Jon Andersen’s Beginner Squat Workout

“Squatting for me is a spiritual experience. Squatting isn’t just an exercise; it is a place where I can lose myself and find myself all in one set. The squat is a movement to make your whole body strong, and if you do it right it will make you mentally strong. Squatting can put you in the face of adversity faster and more effectively than any other exercise in the gym. If you’ve got the sac you can stretch your work capacity and mental toughness to places beyond your imagination. The squat is the best, most aggressive way possible to increase mental toughness.

My mental toughness, my mental fortitude and my stubbornness to get it done were developed under the squat bar, trying to eke out one more rep… You can always get one more. Then after that, just one more… then another, and so on. There’s always one more rep. Always a way to test yourself. You can literally have an out-of-body experience while squatting. Even now I face and smash some of my biggest challenges in the squat rack.”Jon Andersen

Beginner Squat Workout

Week One:

Start with a weight you can handle for three sets of ten reps. Take that same weight and take as much time as you need to do ten sets of ten. It will be tough. You will feel sick. That’s the point. Do whatever you need to do to get through this workout safely. Take all the time you need between sets. If the weights are too heavy, scale them back a bit. But not too much. Intensity is key to make it into the Deep Water. If the weight is too light, start your reps over with a heavier barbell. The workout should be a grinder, but not impossible.

Week Two:

Using the same weight as last week, complete the same ten sets of ten, allowing yourself only 3 to 4 minutes’ recovery time between sets. Make up your mind that you are going to finish, even when you feel like you are at the end of your physical rope. That is when you will make your biggest gains.

Week Three:

This week complete your 100 reps in no more than 7 sets. Take whatever time you need between sets. Remember: it’s supposed to be hard!

Week Four:

This week is your first real swim into Deep Water. Stay focused. Be confident. Keep an open mind. Complete your 100 reps in as few sets as possible, making sure that you beat last week’s 7-set standard. Make a game plan, be brave and get wet! More than anything, this will test your mental toughness. Your mind will try to convince you that you are done long before your body is. Stay tough and push through. You are drafting a new template for mental toughness in your brain, forcing it to adapt.

This is where you will make your biggest gains by re-learning what you are capable of. Remember, there’s always more in the tank! Push through your mental limits! The gains are in the pain!


Jon is recognized internationally as a strength athlete, professional wrestler, IFBB pro bodybuilder, and author of Deep Water Method. Jon transformed himself from a scared, fat weakling into a physical juggernaut.

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