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After One Week of Smolov....


I deceided to do the program after coming off a low volume routine so I figured it would help me get back into some higher rep work. Well after one week I have managed to get all the reps and have virtually no leg soreness.

But my low back and knee is starting to really bother me. On my previous routine I hardly ever wore a belt, on smolov I wear it all the time because of my low back fatigue.

I know the knee problem is because of an IT band issue. But has others had a back problem with the volume in this kind of program? Do squats help build low back strength or is the soreness/tightness from something else?

Is this something that I should work through? My back doesn't hurt the next day just when I get in the middle of the routine it starts to tighten up.


No disrespect, but are you serious?


Yes it is a serious question. It may be an obvious answer but I'm not sure of it. I think the stiffness is a product of going low. I have seen some pictures of what happens to the low back when you go too low but I don't think/know if that is whats happening to me. The main reason I ask this is am I going to get past this (get used to it the more I keep doing it) or is there something else wrong.


you are not accustomed to the workload. most people will get gradually more tired on the smolov base meso cycle. you can however cope well if you decrease the pre-cycle 1rm a bit, eat and rest well and have a big work capasity built from a lot of squatting (3+ times a week for the last two years).

you could make it through, but you could also get injuried. time will show. I have several times suffered those problems you describe, but have made it through anyway.

the first time i got through smolov i was so drained i lost all motivation for squatting, and did not squat much for the next 3 months and lost all strength gained on smolov.

powerlifting is not about how fast you progress but about the most you can ever lift.

smolov is risky and not everyone can pull it off. (i'm doing the smolov base meso cycle at the moment). I have trained for 9 years now, so I have some experience.

sheiko programs is easier for the squat than smolov but also gives good progress.


stallion, question for you as someone who's gone through smolov several times. is it worth it to you to do the program (think that's obvious since you're doing it again). What are your typical gains like after completing the program? How much does this strength cross over to your other lifts/athletic endeavors?


I am doing only the base meso cycle this this, perhaps I will do the entire program next year, we will see..

Typical gains for me is 7.5-10kg in the base meso cycle. And 27.5-30kg in the entire Smolov program. That was the back squat numbers. For the front squat, it has been a bit different. Everything from almost nothing to 25kg on the entire program.

There are several factors that play a key-role:

  • rest
  • nutrition
  • coming of fresh or rerunning smolov ?
  • levels of stress in your life (work, school)
  • attitude and mental stamina

Everybody that makes it through Smolov for the first time will make incredible gains unless they get injuried.

As for transfer to other lifts: My front squat and my deadlift goes up alongside with the squat. The second time I did Smolov I also set a new PR in 60m sprint afterwards, without training the sprint. Standing long jump also benefitted greatly from the extra leg strength. However, if you eat a lot and bodyweight increase, then both your vertical, sprint-times etc. will not increase that much.


sorry to hijack your thread...

Hi Stallion...I will be doing the Smolov program early next year. As a Smolov veteran yourself, could you please answer the following questions

1) what would you recommend for the switching program. I am considering negatives and box squats. What else would you recommend for someone not good at the olympic lifts?

2) for the meso and intense, what days would you describe as the toughest?



Also, unless you are a very experienced squatter I would only do smolov with a partner or coach to watch my form each set.

With the volume you are bound to get not only leg soreness and fatigue but also back soreness and fatigue. When your lower back gets tired that is when you start fucking up the whole shit. do one or two reps with anything less than a hard arch and you will likely cop a sore ass back.

So either use your belt or dont but dont let it be a crutch for a lazy arch. Each rep you should have a distended gut like an african baby, ass out like a duck and your scapula should be so close together the one accuses the other of rape.

With the level of volume your first sign of poor form can snowball down into untimely doom. You get a sore back from a few sets done less than rigid, you end up having to start a session with a twingy [someone else's word not mine] back and then your form is not right for all the sets.

So if you can't keep the form for the workload then work up your high set work capacity before re-trying the program. start with high reps for a few sets you know you can do such as 4 x 8 or 10. Select your weight for 8 reps at about your 9-10rm. So each set will be hard but not failish. be sure to squat 4-5 times a week as well. vary the rep number each day from 5+. each week you repeat the days. so each week you add another set. so the 4x 8 with 9rm becomes 5x8 w/ 9rm. next week that day is 6x8 w/ 9rm.

Thing is if you don't complete the new set then you dont get to add another then next week until you do complete the new set. Work up to about 7-8 sets and obviously your previous 9rm wont feel as heavy at all and your work capacity and ability to squat for high numbers with strong form will be sound.

It's also cool to test your new RMax for each rep range and see how they've powered up. now retest your max and then rest a week and go for smolov again. getting to double the beginning sets shouldn't take too long. maybe a block of 4-6 weeks.

I had the same issue you do when I cam out of a low volume, super heavy set of blocks. high rep sets became easier but harder to keep rigid on. could be because the weight i could use for those sets was way higher. but i was also just not accustomed to being yolked with the bar for that bloody long.



Smolov Spreadsheet including layout of switching period: http://www.kraftsport.no/programs/Smolov.xls
It is in Danish. But try to use a online translator, and if you are stuck on any words, then send me a pm.

2) for the meso and intense, what days would you describe as the toughest?

For the base meso cycle. Hm.. All rep-ranges have their charm. I usually never had a problem with the 4 x 9 reps days, but the rest of the days can be equally hard. After the 7 x 5 reps day, you have the 10 x 3 reps day the day directly after.

That can be very tough. The whole base meso cycle in itself is very tough. In regard to the intense meso cycle, it is the latest workouts that I find the hardest, it is not that bad in the very beginning of the intense meso cycle.

I agree with this. Not everyone is blessed with a trainingpartner or can afford a trainer or is lucky enough to have someone that will help you for free. If I had the money, I would sometimes pay a trainer to come support and watch me. But I videotape my training, and then I try to coach myself.

But to keep spirits high and get yelled form clues at during a set, a training partner or a coach is a very good idea. I find that noone else that I know is willing to go through the horros of Smolov together with myself.

Yes, the back will take a huge beating in this program, and for some it caan even lead to injury.

Very vivid description! :slight_smile:

Could happen..

Very true words spoken!

Well spoken chris!


This week I have been sitting down between sets to "take the load off" and it seems to be helping my back. I am able to complete all the sets and not feel any "stiffness" till I'm putting the weights up.

Stallion, you should start a Smolov thread for everyone to put their questions into seeing as you seem to be the one with the most experience with this program around here.


I tought of creating a web-site entirely created for smolov, it could be a project for next year, as I am preparing for the exams now. I am not always very active on T-Nation, and sometimes it can take a long time before I come on the forum. So for the time being, I just answer some threads when I have the time. Good Idea anyway, I am sure some more people have experience as well.


Yeah a coach is very very often not feasible for everyone. But i reckon that you'd be able to find someone in your area/gym/homeless shelter that could help you.

They dont even have to do smolov with you. I'm sure they could easily train a different program with either of you calling key coaching points between sets. god knows you need legitimate breaks for smolov to work. better to break and make the set than pre-mature ejaculate the breaks and fuck up the set.

Even then it is often hard to find someone who's company you can stand for a hour 1-1.5 hours that also trains. A lot of people want to go and do some random running around, dancing intervals or other general dog-fucking.

the video camera is really the next best point of reference and is even worth while with a coach. especially for people who think in the 3rd person [I do. voyeur]. Besides cameras are the way of the future, like a single-function R2-D2. Spray paint an anorexic gold to get your own C-3PO!



If I relied on other people I would never get anywhere. I have trained mostly alone for the 9 years I have trained, and I will most likely keep going that way.

I don't think working hard without a coach is an issue. A couple of videos from my alone sessions that backs up my statement:

180kg x 20 (85% of 1RM at the time) reps in the squat:

160kg (94% of 1RM) 10 sets x 3 reps front squat:

I am still confident that a very good coach could add value to my training. However, I am only an amateur lifter, and I enjoy the process as much as the results, and I am not making a living off this, and I am not going to take steroids ever, so there is not like I am going to make a strongman career out of this. Altough I like working out and getting stronger a lot, I focus on my academic education, as that is what is going to bring me a paycheck, and pay for food, housing etc.

I'd rather train alone than training with some incompetent person that don't share my goals and values. From time to time I train with other powerlifters, and I do have the opportunity to travel to train at other gyms with lifters that are stronger and more knowledgeable than me.

However, since I have a gym in my basement that is available all the time, that suits me very well, and I don't have to use resources (money/time) to travel.

Training is not excatly rocket science, as long as you have a plan, and you do periodization, listen to your body, work hard, rest and eat well, then you will progress. Repeat this for a long time, and you will get very strong, stronger than most people.

As a side note I prefer lifting without equipment, I like going for a workout, do my routine, and then be finished. Using powerlifting gear takes a lot of time, and who ever got strong from the equipment? Strength is built from time under the bar, from the food and from the rest.

Powerlifting training with squat suits, bench shirts, knee wraps, belts, wrist wraps etc. do not appeal to me anymore. I think mostly it is a waste of time. Perhaps I will sometime in the future once again compete in a meet, who knows. For me this is an alone journey which I immensely enjoy.

For me it is not only about a new PR or results, but also about the process. There is nothing like a good workout, and the sensations that you feel when really pushing your own limits.

The dicipline and dedication in the gym can be transferred to other areas in life, and I also feel that the training builds self esteem, and brings me peace of mind.

  • stallion


Yeah I'd agree that you seem to be a very efficient self starter. For athletes like this there is no reason for much of a partner. Most people do better in a partner situation but there are the outliers that can actually go han solo.

But for the general public id say partners are often the best tools to progress in training.

And to escape any confusion, I was just quoting your post to clarify the subject i was writing on. I didn't mean "you" in the specific sense as in "you can do this." I meant "you" as in "a person" or "someone."

So it was in reference to anyone that didnt have a training partner and was worried that they would have to find one that was into the clawed vagina that is smolov.

Also, you are a horse sir. Did you post that shit before? I swear ive seen those videos previously.



Stallion, judging by the amount of energy you had after the 20th rep I think you could of got 1-2 more.

This program is working pretty good for me after 2 weeks. Besides the stiff back and constantly sore knees, I have gained 6 lbs and my pants are now tight in the legs and especially the ass.


No, not at all. I had some more energy left, true. There will always be some energy left, no matter what you lift or what you do. The only time there will be no energy left is when you are dead.

However it is important to realize that if you do 20 reps with 60% of your 1RM, it is easier to squeeze out the last reps compared to squeezing out the last reps in a 20-rep set where the load is 80%+ of your 1RM.

If you watch the video again,

you will clearly see that the last rep is really a huge battle. I was not confident I would get this after the 19th rep, and I was screaming from the top of my lungs, and really had to utilize everything I had to get that last rep. On the video you can see that I barely made it. To think I could have done even one or two more reps there is wishful thinking.

There is a video where I am doing 172.5kg x 19 reps where I am totally exhausted at the end, although I went to concentric failure there are also here energy left, altough I was unable to get off the floor for several minutes after the set.

I was under the bar in both those sets, and I can honestly say that both of them were tremendous efforts, but the 172.5x19 rep set, was the set where I was the most tired.

But it was impossible to do another rep at the 180kg x 20 reps set. I suggest you load the bar to 80%+ of your 1RM, and then you try to do it for 20 reps, and you'll see how you feel...

It is not something new that people have opinions that are way out of here, and I sometimes wonder what they did smoke to say things like that, but usually the people saying things like that haven't got the experience and knowledge. :slight_smile:


I would of course benefit from a partner/coach like most other people, but I haven't found the ideal partner/coach yet, and I am not searching for it either. I agree with your statement that most people will benefit from a trainingparnter/coach.


Stallion, those 20 rep squats are AMAZING. 180x20 is obsurd strength.


Stallion, the remark about you having enough energy for a couple more was sarcasm. From about 12 on I thought you were going to give out anytime. Its a true testament to your character that you were able to keep pounding them out. Now if you were screaming and jumping up and down after the 20th I may of thought you had another left in ya:)

Do you credit smolov routines for your mental toughness or just years of lifting?


spooln6: lol. hard to detect sarcasm on the internet! :wink: No worries tough. :slight_smile:

As long as I can remember, since I started lifting weights, I loved to just push the limits. I obviously wasn't that good at pushing myself in the very beginning. But it has developed during the years. I won't attribute it to Smolov. I rather went for Smolov the first time because I liked challenges. I think it is often something that you have or something that you don't have. Some people can learn to be much much tougher, but other will never learn it.

However, altough I really push the limits from time to time, most of my training I don't go all out. Usually I keep a rep or two in me. That is much better for recovery, and is also how many powerlifters train.

Here's a video of the two last smolov base meso cycle workouts that I completed recently. Altough I don't go to failure on a single set, it is very hard.

I don't know why it is like this, but it seems like I do seek the pain when training. I love to really work hard and feel my body work bloody hard!

Bloobird: Thank you very much!