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Smolov vs German Volume Training [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Dec 12, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Smolov vs German Volume training


Smolov vs German Volume Training

This is a short write up of Smolov compared to German Volume training for people who are just starting out. If you are interested in a more in depth analyses of each of the programs, please refer to my German Volume training review and the detailed Smolov review which you will find on this blog

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There are several goals which you can pursue in the gym. Endurance, strength, health, rehabilitation, and aesthetics are the main ones. Depending on which goals you want to achieve you have to pick a program that will suit your training style, keep you motivated and be appropriate for your level of skill. German Volume training and Smolov are two programs which are more related to strength and free weight training. Both are extreme in their own right and I have done them both to test what they are like. Smolov is better suited to the needs of powerlifters who want to develop maximum strength on any of the three big lifts, the squat, the bench press and the deadlift. German Volume training is a good fit for a bodybuilder who wants to maximise their muscle growth.


The sport of powerlifting focuses on getting the maximum total in the three lifts, the squat, the bench press and the deadlift. There are several different associations which differ mainly based on what kind of gear they allow the lifters to use in form of clothing and whether or not they allow the lifters within their Federation to use steroids to enhance their performance.

Usually, the participants get nine attempts in total in an event which translates to three per lift. The best attempt for each lift is totaled to a sum of which every one is ranked and a winner chosen. For this, the Smolov program can help to improve the one repetition maximum on the bench press and the squat. For the deadlift, it is not recommended to run Smolov due to the high workload. 


Bodybuilding has the aim of pushing your body to the limits and show off the perfect physique according to the competition you enter. Generally, this means packing on as much muscle as you can in an as defined manner as possible. Following from this bodybuilders care mainly about the size of their muscles and how easily they can detract water from their bodies to get more definition. They do not care as much about the muscles being able to perform a certain task. 

For this goal, German Volume training seems to be the better suitor as it works in the 8 - 12 repetitions per set area. This usually enables more growth of the muscle while not providing as much strength gain than the lower repetitions per set ranges. 


Smolov is an extreme program focusing on one lift only for a period of three months. It splits into three phases, the introduction, base and intense cycle. The amount of volume you do at high intensity is very demanding and will take its toll. Many a lifter came out of this program with an injury. As Smolov focuses only on one lift it is not recommended for powerlifters unless they want to set a personal record for one of the specific lifts rather than for a total. If you want a challenge and test your manliness, however, this is an excellent tool once you have mastered the basics of strength training. You should not consider Smolov if you have not at least lifted for a year. As a beginner, there are better programs to work with for more gains.

German Volume Training

German Volume training is as uncompromising in its approach as Somolov and is more suited to the needs of bodybuilders. You will be doing 10 sets with ten repetitions each on a given exercise to stimulate muscle growth and hypertrophy by working up a burn. While Smolov crushes you under big weights German Volume Training burns you out based on the amount of work you do mainly and not so much based on the intensity which each repetition has.


Comparing the two programs in depth is not really useful as they are too different in their training approaches within the strength and free weight training approach. If you want programs which are similar, as a beginner, look into Stronglifts 5x5 and Starting Strength, as an Intermediate compare Madcow and the Texas method or Wendler 531 and the Juggernaut method depending on your training style.

Further reading


Topics: Smolov