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(Front) Squat Routine Suggestions

My leg strength is pathetic, I have no excuses. I’m reasonably happy with my bench (275lb 1rm) and my deadlift (375lb 1rm) but my front squat (198lb 1rm) and back squat (287lb 1rm) are incredibly weak.

It is my goal to significantly increase my leg strength over the next 7/8 months, and I was just looking for advice on how to go about doing this. I’d rather achieve this following an intensive squatting routine rather than a more gradual approach such as 5/3/1. This is my number one priority, I’m really not fussed about putting my other lifts on the backburner, I feel it’s time I really kick-started my leg training.

I’ve researched smolov, broz and sheiko routines and I was just wondering which one (or which other routine) you’d recommend? If possible I’d really really prefer to have front squats as my main lift as opposed to back squats - despite really focusing on technique front squatting just seems so much more natural to me and I get depth a lot more easily. But having searched the forum a lot I’ve found a lot of posters are against doing front squats in smolov for example.

Thank you in advance.

If there was one single routine that somebody asked me for, with an all-out focus on one thing & to hell eith the others, it would be smolov. Hands down. that being said, unless you are already used to squatting 3x a week, smolov might bury you. Going from once a week to 4x heavy squstting a week is murderous. Even 2x to 4x.

I would suggest doing beginner’s sheiko to get used to frequent squatting without having to worry about programming your own from the ground up, then after a couple months of that do smolov for front squat. Be conservative when you pick your numbers for shieko, because your back will take a beating doing both front squat and deadlift 3x a week. Anyways you can always increase the weight later. Get 2 months of 3x weekly squatting on, and you will be prepped for smolov.

The above advice is great, but Smolov is just short of impossible to complete unless you take a very low max.

What I’d recommend for you, and what I’ve used for front squats is this routine.

http://www.exrx.net/WeightTraining/Weightlifting/RussianSquatProgramGenerator.html?max=425

I had to take 20lbs off my front squat to complete it, but I’m a very fast twitch kind of guy, and not very good at reps.

just punch in your max and away you go man.

Thank you very much for the responses.

Larry - the routine you suggested looks great, thanks. I noticed it is only 6 weeks long, is it a good idea to run 2 or 3 cycles back-to-back or is it best to break it up? Thanks.

I personally think you’ll likely need some time off after the first cycle, it’s very demanding… but I don’t see it being a big problem to do 2 cycles either.

After that, I think your legs will be screaming.

[quote]Larry10 wrote:
I personally think you’ll likely need some time off after the first cycle, it’s very demanding… but I don’t see it being a big problem to do 2 cycles either.

After that, I think your legs will be screaming.[/quote]

Thank you for the response. I’ll maybe do one 6 week cycle, take one week off for active recovery (bodyweight squats and high resistance cycling) then try another cycle. Does that sound ok?

I suppose I can just plan it based on how I feel at the time, once I’ve finished the first cycle.

I think that would be great

I’ve had good success with modified Smolov. Instead of going 4 times per week, I did it twice a week and removed sets from each workout. I think it was:

9x3
7x4
5x5
3x6

So it took 2 weeks to go through a cycle, then each cycle I would add 20lbs and start over. I started real light, and after 3 or so cycles, I did 10lb increments.

I kept the progression up for at least 2.5 months and got up to a 405x5 squat with this routine, which is not impressive by standards on this forum, but it was the most productive squat routine I’ve ever done.

I didn’t need to cut back on upper body training or assistance, or do anything else strange in terms of recovery like force feed or quit my job and take naps, either.

Don’t be afraid of higher reps either. Most people who get relatively strong, won’t go above 5 reps. Some have reason not to, and others just get lazy.

The link to the program Larry put up is a damn good program. Never ran it for Squats but used two cycles for my Push Press and went from 205lbs to 240lbs no shit swear it. I am currently running it started it yesterday for Log Press. Current Max is 240lbs on a 10in Log looking for 260lbs by the end.

[quote]Reed wrote:
The link to the program Larry put up is a damn good program. Never ran it for Squats but used two cycles for my Push Press and went from 205lbs to 240lbs no shit swear it. I am currently running it started it yesterday for Log Press. Current Max is 240lbs on a 10in Log looking for 260lbs by the end. [/quote]

Do the gains on that program stick? I’ve heard with smolov that the gains don’t really stick too well.

Well my strength stayed just fine I ended with a 240lbs press and fast forward 5 months and I have just recently hit a 270lbs PR with using Westside method.As you can tell there is a slower progression in the lift during this period but I was only Push Presses with a Bar every third session so I would say I held everything just fine.

I am sure if you ran this for 2-3 cycles and then just quit Front Squatting you would lose something but otherwise I don’t really see how you can lose strength if you continue on with a well thought out program designed for strength increases in the areas you wanna improve.

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:

[quote]Reed wrote:
The link to the program Larry put up is a damn good program. Never ran it for Squats but used two cycles for my Push Press and went from 205lbs to 240lbs no shit swear it. I am currently running it started it yesterday for Log Press. Current Max is 240lbs on a 10in Log looking for 260lbs by the end. [/quote]

Do the gains on that program stick? I’ve heard with smolov that the gains don’t really stick too well. [/quote]

I feel they stick very well, but you need to keep up with training after, and get into an off season progra. I put another 20lbs on my front squat after completing this, switching to back squat, then coming back to front squats a month later. it’s when I hit 445 for the first time.

My vote goes to Broz’s approach. Simple + hard work + auto-regulation.

But any program that focuses on hard work will work just fine. There are no secrets in this game.

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:
My vote goes to Broz’s approach. Simple + hard work + auto-regulation.

But any program that focuses on hard work will work just fine. There are no secrets in this game.[/quote]

have you ever used the bulgarian method dude?

Yes I have

[quote]Reed wrote:
Yes I have[/quote]

me too… I like it, I’m going to use it to peak for my next meet, but I feel to bring up a lagging lift it’s not quite as effective.

I’ve squatted 6 days a week for 12 weeks and never went under 405 for a working set, I’d do 10 singles with 405+ one week and max the next. What I found is that when I came back, my base strength was still the same. I was still doing 405 for reps, where I should have been doing 440-450 for reps.

what I’m working on right now is increasing my base strength, and then using the bulgarian method to increase my max, I just find it doesn’t work in reverse for me.

How did you use it Reed?

I actually used it quite abit like you described although used less weight I never dropped below 315lbs for Back Squat and 265lbs for front Squats. I alternated every day with Back then Front Squats. I enjoyed the programs to a extent it worked wonders for my squat I went from 350 Back squat to 400 280 Front Squat to 300 for 3 after 13 weeks. Although my Squat and Deadlift saw great improvement my overhead and other lifts suffered or didn’t move at all and I just couldn’t allow this so I kinda set it on the back burner.

That’s awesome man… 13 weeks is badass… my knees were wrecked the whole time

Luckily my knees didn’t bother me but I had a friend who had ran the program for quite a while much stronger Guy than me had told me the trick to it is posterior chain work. You can’t do it enough for most people. So before every squat session I did GHR or Band Pull Throughway before moving on to my Squat movement then, directly after the Squat I moved into either Rdl, Good Mornings, Hip Thrusts, or Leg Curls if was feeling a little beat. Then performed some kind of Jerk, Push Press, or Incline Bench usualyy 5x5 or 5x3 depending and would finish with a pull High Pulls, Chins, or some type of Row usually in the 5-8 range.

it’s funny you mention that,

my new warm up is 50 hyperextensions, 50 rows, 50 side lying clams and some upper body, hip and calf stretching, and my knee pain has really gone down.

I made the bigtime mistake of not doing enough posterior chain work in the last year or so, and my quads work great, but they overpower my glutes/hams, now that I’ve been doing all this work I really like the way my squat looks and feels.

I do good mornings, and leg curls and abs after squatting as well right now.

My deadlift day I do more quad work.

Thanks for that reply, it was good for me to read.