I like the idea of Smolov Jr. as it substitutes the ultra high intensity that geared lifters can utilize with high volume training that suits many raw lifters. Getting in 133 repetitions on a movement over a week, and just shy of 400 repetitions over three weeks is a ridiculous amount of volume. I believe it is an excellent way to run a short cycle to drive up your max on a single lift and then return to regular training. Here are some things I learned from running the cycle for my bench press.
Some days it’s going to suck
Some days your head will not be in it, or you’ll be tired, or there will be one of hundreds of other reasons that a long bench press session can suck. Regardless of that, you need to dig in and grind it out. Take your rest as needed and hit every set like you’re out to kill something.
You NEED to be eating
You’re benching four days a week, so food is officially your best friend if you want to fuel growth and recovery. I actually managed to get through these three weeks without much soreness thanks to lots of eating and some physical precautions listed below.
Do some form of pulling
Most days after bench I performed some sort of pulling movement. Whether it was deadlifts, chin-ups, or otherwise, there was some sort of pull to help keep my back and rear deltoids strong. On rest days and even some nights after lifting I would tie two mini short bands together and perform pull-aparts at high volume just to get extra pulling work in. There’s a very good chance that the pulling work has helped prevent strength imbalances and maintain healthy shoulders.
A strong back arch can be employed to increase and hold tension throughout the lift. This can require a good bit of spinal flexibility which needs to be maintained throughout a very strenuous three weeks of benching. Doing spinal flexibility and mobility work is crucial to keeping your spine healthy and strong throughout this program. I did this work after every bench session and most nights before going to sleep.
The first set is the hardest
Even after a warm-up before each session involving working up to that day’s weight, the first working set was the most difficult of the day during all twelve sessions. The key was to not be disheartened by the initial difficulty, take the necessary rest, and drive through the session. By the end of the day the sets are going up like lightning.