The humble squat first gained recognition for its ability to put meat onto a bodybuilder’s bones in the early 1930s, by Joseph C. Hise. By including squats into his exercise routine, he gained an impressive 29 lbs, and went on to win several prestigious weightlifting titles.
Training buddy John Grimek cottoned on to the virtues of the squat – known as the John Grimek Squat and Bulk Routine – which became the mainstay of his own workout repertoire.
John claimed that by copying his routine and consuming healthy food, anyone could add bulk to their body.
The Squat and Bulk Routine is dominated by squat sets, which John followed by a chest exercise of 8-10 reps. Each set of squats would have fewer reps performed each time, starting off with 20-25 reps, working down to 1-3. On the other hand, the alternating chest exercises would increase in weight rather than decrease as the routine progressed.
According to John, starting the reps with a low weight and building it up slowly as the reps drop helps the legs to warm up without risking injury.
As part of John’s routine, he became an advocate of the breathing squat. This involves taking three deep breaths through the mouth between each squat repetition. This should be carried out until pressure is felt in the chest. A squat should then be performed with full lungs, exhaling deeply on the way back up.
John believed that the breathing squat had a significant effect on all-body muscle growth and boosted metabolism.
Although squats are the key element of the Squat and Bulk Routine, John argued that supersetting his deep breathing squats with chest exercises, using dumbbell pullovers and lying lateral raises, would help to add bulk to his ribcage. This was a prominent method for building body mass in the upper part of the body in the days before steroids became commonplace.
To achieve the greatest impact, John stressed that chest exercises should be carried out immediately after breathing squats. Bodybuilders need to be breathless from the last reps, when they should then stretch out the ribcage as far as possible.
John also added back exercises into his famous routine, and he was a fan of carrying out different exercises, rather than repeating a single exercise for several sets. He claimed that working muscles from different angles by doing various exercises could boost muscle growth.
Pull-downs, pull-ups, rows and the deadlift all formed part of John’s repertoire, and if extra areas needed working on, he would complete a few isolation exercises at the end of a training session.
To achieve optimum results, John prescribed training three times per week (with rest days in-between for recovery), good quality sleep and a nutritious diet rich in protein and dairy.
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