Category Archives: Training programs

Smolov Squat Routine

Smolov is a 13 week Squat Program that was developed by Sergey Smolov, the Russian Master of Sports. It was popularized by Pavel Tsatsouline when he published it in a 2001 issue of Powerlifting USA. Projected gains from Smolov range from 40-100 pounds depending on how advanced you are. It’s fair to say the progress you make from Smolov is only surpassed by it’s intensity and brutality.

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.-”Pavel Tsatsouline”

smolov

This is by no stretch of the imagination a beginners program. If you haven’t been lifting for more than a year do not even attempt Smolov. If you can add weight to the bar every week, than stick with a program that follows a linear progression model such as starting strength. Smolov is intended for intermediate to advanced lifters, as the volume and overreaching will most likely cause overtraining in less adequate lifters.

overreaching model

 

Smolov Layout

Smolov is a super cycle (a long training cycle composed of shorter, but different styles, of training cycles) with approximately five cycles.

Cycle Length
Introductory microcycle 2 weeks
Base mesocycle 4 weeks
Switching 2 weeks
Intense mesocycle 4 weeks
Taper 1 week

The introductory microcycle will bring you up to 90% of your best squat in one week and prep you for the rest of the program. The base mesocycle is going to deliver a 30-60 pound strength increase, maybe a little less for smaller lifters. The switching cycle is used to stimulate your nervous system with a different type of stimuli and thus make it more responsive to another cycle of slow and heavy training. It will also allow your body a chance to recuperate as you move into the intense cycle. The intense cycle is another four week loading block that is good for a 20-40 pound squat increase. Finally the taper is a one week active rest period before you max out. Keep in mind Smolov can also be used to peak for a competition. To maximize your strength gains, check out the free Serious Powerlifting Strength Manual.

Introductory Microcycle

Like every other program that works off percentages you have to plugin your one rep max in order to find the weight you should be using. Use your best raw squat or a projected max using this calculator. Whatever your max is you should subtract 10-15 pounds just to be on the safe side. Below are the first three days of the first week of Smolov.

Note:(Sets and reps in this article are the reverse of the way they are written in the U.S. In Russia, the number of reps is given first, followed by the number of sets. Thus “8×3″ in this article indicates that the trainee would perform 3 sets of 8 reps each.)
Day Workout
1 65%x8x3, 70%x5, 75%x2x2, 80%x1
2 65%x8x3, 70%x5, 75%x2x2, 80%x1
3 70%x5x4, 75%x3, 80%x2x2, 90%x1

After you complete these three days the next three will be spent doing lunges focusing on maximal stretching of the thighs. The second week you will be squatting every other day (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) with 80-85% of your max. At the end of week you must work up to one set of five with 80-85%. Although there has never been a set plan written out for week two, you may want to do something like this.

Day Sets Reps Percentage
Monday 1 5 80%
Wednesday 1 5 82.5%
Friday 1 5 85%

As you can see the volume is nothing compared to week one, but the intensity of the work sets will get the job done. Again this is just a suggestion and you can format week two however you please as long as you hit that set of five with 80-85%. Smolov also wants us to include explosive drills for the introductory cycle consisting of jumps and Plyos (nothing to hard on the knees) that should be done after squatting.

Base Mesocycle

Note:(When you add weight onto your percentage, it’s just the same weight you used last week plus the amount it says to add. Do not add on another 30 pounds the third week, instead add ten for a total of 30.)
Week Monday Wednesday Friday Saturday
1 70%x9x4 75%x7x5 80%x5x7 85%x3x10
2 (70%+20lbs)x9x4 (75%+20lbs)x7x5 (80%+20lbs)x5x7 (85%+20lbs)x3x10
3 (70%+30lbs)x9x4 (75%+30lbs)x7x5 (80%+30lbs)x5x7 (85%+30lbs)x3x10
4 Rest Rest work up to a near max single work up to a near max single

As you can see you’ll be squatting four times a week working up to ten sets of a triple using 85% of your 1RM (one rep max). Smolov will give you a little break on week four to prepare you for working up to a new max, which you’ll use for the intense mesocycle. If you start failing sets all over the place during the second, or third week you may want to drop the weight at least five pounds.

Switching

The switching cycle is used in Smolov to give both your mind and body some well needed recovery. All lifts during this cycle are done with maximum explosion focusing on speed. All workouts are DE (dynamic effort) and you should never use more than 60% of your max. Like week two there is no set program for the switching cycle, but there are guidelines and recommended exercises laid out for us. Smolov insists we do box squats or regular squats from our sticking point, again focusing on speed and being explosive. We also have negative squats, deep squat jumps, and box jumps to do during these two weeks.

Intense Mesocycle

This four week loading block was originally designed by I. M. Feduleyev who was a powerlifting and weightlifting coach from Moscow. If you can handle the intense cycle you will reap the benefits of throwing another 20-40 pounds onto your squat. Some people just use the base mesocycle which is what smolov jr is based on, because this cycle is to much for them.

Week Day
1 Monday 65%x3 75%x4 85%x4x3 85%x5
Wednesday 60%x3 70%x3 80%x4 90%x3, 85%x5x2
Saturday 65%x4 70%x4 80%x4x5
2 Monday 60%x4 70%x4 80%x4 90%x3, 90%x4x2
Wednesday 65%x3 75%x3 85%x3 90%x3x3, 95%x3
Saturday 65%x3 75%x3 85%x4 90%x5x4
3 Monday 60%x3 70%x3 80%x3 90%x5x5
Wednesday 60%x3 70%x3 80%x3 95%x3x2
Saturday 65%x3 75%x3 85%x3 95%x3x4
4 Monday 70%x3 80%x4 90%x5x5
Wednesday 70%x3 80%x3 95%x3x4
Saturday 75%x3 90%x4 80%x4x3

You’ll only be squatting three times a week, but 44% of the time you’ll be using weights between 81 and 90% of your 1RM. This cycle is formatted for lifters used to high volume/high intensity and you must be sure you are recovering between workouts. If at any point you feel you can not keep up reduce the weight by 5-7% in all sets without cutting back on the sets or repetitions. Pavel Tsatsouline described this cycle perfectly.

You are going to top off with three sets of four reps at 95% of your current -not projected -max, and these numbers mean two things. First, you are going to get unbelievably strong, and second, there will be many moments when you shall wish you had stuck to your stamp collecting.

Taper

The taper is the last week before you max and is spent resting to let your body recover. There are a few different layouts for this last week of Smolov. One is designed for a veteran lifter used to the high volume and intensity, the other is for one unaccustomed to Russian style training. This one is for more hardened lifters and uses a high load in the beginning of the week.

Day Workout
Monday 70%x3, 80%x3, 90%x5x2, 95%x4x3
Tuesday Rest
Wednesday 75%x4, 85%x4x4
Thursday Rest
Friday Rest
Saturday Rest
Sunday Max

This is for lifters who can’t handle that type of workload before maxing out. You may want to add in a light workout on Monday to keep your form flowing nicely.

Day Workout
Monday Rest
Tuesday Rest
Wednesday 75%x4, 85%x5
Thursday Rest
Friday Rest
Saturday Rest
Sunday Max

 

peak with smolov

You can download this Smolov spreadsheet to make it easier to plugin your percentages and keep track of your workout schedule. This program is a bit overwhelming in terms of the layout so if you still need help understanding you can view the video below. Feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments.

Smolov Explanation

Starting Strength

Starting Strength is widely considered to be the best novice strength training program by the weightlifting community. Its writer, Mark Rippetoe, is the owner of Wichita Falls Athletic Club. He’s been in the strength industry for over 25 years and has many years under his belt as an athlete. The expression “Learn from the best to be the best” comes to mind. Mark has numerous accomplishments to accredit him as a leading figure in the industry, but his 1,643 pound raw powerlifting total speaks for itself.

“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and are more useful in general.” – Mark Rippetoe

Starting Strength is first and foremost a beginner program. Although many people consider ‘beginner’ to imply someone who is new to weightlifting, there is much more to it. A beginner in the powerlifting sense is someone who can still put weight on the bar every time they go to the gym. Programs that require a lifter to make consistent day-to-day progress are grouped as linear progression programs.

Many lifters are too proud to consider themselves beginners. They want to think of themselves as advanced athletes and hop on a lifting regiment like Sheiko or Smolov. These lifters are shooting themselves in the foot, because you cannot make faster gains with any program than you can with linear progression, provided you can still make consistent gains in the weight room. With that said, let’s get to the dirty details of this legendary routine.

There are only 5 primary exercises in Starting Strength. These include the Back Squat, the Deadlift, the Bench Press, the Military Press, and the Power Clean. You may be asking yourself “Only five exercises? Surely that’s not enough variety.” Its beauty is in its simplicity. By making short jumps in weight each workout, you’re rapidly putting weight on the biggest compound movements that are essential to getting bigger and stronger.

starting-strength

These exercises are broken down into 2 different days: Day A, and Day B. On Day A you’ll be performing the Back Squat, the Bench Press, and the Deadlift. On Day B, you’ll be Back Squatting, Military Pressing, and Power Cleaning. The lifter will be in the gym 3 days per week, alternating between Day A and Day B each time. Make sure you include at least one rest day between each day of training. Some weeks you’ll be bench pressing and deadlifting twice, and other weeks will have you mostly Military Pressing and Power Cleaning. Every workout, however, you’ll be squatting. Mark Rippetoe highly recommends that you perform the exercises in following order- Squatting, Upper body movement, Pulling movement.

Workout Schedule

Monday: Workout A
Wednesday: Workout B
Friday: Workout A

The following week, your schedule will look like this:

Monday: Workout B
Wednesday: Workout A
Friday: Workout B

As you can see you alternate workouts every other training day. Now, you don’t have to train only on Monday/Wednesday/Friday; you can also train Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday instead. The key thing to remember here is that you should train 3 times a week non-consecutively as to let your body rest for a full day after your training day. After one week of training is over, you take two days off and then start the next week of training.

Workout A

Note:(Warm up sets are not listed but are essential. Proper warm ups help activate muscles to perform at their best under heavy loads in addition to lowering the risk of injury.)

Exercise Sets Reps
Back Squat 3 5
Bench Press 3 5
Deadlift 1 5


Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
Back Squat 3 5
Military Press 3 5
Power Clean 3 5



You may have noticed that the Deadlift is only done for 1 work set. Deadlifts are the most taxing lift you can do, so doing multiple sets would not allow for most lifters to recover enough for the next workout in order to make progress. Also note that Power Cleans may be done for 5 sets of 3 reps if you prefer. However, all other lifts must be done as 3 sets of 5 reps.

You may think squatting three times each week is too much, but if it wasn’t possible Starting Strength wouldn’t be anywhere near as popular and effective is it is to this day. The key to making big gains is small, consistent jumps in weight. You’ll be adding 5 pounds to each lift every time you step into the gym. Let’s play around with some math to illustrate this. Assume a lifter has the following Five Rep Maxes:

Squat: 185
Bench Press: 135
Deadlift: 225
Military Press: 95
Power Clean: 155



Adding 5 pounds to each day’s 3 lifts that are being performed that day, every lift except for the squat will gain an average of 7.5 pounds per week. The squat will gain 15 pounds per week due to being performed every workout. This same lifter with the above Five Rep Maxes would have the following 5 Rep Maxes after 3 months (12 weeks):

Squat: 365
Bench Press: 225
Deadlift: 315
Military Press: 185
Power Clean: 245



In just 3 short months, this lifter has put 180 pounds on his squat and 90 pounds on each other lift. Note that the deadlift is the fastest increasing lift and thus you may add 10 pounds per workout if you find this to be a comfortable rate. Do not push too fast though. Consider the analogy of the tortoise and the hare. Although the hare is fastest out of the gate, the tortoise wins in the end. Slow and steady wins the race.

The math above illustrates just how effective linear progression is. In order for these lifts to increase so much, make sure you’re eating enough. You’ll need a LOT of food in order to keep up with these weight increases, so pound down the meat and milk. This is not an excuse to get fat, but it’s absolutely necessary to eat big to get big.

get-big

All good things must come to an end. At some point, you’ll find that you can’t make progress every day and you might start missing some lifts. At this point you’ll need what’s called a reset. To reset, take 90% of your current 3×5 weight and work back up from that point. For example, let’s say you squat 315 for 2 sets of 5 reps, and on your third set you miss the last rep. Take 90% of 315 and you end up with approximately 285 pounds. This will be your new working set for the following workout. Reset as needed, but if you find yourself resetting too often it might be time to consider an intermediate level program. Pat yourself on the back- by the time you’ve milked everything you can out of linear progression you’ll be stronger than nearly everyone in your gym.

In conclusion, Starting Strength should be a top consideration for any lifter who’s relatively new to the sport and wants to get bigger and stronger. It’s worked for thousands of people and it’ll work for you too if you stick to it, pay your dues, and eat like there’s no tomorrow. If you have any questions you can leave them in the comments.

Ed Coan Deadlift Routine

Ed coan is one of the best powerlifters of all-time and is renowned for his deadlift strength. He currently holds four raw world record deadlifts in four different weight classes dating back as late as 1984. In fact he set over seventy world records and became the lightest man in history to total over 1090kg (2400 lbs). This is one of the many routines he created and used to solidify himself as a champion and one of the strongest men in history.

Ed Coans deadlift routine has added anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds to the bars of many weightlifters. It is one of the most successfully used programs in the weightlifting community and is even commonly used by bodybuilders to add back thickness. The program is ten weeks long and uses a lot of assistance work and speed deadlifts to force an adaptive response to the volume and intensity. After week 6 when the volume is decreased on the assistance exercises your body will have adapted and you will have increased/extra energy to focus on deadlifting. Ed Coan did this purposely to be prepared to lift with a fatigued back in a meet after squatting.

Access the Free Serious Powerlifting Strength Manual Here

Ed Coan did not create this program with a novice lifter in mind, and you should only use this program if you are an intermediate level lifter or above. Beginners will not do well and will just overtrain or hurt themselves. They would be better suited sticking to a linear progression program such as starting strength.

deadlift chart

The Routine

 

The first thing you need to do is find your current deadlift max, which if you don’t know can be found using this one rep max calculator. Once you have your 1RM (one rep max) you need to determine what you would like your projected max (your max after completing the program) to be. Anywhere from 20-40 pounds will suffice, but 30 is the recommended poundage and what most lifters use. Now that you have your projected max you will plug it into the programming below and find the weight you will be using on all of the deadlifts and assistance work. For example say my projected max is 435 pounds. Since the first week for deadlift worksets is 75%, I will take 435 and multiply it by .75. That comes out to 326.25 lbs and we will round it to 325 lbs since not many (if any) people have half pound plates.

Deadlift Programming

Note:(Do your regular warmups prior to doing the work sets or speed sets.)

Week Work Sets Speed Sets
1 (75%)x 2 reps (60%)8 sets x 3 reps (90 sec rest b/w sets)
2 (80%)x 2 reps (65%)8 sets x 3 reps (90 sec rest b/w sets)
3 (85%)x 2 reps (70%)6 sets x 3 reps (90-120 sec rest b/w sets)
4 (90%)x 2 reps (75%)5 sets x 3 reps (90-120 sec rest b/w sets)
5 (80%)3 sets x 3 reps (65%)3 sets x 3 reps (120 sec rest b/w sets)
6 (85%)x 2 reps (70%)3 sets x 3 reps (120 sec rest b/w sets)
7 (90%)x 2 reps (75%)3 sets x 3 reps (120 sec rest b/w sets)
8 (95%)x 2 reps (70%)3 sets x 3 reps (120 sec rest b/w sets)
9 (97.5%)x 1 rep (70%)2 sets x 3 reps (Rest as needed)
10 (100%)x 1 rep (60%)2 sets x 3 reps (Rest as needed)

Assistance Work

WEEKS 1-4: Work through the following exercises in a circuit format. Resting 90 seconds between each exercise (DO NOT SUPER SET). Do 8 reps and rest 2-3 minutes between the end of the circuit and beginning of the circuit again. Do this 3 times for a total of 3×8 reps on each exercise.

Exercise Rep count Rest Interval
Stiff Leg Deadlifts 8 reps 90 seconds
Bent Over Rows 8 reps 90 seconds
Underhand Grip Lat Pulldowns 8 reps 90 seconds
Arched Back Good Mornings 8 reps 2-3 minutes

 

WEEKS 5-6: You will do the following exercises below for 3 sets of 5.

WEEKS 7-8: You will only do 2 sets of 5 with the exercises listed below.

WEEK 9: You will only do 2 sets of 5 with stiff legged deadlifts.

Note:(DO NOT CIRCUIT, Do one exercise finish all your sets and move on to next exercise. Rest 90-120 sec between sets.)

Exercise Rep count Rest Interval
Power Shrugs 5 reps 90-120 seconds
Stiff Leg Deadlifts 5 reps 90-120 seconds
Bent Over Rows 5 reps 90-120 seconds
Underhand Grip Lat Pulldowns 5 reps 90-120 seconds
Good Mornings 5 reps 90-120 seconds

 

In the table below you will see what percentage to use on Power Shrugs ONLY. These go along with the other assistance work and they start at week 5. You should do them after your speed deadlifts and before any other assistance work because of the fact you will be handling heavier weight with the power shrugs.

Week Exercise Work sets
5 Power Shrugs (60% of current): 3×5
6 Power Shrugs (65% of current): 3×5
7 Power Shrugs (70% of current): 2×5
8 Power Shrugs (75% of current): 2×5
9 Power Shrugs (75% of current): 2×5

 

If that is to overwhelming for you to calculate you can instantly get all of your programming here. As far any troubleshooting is concerned if you fail a week just keep pushing through and see if you improve the next week. A lot of lifters fail there projected numbers (especially week eight) and end up improving the next workout. If however you fail two weeks in a row, you may want to consider dropping this program and moving onto to something that suits your training capacity. If your form is lacking you can check out the video below from an old ed coan training series. The video is entitled “The Deadlift” and goes through much more than just technique and discusses some his personal training philosophies.

Access the Free Serious Powerlifting Strength Manual Here

Ed Coan The Deadlift

German Volume Training

German Volume training was created during the mid-70s in Germany and was popularized by the National coach of weightlifting Rolf Feser. This method, also known as the “10 sets method”, was used by off-season weightlifters to gain lean body mass and shed unnecessary body-fat. Weightlifters would commonly move up an entire weight class in twelve weeks due to the shear effectiveness of this program. German volume training was brought mainstream by Charles Poliquin in a 1996 issue of the magazine Muscle Media 2000, and since then has been a stock program for gym rats all over the planet. Jacques Demers, a silver Olympic weightlifting medalist, accredited his strength and massive leg size to german volume training.

Jacques Demers

German volume training targets a specific group of motor units exposing them to intensive amounts volume, i.e. ten sets of a single exercise. The body adapts to the mass amounts of stress by hypertrophying (muscle-growth) the targeted fibers to cope with the work load. Although this program is geared more towards hypertrophy than strength it still has a substantial positive impact on performance for any weightlifter. Practicing a lift for ten sets every five days is going to drastically improve your form and muscular endurance. When you do a high amount of sets for a single exercise fatigued muscle fibers will begin to drop out and new unused fibers will join in to compensate. At the end of ten sets you will have literally used parts of your muscles that you have never used before.

To say this program adds muscle fast is probably an understatement. Gains of ten pounds or more in six weeks are not uncommon, even in experienced lifters.- Charles Poliquin

The goal with this method is to complete ten sets of ten reps for each exercise. You’ll want to start with a weight of which you could do twenty reps until failure, which for most people is 60% of their 1RM (one rep max). So if you can squat 400 pounds for one rep, you would then use 240 pounds for your ten sets of ten. You must keep the weight the same throughout the ten sets and only increase the weight by five percent once you have completed your ten sets of ten with constant rest intervals. The rest intervals are short (60 seconds between accessory work and 90 seconds between the main lifts) which results in accumulative fatigue. You may find yourself to get stronger again when it comes to the eight and ninth sets because of a temporary neural adaptation.

You’ll only be performing one exercise per bodypart so you’ll only be doing lifts that recruit the most amount of muscle fibers i.e. bench press and squats. For accessory work you can do 3 sets of 10-20 repetitions. Refrain from using any intensity techniques such as forced reps or drop-sets, the volume will take care of the strength and hypertrophy on its own. At the same time the intense amount of volume will make recovery harder and longer. Typically training a bodypart every four to five days is sufficient. Below is the recommended bodypart split for lifters new to the german volume training method.

Recommended Split

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5
Chest and Back Legs and Abs Off Arms and Shoulders Off



After day five you’ll start over from day one, so each training cycle is five days. You’ll want to keep a notebook to track your progress, and a stopwatch to track your rest intervals. Charles Polequin also recommends keeping a certain tempo when doing certain lifts. For example when doing long range movements such as squats you would use a 40×0 tempo, and for shorter range movements a 30×20 tempo. The first number represents the eccentric portion of the lift and the second number represents the concentric part of the lift. The eccentric portion is the negative part of the movement (if you’re benching the eccentric portion would be you lowering the bar down to your chest), and the concentric would be the positive part of the lift(again using bench press as an example pushing the bar up from your chest after lowering it would be the concentric portion).

jim williams



The tempo is really the least important part of the program and is not mandatory, so if you feel that it is to much to keep up with than by all means drop it. You must however keep up with the rest intervals as they are part of what makes German volume training such a well respected program. Below is a sample routine based on a five-day cycle and is phase one of german volume training. Once you’ve done six workouts for each bodypart you will move on to a different program for three weeks and then return to complete phase two.

Beginner/Intermediate German Volume Training Program Phase One

Day 1-Chest and Back

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest Interval
A-1 Bench Press 10 10 40×0 90 seconds
A-2 Chin-ups 10 10 40×0 90 seconds
B-1 Incline dumbbell flyes 3 10-12 30×20 60 seconds
B-2 seated rows 3 10-15 30×20 60 seconds

Day 2-Legs and Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest Interval
A-1 Squats 10 10 40×0 90 seconds
A-2 Leg curls 10 10 40×0 90 seconds
B-1 weighted sit ups 3 15-20 20×20 60 seconds
B-2 calf raises 3 10-15 20×20 60 seconds

Day 3-Rest Day

Day 4-Arms and Shoulders

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest Interval
A-1 Dips 10 10 40×0 90 seconds
A-2 Hammer curls 10 10 40×0 90 seconds
B-1 lateral raises 3 10-15 20×0 60 seconds
B-2 lying side laterals 3 10-15 20×0 60 seconds

Day 5-Rest Day

You superset the A-1 and A-2 exercises together with 90 seconds rest in between sets, and you do the same for the B exercises except you only take 60 seconds in between. So you will do A-1 then rest for 90 seconds, do A-2 then rest for 90 seconds, then do A-1 again and rest for 90 seconds ect. Keep doing that until all sets of A-1 and A-2 are completed then move on using the same cycle for B-1 and B-2 (remember only 60 seconds rest instead of 90).

After you have completed the first phase you will move onto a different program for three weeks. The recommendation is doing a phase of only four-six sets per bodypart over a five day period with 6-8 reps per set. You can do any split of your choice as long as fits your recovery ability. After the three week intermission you can return to german volume training and begin phase two. With phase two you will still be using ten sets, but will now only be doing six reps for the main lifts. For the exercises that use ten sets, use a weight in which you could normally do 12 repetitions with.

Beginner/Intermediate German Volume Training Program Phase Two

Day 1-Chest and Back

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest Interval
A-1 Incline Barbell Bench Press 10 6 50×0 90 seconds
A-2 Wide grip pullups 10 6 40×0 90 seconds
B-1 dumbbell flyes 3 6 30×10 60 seconds
B-2 barbell rows 3 6 30×10 60 seconds

Day 2-Legs and Abs

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest Interval
A-1 Romanian Deadlifts 10 6 50×0 90 seconds
A-2 Leg curls 10 6 50×0 90 seconds
B-1 twisting crunches 3 12-15 30×30 60 seconds
B-2 calf raises 3 10-15 30×30 60 seconds

Day 3-Rest Day

Day 4-Arms and Shoulders

Exercise Sets Reps Tempo Rest Interval
A-1 Close grip bench press 10 6 50×0 90 seconds
A-2 close grip EZ bar curls 10 6 50×0 90 seconds
B-1 lateral raises 3 10-12 20×0 60 seconds
B-2 lying side laterals 3 10-12 20×0 60 seconds

Day 5-Rest Day



You can keep using phase two until you plateau then move onto something else. This is a sample program and you may substitute any exercise you want as long as you follow the guidelines of german volume training. For the main lifts (A-1 and A-2) be sure to pick a movement that will recruit the most fibers, and you should include the basic compound lifts whenever possible. Another good option would be to pick a variation of a compound lift such as front squats instead of squats.

20 Rep Squat Program

The 20 rep squat program is one of the oldest lifting programs there is. It was introduced by John McCallum in 1968 and was originally coined “Squats and Milk” because old school lifters would drink a gallon of milk a day (GOMAD) while on it. Tom Platz used 20 rep squats as a staple in his routine and had some of the biggest and strongest legs on the planet.

Access the Free Serious Powerlifting Strength Manual Here

For this routine you will be squatting 3 times a week with one set of 20 repetitions each workout. Your goal is to add five pounds to your 20 rep max each training session. This program is only 6 weeks long so you have to go all out every training session. To determine your starting weight, figure out your 5RM(5 rep max) and subtract 5lb from every workout from the 6-week period. If your 5RM is 300lb and you train three times a week for the six weeks, your starting weight would be 210lb. The difference is 90lb, so your goal after 6 weeks will be to squat 20 reps with the 300lb. It sounds made up, but a lot of elite lifters and strength coaches can vouch for it’s authenticity, including Mark Rippetoe.

“Trust me, if you do an honest 20 rep program, at some point Jesus will talk to you. On the last day of the program, he asked if he could work in.”- Mark Rippetoe

This routine is not for the mentally weak individual. It will test your will power and bring you to a threshold that will either make or break you. One of the reasons why this routine works so well is the “breathing squats”. Generally around rep 15 or so you’ll be out of breath, legs burning, telling yourself this was a horrible idea while you stand there with the weight on your back. At this point the reps come few and far between as you muster up the strength to squat out another rep. These last few reps result in the strength and hypertrophy that make this routine legendary.

There are many variations of this routine to choose from, pick one that fits your skill level. Remember you are going to be doing this three times a week. The classic Monday, Wednesday, Friday works good with this, but if you feel you simply cannot recover lower it down to two days a week using something like Tuesday, Friday. Beginners may also want to use the “scaled down” version and start off lifting only twice a week from the get go.

squat

The Original 20 Rep Squat Program

Exercise Sets Reps
Behind-the-Neck Press 3 12
Squat 1 20
Pull-Overs 1 20
Bench Press 3 12
Bent-over Rows 3 15
Stiff-legged Deadlift 1 15

20 Rep Squat Program-Scaled Down

Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 1 20
Pull over 1 20
Overhead press 2 10
Power clean 2 5

20 Rep Squat Power Program

Exercise Sets Reps
Power Cleans 5 3
Squat 1 20
Military Press 2-3 12
Chin-ups 2 do until failure
Dips 2 10
Conventional Deadlifts 1 15

Big 3-20 Rep Squat Program

Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 1 20
Pull-Overs 1 20
Bench Press 2-3 10
Bent-over Rows 2-3 15

 

You can make your own variation of this routine as long as you leave the squat untouched, the reason being it is the foundation of this program. A good variation should include at least one pushing, pulling, and stretching movement. You should stick with basic movements such as the bench press, pull-ups, military press, pull-overs ect. A good approach if you’re starting out is to do one set of each three times a week. Once the six weeks are up you should switch over to a heavier program such as a basic 5×5 routine. The high rep work will leave your body primed for a low rep program due to the increased muscular endurance and the break away from heavy weights.

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The Milk

milk

Gomad, or gallon of milk a day, has been a method used by weightlifters for decades. It is a technique used to gain vast amounts weight and strength quickly. It fits with the 20 rep squat program so well because all of the extra protein and calories make it ideal for recovery. If you can manage to do gomad for six weeks you will definitely reap the full benefits of the 20 rep squat program. You are still fully capable of making progress without it as long as you are eating enough and meeting your protein requirements (at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight everyday).

Benefits of milk

-High Protein. You need protein to build muscle & prevent muscle loss. 1 gallon of whole milk contains 120g protein. 80% casein, 20% whey.

-High calories. You can eat as healthy as you want, but if you’re not giving your body the tools it needs to grow stronger then it can’t no matter how much protein you consume. Could you build a house of cards without any cards?

-High Carb. The dextrose in whole milk spikes insulin, a muscle building hormone which tells your body to move the proteins into your muscles.

-Saturated Fat. Increases testosterone levels, which means more muscle & strength. Don’t believe the cholesterol myths: saturated fat is healthy. Contrary to popular belief dietary cholesterol doesn’t effect blood cholesterol.

You can read more about the benefits of milk here.

Common Questions

What happens if I fail to get my set of 20 reps?

Don’t worry about it just rest up and throw on the same weight as last time and go for 20 again.

What happens if I miss it a second time?

You will want to consider only using a 2 day split instead of three at this point.

Is there a variation I can use for circuit training?

Yes there is all you really have to do is fit in your one set of 20 rep squats. You will most likely want to do these first. You can try something like the example below:

-Squat: 1×20
-Pull-Overs: 1×20
-Circuit training:
-3 rounds of bodyweight Chin-ups, Dips, and Sit-ups.
-Everything is taken to failure and 1 min rest is taken between exercises.

Can I go longer than 6 weeks

If you feel you can and are still making progress than yes. The 6 week limit is there because that’s how long most people last both mentally and physically.

How long until I can do this program again?

The rule of thumb is to wait another six weeks.

Can I add in more upperbody work?

If your recovery ability permits you to then by all means add what you want. The squats themselves will also work your upperbody.

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Smolov jr.

Smolov jr. is a three week program that comes from the Russian squat routine known as Smolov. A big difference is it’s 1/5 as long and not nearly as taxing on your body. Another difference is Smolov jr. can be used on other lifts besides the squat, and is actually quite commonly used on the bench press. The majority of users report that they add 20-35 pounds to their squat or deadlift, and 15-25 pounds to their bench press(some even claim numbers up to 40 pounds). Then there are the lifters that say it did absolutely nothing for them, but for the majority it usually works and increases your 1RM(one rep max) if done properly. The routine is as follows:

smolov-jr

Week 1

Day Sets Reps Weight
Monday 6 6 70%
Wednesday 7 5 75%
Friday 8 4 80%
Saturday 10 3 85%

Week 2

Note:(When you add the 10-20 pounds onto your percentage, it’s just the same weight you used last week plus 10-20 pounds.)

Day Sets Reps Weight
Monday 6 6 70%+10-20 lbs
Wednesday 7 5 75%+10-20 lbs
Friday 8 4 80%+10-20 lbs
Saturday 10 3 85%+10-20 lbs

Week 3

Note:(Do not add 15-25 pounds onto your lift in addition to the 10-20 from week 2. Instead add on extra weight to get a total of 15-25 pounds.)

Day Sets Reps Weight
Monday 6 6 70%+15-25 lbs
Wednesday 7 5 75%+15-25 lbs
Friday 8 4 80%+15-25 lbs
Saturday 10 3 85%+15-25 lbs

 

To get your percentages you need to plugin your one rep max. For example lets say you can bench 200 pounds for one rep, then your week one would look as follows:

Day Sets Reps Weight
Monday 6 6 140lbs
Wednesday 7 5 150lbs
Friday 8 4 160lbs
Saturday 10 3 170lbs

 

you can use a calculator to figure out your percentages if you click here.

The way it works is it adapts your CNS to handling heavier weight, your warm-up weight will feel like an empty bar. You will also perfect your form practicing the lift four times a week also known as “greasing the groove” in lifts like bench press. By not going to failure you are allowing your muscles to not be fatigued and continue to overreach. It really is a controlled form of overtraining and takes advantage of supercompensation.

When you add weight each week be careful not to add to much. The rule of thumb is to add more on lifts like squat and deadlift and less on lifts like the bench press. If you fail a set it usually means you added to much weight and should most likely drop back down at least five pounds. If the weight feels to easy then feel free to add a little more as long as you know you can handle it. When you complete the program be sure to rest and deload before you max out. You can max out a few days after completing the program, but the recommendation is at least one week, however listen to your body and if you need more than take more. It’s not unheard of to take two weeks off after running a program like this especially if you’re not that advanced or have poor recovery ability.

You should not use this routine while trying to cut weight because you will most likely not gain anything, or even worse you may fatigue yourself to the point where your lifts actually decrease. You should increase your caloric intake(eat more) when working with programs like this to ensure recovery and reduce the chance of fatigue and overtraining. Staying hydrated is also a key part of any program and is vital to both strength and recovery, so be sure to drink as much water as you can for the best results. If you liked this program you could check out the FREE Serious Powerlifting Strength Manual, which has proven to be an effective routine to up your bench in only a few weeks.

Below you can see two lifters who both added 20+ pounds onto their lifts using Smolov jr.

 

Review on Smolov Jr.