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Box Squats + Smolov


As the title says really...

Have a shoulder injury so looking to do a squat dominant cycle. Was considering normal squats but havent been to happy with some rounding at bottom recently and have been finding box squats perfect for ironing out form.

Anyone successfully run smolov with box squats?


Positioning the bar doesn't aggravate your injury?


Nope or else I wouldnt be suggesting this =]


I cant imagine it causing any problems, some people use it for front squats, box squats I am sure would work great.


Box Squats should be just fine.

Just be careful of your shoulder. Mine were reasonably healthy before Smolov, but Squatting 4 days/week for 3 weeks and then 3 days/week for 4 weeks takes its toll. My suggestion would be to focus on shoulder health while doing this program. Face pulls, band pullaparts, foam rolling, icing, etc. Everything takes a beating during Smolov, not just your legs. Good luck!


If you're convinced that doing even a great volume of squats with very high frequency will not aggravate your shoulder, then very good.

If you think there is a chance though, you might consider using a Manta Ray, which puts the bar somewhat higher. For me anyway it is far easier on my problematic left shoulder to not have to drop the hand as low, as well as not having to really grip the bar.

The Manta Ray does not make the exercise easier on the target muscles. The opposite really, to a small extent.


A couple more questions.

Considering ultimately I wish to have a stronger barbell back squat...

How would people suggest I perform the lift? Touch and go (using box purely for depth), pausing at the bottom for a short period to kill the stretch reflex and keeping tight, or use a rock? ( I have not done these before however).

Also a very common question... but I'll ask anyway for some more opinions.... Rounding one the lower back at the bottom of a squat - can tight hammies REALLY cause this? A lot of lifters ive spoken too have suggested this but Im worried its a bit too "bro science".


What I understand to be a box squat, at least as taught in the powerlifting sense, is not simply using it for depth, or using it for depth and pausing but keeping the weight off of it, but releasing the weight onto the box. And having sat back thoroughly, perhaps moreso than one would have been confident doing without the box.

A rock should not, IMO, really be part of the lift. Yes, while transferring weight onto the box, it's normal to straighten the back to a more vertical position during that time, and then to get it back into lifting position before lifting, but that shouldn't be a momentum thing. It is possible, if desired, to lean forward into the lifting position and hold it for a fraction of a second before initiating the lift: this eliminates the momentum. Most I think don't do this though. But excess momentum -- really "using" a rock -- is a differing matter and I think not best.

Aside from the injury factor -- Louie Simmons at least has said it is more likely to cause injury -- there is also the fact that it creates a different balance situation than exists in the squat. With the momentum of the weight moving forward, it's possible (or perhaps even necessary) to be off-balance with the center of gravity behind your feet, where you would fall backwards in the squat, but don't in this case because the momentum of the rock counterbalances that. That is just my own thought on it. Getting rid of the momentum or keeping it low means that your balance does have to be normal: center of gravity over the feet, not behind.


Smolov is brutal.

I know if I "rock" out of the bottom, because I end up "scooping" the weight up rather than squatting... bad.

You COULD do a smolov cycle with a safety squat bar. It would certainly take pressure off your shoulders, and you would NEVER fall forward in a squat again.

You could also try a buffalo bar...

or just a bar that got bent doing rack pulls has sometimes been helpful for taking pressure off the shoulder while squatting for me....

TOTALLY off topic:

Who is Smolov? What world class lifters has he coached? Because if you'd like, I can come up with a brutally hard squat only routine. I can tell you to squat 9 times a week, and Oly lifters will all call it an easy routine because in craplachistan, Coach Dr. Blwvngjrgiev did triple sessions 7 days a week.


I have no further corroborating information proving it a fact but I have read that Master of Sport SY Smolov was a major force in the training of the Russian Olympic weightlifting team, back in the Soviet days. Pavel Tsatsouline, who certainly knows a thing or two about Russian training, doesn't seem to think Smolov was inexperienced, unaccomplished, or an idiot.

You're the first person I've seen either to suggest he may have had no experience or did not know what he was talking about, and also the first to suggest being able to just as well come up with something himself.


I don't know him either... Too bad his routine works like crazy. You can't complain with results. That's like telling Ryan Kennelly to stop using tricep extensions. Our negative opinion's about an effective routine doesn't really matter to anyone but ourselves...

I myself will be training with max weights 5 times a week. Sounds crazy but... I'll try.


If you are going to do this much box squatting make sure you vary the height of the box from day to day somewhat. Personally, I feel like squatting to the exact same depth all of the time aggravates my knees. This even though I squat widish-not westside wide, but IPF wide.



I wasn't trying to imply that Mr. Smolov was a no one, per se, just that one needs to identify exactly why they are going to commit such a huge amount of energy to something like this routine.

To be truthful though, I had no idea what his background was. Interesting.

I actually ran the base cycle, and added about 40lbs to my squat, and saw no decrease on my other lifts.


Great result! :slight_smile:

I'd failed to understand the point you were trying to make. Oops.


My suggestion if you currently have a shoulder issue, have a problem rounding the back at the bottom of the squat and want to run smolov.

Find a box set to a height that you can hit without starting to round the back. Use a friend or a video camera to find the correct depth that you can use.

Once you have set the correct height, you should try a 1RM, or if you don't want to do a 1RM either estimate what you think you can do to that depth, or just do some repetitions and use a 1RM calculator to estimate the 1RM.

Then for the actual smolov itself: Start off doing the base meso cycle, and then you will see after that if you want to continue, the base meso cycle alone will pack 5-20kg onto your squat alone. Usually for me, I get 10kg from this cycle.

If you use a high bar position, and position your hands with maximum width, close to the collarss, this will take away a lot of stress from the shoulders, and your shoulder issue should not be a problem.

I am using such a technique here:

Although you do not want to go as deep as I do in those sets (ie. the rounding problem of yours), you could use the same bar position and hand placement.

Lastly I suggest taking 10 to 20kg off your 1RM before embarking on the cycle. This will make the whole experience doable, and the risk of injury far less risky, and I promise you, you will still make gains. Don't add extra sets to any of the workouts, this could potentially mess up the recovery, and you might starting missing sets the next session.

To reduce the stress on your body even more, without sacrificing strength gains, you could do pause squats for the entire cycle. I did this, and it transfers perfectly to the ordinary squat. Poundages gained in the paused style transfers directly to the ordinary squat.

Good luck!

-- stallion