T Nation

Smolov Experience Thread For All

  1. Cycle: [Base Meso OR Intense]
    Meso

  2. Status: [Completed OR Uncompleted]
    Completed

  3. Gain: [kg/lb increase in Squat, please include before and after #s]
    ~50lbs.
    Start 480 x 2 (used 480 as my 1rm for the %s)
    End 550 x 1

  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]

I did the cycle for 4 weeks instead of 3. For the 4th week I just added 10lbs to what I did on the 3rd week.

The cycle is very hard, my bench work suffered the last 2 weeks of the cycle (I did set a bench PR in the first week though).

The hardest day for me was the 7 sets of 5 reps, that day was brutal for me for some reason, the other days where hard - but nothing compared to 7x5.

I lost 1-2lbs during the cycle due to lack of apatite. Finished off right around 230lbs.

This was over a year ago. I have a meet coming soon (not raw) so my training is different. I think after this meet im going to give smolov another run. Ill likely do 6 weeks of the sucker and add some green bands… Its going to take everything that I got, but, ive been wanting to try this for a while. I should mention that im 22 years old, and my recovery compared to others has always been fast.

I wrote this up a while ago, but figured it’s worth reposting here.

  1. Cycle: Base meso
  2. Status: Completed May 2008
  3. Gain: +10kg, from 152.5kg to 162.5kg at 81kg BW, numbers based off 145kg.
  4. Synopsis: Had 3 weeks away and without anywhere to snatch or C&J, so decided I might as well do some daft program dreamt up by insane Russians rather than waste time trying to improve my crappy bench and getting bigger guns. The only other stuff I did during the cycle was a few rack jerks before squatting.

A few notes on my experiences:

  • Sets of 9 will always be horrible. How most people do this sort of thing every week is beyond me. How I ever used to do that sort of thing is beyond me. Ugh.

  • DOMS gradually subsided over the course of the first week. By the second week soreness was absolutely non-existent, and stayed that way throughout the third week. It was the same with tiredness - first week I just wanted to sleep and eat, second and third I just wanted to eat. Recovery is ridiculous.

  • My elbows felt a little beat up, even with elbow sleeves, but they’re fine now.

  • Despite my initial fears, my knees were absolutely fine. It turns out it’s jerks that aggravate my right knee (my back leg), so cutting the jerk volume down solved that problem. I wore knee sleeves anyway just to keep them happy.

  • The worst session was the 7 sets of 5 in the second week. I was seeing stars, nauseous, gasping like I was being strangled, my shoulders and lats were cramping, and my hands turned white and numb. Yet it was kind of enjoyable…The same set/reps during week 3 was a piece of cake.

  • Once you get past the middle set of each day it’s pretty easy. The first 2 sets are always the hardest, the last set is always the easiest.

  • The only time the weight felt heavy was during the first half of the final session of week 3. When I loaded up 160kg this morning it felt no heavier than 100kg, just harder to move, if that makes any sense.

  • My squats got faster during the 3 weeks, not slower, but in the weeks after testing they were slow as shit and it took a long time to get that speed back.

  • I ate like a maniac, including a ton of ice cream, and gained about 2kg.

  • My upper back felt it the most, so it was subjected to some painful myofascial release with a couple of lacrosse balls after every session. I didn’t have my foam roller so I couldn’t do the sort of thoracic spine work I normally do. Ended up doing some work with the ball on my left glute at the end of week 3 because it was knotted to hell and pulling my hip out of alignment so I walked like someone with a bad prosthetic leg.

  • Where the bar had been sitting I had a permanent red line across my traps for the entire three weeks.

Would I do it again? Probably, although I didn’t keep all the gains I made once I reverted back to my usual squatting schedule (2 front, 2 back, working up to a max 5/3/2 or 1 each session). The 3 weeks off the lifts didn’t have the detrimental effect I thought it might - I came back faster and stronger both off the floor and overhead - plus it is kind of cool to just turn up, squat, then go home. Oh yeah, and gaining 10kg on your squat in 3 weeks isn’t too shabby either.

[quote]Frank.S wrote:

  1. Cycle: [Base Meso OR Intense]
    Meso
  2. Status: [Completed OR Uncompleted]
    Completed
  3. Gain: [kg/lb increase in Squat, please include before and after #s]
    ~50lbs.
    Start 480 x 2 (used 480 as my 1rm for the %s)
    End 550 x 1[/quote]

Frank, I take it you compete in gear, so did you run thru Smolov in gear or without? Just curious, case 4 weeks would have put my hips in a complete inoperable state.

[quote]ninearms wrote:

Ended up doing some work with the ball on my left glute at the end of week 3 because it was knotted to hell and pulling my hip out of alignment so I walked like someone with a bad prosthetic leg.
[/quote]

Great work, ninearms. I hear you on the glute issue. My wife had to dig her elbow in there for about 20minutes prior to my last 5 sessions. The tightness made it difficult to hit parallel sometimes…

Thanks guys for posting. I am sure a lot of us will learn from the experience.

Please remember to update your posts accordingly.

What are you guys doing/planning to do/did for the switching phase?
Negative squat/powerclean/box squats?

As long as you take 2 weeks break from squatting, is the switching phase all that important?

Frank.S - having the mental tenacity to add a 4th week deserves respect, age and fast recovery notwithstanding.

[quote]undesired08 wrote:
Frank.S wrote:

  1. Cycle: [Base Meso OR Intense]
    Meso
  2. Status: [Completed OR Uncompleted]
    Completed
  3. Gain: [kg/lb increase in Squat, please include before and after #s]
    ~50lbs.
    Start 480 x 2 (used 480 as my 1rm for the %s)
    End 550 x 1

Frank, I take it you compete in gear, so did you run thru Smolov in gear or without? Just curious, case 4 weeks would have put my hips in a complete inoperable state.

[/quote]

I did smolov with a belt only.

I think pretty much any gear would be worn out after you did smolov. I did the cycle with a fairly wide stance (feet 2-3 inches from sides of a standard power rack), with nike free (I usually use chucks) as I could get a little better depth with the frees. My squats where almost always 2 inches below parallel for the cycle.

Ive never had any hip problems, so I cant really help you on that…

[quote]formfunction wrote:
Thanks guys for posting. I am sure a lot of us will learn from the experience.

Please remember to update your posts accordingly.

What are you guys doing/planning to do/did for the switching phase?
Negative squat/powerclean/box squats?

As long as you take 2 weeks break from squatting, is the switching phase all that important?

Frank.S - having the mental tenacity to add a 4th week deserves respect, age and fast recovery notwithstanding.[/quote]

4 weeks was difficult, but the end result was worth it I feel. Looking back I could have done a 5th week, and my work capacity is much higher now, so I feel that a 6 week run in the future (after i do a few contests here) is doable.

Looking back, I took 6 days off after the 4 week meso cycle, then tested a max. I took 4 more days off and started my next squat cycle. I did a modified westside style squat training here I had
a ME, DE and RE squat day all in one week.

ME was geared squats or raw reverse band work
DE was high band tension (2 sets of green bands)
RE was straight weight low box squats

I did this for 8 weeks, I never tested my raw squat, but I hit a 100lbs geared squat PR in the end. I feel that the drastic change after smolov really shocked my body and I made great strength gains.

Im doing Smolov as soon as my new belt comes in. Just one thing im really concerned about is me being sore throughout the cycle. Usually I cant hit depth if I am really sore. What do you guys reccomend? Im thinking 15 minutes of stretching after every workout, + using a tennis ball on my glutes and hamstrings every night. And maybe icing my hips along with that.

[quote]BlackLabel wrote:
Im doing Smolov as soon as my new belt comes in. Just one thing im really concerned about is me being sore throughout the cycle. Usually I cant hit depth if I am really sore. What do you guys reccomend? Im thinking 15 minutes of stretching after every workout, + using a tennis ball on my glutes and hamstrings every night. And maybe icing my hips along with that.[/quote]

That sounds like a good plan.

Can you do just the mesocycle (smolov jr?) or just the intense cycle? Or do you have to do just the JR or both?

I can’t run the mesocycle right now due to not being able to lift on saturdays. Could i do a 5x5 then jump into the intense cycle?

Not for a while of course, I still need to run the program I am doing now.

  1. Cycle: Meso and Intense cycles
  2. Status: Completed
  3. Gain: 35kg increase in Squat
    Before: 155kg
    After: 190kg
  4. Synopsis: This shit was brutal, especially the 4x9 days. My lower back was toast for the entire time. Walking and getting up out of chairs became quite a chore. I also out grew my favourite pair of jeans. So much so that I have worn a hole in the inner thigh where my legs rub together all the time. This made me very sad. In the following month after the cycle my legs grew exponentially!

If I could give any advice it would be to do the switching phase properly. I neglected to do any speed work and also spent a week drinking at Oktoberfest during the time. I don’t think that did me any favours.

Also I adjusted the training split so that I only trained weekdays, it worked well.

I have also done the Smolov Jr cycle for both my deadlift and bench. I might add these later.

Here’s a log of my cycle under one of my other net monikers: musclemecca.com/showthread.php/el-freakos-new-log-18282p18.html
Pages: 18-30

[quote]Manonfire wrote:

  1. Cycle: Meso and Intense cycles
  2. Status: Completed
  3. Gain: 35kg increase in Squat
    Before: 155kg
    After: 190kg
  4. Synopsis: This shit was brutal, especially the 4x9 days. My lower back was toast for the entire time. Walking and getting up out of chairs became quite a chore. I also out grew my favourite pair of jeans. So much so that I have worn a hole in the inner thigh where my legs rub together all the time. This made me very sad. In the following month after the cycle my legs grew exponentially!

If I could give any advice it would be to do the switching phase properly. I neglected to do any speed work and also spent a week drinking at Oktoberfest during the time. I don’t think that did me any favours.

Also I adjusted the training split so that I only trained weekdays, it worked well.

I have also done the Smolov Jr cycle for both my deadlift and bench. I might add these later.

Here’s a log of my cycle under one of my other net monikers: musclemecca.com/showthread.php/el-freakos-new-log-18282p18.html
Pages: 18-30[/quote]

Dam! Congratulations on the huge PR!! I recently just got through the mesocycle, and that was pretty tough all on its own.

Undesired, Avocado - I’ve taken your advice.

I just finished the final 5x7 day and I was spent. Same with Monday’s 4x9 - just squatted, stretched a bit, and then headed home. I also had a flag football double header Sunday Night that compounded Monday’s 4x9 I think and made me feel sore for the first time since week 1 of the Smolov.

One thing I need to do is I don’t feel like I’m engaging my hams and glutes enough. I without a doubt get a couple inches past parallel and I have a toes out wide stance, but when I leave the gym it’s my quads that feel like they’re about to burst (in a good way). I’m looking forward to the getting through the rest of this week and testing the following Saturday.

Only two more workouts to go until the Base is complete.

I agree that the day where you do 7 sets of 5 is a very hard day.

I have done the complete smolov for back squats twice, and smolov for front squats two or three times (don’t remember exactly). I have also done the base meso cycle only for front squats several times, and for back squat several times. By the sound of this, my squat should have been humongous by now. As it is, I suffered a very serious injury in 2007, that kept me out of back squatting for more than a year, and there have been periods of sickness and demotivation, so the current raw deep beltless max is at 240kg:

Typical gains for me have been:

Base meso cycle: approx 10kg/22lbs
Entire Smolov: approx 30kg/66lbs

Now I am so accustomed to squatting that I can tolerate a very high workload. The first time I did Smolov I was about to die! But I made it through. It was very very very hard, and I had pain everywhere. I felt like a zoombie after the base meso cycle.

Recently I have completed the base meso cycle exclusivly, twice, with a few weeks of lighter training in between. Those cycles both gave 10kg on the squat, and brought the 1RM from 220kg to 240kg. The first run through, I ate like a mad man, and gained a noticeable stomach. Every session was a good session, and energy levels was high. The second run through, I was slacking in the eating department and in the rest department, and I still made it through, but the workouts were a lot harder, and I got a slight knee pain, that took a couple of weeks to disappear.

I also did the two base meso cycles diffrently to my ordinary squat. My ordinary squat is a high bar, narrow grip, narrow stance olympic squat, while the base meso cycles was done with a maximum wide grip, narrow stance, and full pause at the bottom for every rep. I used a 1RM guestimated to 20kg below my 1RM for my ordinary style.

It was very hard to complete the base meso cycles both times, but as I said, very very hard the second time. I had a hard time motivating myself in the end, but I made it through, and the results was absolutely worth it.

I have previously done 180kg x 20 reps in the squat, and I am now working towards 190kg x 20 reps in the squat, got 11 reps this far.

After this, I will definately do Smolov again, but I think I will stick to the base meso cycles only, as I like those the most. It is also easier to get motivated for one month compared to three months.

And as the saying goes: “Don’t change a winning team”.

When it comes to bodyweight, I have always gained bodyweight from frequent squatting, given I have been eating properly. Not eating properly and squatting frequently is very very hard, and injuries can come more easily then.

I read about the dude who gaines over 20kg on the base meso cycle while starting on a max over 200kg, and he also stated he gained no bodyweight. I find that incredible. That must be some talent. I, myself have never gained more than 10kg on the base meso cycle, no matter how much i ate, or how much bodyweight I gained, but I guess there are lifters out there that respond more quickly to squatting than what I do. I never saw myself as genetically gifted, and I work my but off for all the progress that I get.

I work harder in the squat than anyone that I personally know, and that will bring me far.

I have total confidence in Smolov, and consider it to be the holy grail of squat routines.

Smolov is hard, and unless you have circumstances that allows it, it can be incredibly hard to complete. I would not reccomend it if you have a very stressful job, or other factors in life that can come between you and eating and recovery.

Best of luck everyone that tries to do the Smolov.

Here is the complete layout for the entire Smolov program, including the switching period. It is in danish, but those determined to do Smolov, can use online translators to translate. I might do an english version sometime in the future. I provide this spreadsheet, but I did not make it. Some danish powerlifter did.

http://www.kraftsport.no/programs/Smolov.xls

[quote]zephead4747 wrote:
Can you do just the mesocycle (smolov jr?) or just the intense cycle? Or do you have to do just the JR or both?

I can’t run the mesocycle right now due to not being able to lift on saturdays. Could i do a 5x5 then jump into the intense cycle?

Not for a while of course, I still need to run the program I am doing now.[/quote]

The base meso and smolov jr are two COMPLETELY different things. I have spoken to several people who only do the base. I can only recall one person that only did the intense in their last cycle. You choose what you want to do is what I am trying to say. Just do which ever phase to the letter; i.e. percentages, work days, rest days, reps and what-not. If you do modify it, modify it to make it harder. ;-D

[quote]stallion wrote:
I never saw myself as genetically gifted, and I work my but off for all the progress that I get.

I work harder in the squat than anyone that I personally know, and that will bring me far.

http://www.kraftsport.no/programs/Smolov.xls [/quote]

The humility…frickin pause squats on every rep! You are a freak of nature, man. And you work harder that anyone MOST people know. Keep posting those huge numbers for me to chase!

Hello everybody, this is my first post. I’ve been into this website for a while but I wanted to wait till I actually had something meaningful to post.

  1. base, intense
    2)base is completed, halfway through the intense cycle.
    3)before base:285, after:330

4)Starting body weight: 173-176. My bodyweight has increased by 2-3 lbs but I think that’s just because I started taking creatine. Calorie intake is between 2500 and 3000 everyday. I have not used any. Diet is clean. Precision Nutrition from John Berardi has helped my recovery.

leadben: That is very good!

undesired08: Thank you for your kind words. There are people working very hard on their squats, actually all strong powerlifters and weightlifters work it very hard. I have a special relationship with the squat, and I will keep pushing it, and we will see how far I can get in the end. My squat is good, but I won’t say extraordinary. A raw squat over 300kg is what I classify as extraordinary. I Norway there is a powerlifting club called KK67, all IPF competitors, and they have defined the “limits of shame” when it comes to strength.

The official KK67 limits of shame are:

Squat: 300kg raw
Benchpress: 200kg raw
Deadlift: 300kg raw

It means that, if you are below those limits you should be ashamed of yourself. Obviously most people can’t ever reach those limits, but if you do, then you are strong! :slight_smile:

[quote]stallion wrote:
…and they have defined the “limits of shame” when it comes to strength.

The official KK67 limits of shame are:

Squat: 300kg raw
Benchpress: 200kg raw
Deadlift: 300kg raw

It means that, if you are below those limits you should be ashamed of yourself. Obviously most people can’t ever reach those limits, but if you do, then you are strong! :)[/quote]

I am going for 2 of the 3, so I guess I will be 1/3rd shameful once I get there…

[quote]bt_impaler wrote:
Undesired, Avocado - I’ve taken your advice.

I just finished the final 5x7 day and I was spent. Same with Monday’s 4x9 - just squatted, stretched a bit, and then headed home. I also had a flag football double header Sunday Night that compounded Monday’s 4x9 I think and made me feel sore for the first time since week 1 of the Smolov.

One thing I need to do is I don’t feel like I’m engaging my hams and glutes enough. I without a doubt get a couple inches past parallel and I have a toes out wide stance, but when I leave the gym it’s my quads that feel like they’re about to burst (in a good way). I’m looking forward to the getting through the rest of this week and testing the following Saturday.

Only two more workouts to go until the Base is complete.[/quote]

I’d say that this soreness means that you have a good upright posture. Hams and glutes are hard to create soreness in with low-med rep schemes [1-12]. there are often large concentrations of type IIa/b/c fibers and they dont give a shit about reps under 8.

Your quads get a bit more tired because they are of way less mass than your ass and hams and can typically have less concentration of type II’s. It obviously changes over time with training.

So expect your hams and glutes to feel less than your quads. If you want to make sure you are engaging your ass/hams then stick the hips as soon as you can [as in drive them forward]. Get your partner to cue you when you get 20’[ish] above parallel and jam them fuckers and squeeze your ass. It’s good top form I’d say. Gives you a big dick 2nd pull in O-lifts.

-chris