Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Bulgarian Method & You

Thanks to Pete the Fireman for finding this article about the Bulgarian Method of training

Basically, the Bulgarian method is a high-volume, high-frequency training program. You build up to heavy daily lifts, centered on lifts either competed in the Olympics or which build them - generally, in any case.

What a lot of these types of articles fails to consider is that Eastern bloc training methods are more "selection methods" than "training methods." In other words, they are method of training that pares away those unsuited to high-volume exercise and unsuited to maximal development of the Clean and Jerk and Snatch. Compare that with a method that has its goal as taking each individual to their maximum potential. One method is aimed at whittling down a big pool of athletes to those most suited to contending for gold medals - and you have only so many slots on the team. The other approach is to develop those who chose the sport and get them as far as they go. The former is certainly the approach to use if your goal is a gold medal. Compare this in intent if not details and difficulty with SAS, SEAL, or Delta selection courses - they aren't trying to build you up, but weed out those who will quit or break under pressure. Once that selection process is done you train hard but not with the intent of breaking those who can't pass muster.

Additionally, lots of these Eastern Bloc methods came out of a state-run system with a very large pool of athletes. The best coaches got the best athletes to work with, and every level (local, provincal/territoral, national) further cut down the numbers and took only the best of that pool. So the methods that worked for them served mostly to identify those who could best stand up to that much continuous pressure.

That said, yes, you can train every day if you vary up the intensity. You don't need to be in and out of the gym in an hour. You do need to practice skill lifts as skills, and work them daily and twice daily if you can do that. The more practice the better, even if the intensity has to ramp up and down in order to avoid grinding you down.

So is this kind of training for you? It's hard to say, because of course you can build up a tolerance to greater and more frequent workloads. But it might not be the optimal way for you to train.

For more on the Bulgarian Method:

Critical Bench Bulgarian Weightlifting

Mel Siff discussing the Bulgarians

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