The temptation to use steroids is often irresistible to young men surrounded by “roiders” prowling the gym and strutting their stuff with their artificially enhanced muscles, bulging veins, and inflated egos. It seems that everyone wants to get bigger and stronger faster without devoting the time – sometimes years – that it sometimes takes to build the body naturally. How to get bigger and stronger faster without taking forever and without juicing?

Breathing squats.

Most people have never heard of breathing squats, but many old-timers will tell you about them. Those who HAVE heard of them usually tremble even thinking about them because they are so difficult. But boy do they work.

So, what are “breathing squats?”

The concept is simple – the execution is brutal. Do three sets of 25 reps of full squats with the heaviest weight you can handle, taking three deep breaths between every rep. I mean very DEEP breaths. Inhale slowly and deeply through your mouth (not your nose or you will probably hyperventilate and pass out) as though you are preparing to blow up a balloon by drawing the air in through pursed lips. Take three slow deep breaths between squats and exhale as you raise yourself back up to a standing position.

Every set will seem to be interminable. The arches of your feet will start to collapse, and your traps will be numb from the weight pressing into your flesh. Your lungs will burn as though you had run a mile at full speed because you are forcing them to breathe against the weight of the bar.

You should superset each set of squats by performing a set of twenty-five bent-arm pullovers after each set of squats, on a flat bench with your head hanging down over the edge of the bench to further enhance your lung expansion.

After the first set you will feel like you are going to pass out, vomit, or even die – or all three – but regardless of how you feel, you must complete at least three sets. Move quickly between sets – as soon as you complete a set of squats, immediately perform your pullovers, and as soon as you complete your pullovers, return to your next set of squats, resting only long enough to move from one exercise to the next.

Once you have conquered the discipline of the routine, increase the weight as quickly as you can. The more weight you use, the faster the results.

Since it will take several minutes to complete each set properly – typically 8-9 minutes per set – plus another 2-3 minutes for each set of pullovers, this routine will take 30-35 minutes to complete. However, it will be more strenuous than anything you have ever done before, so treat it as a complete workout. In other words, it is not necessary to do any other exercises that day. You won’t feel like it anyway.

Execute this regimen twice a week for 6-8 weeks, eat everything that isn’t nailed down, and watch what happens. You will get bigger and stronger before you know it because it will stimulate your entire body to grow. Your other lifts will increase too.

Breathing squats will also build a very deep, full chest from the inside out.  Opera singers, for example, are known for their deep chests developed from years of deep breathing exercises to hold those high notes.  The principle is the same, but the results are much quicker because, in this case, you are forcing your lungs to breathe against the weight of the barbell.

You are NOT going to like breathing squats, but they work – but only if you have the courage and fortitude to do it exactly as described.

I dare you.