One of the main goals for any guy training in the gym is typically improving their bench press. It’s an exercise most people can do and uses most of your upper body.
Many people see their bench press one of the main standards for overall strength in the gym. They’re not wrong. Bench Press is one of three ‘big lifts’ in powerlifting and the only one that focuses purely on your upper body strength.
There are many methods for improving your bench press but by far one of the most effective is the Smolov Jr bench press program.
What is Smolov Jr?
The name Smolov comes from Sergey Smolov, who is known as the ‘Russian Master of Sports’. He designed the original Smolov Squat Routine which is a popular 13 week exercise program among powerlifters. It focuses purely on building your squat.
Smolov Jr is not for your squat. It is a reduced version of Smolov’s routine adapted to support and improve your bench press. Unlike the original program, Smolov Jr is much shorter than the original routine and runs for just 3 weeks – not 13.
It is very effective and used by many powerlifters, using it to peak their lifts just before a competition. Some have even claimed it to put upwards of 35 lbs (15 kilograms) on their bench press over this 3 week routine during their first run.
How does the routine break down?
It’s nothing fancy, it’s just bench press, and a hell of a lot of it. With Smolov Jr, you really need to organize yourself as you’ll be benching heavy 4 times a week.
To really sink in how intense this routine is: you’ll sometimes be benching heavy two days in a row.
For this routine you will need:
- To know your 1 Rep Max – what your heaviest lift is on bench press with good form.
- Lots of willpower.
Here’s how it breaks down:
|Week||1st Day – 6 x 6||2nd Day – 7 x 5||3rd Day – 8 x 4||4th Day – 10 x 3|
|1||70% of 1RM||75% of 1RM||80% of 1RM||85% of 1RM|
|2||70% + 5 to 10lbs||75% + 5 to 10lbs||80% + 5 to 10lbs||85% + 5 to 10lbs|
|3||70% + 10 to 20lbs||75% + 10 to 20lbs||80% + 10 to 20lbs||85% + 10 to 20lbs|
Really simple to understand, a lot harder to execute. It is absolutely brutal. Typically you want to run this every other day. Day 1 usually comes the day after a Day 4.
It is not recommended that you do any other form of training when it comes to your chest while running Smolov Jr. All your energy in that department will be needed for benching.
The Benefits of Running Smolov Jr
You’ll get stronger. But that’s obvious, there’s multiple other benefits from hitting Smolov Jr.
You’ll get better form benching, very quickly. Especially if you’re training for a competition and keeping an eye on your form. Your gym sessions will revolve around your bench, it becomes the main focus of your workouts and in doing so, you correct yourself a lot more. You’ll learn a lot and your form will vastly improve.
Doing most of the reps with an arched back, ass on the bench, and bar pausing on your chest will significantly boost your overall performance.
Another way this program helps you is with your confidence under the bench. Many people get nervous when they’re about to attempt a heavy weight under the bench, however you’ll become so used to it, it’ll become less intimidating.
This is great for breaking through mental barriers, especially if you have a habit of developing plateaus.
It can really bring your passion back into lifting. If you feel your gym sessions have become stale, running Smolov Jr. is a great way to spice things up. You’ll see a lot of progress in a short period of time, and in doing so, you’ll look forward to each session and watching it all develop.
Smolov Jr can be a real confidence booster.
Things to Remember
You’re not going to hit every rep with perfect form. You are going to be benching heavy a lot, and your body will need to adapt to that.
As long as most of the reps are good and you’re continuously throwing up heavy weight you will see improvements.
You will fail. It’s highly likely that you may have a session where you find yourself trapped under the bar. Always take a spotter with you when performing Smolov Jr. If you’ve never run a program like this, chances are you’re going to suffer a few times in the gym. Make sure you have some one there to help lift the bar off you when things get too rough.
Either that or some kind of safety rack set up under the bar when benching. As always, if you feel like you’re getting too weak and you’re going to injure yourself – stop.
Starting your session with Smolov Jr is not a bad idea. Starting your sessions with Smolov Jr is a good way for you to keep on top of exercising your other muscle groups. Get Smolov out of the way early, and then you can continue your routine as usual without the chest work.
People who have used Smolov Jr:
Here’s a compilation of people who have used Smolov Jr, and their thoughts on it. There’s plenty of other ones out there, but these are good places to start:
As you can see, a lot of people are having solid results – albeit with some hardships.
Quick Summary: Smolov Jr for Bench – Should You Do It?
If you’re looking to improve your bench press quickly, this is the routine for you. It is not for the weak willed. Smolov Jr takes everything you have, but the results are worth it.
Pace yourself, take it a set a time, use a spotter and if you feel like you’re about to have an injury stop immediately.
Best of luck, and happy lifting!