20 Rep Squats for Older Trainees - Good Idea of Bad Idea?

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

Is the 20 rep squat a good idea or a bad idea for
older trainees?

I got this question from a reader in his late 40's.
He has a bad shoulder, and said he was going
to focus on squats and deadlifts while it healed
up. He said he had been surfing the Interwebs
(oh-oh, here comes trouble) and found an
article by a guy in his 20's talking about the
20 rep squat program. So now our guy in his
late 40's wants to do 20 rep squats for the
first time in his life.

He asked if I thought that was a good idea.

Frankly, I don't.

I know that many younger trainees have done very
well with the 20 rep squat. But it's a very difficult
and demanding program -- and it's hard to recover
from your workouts -- and it requires you to whip
yourself into a frenzy before your 20 rep Death
Set -- and push yourself into the ground, so you
finish the set and lie on the floor for 10 or 15
minutes before you can move.

That's one thing for guys in their teens or 20's.
It's another thing entirely for an older trainee.

In one of his books, Tommy Kono talks about doing
20 rep squats when he was younger. A few years
later, while still in his 20's or 30's, he tried them
again but switched back to lower reps. He just
didn't have the drive to do them any more. And
I think that's probably true of most older trainees.
You work hard, and that's great -- but you don't
need or want to do those 20 rep Death Sets.

There's also the shoulder issue. Most older trainees
have some degree of shoulder problems. That makes
high rep squatting difficult.

And there's the recovery issue. Younger trainees can
recover from 20 rep squats. Older trainees may not
be able to do so.

And then there's the issue of form. Older trainees should
ALWAYS perform every rep of every set of every exercise
in perfect form. Younger trainees can sometimes get
away with sloppy reps, but they often lead to injury
for an older trainee.

Lower reps allow you to perform your exercises in
strict form. But doing 20 reps in the squat makes it
very difficult to maintain good form for the entire set.

Finally, I will note that most Masters weightlifters do
low reps in squats or front squats -- and the older they
are, the fewer reps they do. They find that too many
reps make their knees sore.

Of course, if you have been doing 20 rep squats your
entire life, and you enjoy doing them, then keep on
doing what you're doing. But if you're thinking about
"giving them a try" at age 50 or 60 -- that's probably
not a good idea. It's better to dance with who brung

As always, thanks for reading and have a great day. If
you train today, make it a good one!

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. For more training advice for older Dinos, grab


P.S. 2. My other books and courses -- including links
to my PDF courses and Kindle e-books -- are right


P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "Never try to change
horses in mid-stream -- or mid-workout."
-- Brooks Kubik