The Smolov Cycle is an intense 13 week squating regimen that’ll have you pushing your limits in the squat cage 4 days per week. For those of you that would like to dabble in the program, but don’t want to devote a full 13 weeks, the Smolov Jr. variation is a good option. The abbreviated program runs for 3 weeks and is frequently used for bench press as well.
Regular readers will know that I’ve toyed with various strength programs in the past, such as 5/3/1 and conjugate – both of which I’ve highlighted my results for on this site. I’ve been pleased with the results from those programs, but my need to continually mix things up as well as my desire to better inform my advise to clients has motivated me to give Smolov Jr. a spin.
For the unacquainted, the Smolov Jr. protocol is outlined below. There are a total of 12 lifting days over the three week program. The same rep scheme is repeated weekly with increasing loads from week to week. There are online smolov calculators to help you easily compute your specific numbers.
The numbers for week one are percentages of your one rep max. The typical implementation for this program is Day 1 on Monday, Day 2 on Wednesday, Day 3 on Friday and Day 4 on Saturday.
I used this cycle as an opportunity to work my high bar back squat and bench press. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a recent 1RM for high bar, so I had to estimate it based on notes from a recent low bar 1RM test. Based on the difficulty of the program, I overestimated if anything :). At the conclusion of the 3 training weeks, I gave myself one week for deload and then retested my bench and backsquat.
In the end, my high bar backsquat went from 285 lbs (est.) to 315 lbs. After hitting 315, I shifted down to low bar and attempted 325, but I was pretty fatiguied from building up my high bar and failed that twice. I’m pretty sure I can hit it, so I definitely plan on trying again soon. My bench press jumped from 200 lbs to 215. On a percentage basis, I achieved a 10% bump in my backsquat and nearly a 10% increase in my bench.
My training partners at the String Bean lifting facility, Nicole and OGB also participated in the cycle. Nicole saw her high bar go from 173 lbs to 187 and her bench jumped from 132 to 141 lbs. OGB hurt his shoulder and wasn’t able to retest his bench, but he did improve his high bar backsquat to 280 from 265 lbs. PRs for everyone!
I really enjoyed the Smolov Jr. program. Obviously it’s very focused on a single lift, so I don’t think it’s a great program to use as your fundamental training regimen, but I do think it’s a great option to cycle in occasionally to really push your squat (or bench press). If you have any questions let me know in the comments or for those of you that have given the program a shot, I’d love to hear about your results.