20-rep set. Try improving by at least one rep per workout. When you can hit 20 reps, it’s time to start upping the weight. Add 5 pounds to the bar each time you perform a 20-rep set. This will add 40 pounds to your squat each month.
Deadlifts. Deadlifts are performed as single reps. Pick a weight and perform 5 singles, resting about 30 seconds between reps. Next time you workout, perform 6 reps with the same weight. Keep increasing the number of singles you perform each workout by one, until you hit a total of 10 total singles. After you hit 10 single reps, it’s time to jump up in weight. The next time you deadlift, add 10 pounds to the bar and knock out 5 reps. Continue the pattern of moving up one rep each week.
Bench Press and Rows. When you can perform 3 sets of 5 reps with a given weight, add 5 pounds to the bar the next time around.
General Progression. For exercises in the 6-10 rep range, push for progression of reps, then weight. When you can perform all sets with a minimum of 6 reps per set, move up in weight.
Milk. Drink a minimum of six larges glasses of whole milk per day. If you can stomach one gallon of whole milk per day, then drink it! If you need extra calories, or if milk gives you stomach issues, snack on almonds during the day and purchase a quality weight gainer.
Food. Eat all day long, but make sure you are not stuffed when you workout. After you workout, eat a monster meal. Aim for a minimum of 4,000 calories per day. For some hardgainers, 4,000 will not be enough. If this is the case for you, add 500 calories per day each week, until the scale starts moving.
Fat gain. Don’t fear fat gain. During bulks, a good portion of the weight gain is muscle. If you gain 25 pounds, and 15 pounds of that is muscle, rejoice! You only have 10 pounds of fat to cut, and that can be done in no time. Muscle gains last a lifetime, fat gains are quickly lost.
A squats and milk program is an awesome way to pack on weight, muscle and strength in a short amount of time. Whether you need to bulk up for the football team, or you’re tired of spinning your wheels in the weight room, this program is a must try.