Return to Homepage

Squats from Hell

by Michael

Leg development from weight training

Leg development from weight training

One of my hardest workouts was last summer when I performed 3 sets of Squats from Hell - a common name for breathing squats.

I had first discovered the exercise when I was reading a fitness magazine and decided to do some further research. Breathing squats are an intense workout that is centered on the squat.

It is most commonly performed with a barbell but can also be done with a Smith machine; I did mine with a barbell.

The premise behind breathing squats is rather simple: load the bar with a weight you can do around 12 times but do NOT stop until you do 20 reps.

The name breathing squats is derived from the nature of the exercise. After 12 reps, you need to take a couple of deep breaths before being able to do another repetition, and this pattern continues until you complete your 20 reps.

To warm up, I started with some light stationary bike and then did a couple of easy sets (15-20 reps) of leg extensions and leg curls.

I stretched my quads and hamstrings for a couple of minutes and then did 1 set of light squats to complete my warm up.

Ready to begin, I loaded 230lbs (2-45s and 1-25 on each side) onto the bar and positioned myself underneath it. I pumped out 12 reps and then started the breathing process.

I struggled through the remaining 8 reps and then racked the bar. I rested 5-6 minutes and went back for another set.

Surprisingly, I was able to get another 20 reps.

Before my last set, I rested 10 minutes and finally stepped under the bar. This time I was only able to do a total of 17 reps before I had to rack the bar. Regardless, I was spent.

I would not recommend this exercise to beginners. I had 5 years lifting experience before I tried this exercise/workout.

It is paramount to know what good form is for the squat. Failure to exhibit good form could result in serious injury.

This workout will take about 45 minutes from warm up to completion, but it is definitely one of the harder weight-lifting workouts you can engage in.

The squat, outside of the dead lift, is one of the most anabolic exercises because it engages the most muscles.

After doing this exercise, you will be very sore, but you can rest assured in knowing it is only beneficial.

I do not do breathing squats often, but they are in my workout rotation every 3-4 months. Use them sparingly, but take advantage of these often not done exercises!


Get your FREE copy today of A Million and One Weight Loss Myths.

Just click on the image of the book...

It's FREE. Not a dime. Zilch. Nada.

Note from Dr. Dan


Your workout gives some great ideas for breaking through a plateau.

You mention, "...load the bar with a weight you can do around 12 times but do NOT stop until you do 20 reps."

In reality you hit failure at 20 reps -- or even more. But 20 reps is hard and most people are just not going to push themselves that hard in their usual workouts. And so 12 reps seems like failure.

This is why weight training -- and to a large degree weight loss -- is as much mental as it is physical. Sometimes it takes pushing yourself a little more to get the results you really want.

Fantastic quad development in your photo, by the way.

Dr. Dan

Click here to post comments

Return to Best Workout.

Where to start:

There is a lot of information on this site. The links below will get you off to a good start.

Most popular pages:

These are some of our most popular pages. They are also some of the most helpful if you are finally ready to lose weight.

You can always reach us:

  • 28960 US Highway 19 North, Suite 115
  • Clearwater, FL 33761
  • (727) 771-8282

  • Or to use our contact form click here.

top of the page