A new look at the old squats and milk program. This program was designed for mass, and has been proven effective.

Squats and MilkYou’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




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.

Wednesday has you performing deadlift single reps, ab work, and focusing on arms. You perform slightly fewer sets on this day, so it can be considered a lighter training day.

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.

Rick Bolten
Posted on: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 22:42

Ok I agree with you on adding the deadlifts BUT there are different versions of the Squats and Milk program and a few do include at least one set of deadlifts during the training cycle while others include stiff legs ...however there are only a few courses out there that teach the actual system of doing 20 rep squats ...the old "take your 10 rep weight and do 20 reps" makes you wanna not do them after one workout and the do a weight you can handle for 20 reps and add 5 pounds per workout is bull too some even state add 10 pounds ...heres the way I was taught by a old school guy who was not as popular as Joe weider but certainly had great success in the muscle game with gyms magazines promotions and etc Dan Lurie...first off decide if you want to start your workout with squats or finish wih them and this is what you do for the first week perform 3 sets of 10 reps with your normal 10 rep weight ..week 2 drop to 2 sets the first set with the same weight as the week before perform 15 reps you will probably have to pause at 11 or 12 and start taking deep breaths between reps when you get to 15 rack the bar and strip off HALF of the weight and immediately do another 15 reps with the lighter weight pausing between reps as necessary to breath a few deep breaths week 3 drop to one set with the original 10 rep weight and start a 20 rep set pausing to take 3 to 5 deep breaths between reps as you progress,,, all during these workouts do a set a pull overs after each set of squats I have both Dan Luries and Leo Sterns version along with the Samson system of training for size and strength the original "prize fighter barbell course used by Marciano and the Silver Back training method that was reworked as "Strong once, Strong again"

Posted on: Fri, 01/16/2015 - 13:09

can a complete beginner do this program

Posted on: Mon, 01/12/2015 - 16:06

Hi steve,
Is there anyway i could include cardio while doing this program

Posted on: Sat, 08/02/2014 - 08:04

Hi Steve,

I am 6 feet and weigh 184 POUNDS...With a medium body fat percentage ...should i do the milk and squat routine to get stronger and more muscular or should i stick to a more conventional 4 day split.

Thanks and Regards

Posted on: Mon, 09/30/2013 - 23:38

I'm currently living in S Korea and my gym doesn't have a squat rack. Should I switch te standard back squat to zerchers or jeffersons? I imagine the smith machine is not a wise supplement for this. I also thought about subbing in the clean to front squat, but i dont know if that is a good idea since i might have to drop weight initially to.build up my clean.

Also, is it unwise to include oly lifts in this routine? Namely the snatch and clean and jerk?

Posted on: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 13:13

What about excessive milk consumption?
I mean IGF 1 and other detriments.

Posted on: Fri, 05/24/2013 - 00:33

Just started thus routine this past Monday. On my rest day and i tell you, ive been soar as F!#K!, my stomachs been killing me because i transitioned from coconut milk and almond milk back to whole/vitamin D milk, from one week to the other. Is it ok to just drink 3 tall glasses a day mixed with whey pro and creatine? My stomachs really having a hard time here. And pertaining to the weight to be started lifting and squatting, should i have started light and worked my way up each workout? On squats and everything else? My goal is to gain strength and noticeable size, is it ok to keep on doing cardio on off great though, i hear alot if folks saying it wears you down, the milk gives you flem, yada yada, but i feel great.
So, any words if wisdom? I work out on my own, wish i had a partner for motivation and push but, what tips you got????

Weight 185lb
Height 6 ft

Posted on: Fri, 05/24/2013 - 00:31

Just started thus routine this past Monday. On my rest day and i tell you, ive been soar as F!#K!, my stomachs been killing me because i transitioned from coconut milk and almond milk back to whole/vitamin D milk, from one week to the other. Is it ok to just drink 3 tall glasses a day mixed with whey pro and creatine? My stomachs really having a hard time here. And pertaining to the weight to be started lifting and squatting, should i have started light and worked my way up each workout? On squats and everything else? My goal is to gain strength and noticeable size, is it ok to keep on doing cardio on off great though, i hear alot if folks saying it wears you down, the milk gives you flem, yada yada, but i feel great.
So, any words if wisdom? I work out on my own, wish i had a partner for motivation and push but, what tips you got????

Weight 185lb
Height 6 ft

Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2013 - 14:43

Anyone wanting to know more about this program should read the excellent book by IronMind called, SUPER SQUATS. They describe the whole program in the book and what it does. I did the program myself not to gain weight but for strength gains. The program is simple - pick your best ten reps in the squat and then do 20. The last few reps should look like you won't make it. Bang out all 20, then next time add another 5 pounds to the bar. Drink your milk for nutrition and to fuel your body. Make sure to get plenty of rest/sleep between workouts. Never ever give up and go hard on the squats!

Posted on: Fri, 05/24/2013 - 00:36

Can cardio be done on off days? Ive been doing cardio regularly since minday that i started the m&s routine. Also, i started with 100lbs, niw tomorrow ...115, you think its too light?

Posted on: Thu, 04/11/2013 - 03:49

Hey Steve,

I personally like 20 rep squats but i changed your 20 rep squat variation a bit.
I'm just wondering that what you think about it;

Day 1,

5-10 mins treadmill, 1 warm up set ve 20 rep squats
Bench press, 3 x 6-8
Bent over rows, 3 x 6-8
Chins, 3 x failer
OHP, 3 x 6-8
Side laterals, 2 x 8-10

Day 2,

5-10 mins treadmill, 1 warm up set ve 20 rep squats
Sumo leg press, 3 x 8-12
Standing calf raise, 3 x failer
CGBP, 3 x 6-8
Barbell curl, 3 x 6-8
Ab work

Day 3,

Same with day 1

Posted on: Mon, 01/14/2013 - 16:39

Hi, will it be safe for me to follow this program if I am already 25% body fat, or could it pose some health dangers? I want to build muscle mass for rugby. Thanks.

leshelle felix
Posted on: Tue, 11/27/2012 - 13:29

hi steve i was wonm
dering how to build my calves i would like them to be thick day are a bit skinny rite now.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 11/27/2012 - 13:34

Instead of high rep work, try stand calf raises holding a barbell using 5 sets of 5 reps, 2x a week. Heavy weight as possible.

Posted on: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 00:03

Im started the squats and milk last monday.
Its hard, but i hope i win it =)
greets from holland.

dave pigozzo
Posted on: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 10:50

I'm currently at 17 reps w/ 315lbs on the 20 rep squat routine, i use a box to ensure i hit proper depth of parallel, my hope is to work up to 330 for 20

Posted on: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 13:27

hi steve
wat exc can i do instead of pull ups cuz i work out at home ?

Posted on: Mon, 12/26/2011 - 08:17

ah it's a nice idea to modernize this program, but this, as a body building program should be taken with a grain of salt. yates rows in a high volume program like this seems risky (there's a reason we don't deadlift with an underhand grip--bicep tendon tear, anybody?), the ab work and curls are cute, i suppose that's what a lot of people want to do and they do build muscle.

upright rows are a great exercise for building muscle, but with barbell rows and curls you already have biceps working as a synergist muscle and an isolated muscle. shrugs would probably be a lot more appropriate for trap development, and uprights are somewhat risky for shoulders.

suggesting standing OR seated calf raises in a bodybuilding program isn't such a great idea, either. seated calf raises target the soleus muscle, the smaller of the two major calf muscles, and also the muscle which is significantly more slow twitch. this is because the soleus is the more active of the two muscles when the knees are bent. when the knees are straight, the gastrocnemius is far more involved and the soleus acts as a synergist, resulting in bigger gains in calf size.

don't get me wrong it's a better program than none but if you're an intermediate to advanced lifter or bodybuilder, this just seems like overtraining, and deadlifting isn't really necessary either, increasing your squat increases your deadlift, and if you're adding 5lbs every time you squat then you're gonna get a lot further squatting 3 days a week.

Posted on: Sat, 12/24/2011 - 17:31

i tried this and found out that im lactose intolerant,i crapped myself the 2nd say on the 12th squat in the gym,i let out a big UUGGGG IM GONNNAAAA......and then the lunk alarm went off while i was running for the toilet,it was a horrible experience and i dont recomend this to anyone with a sensitive stomach

Posted on: Mon, 06/27/2011 - 18:00

Hello, this routine sounds perfect for packing on mass, but I want to add my own touch to it. Here's my routine:

Week 1:
Monday - Squats
Tuesday - Bench
Wednesday - Squats
Thursday -Deadlift
Friday - Squats
Saturday & Sunday are off days.

Week 2:
Monday - Bench
Tuesday - Deadlift
Wednesday - Bench
Thursday - Squats
Friday - Bench
Saturday & Sunday are off days.

Week 3:
Monday - Deadlift
Tuesday - Squats
Wednesday - Deadlift
Thursday - Bench
Friday - Deadlift
Saturday & Sunday are off days.


See the pattern going on? I am going to increase the weight by adding 5 pounds each time I work on a particullar body part. Proper nutrition and all. I've only been lifting for 2 years and am not sure as to whether or not this strategy will work?

Posted on: Mon, 02/07/2011 - 20:31

Steve what would you think of using this program for fat cutting by not drinking the milk, along with interval cardio

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 02/17/2011 - 13:45

That should work well. You can pretty much use any muscle building workout while cutting.

Posted on: Wed, 12/22/2010 - 22:14

G'day Steve,

Do you have to drink that much milk....is it a must?

I do have skim milk with my 3 shakes a day and I make up the rest of my calories with whole foods.

I'm getting about 3650 calories a day with about 285 grams of protein.

Is that enough for this workout?....I'm about the 98kg mark at the moment.


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 12/23/2010 - 10:47

Hi Jason,

Drinking milk is certainly not the only way to help gain muscle and strength. Here are some articles that might help:



To answer your question, I'm not sure if 3600 calories per day is enough. If depends of whether you are gaining weight or not. Have you gained any weight the last several months with this approach?

Posted on: Thu, 02/10/2011 - 17:33

G'day Steve,

Sorry for the delayed reply.

Um I've upped my calories to 3800 a day....I seem to be making abit of progress with gaining weight also my major lifts are increasing aswell....it's great!

Another questions I'm noticing I am sore for days usually.....Even up until the next workout, is that okay?

I try and warm up & stretch as best I can aswell as warming down.


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 02/17/2011 - 13:41

Soreness is definitely OK. Training while sore causes no issues. Just make sure you warm up properly.

Posted on: Mon, 11/15/2010 - 01:52

G'day Steve,

With one of the Squats would it be okay to change it to 5 x 5?


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 11/15/2010 - 08:30

Hi Jason,

Absolutely. I would probably recommend a 5x5 on Monday so you are recovered on Friday.

Posted on: Mon, 11/15/2010 - 20:35

Awesome, thank you very much for the reply.

Posted on: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 03:34

Hi Steve,

I've been doing S&M for about a month now. I've seen some progress, but I think some of the minor details may be holding me back. I have a few questions:

- The university I attend allots a certain amount of visits to the cafeteria for the week. I believe it is something like two meals/day during the week. This makes it hard to eat all day long. Also, they don't have whole milk, so I've been drinking two glasses of 2% milk. Could this be affecting weight gain?

- Most of the food I eat comes from a cafeteria or a place where the nutrition facts are not readily available. I'm conscious about eating "cleanly", but also eating a good amount. Is there a good way to approximate calories without having the nutrition facts handy?

- This may be a dumb question, but I have heard that one should be able to deadlift more than they squat, and squat more than they bench press. I have seen a major progression in weight for squat, but bench press and deadlift have capped out for me around 135. Is there some sort of muscle imbalance I should be concerned about (related to potential injury)?


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 09/27/2010 - 10:13

Hi Andrew,

2% is fine. The important key to weight gain is overall calories. You are losing some with 2%, but still should be able to gain weight.

The best way to approach eating when nutrition facts aren't available is to use portion sizes. Fill up 1/3 of your plate with a protein, 1/3 with veggies and 1/3 with a starch (like rice, carbs). This will help you eat a proper balance.

Most people do deadlift more then they squat. Are you deep squatting below parallel?

Posted on: Wed, 09/29/2010 - 01:59

Great. Thanks for the clarification.

I go as far as I can go. I doubt it's below parallel...maybe parallel or slightly above. I had some guys watch me on Monday and they said my form looked solid and that I was squatting pretty deeply. I'll be sure to pay particular attention to that on Friday.

When I started training this past year, I hardly worked my back. I did machine rows and pull-ups once in a while, but never really hit it hard until this summer. That might be affecting my ability to do the deadlift well. Plus, I am not exactly a big guy. My arms, forearms in particular, are still relatively weak. Should I try a different approach for deadlifts?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 10/06/2010 - 09:17

Parallel is fine. Good to hear that your form is squared away.

Your deadlifts will improve rapidly. Just stay consistent and persistent.

Posted on: Wed, 10/06/2010 - 01:21


I stand corrected. I deadlift much more than I squat. Especially with the correction of form to deep, below parallel squatting. I can hardly walk. I bought a weight gainer as well to make up for lost calories.

Thanks for the help.

Posted on: Fri, 09/03/2010 - 10:54

What could I replace Friday's upright rows with. I've read of the problem with upright rows with regards to the shoulder joints.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 10:14

Hi Teejay,

I recommend seated Arnold dumbbell press.

Posted on: Fri, 08/13/2010 - 16:33

i see pull ups in there. i cant do one at this point,and i see you can do negatives instead. could lat pull downs be substituted,or will negatives produce better results?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 11:04

Hi Matt,

I would try a few negatives or assisted pullups to help build some strength, and then do some lat pull downs.

Ross Sonnier
Posted on: Tue, 08/03/2010 - 12:47

Just wanted to say that I really enjoy your articles, man. I've been bodybuilding for almost 10 years now and I've learned a lot during that time period with research and experience. Articles like this one always throw a new twist onto what I know and you've always got something new to share. I appreciate it and I'm sure everyone else here does too. Myself, for instance, am a typical hardgainer coming up from 5'11" at around 120-130 lbs to over 200 lbs. Excess calories are a must for me and often difficult to put down so I incorporate things like raisins, trail mix, corn, peas, shakes, and other calorie dense foods to help me push the limits and tip the scales. Never really considered drinking a gallon of milk a day though. Like I said, you always put a new twist on things. I thoroughly enjoy reading your articles. Keep it up.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/03/2010 - 13:41

Thanks for the kind words Ross. I really appreciate it.

And if there's one thing I've mastered, it's eating!

Posted on: Sun, 08/01/2010 - 19:09

Thanks Steve, I'm upping my calories now. I've been underweight for ages, and though I've been able to do 300lb leg presses, and 400lb leg presses, those things aren't really what's important to me now, even though it is important. I'm going to work on my diet and move this forward. Really, this page has been the most helpful so far for a person like me to feel hope! Thanks!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 08/01/2010 - 19:34

Best of luck Daniel!

Posted on: Sun, 08/01/2010 - 00:39

Hey Steve,

I'm seriously going to do this program. I'm 5'10, 127 lbs, and today I ate around 3,650 calories. I know I should probably do more, but how many would you suggest I intake on a daily basis, and what kind of gains should I expect to see weight-wise with this program?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 08/01/2010 - 14:04

Hi Daniel,

Right now you are underweight. I might suggest 3600 to 4000 per day. At minimum you want to gain a pound per week right now. It might help you to try the GOMAD - gallon of whole milk a day. You eat 3 normal meals, and drink a gallon of milk each day.

beginners can gain around 15 pounds of muscle during their first year of training hard. You might be able to gain more because of your current weight. I would like to see you hit 167 over the next year.

Rafael G. Toledo
Posted on: Mon, 07/26/2010 - 19:32

Greetings from the Philippines! I'm 44 years old if I follow the Squats and Milk Program will i gained weight? Thanks.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 07/27/2010 - 14:08

Hi Rafael,

You should gain weight using this program.

Posted on: Sun, 05/30/2010 - 02:16

guys the 20 reps is like this

do a weight that allows you to do 10 reps to failure. but instead of putting the weight back...pump out another 10 reps, even if you have to pause and breath.JUST DON'T PUT THE WEIGHT DOWN UNTIL YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE 20 REPS.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 05/30/2010 - 08:10

You have to breathe and rest with the weight on your back until you are able to perform another rep.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 03/21/2010 - 08:22

Daniel...yes, those rep ranges are still great for hypertrophy.

Posted on: Sun, 03/21/2010 - 05:48

Thanks Steve :)
So if I hit a wall on my 5x5 bench press, or any of the other exercises i'm doing, and I decide to drop the weight down a couple of stages and work my way back up.. say 80kg 5x5 down to 67.5kg / 70kg for 3x8 or 3x10 will I be able to put on size since i'm doing a lower weight but in a different rep range? I'm hoping I can still put on size and strength if I lower the weight and jack up the reps but still stay in a hypertrophy rep range. I'm afraid that if I lower the weight a bit to do a higher rep range (but still get to near failure by the 8th, 9th or 10th rep) i won't be able to put on size since i'm not lifting as heavy as i was on the 5x5 routine.. or will i still be able to?