I was conservative because I knew my max from the end of a Smolov cycle would decline a little bit after the peak was over. I also didn’t want to overshoot, which happens to a lot of people running Smolov, because then you start another training program with a training max that is slightly too high and hit a wall as your strength drops back down. For me I know that it is highly likely that I put on at least 15-20 lbs on my squat after successfully completing a Smolov cycle and judge it based on my progress throughout the cycle.
I have learned that it’s best for me to choose my training max based on work capacity and progress throughout an entire cycle of training, not just a PR where most conditions were ideal for peak strength. If I don’t feel like I have progressed, I keep the numbers the same and figure out what is wrong. In the past I found that if I push forward regardless of having a shitty cycle, I end up going backwards instead of stagnating which is worse.
I also don’t really care to hit a PR at the end of a Smolov cycle, unless I planned it for a meet. I haven’t in the past because I wanted that week off to feel fresh leading into another program to get more training leading into a meet. It’s not a bad thing to go for it since it can be used for technique assessment. Instead of losing a week from a PR, I wasted 12 weeks of training this year from not addressing a technique issue that I could have discovered from the max attempt, so that was a dumb decision on my part.
The main reason why I run Smolov is to increase work capacity for future training. I plan to run Smolov at least 2 times a year for the next few years because my squat has a lot of room for improvement. People argue that high volume/frequency programs are the last thing you should use and to keep it in your back pocket. The only thing I have in my back pocket is more volume/frequency and I’m fine with that lol.