Squat Routines

There's loads of them, but how do you decide which ones are going to be most useful in your training?

This is the first in a series of articles designed to help you make that decision.

The Russian Routine - What is it?

What is it?

It is a structured program designed to increase your 1RM squat by 5% in 6 weeks. It obeys the simple principals of overload, volume increase, and progressions in order to get results.

The original routine features 3 training sessions a week. These sessions alternate between an active rest session and a more taxing day depending on where you are in the program.

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The Russian Squat routine should be implemented when ones squat results are below what is considered to be the norm.[1] (What is considered to be the norm will be covered in a future article). It should not be used around competition periods, as it is a very intense program. You will be unable to commit the optimal time and effort to the classic lifts doing this program, as you will be tired.

[1] http://www.dynamic-eleiko.com/sportivny/library/farticles004.html

What are my experiences with the Russian Routine?

As part of the Russian Routine I did 5x5 on 195kg!

Now you can make use of this program too!

The Russian Routine is a reliable way of increasing your squat. It is gradual and progressive and for many years, it has remained a popular training program. It is important here to note that a bigger squat does not necessarily equal bigger lifts. It is not uncommon to hear of people who can squat over 250kg who cannot stand up with a 180kg clean. This is because they lack the technical level to properly utilize their strength. This type of lifter’s time would be better spent drilling cleans and snatches in order to become a more efficient lifter.

How do I implement it into my own training program?

I have had great success with the Russian routine. It has always given me the gains that it has promised to deliver. To properly integrate it, I have found that;

  • On the taxing days, do your squats first. When you have 6x6@80% or 5x5@85% be prepared to do your squats and then struggle to do any lifting. This is okay. This is part of the process. On these days, I would go in, fight through my squats, then do some bodybuilding and hammer mobility when I regained the use of my legs.
  • Always do the 6x2@80% last. These are easy active rest. You concentrate hardest on the first exercises you do, so do some moderate lifting, it will be better for you in the long run.
  • The taxing days of 3x3@95%, 2x2@100% and the big single day, whilst being particularly rewarding, put you at unnecessary risk of injury. I would normally do the routine until the 4x4@90%, then do a couple of weeks of normal squatting, before repeating the routine. This is because I have not found that significant gains are made doing these low volume sessions.
  • Having a very light front squat day will keep you familiar with the movement. It is even possible to change every other active rest day to a 60% front squatting day. This is a protocol I normally follow.

When implementing the Russian routine, squats take priority. The heavy squats must be done as the first exercise of the day as mentioned above.


The hardest part of the program is the middle; and around this period you will feel sluggish and tired. Do not worry, this is normal, and the gains you seek will come in due time.

The Russian routine must not be implemented around a competition. It should finish at least 2 months before any competition. This is to allow the consolidation of new strength to turnover into the classic lifts.


Ivan Chakarov, One of the most impressive squatters of recent times.

To conclude, the Russian routine is hard.

The Russian routine is worth doing. You will gain leg strength doing this routine. 

I’m not going to question whether you will do it or not.

I know you will. 

How do I know?

Because you just read this article.