T Nation

Program Review

I decided to start a log reviewing programs I?ve completed. Though I?ve done more than the ones listed, I?m only reviewing those that I?ve started recently. I typically do a body part split similar to P/RR/S alternating between high and low reps.

Stripped Down Hypertrophy: December, 2008 - January, 2009

I decided to tackle Joel?s program because I typically do not do full body routines and I was on winter break from school for three weeks during which my only responsibilities were to lift, eat, and sleep. In these three weeks, I gained 4lbs (to 180) while seemingly not gaining any noticeable fat.

I consumed approximately 4700-4800 calories per day (350p, 350-400c, 200f) with my only cardio being walking around my neighborhood for 30-45 minutes 4-5x a week. Due to nagging injuries, I was icing my knees and elbows 2-3x a day.

This program was particularly demanding and required me to pay a great deal attention to recovery. I was foam rolling on a daily basis, contrast showers were the norm, and I was sleeping approximately 9hrs a night.

The provided split required the user to perform the same exercises every day. Because I believe that overuse injuries occur because of blasts of volume similar to the one prescribed modified the split slightly switching between the following two workouts each day:

Neutral Grip Chin
Slight Incline Bench
Seated Cable Row
Leg Press

1 Arm DB Press
Flat DB Bench
DB Row
Front Squat

This program was effective and demanding. I had to stop it because my joints/tendons started to ache and that is why I believe one must have everything spot on for it to work. It would likely be a good change of pace for someone on ?assistance,? as it gave me a great deal of strength and size for the amount of time I spent on it.

Smolov Back Squats: January, 2009 - March, 2009

I took one deload week after Stripped Down Hypertrophy during which I tested my 1RM for the squat. I choose Smolov because my strength levels are very low for my size. With a 30" waist at around 10% BF (could see abs), I had 25" thighs that could only deep squat 300lbs.

I had adapted to high rep training (ie 100lb DB"s for 4x10-12 on split squats). I followed Smolov exactly as programmed and added 25lbs to my squat using the base mesocycle. The intense mesocycle proved fruitful, as well, adding another 25lbs yielding a final squat of 350lbs.

I used the following split while on Smolov. Most of my lifts continued to go up while on Smolov except for my benching/floor press. Both stalled starting the first week of the intense mesocycle.

M: Chest/tri?s
T: Back (high volume)/Bi?s
W: Shoulders/tri?s
F: Back/Bi?s
S: Chest/tri?s
M: Back/Bi?s
T: Shoulder?s/Tri?s
W: Bicep focus/back
R: Off
F: Chest (high volume)/Bi?s
S: Back/Bi?s

DB Incline Bench: 7,5,3,7,5,3
Incline Cable Fly: 3x8-12
Dip: 2x8-12
V-bar pushdown: 3x8-12
Calves: whatever I feel like

Back (high volume)/Bi?s:
DB Row 5x4-6
Chin up 5x6-10 (will peak at 3rd set and use same weight as first two for last two sets)
Overhand Chest supported Row: 4x8-10
Shrugs: 4x15
Alt. DB curl: 4x6-10
BB Curls: 2x8-10

Floor Press: 4x4-5
Military Press: 4x4-5 with additional set of 8-12
Overhead Cable Extension: 4x8-12 (peak in middle two sets)
Lateral Raises: 4x8-10
V-bar pushdown: 3x6-10
Single arm DB press: 4x6-10

DB row: 3x10-12
Chin up (lighter weights): 5x10-12
?Power? Face pull: 3x6-10 (heavy facepulls requiring legs against bench for leverage)
EZ curl: 4x8-10
Shrugs: 4x15

Chest (high volume)/tri?s
DB Incline Bench: 5-6x8-12
DB Incline Fly: 3x10-12
Flat DB Bench: 2x12-15 (as a flushing movement)
V-Bar pushdown: 3x10-12

This is all done during Smolov. Only cardio is walking around. I switch between chin ups and pull ups when I felt my elbow acting up.

Many consider Smolov to be brutally intense. I actually thought that the base mesocycle was fairly easy. I was never sore and I missed only 3 reps the entire time. Compared to my old leg workout, which would leave me practically crippled for 4-5 days, this wasn’t bad at all. The intense mesocycle really only had a couple of hard days: the 5x5’s. Beyond that, the reps were over so fast that I have no problem stating that Smolov is very effective but not too demanding.

I did not gain weight during this program because it coincided with sickness and midterms (I drop weight very fast during times of stress - 3lbs in a week during midterms alone). I was typically eating 4000-4500 cal/day initiating the cycle. By the end, I was eating 4800-5000cal/day and was still not gaining muscle/weight. Any need for cardio was nullified by the number and frequency of squats.

Smolov Jr - Bench: March, 2009

I decided to start the Smolov Jr. Benching program during the intense mesocycle of Smolov. I finished the last workout on testing day of the Smolov Squat Cycle.

This program required me to frequently employ broomstick stretches and foam rolling for my triceps. I had not done a BB benchpress in approximately a year as I have found DB benching to be superior in terms of chest development and shoulder safety. Additionally, I’m already shoulder dominant. However, in lieu of my abismal BB bench - 225 - I decided that I would employ the Smolov Jr. program since the full program proved so fruitful for my squat.

Saturdays (10x3) were the most difficult days as the day before, Friday, were 8x4. It was on Saturday that I would feel my shoulders the most. To help prevent injury, cuban presses and external (DB and/or cable) were utilized 2-3x a week. I was also doing my typical back workout listed in my previous post (DB rows, cable or chest supported rows, pullup/pulldown, shrugs) twice a week.

Also mentioned in my previous post was my stagnation in muscle/weight gain. I seemed to maintain the same bodyfat percentage while staying about 180lbs. This was likely due to the volume of everything I was doing.

I tested at a weak 235. I tried for 245 but got stuck in the bottom position. Overall, I was very dissapointed with this program (or at least my results from employing it). I will likely stick to squats when doing Smolov again in the future and use a program specifically targeted at benching to improve my bench.

I’ve been using Tim Henriques’ article “How to Warm up for a One Rep Max” to determining my squat and bench maxes.

Your Ticket to the Gun Show: March - April, 2009

I am bottom heavy and it is very apparent. I have difficulty purchasing pants of the rack and if one looked at my arms, they wouldn’t think I lift. They were growing fairly well until the onset of severe tendonitis due to completion of 100 chin ups at the end of the Growth Surge Project. I was unable to do curls for a very long time and avoided any curl variation for approximately 8 months. In January I started to do some like DB curls and continued to progress until I was 100%.

I lost some size and a great deal of strength in my arms due to this setback (it is not an excuse, just merely an explanation). To combat this, I decided to used Thib’s arm program. I started it with the Smolov Jr. Bench so I only tackled the bicep portion of the program. I was also doing Smolov for squats and did not gain any weight from January to the end of March. Therefore, please take my results with a grain of salt as I:

Only did the bicep portion
Did not gain weight
Completed the program while doing/finishing two other stressful programs.

I will report back my measurements after finishing the program. At the onset, my arm measured (cold & flexed) 14.375 inches (yes very very small) I continue to increase the weights used each week. I finished off with 14.75 inches in six weeks. So there was some improvement.

My weekly split also changed. I will post that, as well.