Introduction to the Smolov Squat Routine
Arguably one of the most difficult squat routines around, the full Smolov demands 13 weeks, 3 and 4 days per week, high volume, heavy weights, high and low repetitions, and some squat days back-to-back! Suitable lifters can experience squat strength gains anywhere from 50 to 130 Lbs, if they can complete this brutal cycle. This routine is for squats, and squats only. Check out Smolov Jr. for a Smolov more suitable for other lifts.
Is Smolov for you?
The Smolov squat cycle is reserved for only those who are already very experienced in the squat. If you are able to make weekly progression on a less demanding routine, this routine is probably not for you. Smolov has a track record of injured lifters, failed cycles, and broken egos. Beginners and intermediates can make faster, safer progress on a beginner or intermediate level routine.
If you are an experienced squatter with many years under the barbell, someone with great form and technique, and you want a serious challenge, all for a chance at a possible giant squat increase; Smolov may be for you.
Smolov is broken down into phases. The base phase (week 3-6) is the most popular, and sometimes ran entirely on its own successfully. Here’s the full, unedited original cycle.
Weeks 1-2 – Introductory Microcycle
Week 1 – Squats 3 days in a row working up towards heavy singles. Then, the rest of this week includes lunges for recovery.
Week 2 – Squats every other day with low volume.
Note: Smolov suggests adding explosive jumps and pylos in these two weeks. Just make sure you do not stress the knees going into the Base Mesocycle.
Week 3-6 – Base Mesocycle
Weeks 3-6 – Squats 4 days per week for 3 weeks. The weight increases weekly with the same rep and set scheme.
Week 4 – Rest until the end of the week. Near the end of this week, you will work up to a new single rep max two consecutive days.
Week 7-8 – Switching
Weeks 7 and 8 – This is a speed/deload phase done with light weights and explosive repetitions. Nothing over 65% during this phase. Rest up and recover.
“The motto of the switching program is speed, and speed again.” – Sergey Smolov
Week 9-13 – Intense Mesocycle
Weeks 9-13 – Squats 3 days per week. Lower volume, but higher intensity when compared to the Base mesocycle. The numbers used on this week are calculated from your newest max.
Full Smolov Routine
Below is the full routine, and a link where you can customize, print, or download to your device. Just plug in your 1RM (One rep max), and let it do the calculations. Bring a pen to the gym, and scribble off the days/sets as you go!
To edit the spreadsheet customized to your lifts, click HERE. You can also print, or download.
Progression and Gain
[pullquote]You shall gain but you shall pay with sweat, blood, and vomit, Comrade. – Pavel Tsatsouline[/pullquote]
The gains on Smolov range dramatically between lifters. Some general ranges are 20-50 Lb or more on the base, and 10-45 Lb on the intense phase. Some lifters report increases as high as 130 Lb from completing the full cycle.
Deadlift increases are also possible, even if they are “forbidden” during the time of this routine. In some rare cases, lifters have even reported nearly equal squat to deadlift benefit.
Smolov is named after its creator, Sergey Smolov “the Russian Master of Sports”. In 2001, the cycle blew up in popularity when Pavel Tsatsouline published Smolov to the now no longer, Powerlifting USA magazine.
Tips for Smolov
- Calculate off of a conservative “1RM”. If you calculate too heavy, you have a high chance of failing, or injury (use in the included spreadsheet).
- Don’t Deadlift (or do anything taxing on the back). It is recommended to stay far away from anything that requires lower back recovery. You will need to recover all you can.
- Take action to improve recovery. Eat a large amount of food, and sleep uninterrupted. Starting this cycle when you know daily stress levels will be low is recommended. You may want to invest in something like a foam roller, and other recovery methods.
- Expect it to be harder than expected! Some lifters report adjusting a bit around week two.