Today is the official start of the 16-week training program that my CrossFit gym is using to prepare for the Freeze Fest competition. We spent last week establishing our baselines, which the workouts will be programmed around.
We are going to be doing Smolov, a Russian squat routine that was designed by the Russian Master of Sports, Sergey Smolov. His name has been bandied about the gym for the past few weeks and I had no clue what anyone was talking about. All I knew was that it sounded Russian and it sounded scary.
The Smolov cycle was popularized by Pavel Tsatsouline when he published it in a 2001 issue of Powerlifting USA. People following this program have seen amazing gains of anywhere from 40-100 pounds.
Pavel writes about the cycle, “In case you got all starry eyed and bushy tailed having read the title beware that you cannot get something for nothing. Either of the two four week loading blocks of the thirteen week Russian cycle pack more work than most American squatters do in a year, no joke. You shall gain but you shall pay with sweat, blood, and vomit, Comrade.”
I am not well versed enough to explain the mechanics of this program nor the science behind it. For reference, you can read a copy of Pavel’s article here from the resource section of the Ontario Strongman Association website.
Breaking Muscle provides a nice short explanation: “The Smolov involves thirteen weeks of squatting, broken down into four specific cycles. After a short introductory microcycle to get the legs ready for what is to come, there is a four week, four times a week base mesocycle, at the end of which should follow a new max. After a two week switching cycle comes an intense mesocycle, very heavy squatting three times a week based on the new max, which should increase once again at the end of it all.”
In that same article about Smolov, its author Chet Morjaria says that the routine is brutal. In all my reading about it, the routine will clearly require a lot of focus and commitment. In addition, Chet strongly advocates that in order to be successful, one needs to do the following: “Eat big. Sleep well. Mobilize.”
The gym is going to follow the Smolov Jr., which is a slightly abbreviated version. It is a 4 day per week program that extends over three weeks.
Here is what Week 1 looks like in terms of sets and reps based on my personal 1 rep max:
|Lift||1 Rep Max||6 x 6||7 x 5||8 x 4||10 x 3|
Tonight I will encounter Smolov for the first time. It shall be the Ivan Drago to my Rocky. Cue the music. I am ready to enter the ring.
# of days to Freeze Fest: 109