My Smolov front squat training

I’ve just started the Smolov Jnr programme for front squats. I’ve not been able to do back squats for a couple of months now due to a back injury which is almost fully healed, but front squats feel fine. I’ve also been quite out of training for the last three months due to a broken finger and having my Olympic lifting room completely refurnished. I wanted a high volume training programme to build back my strength and get me used to squatting again!

I chose the Jnr programme because of the lower repetitions than the standard programme contains. Had I not had a back injury, I would have done the standard programme which I’ve done before with front squats successfully.

I will log how I get on here.

As is advised, I lowered my 1RM to 1) cope with the intensity of the programme 2) accommodate for the random see-how-I-feel-on-the-day/what-can-my-body-cope-with-today training I’ve had to do over the last 3 months.

Week 1

Day 1 – 6×6 @ 70%

First day of front squatting for a while. Felt weak in the core. Made it through. 6 reps was manageable.

Day 2 – 7×5 @ 75%


Day 3 – 8×4 @ 80%

8 sets felt like a lot but by set four I was motivated and keen to finish! Session was fine.

Day 4 – 10×3 @ 85%

Was possibly the hardest day so far. I definitely felt tired by the last set. Abs were sore from the previous session.

Week 2

Day 1 – 6×6 @ 70% + 5kg

I was hesitant about the amount of weight to add (5kg or 2.5kg), but I went for the higher amount since I’ve been out of front squats for a long time and I need to get my strength back as soon as I can and I want to push myself. I’ve very easily been squatting this weight and obviously a lot more in the past, so it ought not to be daunting.

It was a tough-ish session, but more the reps rather than the weight or number of sets. 6 is a good number however. When I’ve done Smolov in the past, my back always feels really tired as the repetitions go up, so it’s nice to stop at 6 on this programme. 🙂

Day 2 – 7×5 @ 75% + 5kg

Good session. Weight was good, reps were good, sets were good.

Day 3 – 8×4 @ 80% + 5kg

Good session. 4 reps felt comfortable.

Day 4 – 10×3 @ 85% + 5kg

Quite tough mentally to get through. 10 sets is a lot of sets and it feels like a long session. Was pretty tired out by the end and hurried rest periods to get it all over with. 😉 From reading back over this blog post, so far I can say that the 10×3 days have felt harder than the others – but I would argue this is more to do with me being cautious and careful about my back and obviously that plays on your mind psychologically.

Week 3

Day 1 – 6×6 @ 70% + 7.5kg

Was tempted to go up by 10kg but, due to the back injury, I decided not to push it. I probably could have. This workout was appropriately challenging. Having to get through less sets is nice.

Day 2 – 7×5 @ 75% + 7.5kg

This programme – the 7×5 scheme – is by far the most manageable for me. I’m not entirely sure why but 7 sets doesn’t phase me and 5 reps is quite comfortable for front squats. I am generally used to doing 5×5 front squats at 85% of my 1RM so if you think about it like that, doing 7×5 @ 75% + 7.5kg is less weight, even with two extra sets.

Day 3 – 8×4 @ 80% + 7.5kg

Manageable. Got through these OK. Felt pretty good.

Day 4 – 10×3 @ 85% + 7.5kg

A tough session where as the sets went on the squats felt harder. Managed them though!

My conclusion is that the 10×3 was the hardest day each week. This has surprised me as when I’ve done Smolov in the past, these were the easier days. It might be because I think I’ve lost a lot of confidence and some strength since my back and finger injuries so, psychologically, I was a bit apprehensive about doing the heavier weight days. The 7×5 was the easiest day each week but I can’t tell you why other than psychologically I probably just think of it as “moderate weight, moderate sets, moderate reps.”