“Squat till you puke”. You must have surely heard this adage somewhere in your lifting career. The significance of squat specific training can never be underestimated. Especially, if you are a professional powerlifter or a weightlifter, its relevance gets enhanced multifold. Smolov squat program is one of the most renowned approaches to enhance your squatting strength and take it to your desired numbers.
If you are looking out to up your squatting strength to super human level, give a pat on your back as you have landed on the right page. The Smolov Squat Program progressively increases up your squatting numbers but at the same time it subjects you to 13 weeks of pure hell. But as people say, “the way to heaven is through hell”; in a similar manner, at the end of those brutal 13 weeks, your 1 RM on squats would be increased by 50-100 pounds.
Exciting….Isn’t it? This guide on the Smolov Squat Program will not only provide you a detailed description of the program but will also prepare you mentally and physically to go through it.
Now,let’s get through it.
What Exactly Is The Smolov Training?
This specialized program is named after Sergey Smolov. However, it was brought into light by Pavel Tsatsouline who was also referred to as “The Mad Russian”. The Smolov Squat Program consists of a routine that sustains for 13 weeks. It is further divided into 5 different phases. They are as follows:-
- Week 1-2 – Introductory ‘light’ microcycle
- Week 3-6 – Base mesocycle
- Week 7-8 – The switching phase
- Week 9-12 – Intense Mesocycle
- Week 13 – Tapering week
Smolov routine is a mix of undualating periodization and block periodization. The importance of the starting two weeks is to familiarise yourself with the herculean base Mesocycle in which you are required to squat four times a week. This week tends to provide you with a decent amount of gains but once you are strong-willed enough to squat your ass off to complete the whole program, the gains you would be experiencing would be unparalleled.
How Do You Do Smolov Squat Routine
You must predetermine your current 1RM on your squat before you proceed with this program. The workout protocol that you will be following under this program will be dependent on a certain percentage of your 1 RM. As we discussed earlier, the introductory microcycle will prepare your mind and body to go through the brutality of workouts in the coming phases.
In the introductory ‘light’ microcycle, you will be subjected to work up to 90% of your 1 RM. By the completion of the second phase or the Base Mesocycle of this program, your 1RM would have easily gotten up by 30-60 pounds.
The next two weeks would let you go through dynamic effort squatting. The Intense Mesocycle that will follow it will add up to 20-40 pounds to your 1RM. You will end up this program with a one week long Tapering week and finally you would make a final attempt to know how much your squatting prowers has gotten enhanced. If you follow this protocol, be sure to get surprised with a massive increase in your squatting numbers.
Smolov Squat Routine
Before we proceed to the renowned Smolov Squat Routine you must keep in mind that you have an above intermediate level lifting career. Your squatting form and technique must be absolutely perfect so that you can gain the maximum advantage from this routine.
If you are one of those who cannot squat 300 lbs with strict form, then we’re sorry. This program isn’t for you. You must be having a firm foundation that you would have built with 5×5, 3×5 or even 5×1 lifting programs.
So if you comply with these requirements and you are well prepared both mentally and physically to go through whatever it takes, we welcome you to this hell of a workout routine.
Smolov Warm-Up Sets or Procedure
A good and efficient workout routine is bound to get started with a proper warm-up. Talking specifically about this program, it is recommended to include a long pull in your warm-up. This long pull is referred to as protyazhka by Russian lifters. It includes a snatch that does not involve any knee dip at all. You can go with a snatch grip long pull x 3-5 reps + a wide grip press behind the neck x 3-5 reps + a squat with the bar on the shoulders x 3-5 reps. If you want to enhance your SQ specific flexibility and get familiar with the proper technique, you can even choose to avoid the conventional back squats and go with the overhead squats. The following points will provide you with the steps you will follow to get a proper warm-up while doing the long-pull.
- From the bottom position of a stiff legged deadlift using a snatch grip, you have to lift the bar upward using your hip drive. You must keep in mind that you don’t have to perform an actual snatch. All you have to do here is to use the hip drive to lift the bar up.
- Then you have to perform the basic behind-the-neck overhead press with a wide grip.
- The overhead squat promotes a better technique than the conventional back squat. This does not lead to any major issues in respect to the form and flexibility of the movement. It also provides a great motor pattern warm-up before you execute the Smolov squat routine.
This movement aids in promoting good blood flow, stretching out tighter areas and raising the core temperature. A total of 4-5 rounds of this movement as a warm-up set will serve you pretty well.
Introductory Microcycle (Weeks 1-2)
Smolov Introductory Microcycle (Weeks 1-2)
3 x 8@ 65%, 1 x 5@ 70%, 2 x 2@ 75%, 1 x 1@ 80%
3 x 8@ 65%, 1 x 5@ 70%, 2 x 2@ 75%, 1 x 1@ 80%
4 x 5@ 70%, 1 x 3@ 75%, 2 x 2@ 80%, 1 x 1@ 90%
1 x 5@ 80%
1 x 5@ 82.5%
1 x 5@ 85%
This cycle prepares your lower body especially your quadriceps. It does not need to be excessively heavy. In the first week, you will be squatting 3 days in a row. You will be working up progressing in heavy singles. The remaining days will be subjected to stretching which will up your leg recovery. In the second week, you will follow the same style and you will be squatting every alternate day.
Base Mesocycle (Weeks 3-6)
Smolov Base Mesocycle (Weeks 3-6)
4 x 9@ 70%
5 x 7@ 75%
7 x 5@ 80%
10 x 3@ 85%
4×9@ 70% + 20 pound increase as compared to week 3
5×7@ 75% + 20 pound increase as compared to week 3
7×[email protected]% + 20 pound increase as compared to week 3.
10 x 3@ 85% + 20 pound increase from week 3
4 x [email protected] + 30 pound increase as compared to Week 3
5 x 7@ 75% + 30 pound increase as compared to Week 3
7 x [email protected]% + 30 pound increase as compared to Week 3
10 x 3@ 85% + 30 pound increase as compared to Week 3
Monday & Wednesday
You would take a rest for these two days
You will be working up towards a max single
Same as the previous day
In the base mesocycle, you would be required to Squat four times a week for a period of 3 weeks. You would be increasing the weight with every workout in the coming weeks of this phase. However, week 4 will be a rest week and in that week you would be squatting only once. In that session you would make an approach to exceed your current PR.
Switching Phase (Weeks 7-8)
This period will act as a recovery phase, the period most desired by you. During this phase you can choose to go with dynamic effort squatting. You must not go above 60% of your new 1RM. Stay close to 50%. And don’t go beyond 3 reps. You can choose box squatting in this phase.
Never overload or over-exhaust your body in this phase. Doing deep squat jumps during this phase can up your explosiveness. Also, practicing negative squats using a weight greater than your 1 RM can help in establishing a better mind-muscle connection. You just have to load the bar and descent slowly until the bar finds its base on the preset safety bars and that’s it.
In week 7 and 8 which is referred to as the switching phase under this program, you will go through a 2 week deload which will provide you with a physical as well as mental break (which you will be desperately needing).
Intense Mesocycle (Weeks 9-12)
Smolov Intense Mesocycle (Weeks 9-12)
1 x 3@ 65%, 1 x 4@ 75%, 3 x 4@ 85%, 1 x 5@ 90%
1 x 3@ 60%, 1 x 3@ 70%, 1 x 4@ 80%, 1 x 3@ 90%, 2 x 5@ 85%
1 x 4@ 65%, 1 x 4@ 70%, 5 x 4@ 80%
1 x 4@ 60%, 1 x [email protected]%, 1 x 4@ 80%, 1 x [email protected]%, 2 x 4@ 90%
1 x 3@ 65%, 1 x 3@ 75%, 1 x 3@ 85%, 3 x 3@ 90%, 1 x 3@ 95%
1 x 3@ 65%, 1 x 3@ 75%, 1 x 4@ 85%, 4 x 5@ 90%
1 x 3@ 60%, 1 x 3@ 70%, 1 x 3@ 80%, 5 x 5@ 90%
1 x 3@ 60%, 1 x 3@ 70%, 1 x 3@ 80%, 2 x 3@ 95%
1 x 3@ 65%, 1 x 3@ 75%, 1 x 3@ 85%, 4 x 3@ 95%
1 x 3@ 70%, 1 x 4@ 80%, 5 x 5@ 90%
1 x 3@ 70%, 1 x 3@ 80%, 4 x 3@ 95%
1 x 3@ 75%, 1 x 4@ 90%, 3 x 4@ 80%
As the name of this phase suggests, it will involve workout sessions of high intensity. Although you would be squatting only thrice a week, but usually you would be squatting with 80-90% of your 1RM. You can regard this phase as the most taxing and herculean part of Smolov Squat Routine. However, if you are stuck at a certain point following this phase, you can decrease the weight by 5% or a little more and continue with the same set and rep scheme.
Focussing on this phase can surely up your squat poundage by upto 20+ pounds. So if you intend to go through it, the gains you will reap will be far beyond your expectations.
Taper Week (Week 13)
Smolov Taper Week (Week 13)
1 x 3@ 70%, 1 x 3@ 80%, 2 x 5@ 90%, 3 x 4@ 95%
1 x 4@ 75%, 4 x 4@ 85%
You will be making a max attempt – New PR.
Finally in week 13 which is referred to as the Taper week you would make an attempt at breaking your previous squatting PR. You might have got completely enervated both physically and mentally in the past 12 weeks. Your masculinity and masochism will be tested in the Taper week. And at the end you can attempt to smash your previous PR and set a new one; the thing you had always been waiting for.
Smolov Squat Routine Spreadsheets
Full Smolov Squat Program Spreadsheet
So if you have made up your mind to up your squatting numbers following the Smolov Squat Routine, we have a spreadsheet for you. Using it you will be able to track your progress with little effort. This spreadsheet will do all the math for you. All you need to do is to get the initial values entered and the workout will be personalized accordingly.
This spreadsheet will help you in many ways like:-
- You can easily calculate your weight progressions in your upcoming workout sessions.
- Simply by doing the math, you can prepare yourself both mentally and physically to go well-prepared for the next workout session.
- You will not be facing any ambiguities in your workout sessions.
- Smolov warm ups included
- Smolov switching phase routine included
(Note: Taking into consideration the gruesome nature of this program, you should be a bit conservative while setting up your 1RM. Even if you reduce it by 3-5 kg, it can serve you pretty well.)
Simple Smolov Spreadsheet
If you want to perform some other exercises following this routine, you can customize this training protocol with the following spreadsheet.
Many of you might be thinking about adding up some accessory moves to make your workout routine more holistic in nature. This spreadsheet will help you with the following:-
- Selecting weights that do not overexert or under exert yourself.
- Choosing only those accessory exercises that don’t lead to overtraining.
- Getting you throughout the program following a more holistic approach.
Smolov Squat Program PDF
Click on the button to download PDF file of Smolov template
Does Smolov Squat Routine Work?
Yes. The Smolov Squat Routine works for sure. The cycle of this routine systematically builds on itself and thereby prepares you for bigger and better gains. This routine could be brutal but provides you with desirable gains.
How Do You Survive Smolov?
Surviving the brutality of Smolov Squat Routine can be done by following these basic steps:-
● You should reduce your 1RM down by ten percent. From there you can work your way up following the training protocol.
● Eat, Eat and Eat. A training program that is so demanding would not work for you if you eat like a classic physique competitor.
● Stretch well at the end of every session. This will help in releasing lactic acid buildup on one hand and would also prevent injuries on the other.
● Don’t include any other lower body compound movement like conventional or sumo deadlifts, front squats or straight-legged deadlifts.
Does Smolov Work For Bench Pressing?
No. It is not recommended to use the Smolov training protocol to up your bench press strength. But you can go with the Smolov Jr. program to enhance your bench press.
Can You Use Smolov For Deadlifts?
The high-volume used in the Smolov program is certainly not recommended for deadlifting.
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