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SMOLOV Squat Cycle


There’s a good chance that you found yourself in this link not because you are clueless as to who and/or what SMOLOV is about, but likely to find some direction about the squat cycle and if it’s right for you. If you don’t have an idea who Smolov is and what his camp is about, let’s get some baseline facts out of the way. Sergey Smolov, the Russian Master of Sports, paved the way for one of the most dreaded and arguably successful squat cycles running rampant in gyms across the country. I wish I can report to have found more stats on his accomplishments to give him such a prestigious title, but after perusing the web and my own personal collection of literature, I have squat (pun intended). Article after article refernces the same things I just listed, his relevance in making producing this squat cycle,  but for the life of me I cannot find anything beyond his legacy with the squat cycle. In any event, the cycle promotes a potential increase of your 1 rep max up to 100 pounds, or so the claim stands. No matter how authentic the claim is, I am yet to cross paths with someone who didn’t have an impressive bump in their 1 rep max – myself included.


How it works


Smolov utilizes a fairly complex periodization model that needs to have attention paid to the details, and above all, respect given. A mindful understanding needs to be given to the fact that this is a squat cycle, and should be treated as such. This isn’t a cycle that you decide to “give it a stab”, it is a cycle that you need to plan for both mentally and dedicate the time accordingly. The Smolov doer needs to respect and listen to their body, feed the body, allow the body to rest, and put all the focus on the squat. It is meant to shock the system, not to be done multiple times a year. The cycle itself is broken down into mesocycles and each one has its purpose. IF, and only if you have the all around commitment to tackling this juggernaut will you genuinely reap what it is you sow.


The Mesocycles


“Introductory” phase – preparatory block

“Base” phase – accumulation block

“Switching” phase – transition block

“Intense” phase – transmutation block

“Peak” phase – realization block




As stated, this is the introductory phase. Its sole purpose is to get you ready for the workload you’ll see in the “base” phase. Here you squat 3 days in a row (this is the only time you will do as such) each week and leave the remainder of the week to recover. Foam rolling, prowler push, lunging, stretching, and so on, are things to be honored in this rest and recovery period. No squats. It also should be noted that no deadlifting should be done, or for that matter, even overloading of the upper body. Squatting as a whole is very taxing on the body and this is a squat cycle that will put your desires to the test… not a squat program you throw into the mix to shake things up. If you feel so inclined to do upper body work during this ordeal, keep it minimal and more geared towards accessory work – pull ups, grip strength, etc.


*Days not listed – REST



Monday – 3×8@65%, 1×5@70%, 2×2@75%, 1×1@80%

Tuesday – 3×8@65%, 1×5@70%, 2×2@75%, 1×1@80%

Wednesday – 4×5@70%, 1×3@75%, 2×2@80%, 1×1@90%




Monday – 1×5@80%

Tuesday – 1×5@82.5%

Wednesday – 1×5@85%


*The 1×5 is the last set you will do for the workout. You will have working sets to this 1 set of 5 reps that will end your workout. With that said, the working sets listed throughout the cycle are the core sets to be focused on. How you warm up and get to this working set it up to you. There is a fine line between warming up and over doing it. Listen to your body and drive by brail – meaning feel your way through the sets.





This phase focuses on volume. You will be taxing the system quite heavily with not only the load, but the volume as well. In this phase you lift 4 times a week and will progressively build on the numbers you led with from week one. For the athlete that is accustom to volume, it may not be a surprise that you feel a bottomless pit with appetite, but no matter the experience with volume this needs to be addressed accordingly. EAT! No business of mine if you want to consume the calories from rice and beef or drive thru value deals, just make sure you are consuming enough calories.




Monday – 4×9@70%

Wednesday – 5×7@75%

Friday – 7×5@80%

Saturday – 10×3@85%




Monday – 4×9@70% add 20 pounds from week 3

Wednesday – 5×7@75% add 20 pounds from week 3

Friday – 7×5@80% add 20 pounds from week 3

Saturday – 10×3@85% add 20 pounds from week 3




Monday – 4×9@70% add 30 pounds from week 3

Wednesday – 5×7@75% add 30 pounds from week 3

Friday – 7×5@80% add 30 pounds from week 3

Saturday – 10×3@85% add 30 pounds from week 3




Monday – Rest

Wednesday – Rest

Friday – Build to 1 rep max

Saturday – Build to 1 rep max




This block is meant to let the body reset. Up to this point the cumulative reps and weight moved will make you’re head spin if you do the math. A break is definitely needed. Having said that, the gas isn’t necessarily eased, instead the intensity is focused elsewhere. Often referred to as “dynamic” effort, meaning changing, it tends to focus on speed. You still produce maximal contraction, but under a lesser load we can shift momentum elsewhere. The two weeks dedicated to this looks as such:




Monday – Squat Negative x1@105%

Wednesday – Power Clean 8×3@60%

Friday – Box Squat 12×2@60%




Monday – Squat Negative x1@110%

Wednesday – Power Clean 8×3@65%

Friday – Box Squat 12×2@65%





The last 5 weeks is where it all comes together. I sure hope you appreciated the previous two weeks because things are about to get nauseatingly interesting. Sure you are only squatting 3 times a week, but the intensity alone can break even the mightiest of hearts. In the first week of this phase you are executing 54 lifts in excess of 80% your 1 rep max. The numbers are staggering when you compute how much eight is moved over the whole squat cycle, but even more so in this phase. This block caps off on obvious baseline approach to overloading the system. The percentages in this time span are jacked up to the point that if finished in good working order, you are in prime position to destroy your previous PR. Here is what it looks like:




Monday – 3@65%, 4@75%, 3×4@85%, 5@85%

Wednesday – 3@60%, 3@70%, 4@80%, 3@90%, 2×5@85%

Friday – 4@65%, 4@70%, 5×4@80%




Monday – 4@60%, 4@70%, 4@80%, 3@90%, 2×4@90%

Wednesday – 3@65%, 3@75%, 3@85%, 3×3@90%, 3@95%

Friday – 3@65%, 3@75%, 4@85%, 4×5@90%




Monday – 3@60%, 3@70%, 3@80%, 5×5@90%

Wednesday – 3@60%, 3@70%, 3@80%, 2×3@95%

Friday – 3@65%, 3@75%, 3@85%, 4×3@95%




Monday – 3@70%, 4@80%, 5×5@90%

Wednesday – 3@70%, 3@80%, 4×3@95%

Friday – 3@75%, 4@90%, 3×4@95%




Tuesday – 4@75%, 4×4@85%

Sunday – Test 1 rep man


The Peak Phase is the accumulation of the 13 week cycle boiling to a head. Testing your 1 rep max to see if the hard work paid off.




In the end it needs to be understood that this isn’t a cycle for the beginner. If you are new to lifting, any idea of tackling this is will be way down the road. In fact a more manageable program to help establish baseline strength will be more suitable – 531, stating strength, 5×5, well… you get the point. If you have reached a plateau and want to venture into treacherous waters, by all means commit to this cycle and crush your personal records. Be warned that if you do finish the cycle and come out on top with a new record, don’t anticipate keeping it there. Reasoning is simple; you can only go down from the top of the mountain. Doesn’t make the time and effort worthless, the decline in work and moving beyond the shock cycle makes relinquishing some gains inevitable, but not permanent. You can and will get it back with steady and persistent training. Last food for thought, just as 531 suggests, start the percentages based on 90% your 1 rep max. This allows more wiggle room to grow, thus making the likelihood of injury or burnout lessened.






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