Russian Squat Program

Designed for improving the Olympic lifters’ performance in principle, the Russian squat program does wonders in developing your leg strength. This simple yet highly effective squat program is much popular among the powerlifters looking to improve upon their best unceasingly.

Even after four decades of this program first being published, it is still passed on among the strongmen due to its proven effectiveness. It holds ground even in the modern era of the popularity of high-intensity dynamic weightlifting exercises.

Squatting is looked upon as the most effective compound exercise. It works on almost every muscle groups in the body. That combined with well thought out, highly experimented, proven workout program like Russian squat routine is going to produce mind-blowing results for you.

This program is meant for experienced powerlifters who wish to improve upon their best. The intensity of the program can be suitable for intermediate lifters at the most. The RSR is definitely not for beginners.

History of Russian Squat Program 

This Soviet squat routine first came to public knowledge through the 1976 edition of USSR weightlifting yearbook. It was a result of six-year-long training experience of over a hundred athletes.

The athletes with various qualifications experimented with many combinations in order to improve weight lifters performance. As a result, they developed this RSP workout routine to help improve athlete’s strength, in particular strength of their legs.

Since inception, the Russian squat routine has helped many USSR weightlifters to achieve their best.

After several combinations, it was established that visible improvement squat capacity of an athlete can be achieved safely using moderate-intense weights and a systematic training plan. They have developed this six-week program where the majority of lifts are done with moderate-intense weights for strength improvement.

Russian Squat Program Overview

This is a made in USSR, no-nonsense pure squat routine. Spread over six weeks with three evenly spaced workout sessions per week.

  • The Russian squat routine is made of two stages. In the first three week stage, you work on increasing the volume of training by gradually increasing the reps per set, keeping the weights steady at around 80% of your 1 RM.
  • In the second stage of the training cycle, you would be reducing the reps and increasing the intensity of loading. This rising of volume in the first stage and increase in barbell weights in the second stage will strengthen your leg muscles and in turn, will improve your one rep max by at least 5%.
  • On the 18th session at the end of this result-driven soviet squat routine, you will be able to squat with 105% of your 1 RM or more.

What is the Russian Squat Program?

The Russian squat program is a 6-week squat training program aimed at improving your overall muscle strength and lifting capability.

First three weeks comprise of 9 sessions of progressively increasing volume with lifting the same weight for each session. This weight generally is 80% of your 1 rep max. In the following three weeks you would be tapering with reducing volume and increasing the barbell weights up to 105% of your 1 RM.

Russian Squat Program 

Russian Squat Program

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Let’s get straight into the program. If you are an intermediate or advanced lifter, you might already know your 1 rep max for back squats, if not you need to determine or calculate it before entering into the program.

It is a straight forward, six-week workout routine involving you squatting with barbell weights. Each workout session would start with a warm up. It is advised to include two sets having two reps of squats with about 70% & 75% load along with your regular warm up routine.

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Sets and Reps

  • In the first three week stage of RSR, there will be 6 sets in each session. You will be lifting 80% of your 1 RM for all 9 sessions in the first stage.
  • Every odd session of this soviet squat routine will have 6 sets of 2 repetitions with 80% weights.
  • In the first stage, you will be increasing the volume on every even session. Thus, on the second session, you would be doing 6 sets of 3 repetitions on the fourth session there would be 6 sets of 4 reps, and so on.
  • In the second stage, you would be increasing the weight by reducing the reps and sets on every even session. The 10th session or the first session in stage two, you would be lifting 85% of our 1 RM for 5 sets of 5 reps.  
  • Loading will be constantly increased throughout the second phase of this workout program every even session.

Rest Between Sets:

This program aims at strength improvement, thus the recommended rest time between the sets can be anywhere between 2 to 8 minutes. The rule is always rest as long as you need to

Type of Workout Days

The workout program has 3 sessions each week which should be evenly spaced through the week with one rest day between two workout days.

  • Every odd session is called a recovery session. It has 6 sets of 2 reps at 80% loading.
  • The first stage of three weeks has 9 sessions. Every even session is training day with the added volume of repetitions.
  • In the second stage, every even session is a training day with added weights and reduced reps.

How to Warm Up for Russian Squat Program?

The Russian squat program is a demanding workout routine. It needs a bit more than your regular heart rate pumping warm up routine.

  • For RSR, you should add two squat sets with lower weights to your warm up session. The recommendation is to do 2 sets of 2 reps with 70% weights and then 2 sets of 2 reps with 75% weights.

Other Important Guidelines 

  • This routine is to be with a partner. You need someone to physically monitor you, your form and provide support when needed.
  • This is an intense training program, do not combine it with any other training regime.
  • The workouts days should be evenly spaced through the week with one rest day in between the workout days
  • To avoid injuries, be conservative about your 1 RM. Calculate it on your current capacity, don’t go with your personal best.
  • Avoid combining it with a calorie deficit diet.
  • For joint mobility and flexibility needed for safe squatting, you should complement the program with some dynamic exercises.
  • In case, if you are unable to deal with the weights in second half of the first phase of RSR, you should repeat the routine planned for weeks two and three. Then you can proceed to the second phase.
  • You can also use Russian squat program for bench and deadlift

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1976 Russian Squat Program (Workout Plan)

Russian Squat Program

1976 Russian Squat program


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Possible Gains From Russian Squat Program

For the most part of the program, you train with moderate-intense weights. With a good form, warm up and rest you can reduce the possibility of injuries and failed attempts.

For the whole first stage, you will be training with 80% weight. On the first session of the second stage, you move up to 85% of 1 RM.

From this point onwards, after every recovery session, the weight is increased by 5% and sets and reps are reduced in order to make you able to squat with 105% of your limit at the end of the program. The gains of the program may vary and there is a good possibility that you will be getting better results than improving your 1 RM by 5%.

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Embrace The Grind & Reap The Results

Whether you are a professional weightlifter or an enthusiast who wish to gain muscle mass, strength and improve weight lifting capacity, the Russian squat program is the way to do it.

It is a simple, monotonous, single exercise program, but it does deliver result. You just have to embrace the efforts to carry out all the session with accuracy and the results will be substantial.

This program may primarily aim at improving the leg strength but it also improves your abs, back and shoulder strength. It also helps improve your balance and mobility.

All you have to do is dedicate six weeks’ time to this program and be ready for an improved version of yourself.