T Nation

Smolov Experience Thread For All


There are at least 5 people on here (Invictica, undesired08, xzerasx, Evolv and myself) who are currently doing or have just recently completed one of the Smolov cycles. Others like stallion have done it at least once in the past, and many more are contemplating doing it.

I thought it would be nice to have a thread where anyone interested can look up information rather than asking folks questions they've answered a dozen times like I did.

Here is what I am thinking and please feel free to chime in.

At least 3 necessary data fields, and an optional "Synopsis"

  1. Cycle: [Base Meso OR Intense]
  2. Status: [Completed OR Uncompleted]
  3. Gain: [kg/lb increase in Squat, please include before and after #s]

  4. Synopsis(optional):[Anything is fair game here as long as it is relevant to your smolov experience. Front or Back Squat...how you couldn't stop eating...how much weight you gained...how tough it was...rest duration during sets...toughest day of the week...what helped the most...how ladies started checking out your bigger wheels....WHATEVER]

If you kept a detailed log online, the synopsis is also where to put the link. Just tell us the relevant pages.

I know some of you(Invictica, stallion) just gave some information as recently as a few hours ago, but please bear with me and let's put it all together in one place.


Smolov Squat Program Tips?

You read my mind. There have been lots of questions lately and this should take care of it all. I think personal stats should be added as well (bodyweight at the beginning, squat 1rm, etc). Btw, I am relaxing so that I can knock out my last session of the base and I will give my full layout later tonight.


Cool idea formfunction! Its awesome to see so many people endeavoring on Smolov.

Heres the basic gist of my experience on Smolov.
1) Intro, Base, Switching, and Intense Phase.
2) Completed!
3) I'm 5'9", started at 164 lbs,
ended at around 170lbs, +/- 2 lbs.
Started at a 1RM of 275 lbs.
Completed Base with a 315 lbs 1RM.
Completed Intense cycle with 350 Lbs max.
So, overall, I had a total 75 lbs increase in my squat.

4) Alright, so, will I do it again? Absofrigginlutely. During the process I gained 6 pounds till the Intense cycle, then I lost about 2 lbs. Honestly, I believe the slight loss in weight was from "overtraining." I was extremely worn down, by the end of the Intense cycle. I'm an astrophysics major, study BJJ and Muay Thai, so with the class workload and doing Smolov was the toughest part. Getting my studies done, working in the 1 hour squat workouts, trying to eat enough, and trying to get to bed at a descent hour was the greatest challenge. I found that without 8-10 hours of sleep, my squat workouts were almost unbearable, but I got through them.

My appetite increased a good bit during the base cycle, and stayed the same throughout. One thing I did that really helped me with calories and energy was probably not the healthiest thing, but it worked and I didn't gain any fat from it (fast metabolism). But, I made a point to eat an entire large pizza 3-4 times per week before bed. Now, I should note I made these from scratch! I believe pizza out (Papa Johns, Little Ceasers, Dominos, etc.) is too damn salty to do this, and I would think would NOT be good for your body. But if you buy your own ingredients, make your crust from the mix, etc., this was a sure way to get my food intake/calories down.
I made a point to stretch at least 2-3 times a day, my hips and groin got really tight, and good stretching made the difference in my workouts. Next time around, I will add foam rolling to the mix too.
Be prepared for pain. At one point, during the base, my left quad really felt like it was tore in half, it hurt really, really bad with every rep. Being either retarded or stubborn, I kept pushing through my workouts-- and the pain went away after a few days.
Make sure you're used to squatting heavy at least twice a week before attempting this. I personally did a strength program from VA Tech's football team, and involved a lot of leg workouts 4 days per week, but no where near the intensity of smolov. But I feel it prepared my body fairly well. You can also try Smolov Jr. or Starting Strength 5x5, as some prep programs.

Things to keep in mind:
-Get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
-Be stretching before you even start this shit.
-Go ahead and get used to using the tight back, pressurized breathing methods, etc. It WAS the ONLY way I got through the intense cycle. Be doing it all through the base, as you need to have it down pat.
-Remember, by the intense cycle you'll be squatting 90-95% of your new max for many sets and reps... I didn't expect this. So, think about that, it might take a whole minute (or longer) to do 4 reps. Remember to breath and maintain perfect form-- I saw stars, got light headed and woozey sometimes, and still had a few reps to go-- its an experience for sure.
-You have to be a man to do this, with big balls, if you're a sand in the clit type guy don't even waste your time. You won't get through it.

My upperbody stuff... During the base, I maintained working out my upper body by doing the following:
DB Press/s, Dips, Pull-ups, Seated rows/DB rows. That was it and cycled different set/rep schemes.
During the intense cycle, I only had the energy to do the following:
Weighted Dips and Weighted Pull-ups. I did 4 x Failure.

I guess thats all that pops out to me, w/o my workout log sitting in front of me here. I guesss the main thing to remember is, its a tough program, no doubt. Probably one of the hardest thing I've done physically, that includes stuff I did as a US Marine, I was an 0311 at that. Stay motivated and determined, look at yourself as superhuman and listen to music that gets you pumped, angry, and ready to kill (not literally for you crazy peeps)-- but thats the mindset I had to get into to make it happen. I listened to Slipknot, Slayer, Metallica, Deftones, etc... its what I had to do. All in all, it was really fun and challenging, and I'll do it again-- the results were fantastic, so I'll go through that hard work again for the reults I got in return. Squat!


I think I'm going to run smolov this summer.

I'm probably going to be doing cycles of dave tate's 9 week basic program for a while, then before summer I'll do one cycle of madcow's, have a deload week and start smolov.

I expect about:
4500-5000 calories a day
250-300g pro/day
I think I'll megadose fish oil too.
I'll be taking beta alanine and creatine

What exactly did you all do for upper body stuff? Just one push day and one pull day? details!


Thanks Evolv for being the first. Your synopsis is motivating and 75lbs gain is just awesome!

  1. Smolov Jr for Squat and Base cycle
  2. Both Completed
  3. As mentioned in my thread, I was forced into a 6month layoff due to my job. Upon return I guesstimated my squat 1rm at 165.6kg(365lbs) and began the Jr cycle. Another reason I started with the Jr was that I never performed rep work at the rates Smolov demands. After the Jr cycle, I tested at 188.2kg(415lbs). I just completed the Base cycle for regular Smolov today and will test next week.
  4. I ate in the 4-5000 calorie range on training days only. On off days, the totals were more like 3-3500 calories. My goal is to stay within easy "weight loss" range of 275. This, of course, makes Smolov more difficult. I gained roughly 6lbs and have dropped 3 1/2 inches off of my gut as well. My diet is based around a 60/20/20 design. My personal reason for keeping my weight down is mostly due to health. I used to be in the 290 range and had may issues physically carrying the extra fat. I want to get as muscular as possible in the 275 class before I move up to the 308's.

In regards to sleep, that is another huge factor that I am forced to short-change. I only get a maximum of 6hours a night and before I workout I am tired. I DO NOT recommend following in my footsteps as far as these two factors are concerned unless you really know your body.
Due to my diet and lack of full-nights of sleep, I cut out all other exercises to not burn any extra energy. My bench is the fastest gain, so I am not really worried about losing 10-20kg there. Especially when I will more than gain than on both my squat and deadlift (i am hoping for that improvement on my dl).

The link to my log is below for more details on the day-to-day and the vids of the sessions.



i have heard it is tough to make gains going back to some sort of weekly linear progression (like 5x5) after doing Smolov.

is this true?


Cycle: Base Mesocycle
Status: Completed 2/21/09
1rm : Unknown (Test next week)
5rm : 17.5 kg Minimum


I am doing Smolov for the back squat. I tested my max during the introductory microcycle and got 140kg. While I did not keep a detailed day-to-day record of my squatting, I jotted down various notes throughout the three work weeks of the base mesocycle.

Like Inivicta mentioned in his thread, I would not recommend running the cycle with anything lower than around 140kg. The lower you go, the higher the % of your max each session in the second and third weeks is. If you do this cycle with a 105kg squat, your last 10x3 will be 100% of your max.

As far as eating is concerned: Before running the cycle I was sitting at 181 lbs. with a 32.5" waist and 23" legs. Today I weighed in at 178 lbs. with a 31.5" waist and 24" legs. I went from eating ~2500 calories a day to ~4000 on work days and ~3500 on rest days. While I did not eat especially healthy, I tried to get in at least some kind of protein at every meal. To be honest, I do not think it matters what you eat, so long as you don't go hog-wild.

Sleep is definitely something you need during Smolov. While you can get away with getting less than 8 hours on Mondays and Wednesdays, running short on the Saturday workout will kill the rest of that day. For me, even getting 8 hours is not enough for my Saturday. Even as I write this I feel extremely tired. When you do sleep, though, you go out like a light. The rest after the Friday and Saturday workouts is amazing.

The rest during between sets is not really something to worry about. Simply get as much rest as you need. You don't want to wait until you are cooled off, but taking extended rests is not uncommon. By the end of the 10x3 workouts I am taking ~10 minute longs rests.

As far as toughest day goes, I don't think there is any one specific one. Each is tough in its own way, due to the varied rep schemes. The 4x9's make it brutal to get those 8th and 9th reps up, but the rests between sets are faster and you feel better at the end of it. The 5x7's are probably the toughest technique-wise - the blend of many reps but still heavy weight makes these very tough. I lost the most reps (3 failures) here. The 10x3's are death for another reason. All 3 reps feel the same to me, but by the 9th and 10th set my entire body is aching and tired.

Upper body stuff - I didn't really do much. The first two weeks I pushed bench up another 10 lbs, but didn't do it on the third week. I did some Olympic lifts, but nothing with real weight. I think if I had been eating more and sleeping more I could have done some more exercises.

That's all for now. I'll update with a few videos later, and maybe post some more notes (have to find my notebook). Hope this helps anyone who is going to try this thing!


At least 3 necessary data fields, and an optional "Synopsis"

  1. Cycle: Base
  2. Status: Completed
  3. Gain:
    Start: 145kg
    End: 160kg
    Gain: 15kg

Start: 83kg
End: 85kg
Gain: 2kg

  1. This is a hard program. Before you consider this program, you need two things:

  2. High Work Capacity.

  3. A Decent Squat.

If you are not used to squatting 3+ times a week, build up your work capacity or look else where. Don't expect to complete this program if you have a 60kg max.

Do the introductary cycle. It will get you accustomed to the shit storm to come.

Do NOT worry about your other lifts, body comp, and cardio. For the next 12 weeks, you will eat and sleep enough to make it through your sessions. Your only focus should be squatting. If you are considering doing other lifts during Smolov, look elsewhere. If you are worried about gaining fat (which you probably won't) from eatting too much during Smolov, look elsewhere. If you are worried about losing your bicep peak, look elsewhere (Although I'm guessing most guys in strength sport don't give a shit). This program is not a fat burning program, muscle building program, or all-round strength program. This is designed ONLY for the Squat. Treat it as such.

Rest as much as you need between sets. Rest Pause as much as you need between reps. Your only concern here is making the numbers, that is all.

Make sure you have 12 weekends clear. The less distractions the more successful you will be. Plan your weekends during the switching phases and final phases of the Base Mesocycle.

Do whatever you need to, to psyche yourself up before a lift, the mental aspect is very very important during this cycle.

Good luck to all!

  1. Cycle: Base Meso
  2. Status: Completed
  3. Gain: 10kg back squat, before 160kg, after 170kg (with a typed in max of 150kg beforehand)

  4. Synopsis(optional):Well, I was a bit out of shape when it came to squatting, so I typed in a lower max (150kg) than my real max (160kg), so I guess you could say I gained 20kg's on my 1rm in a way. I didn't prepare in any special way, I just went headfirst into the program. The only day that really sucked was actually the first, I don't think I ever squatted over 6 reps before this. I think typing in a lower max enabled me to finish the program. As a plus I also power cleaned a PR 140kg during the program. I hope to start a new cycle soon.


Is this only for the squat? I am planing to do it somewhere around summer when my ol comps is finished. I did smolov jr for bench though, I'll contribute with it:

  1. Smolov jr for bench, base
  2. Status: Completed
  3. Gain: went from a 100kg bencch to a 107.5kg in 3 weeks. bodyweight was around 82-83 and stayed the same.

  4. synopsis: It wasnt that tough, probably because bench isnt nearly as draining as a squat and I only did the junior version of it. In the first week I was realy sore, but after that I didnt have any pains or anything. I got sick right after I completed the program (winters in sweden isnt always nice) so the max could have been higher.

I keept my normal plan the same, but did not do any work for shoulders, triceps etc because I thought that it would be to much.
The program made me better at reps(which have always been my bad side before) so it gave plenty of room for progress after the program was completed. I did the program for about 3 months ago and havent been realy serious about the benchpress, I've worked around 8-10 reps just to pack some mass on. recently I started going back to low rep stuff and got a 5kg pr instantly and almost got 115 aswell.

Bottom line: Imo you should progress with low rep stuff after completeing smlov jr for bench. something like 90-95% for 2-3 reps and keep adding 2.5kg each week till you stall


Zephead. A good thing to remember is Smolov is all about the squat. With that said, during the Base cycle I did what would be considered supersets of DB Press and Pull-ups for something like 4x8 (no rest b/w exercise switches), then the samething for Dips and DB Rows. I did this after each squat workout. And every couple weeks switched set/rep configurations.

During the intense cycle I did 4xFailure of dips and pull-ups, switching b/w exercises with no rest. There were a few days where I didn't have the energy to do these things.

Body splits, in my opinion, would be a complete waste of time while doing Smolov, b/c you're squatting 3-4 days per week... you really don't have to even work your upperbody. The reason I did the supersets were just to keep my muscles awake, while my legs got thrashed. I believe supersets with the "harder" exercises like, pull-ups, are great for an all-around exercise. And it takes little time to do, b/c when you're done with your squats, you don't feel like doing much.


I was going to do

paused one boards
smith high inclines
cable tricep extention

lat pulldown
cable rows

once a week for each.

or us that too much?


Trust me there wont be any kind of legit lifting post-squats once your weights get heavier. All I had the sand to do was 15 minutes of rehab/rot cuff/scap work. I could barely hold the push-up position for scap push ups.

The only thing you should be looking to do while on smolov at an intermediate squat weight is foam rolling and lots of PNF stretching or DC style stretching.



That's absolutely true. My elbows were destroyed after the Somlov workouts. I couldn't do anything else.


If you can handle it, go for it. If you can't, don't. I tried to do some upperbody stuff. The intensity level was so different, it was not worth it. The time is better spent stretching, foam rolling, or other recovery methods.


1st off - Undesired, that's a kick ass log and video diary of your smolov cycle. You nailed it and I'm pumped to see what your new max is going to be. After watching your first week, it inspired me to try the smolov again myself. Okay, now for the synopsis:

  1. Cycle: Base
  2. Status: Incomplete - on day 2 of week 3
  3. Gain: Started at 315lbs - don't know yet but feeling powerful

  4. I suck at squatting - always have. I'm 6'2 and between 215-220 depending on how much I crapped/ate that day.

I tried the smolov twice before, once 2 years ago, by day #2 my back went out BAD and it took me some time to get back into squatting heavy. Then after running Sheiko #29 this past fall, I tried smolov right after it, but my knees/quads were pretty sore from all the squatting from sheiko that I was unable to do the smolov. I still have some pain in my right quad, but it's very minor now feels better than it did when starting the smolov.

I've been fortunate enough to have someone doing the smolov with me and to yell at me to keep my form when it breaks down - that helps big time. I've been eating quite a bit but haven't gained much weight.

I've been maintaining my upper body by just doing one exercise after squatting each day of the week. On my 4x9 day I do bench, working up to a heavy set of 5, on my 5x7 I work up to 2 heavy sets of 5 with DB rows, on my 7x5 day I work up to a set of 5 of push presses, and on the 10x3 I do a 5x5 of weighted pullups.

That said, after finishing today's 4x9 at 250, I had no energy to bench and called it a day. It took me about 50 minutes to warm up and finish all the sets.

With the coming week off prior to maxing out, I have a couple of questions:

Do you do any squatting that week - just light sets to "grease the groove"?


What are your thoughts about doing a doing a smolov jr for bench press starting the squat max test week? I was thinking about doing the smolov jr for bench which will overlap the testing week and the 2 week switching phase so that way I'll be done and ready to focus on squatting again by the intense cycle. Any thoughts?

I'll add to this novel once I complete the cycle and find my new max - I'm aiming on 335.

And for my log:



Thanks, Impaler. I would be careful with the db rows and push presses. Any extra stress on your lower back can really mess up your squat. I made the mistake of doing seated rows, because I felt so strong that day. But, the next two sessions were HELL.

Personally, I will not be squatting at all this week, until Saturday. I did go to the gym tonight and benched lightly, did some pull-ups, and other "taking it easy" exercises.

As far as Smolov Jr for bench, I wouldn't do that. But I am completely and totally absorbed with getting my squat numbers up. I don't think it is unrealistic to do it, but I am shooting for a big gain and I don't want anything else distracting me or causing me any unnecessary pain the week that I am trying to recover.


Yeah i randomly noticed that too. or for any squat sets above 5. If you have a really tight hand width to keep your back tucked and your elbows flared them shits can get mad sore.

I also quit wear a long sleeve tshirt because balling it up at my elbows really made them sore when i got the good tight "back rack" going.



I would cut those post-squat lifts down to foam rolling and super stretching quick. You are being "tricked" and will suffer later on. You will need MORE than your current recovery rates for the squat only.

Esp at 140[ish]kg you will need lots of extra effort in active recovery to get the big gains and STAY HEALTHY. Even if you only put on 3kg to your max the only people who truly FAIL a program like this are the injured and the girlie men [need to bring that term back].

And I'd keep your week-in-leu before the test pretty easy as in super easy maybe some bar work and light speed work on mon-wed if you test on sat keep thurs,fri as eat and sleep.

the only other lifts you need after squat are:

1] lifting yourself out of the hot tub
2] lifting the fork to your meat masticator
3] lifting the blankets up as early as possible at night
4] lifting your ass up off your "rest-seat/box/half-bosu-ball/ab mat/stack-of-bumper-plates/whatever you sit on" after week 7

Fire ze glutes comrades,