The essential guido to gains with Smolov Jr
Based on what I gathered you can expect gains between 5 - 15kg within a month or 10 - 30 pounds. This blog post will outline the smolov jr program, publically available results reports and a mathematical approach to underpin these most likely outcomes, if you decide to go on the program.
What is Somolov Jr ?
Smolov Jr is a shortened version of the original, more extensive Russian Smolov program. The original Smolov program was majorly designed to increase a person's squat. As this program demands to focus on one lift only for three months neglecting other areas of strength development the community was quick to find a way to shorten the program while still reaping benefits. The result was that the one-month base mesocycle of Smolov has been turned into a program by its own called Smolov Jr.
How is Smolov Jr structured ?
You pick either the bench press or the squat and you plug the lift into the structure pictured below. Smolov Jr is a high volume high-intensity program as you are working with many repetitions relatively close to your current one repetition maximum. All percentages in the graphic are % from your current 1RM of the respective lift. The first number reflects the number of sets you do, the second number the amount of repetitions. At the end of this article, you can download a calculator to design your own Smolow Jr for free to be printed and taken to the gym.
What is the general experience ?
First of all, there is not a lot of empirical evidence around the gains you can make on Smolov Jr. This is common amongst weightlifting programs which is quite surprising. Let me know if you were willing to participate in a more controlled study to improve the underlying data in the comments of my blog. I am trying to build a community to collect data for better insight. I found anecdotal sources on the internet with some very detailed reports in several forums and the gains with smolov seem generally to be in the 10 to 30 pound or 5 - 15kg range. This is not too shabby for a program that you only run for a month.
A couple of times there was mentioned that you should pay special attention to your stretching when on smolov as otherwise your muscles will flare up. I can only underpin that, as I had this problem with Stronglifts 5x5 after a year of doing it and the program is way less intense than this Russian program.
What was your personal experience ?
I ran Smolov Jr in mid of 2016 for the first time. I entered the program with a one repetition maximum of 140kg on the bench press and I finished with 150kg. I failed a 160kg attempt at test day and I think if I had gone for 155kg or 152.5kg I would have completed the rep. However, that is a big IF as I did not press it ;).
The first week was done with no problems whatsoever. In the second week, I started to fail some of the sets which worsened in the last week. I foam rolled at the start of every session to be pain-free. I found the 7x5 session to be the hardest of them all in each week.
All in all, a very solid program. I have a deeper review on my blog of the program itself, as this is mainly focusing on the gains you can make.
Can you predict gains with Smolov ?
As there is a lack of empirical evidence to really tell you how much gains you will make in terms of your one repetition maximum, I tried to approach it mathematically. Of course, this model has to be improved, but for the data points I do have (my personal one and the anecdotal ones I gathered on the internet) this model predicts with 2 - 5% accuracy.
Here is how it works:
Current load = The weight that you currently use for doing your Stronglifts 5x5 or German Volume Training (avoids that you have to do a 1RM Test)
Current = Your one repetition maximum calculated based on your current load before you start Smolov
After= Your predicted one repetition maximum after you have run Smolov Jr
So for my example, I had a tested 1RM 140kg bench press when entering the program (blue columns) and ended with 150kg. Not too bad.
The formula i used to calculate the outcomes after is as followed:
(((0.85x3x Current x0.0333)+current)*0.0333)+0.0333)
The current is calculated by (Weight*Reps*0.0333)+weight. If you want to understand this better have a look at my explanations of the top set calculator I created for the Jim Wendler program. The 0.85 * 3 is chosen as this is the last set at a load of 85% from your current 1RM you will do on Smolov Jr. If you complete it, this is a good basis to estimate your one repetition maximum by the end of the program.
For the less number prone you will find the table below. Pick the column based on whether you want to go from your 1RM, your current GVT or 5x5 as a starting point for performance and pick the row with your current load to get your estimate. All numbers given are in kg.
I enjoyed doing Smolov Jr and it got me the results I expected. The anecdotes on the internet seem to hold up. Hard work pays as usually. This is not a quack program where someone promises you all for nothing. It is a solid program with which you train for times a week focusing on one lift. This will yield results for you. I would recommend the program to anyone who is specifically unsatisfied with his squat or bench press performance or has an injury that prevents him / her from doing all big three lifts.
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