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How to program smolov jr to not get your butt kicked

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Jun 13, 2016 10:00:00 AM

How to program Smolov Jr

The program itself is pretty simple to calculate and the details are outlined in the post. I would highly recommend digging a bit deeper on how to pick your numbers and why you are doing such a focused, high-intensity program, before doing it for longer than a month. 

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The program

Smolov has you in the gym four times a week to blast one of your lifts. Therefore, it is highly skewed in favor of one lift and focused. This is good when you stall, subpar if you are preparing for a powerlifting meet or want to build a balanced physique. One Smolov Jr cycle equals the base cycle out of the original smolov program and lasts for four weeks including the rest and test week. If you map the program it looks like this:

Smolov Jr..jpg

You will find different versions and the original program recommends rest between Day 1 and 2 and 2 and three. I found in reality that is not always doable, as you have a life. So just get your four sessions in and if that means back to back, well that is better than missing a session. Keep it simple and fitting your needs, while still getting the frequency in.  

How long do you want to run Smolov Jr?

When you are looking at programming smolov it is important what you understand under a programmatic approach towards a certain goal. If you are of the opinion that a lifting scheme which lasts for a month is already a program, great then you are programming with Smolov Jr. I personally find that programming is something which lasts for 3 months to a year or maybe even a decade. All of the really successful lifters out there have been doing a programmatic approach towards their goals using Smolov Jr. and other lifting schemes as mere tools within that approach. They trained around injuries when necessary and bumped up the volume for a specific lift if it did not move up and to the right on their spreadsheets anymore. In my opinion, your program is something that should continuously evolve and adapt to your strengths and weaknesses. If you stop looking for new things to try and tweak... well maybe get a different passion/hobby then.

In my personal case, that means to reach my goals of a two-times bodyweight squat, bench press and 2.5 times bodyweight deadlift I am using Smolov Jr to give my back a break from deadlifting as it suffered lately. I hope to push my bench press from 140kg to 150kg in a month. The structure of the program and its single-mindedness is not recommended to make it a continuous program which you run for several months as it will produce unbalanced physiques and overuse injuries. I even got those on the Wendler 531 workout which accelerates way less aggressive.

If you were to use it for multiple cycles, consider rotating the lifts going from month to month. I am personally not willing to run that experiment yet as I am aiming to do the smolov program for squat (hopefully ending with a new PR between 180kg to 200kg) after finishing Smolov Jr. While maybe also not the most optimal approach for balanced strength development, still better than pounding Smolov Jr. back to back on bench until your elbows break. Unless, of course, you want to beat this mean Russian bear:



How old is your one repetition maximum?

The older your one repetition maximum is, the more humble you should be when using it to calculate your loads for the program. I got my butt seriously kicked by assuming that my 140kg one repetition maximum would still hold and had to cheat by making use of the Mark Bell Slingshot starting from the 4 - 6th set on most days in week 3. You can also back scale, which I just did not do because I do not like to listen to my own advice ;). The lesson learned for me out of Wendler and Smolov is that you should be very conservative about your one repetition maximum to press constantly and then blast it through the roof when it counts. That is why I will go into smolov with 135kg instead of 150kg and see where it will take me. It looks bad enough on paper without picking the wrong numbers.


Smolov Jr is a good option for a shock cycle on your weakest lift without going through the full three months of the bigger and more extensive Smolov program for squat. The final result has to be seen and I will report on a different post if I actually moved the needle on my bench press and by how much. 

 Further reading

Topics: Smolov, Powerlifting, Bodybuilding, Strongman