It was about a year ago and I was going through my regimen as usual at the gym. I was trying to gain some muscle mass before I started training for my upcoming fight (I compete in mixed martial arts). I ended up getting in a conversation
with an old school professional bodybuilder and I told him my goals for training. To gain muscle mass he suggested that I try doing "breath squats". He said that this lift (along with shoe string deadlifts) were the only resistance exercises that would release growth hormones.

Being young and open minded I decided to try it out. It was by far one of the toughest leg workouts I've ever done, but it gave me huge gains in leg strength. I was also pleased to notice additional muscle gains in the rest of body which pleasantly surprising given the fact I’m a hard-gainer.

Here's how you do it.

Go to the gym on your leg workout day and warm up as usual (including a light set of squats). When you are ready go ahead and rack up the squat rack with a weight that you could normally complete 10 reps of (except this time you are doing 20 reps).

Squat until you are parallel and pause for a moment at the bottom and then ascend to standing position. Take 3 deep breaths and repeat. Make sure you inhale on your descent and exhale on the ascent. Your goal should be to complete 20 repetitions. If you are doing this correctly you should be completely struggling in the last couple reps. Make sure that when you are the top of your squats your knees are still slightly bent. When you finish (you may need to catch your breath) rack the weights and move on to another leg exercise of your preference (hamstring/quad cable machines, etc). Do not do anymore squat workouts.

If you are looking to put on muscle mass you should only do this workout once a week. Some old school bodybuilders say you should do this workout 2-3 times a week. However you must remember that a broken down muscle fiber takes 5-10 days to completely recover. If you also do deadlifts I would suggest doing them on separate days then squats (keep them 3-4 days apart). I also don’t recommend doing any strenuous cardio before or after your breath squat day. Also make sure you are getting plenty of rest to recover from this workout.

You should notice results from this workout after about 3 weeks of training. Try adding an additional 5lbs to your total squat weight every time you do this. I would recommend doing an entire phase of 4-6 weeks and then switch up your training regimen.

You can also expedite your muscle gains by taking a proper combination of protein and supplements. A half an hour before you workout take 10-20 grams of whey protein with creatine. I suggest consuming a small amount of protein in liquid form (you definitely don’t want a full stomach before squats). I also highly recommend taking creatine before and after your resistance workouts. Creatine stacked with whey protein is also more effective than taking each product alone. The best creatine I’ve noticed so far is creatine ethyl ester by Axis Labs. You can check out their website at They also have some other very effective bodybuilding supplements.

Author's Bio: 

Chad Klingensmith is an American Council on Exercise certified Personal Trainer. He has helped many clients, friends and family realize the benefits of exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Do you have any fitness questions for Chad? Email him at