Justin Tadlock

Smolov base mesocycle

After completing the first two weeks of the Smolov squat routine (the intro microcycle), I decided to go ahead with the weight lifting program. Plus, I wanted to continue documenting this squat routine for you serious powerlifters out there.

The intro microcycle was no walk in the park. I made it through the first week (three days in a row of squatting) without too many aches and pains. The second week was tough on me though. I was a bit too low on carbs, so my body nearly crashed by the last workout of the week. I had to do some serious eating over the weekend to recuperate.

If you haven’t already done so, read through the Smolov introduction post. This article will outline the second of four cycles in the program: the base mesocycle.

What is the base mesocycle?

Assuming you had the guts to complete the intro microcycle, this is the next step in the program. It doesn’t get any easier. The goal here is to get you stronger and test your will. Intestinal fortitude is a must for this step.

The base mesocycle is a four-week cycle. For the first three weeks, you’ll be squatting with both high volume and high intensity four days a week. The fourth week is a max-out week.

In the following sections, I’ll outline each week’s workout plan.

Week #1

The first week of this cycle will be easier than the following three weeks, but you’ll probably still be adjusting to the volume and intensity. It’ll be a little tougher than what you went through in the intro microcycle. You definitely don’t need to miss any sets or reps this week. You’ll pay for it later.

Day Sets Reps Percentage (1RM)
Day Sets Reps Percentage (1RM)
Monday 4 9 70%
Wednesday 5 7 75%
Friday 7 5 80%
Saturday 10 3 85%

Week #2

Most people who’ve done this program say this is the hardest week of the entire 13-week routine. It’s the same number of sets and reps as the first week. However, each lift has an additional 20 lbs. (10 kg) added to it, which is an insane leap in weight in just a week. You must reach down and find that inner beast within you.

Day Sets Reps Percentage (1RM)
Day Sets Reps Percentage (1RM)
Monday 4 9 70% + 20 lbs. (10 kg)
Wednesday 5 7 75% + 20 lbs. (10 kg)
Friday 7 5 80% + 20 lbs. (10 kg)
Saturday 10 3 85% + 20 lbs. (10 kg)

Week #3

For the third week, you just add 10 lbs. (5 kg) more weight to the bar based on your weights from week #2. This is a 30-pound (15 kg) jump from week #1. The reps and sets are the same as the preceding weeks. Just find a way to get it done. You’ll get to rest a bit in the following week.

Day Sets Reps Percentage (1RM)
Day Sets Reps Percentage (1RM)
Monday 4 9 70% + 30 lbs. (15 kg)
Wednesday 5 7 75% + 30 lbs. (15 kg)
Friday 7 5 80% + 30 lbs. (15 kg)
Saturday 10 3 85% + 30 lbs. (15 kg)

Week #4

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You are officially a beast. Take a few days rest. Your legs will probably need it at this point. You shouldn’t do any leg work whatsoever outside of stretching or walking. You’ll need fresh legs for maxing out.

On Friday of the fourth week, you can get a new 1-rep max. If you’re not really “feeling it” on Friday, come back on Saturday and go for it. Or, you can skip Friday altogether and get your max on Saturday. You want to set a new PR. You’ll be using this new 1RM throughout the remainder of the Smolov program.

Day Sets Reps Percentage (1RM)
Day Sets Reps Percentage (1RM)
Friday 1 1 100%+ (new max)
Saturday 1 1 100%+ (new max)

Don’t use lifting equipment for this max. This should be a raw max. Otherwise, you won’t be able to appropriately calculate your lifts in the coming weeks.

What’s next?

Once you’ve completed the base mesocycle, you’ll be going a bit lighter and doing some speed/explosion work. I’ll cover this in the next installment of this series.

Remember the most important rules: Eat. Sleep. Squat.