My experiment with Smolov Jr – week 3

Facing Week 3 is a bit like the last couple of miles in a 10k race. You can see the finish line, the brain lets go of its reluctance to supporting your body in this physical effort and there is even enough energy left for the sprint finish! From my experience of running 10k that is how it felt to me. Apparently, there are two key different approaches people can take to physical and mental challenge. One is to at the whole thing with an “I’ve got this” attitude and race all out from the
start, and another is my more cautious one. Break it down into separate challenges and coax myself through stage, one at a time. Whatever works for you! Smolov Jr definitely favors the former approach – 4 sessions, 31 sets, 133 reps each week to be exact. In Week 3, I would be front squatting a total of 7776.50kg!!

This is how my Smolov Jr week 3 worked out :

  • Mon – 6 sets, 6 reps at 70% = 55kg
  • Wed – 7 sets, 5 reps at 75% = 57.5kg
  • Fri – 8 sets, 4 reps at 80% = 62kg
  • Sat – 10 sets, 3 reps at 85% = 65kg

I followed the same protocols for warming up and recovering as I had done in weeks 1 and 2. But again Friday was my toughest day. Going from 57.5 to 62kg and 8 set of 4 reps was difficult. I had to push though my sticking point on the way up and I knew that same fight faced me for 32 reps. Dividing it up in 32 separate battles was the only way I could do it. I was determined to win each one and not sacrifice form on the way.

To get myself through day 4, I knew I would need some heavier artillery. I listened to the analysis by Colin Burn’s coaches of his 220kg x 2 Front Squat PR. If I could learn anything about how to push through the sticking point, they were sure to help.

This was my take out:

  • At 10×3 @65 kg this is not the limit of my capacity. My strength levels were sufficient to complete this task.
  • Descend between my hips.
  • At the sticking point: push my hips /knees forward/out to drive up and keep bar over centre of balance.
  • Push through my whole foot (firm tripod grip on floor!).
  • Keep a rock solid cylinder core to support a neutral back and upright torso for driving up.
  • Take time to exhale and inhale to breathe and brace correctly.

That is how I managed to complete my Smolov Jr experiment. An extra bonus was practising a variety of lifting faces.

The Smolov Jr program recommends a recovery period in week 4 to lead up to a 1 PR max testing session. My goal was not to improve my PR for the front squat. Specifically I did Smolov Jr to “make my front squat technically sound and progress leg and hip strength.”

Looking back on the 3 weeks ,I know for sure my Front Squat form has improved and I can now confidently plan to resume a twice a week 5×5 programme at a higher intensity. Maybe I have grown one extra mm on my quads, but for me the greatest benefit will be the transfer to better core stability and confidence to get under heavier weight in my clean and jerk. Back to work then!

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