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Default Surviving Smolov
by BendtheBar 02-21-2012, 09:43 AM

Surviving Smolov
By Chris Davis

Surviving Smolov

From August to October of 2011, I did the Smolov squat routine for no reason other than I just wanted to. After I took 265 out of the rack for a quick set of ten, I racked it and decided that the next day I would start Smolov. Since completing it, Iíve been asked a lot of questions on how to get through it. Unfortunately, much of what I say falls on deaf ears. I donít get it. You have questions and I got through it, but you donít want my advice.
Not for Faint of Heart

I end up hearing that he is having a very hard time with it even though heís making gains. I had very few rough days on it, which isnít to say that I went too light because I did add fifty pounds to my squat in thirteen weeks. I was hoping for more, but I was OK with fifty. Needless to say, if you look at the base cycle alone, youíll see that you will do 136 squats per week for three weeks with ever increasing weight. For me, it ended up being a 45-pound jump and moving weight for sets and reps that I had never done before. This isnít for the faint of heart. Never mind the intense cycleÖ

1. Cut your 1RM down by ten percent and work off those numbers. This is the same mentality as Wendlerís 5/3/1. If you cut down the intensity, youíll have plenty of room to grow, both numbers wise and size wise. Also, this program was devised by a Russian weightlifter. To paraphrase the advice given to me, they are paid to lift; you arenít. They are on ďenhanced vitamins;Ē you arenít. If you fall into one or both of those categories, I recommend cutting down to ninety percent. I was foolish during the intense cycle and decided not to drop down. I ended up being too tired to lift. This leads me to my next pointólisten to your body. When I was too tired, I dropped down to ninety percent and was able to handle the weights.

2. For the love of God, eat dirty. Food is one of the ways that you will repair, and you will need the blood sugar to repair and the energy to get under the bar when youíre trying to set a three-rep PR. And then do it nine more times. I credit a dirty diet (with chocolate milk being the backbone of that diet) with me barely being sore in the mornings. Jason Paquette, a good friend of mine, says that, ďCandy is a food group. Donít neglect it.Ē This is a powerlifting routine, not a fitness routine, so eat accordingly. Of course, when I was sore, I warmed up and foam rolled more diligently than I normally would. I also would have been wise to buy stock in Tiger Balm. I didnít want a low back or knee injury at any point during this experience, so I did my best to make sure I was waking up ready to go, which included plenty of sleep with ZMA. Sore muscles are weak muscles and you have a lot of weight to move. Donít be weak.

3. Focus on your squats. I didnít do one deadlift, front squat, press, or anything while I did this. Like I said, I wanted all my energy on my squats. My deadlift actually went up by 50 pounds when I finished. I sumo deadlift so that may have had something to do with it, too. (My back feels better with sumo than with conventional and I have kyphosis and long arms so my range of motion is nil.) Work on pull-ups, grip, and anything else that wonít tax your body too harshly. Iíve had very strong coaches roll their eyes and scoff when I told them that I was doing Smolov. They know how crazy it is and what it takes to get through. Itís a squat routine, not a squat plus everything else routine. If I had to do it all over again, which I will before I die, I would smartly throw in Prowlerģ work on my transition cycles. If I were to do any other conditioning, I would smartly do some kind of loaded carries when appropriate to keep my level of conditioning from going to hell. Between finishing my degree and the other responsibilities of life, most of the time I only had the time to squat. Life happens.

4. Personal preference, but I tried to do my squats without a belt whenever possible. If I felt the need to put it on I would. Some days my back didnít want to hold so I put the belt on and got the work done. Even after this though, Iím now doing more weight for more reps raw, so I didnít get weaker. Some weak strength ďexpertsĒ would disagree, but my performance speaks for itself. The night prior to me writing this I did 305 for eight reps raw. On the intense cycle, I did 305 for five reps with a belt.

There you have it. Thatís how I successfully got through Smolov. I highly encourage people to go through it if they have been lifting smartly for years and know what theyíre doing. My squat went from 330 to 380. My deadlift went from 450 to 500, and my power snatch went from 135 to 155. (I donít Olympic lift and hadnít snatched in a year.) My press went from 135 lbs for five reps to 155 lbs for four reps, and two months later, Iím still finding that lifts are easier than I remember prior to Smolov.
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:11 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BendtheBar View Post
1. Cut your 1RM down by ten percent and work off those numbers.
2. For the love of God, eat dirty.
3. Focus on your squats.
4. do ... squats without a belt whenever possible.
Good advice, no matter what routine you're doing.
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:53 AM   #3
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Good timing. I was reading a Pavel write up of smolov last night in bed and it peaked my interest.
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:59 AM   #4
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If I am going to go hard on a program like this, then I am going to wring every drop of strength out of it I can by eating like a bear.
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Old 02-28-2013, 04:29 PM   #5
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Old 02-28-2013, 04:50 PM   #6
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Smolov, best program I have run to date for squats. Ran it last summer and added
30kg to my 1RM,(can be tracked in my old training log.....I don't know squat)

Would completely agree with Steve's earlier post, eat big when running with smolov


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Old 02-28-2013, 06:19 PM   #7
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Blurgh... never again...
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