Do I even Front Squat? My experiment with Smolov Jr.
I cannot lie. When I first learned about the Smolov Jr. squatting programme, I
was only impressed by its promise that I would have to eat more and sleep more
deeply. Oh yeah, you have to go in the squatting pain cave. Isn’t that what proper
lifters are supposed to do? BUT, what has squatting with such volume and
intensity four times a week got to do with Olympic Lifting anyway? At my age, a
Why Smolov Jr.? The simplicity of the programming; the chance to focus on
improving volume, intensity and quality of my front squat, not to mention
strength. Why NOT do it?
So here are my reasons for starting this programme.
I am an aging athlete. I want to keep getting stronger. I may not get any faster but
I can definitely get stronger. I can front squat my own bodyweight but my goal is
to front squat 1.5 times that. My goal is a big one. It will take time and effort to
achieve. I have to squat regularly and often. So for now I am welcoming Smolov
Jr. ! Thank you Alis for introducing us (I think).
My goals for the next 4 weeks are simple, but not easy:
1. Make my front squat technically sound and progress leg and hip strength.
2. Continue with ‘lighter’ technical work on the classic lifts.
3. Include on going upper back and shoulder strengthening programme to
improve overhead stability.
For 3 weeks I will be training front squats 4 days per week, with the weight
increasing each week.
My most recent rep max was 65kg for three reps. So using this calculator I estimated a confident 1 rep max of 70kg.
I then tapped 70kg into the handy online Smolov Jr. calculator for One Rep Max value and 2.5kg for the Increment value. The calculator gave me these target numbers for each front squat session in week one:
- Mon – 6 sets, 6 reps at 70% = 50kg
- Wed – 7 sets, 5 reps at 75% = 52.5kg
- Fri – 8 sets, 4 reps at 80% = 55kg
- Sat – 10 sets, 3 reps at 85% = 60kg
Week 2 – Use the same schedule as the first week, but increase weight by 2.5kg
Week 3 – Again, same format, but increase another 2.5kg
HAHA, YOU MIGHT LAUGH at my ambition/naivety. I have already completed the
Monday, Wednesday and Friday sessions this week. Friday felt like the first actually tough session – DOMs from the two previous sessions made my legs feel stiff and heavy and SORE.
Here is a list of a few things I have been warned about!
- I have to spend longer warming up. 5 minutes on the rowing machine,
followed by dynamic stretching doing the inch worm and spider man
crawl up and down for 5 minutes, prisoner wall squats and sets of front
squats with just the barbell racked and progressing up to 50kgs.
- I have to take longer rests by the time I got to set 5! I don’t want my form
to be compromised, so the longer the rest the more I can psych myself up
to keep the quality.
- I have to ignore my brain’s feedback telling me this is too much. I expect
soreness, fatigue. I know this is the character building part of my Smolov Jnr. experiment.