A couple summers ago I suffered a minor wrist injury that caused me to have to scale my workouts a bit for a few months. Some might look at this time as a setback, however, I took it upon myself as a challenge and decided if I could do nothing more than squat, then I was going to squat often.
It was with this quest that I began searching the web for the toughest back squat program I could find. And just a short time after searching, I knew where my training was headed. High frequency and high volume, Smolov just entered my life.
High frequency and high volume, Smolov just entered my life.
Smolov is named after the creator of the program, Sergey Smolov, the Russian Master of Sports. However Pavel Tsatouline made this program popular when he published it in Powerlifting USA.
The original 13 week program says it can add up to 100 lbs on your squat. With all the heavy loads and many reps of squatting that goes on during these 13 weeks, I can believe it.
If you don’t have 13 weeks to devote your life to in a squat program, like I didn’t, there is another option.
Enter Smolov Jr.
Smolov Jr. is a 4 week program that feeds off of the “Base MesoCycle” of the original Smolov squat routine.
It’s the meat and potatoes of the 13 week program and will have you dreading squat days by the end. You are going to be tired and you are going to be sore.
You will want to give up but do not give in. The program has you squatting 4 days per week for 3 weeks:
* Monday, 4 sets of 9 reps (begins at 70% of 1RM, Week 2 add 20 lbs, Week 3 add 10 lbs)
* Wednesday, 5 x 7 (begins at 75% of 1RM, Week 2 add 20 lbs, Week 3 add 10 lbs) )
* Friday, 7 x 5 (begins at 80% of 1RM, Week 2 add 20 lbs, Week 3 add 10 lbs) )
* Saturday, 10 x 3 (begins at 85% of 1RM, Week 2 add 20 lbs, Week 3 add 10 lbs) )
The weight increases not only every week, but every workout. It’s in week 4 that you will squat only once, resting a full week and then attempting a PR.
The volume is less intense and will get you all the beginner gains you need to keep you hungry.
How do you know if you’re a beginner? Well, if you’re asking yourself if you are a beginner, then you’re a beginner.
You should also not attempt this program if you are a male and do not have a 300 lb. back squat. The reasoning behind this is because the jump in weights you make in weeks 2 and 3 will pummel you otherwise.
You want to take full advantage of this program while you are on it. Not going for a 20 lb increase in week 2 and another 10 lbs in week 3 will leave you with less than a desirable PR in the end.
What if the percentages based on my 1RM are too heavy?
Lower your 1RM in 2 1/2% increments until it gets you to a weight you are comfortable in beginning with. You will not lose testosterone for starting a bit lower. However, foolishly using a 1RM you haven’t hit in the last month is a stubborn game to play that could get you hurt.
Is this program only good for back squats?
The answer is, No! You can replace the back squat in Smolov Jr. with many other compound barbell movement exercises such as the front squat, strict press, push press and bench press.
What type of result can I expect from the Smolov Jr. program?
This answer depends on your training and rest schedule.
When I completed the program, I was able to obtain a 35 lb PR (315 to 350 lbs, 11%). I know others who were trying to max out on other lifts during this time and laid a goose egg on PR day.
Best way to ensure your PR and get the full benefits of this program is to commit. You need to make squatting your priority for 4 weeks and put it above all else in training.
By doing so, you are giving the Smolov program the respect it deserves and giving yourself a great chance of proudly walking away in 4 weeks with a huge gain in your squat.
How do I get started?
Download the Smolov Spreadsheet to get started. The spreadsheet contains the full program for your enjoyment but remember that Smolov Jr. uses the “Base Mesocycle” only. Thanks go out to Stronglifts.com for providing the spreadsheet.
If you’ve completed this program in the past or plan to get started, let us know your results in the comments below.