What is Bulgarian Training?
If you are interested in becoming bigger, stronger and a better lifter, you should consider the Bulgarian method of training. The lifting world was dominated throughout the 1970s and 1980s by the Bulgarian weight lifting team due to this method.
The reason is Ivan Abadjiev was the team’s head coach. He is the man who created this training method. Most people believed his training methods were unorthodox during this time. Thanks to modern science, we know he was simply ahead of his time.
The Bulgarian method consists of specific weightlifting movements Adadjiev has become known for. These include:
• Clean and jerk
• Overhead squats
• Back squats
• Front squats
• High pulls
If you want to be successful, you need to perform these movements six days per week and between two and three times daily. You must be at a minimum of 95 percent of your one-rep maximum.
Even though your results can be incredible, you need to prepare yourself for the brutality of this method. At this point, you are most likely thinking you are not a weight lifter and do not have enough time for the intensity and time required.
The bottom line is you will not achieve extraordinary results if you do not change your thinking processes. You can begin by understanding the science and the reasons people use the Bulgarian training method.
How Does it Work?
The theory behind this method is when you put an organism beneath a specific amount of stress, the organism will adapt to the new stimulus. This means despite the stress you place on your body, your body needs to adapt by compensating to gain more strength.
Depending on the type of training stresses, your body will adapt in different ways. The rational of the creator was weight lifting is no different than any other sport. You need to constantly practice your skills to improve.
The greatest athletes of all time practiced their sport every day. The type of sport is irrelevant. If you are wondering if working out is classified as a sport, the answer is no. Despite this, you need the skills to be successful.
The only way you can improve is to continually practice your skills for deadlifts, the bench press and squats. When you practice these movements regularly. you will get better.
A good example is if you need to improve your skill for front squats. You must perform front squats over and over to see an improvement. You must practice the specific exercise you need to improve because no other exercise is the same.
You need to be careful you do not overtrain. We accomplish this by alternating our workouts with light and heavy days. Our light days are about improving our skills and allowing your joints to recover.
During our heavy days, we intentionally overload our intended lift. In the case of Abadjiev, his athletes competed in mini competitions every three weeks. This enabled his athletes to increase their levels of intensity.
The athletes were then forced into higher-level competitions more often. The Bulgarian method is a type of periodization program. You train hard for several weeks before going back down. You then continue ramping up and ramping down every few weeks.
To begin, I recommend decreasing the volume of your accessory movements. Your focus should be placed on creating a routine using big movements including:
• Shoulder press
• Bench press
As soon as you have decreased the volume for your accessory movements, you need to gradually increase your frequency as you hit every lift. We recommend proceeding slowly while building up your frequency and volume.
If you increase too quickly, you risk potential injuries and you will be overtraining your body. Only hit your lifts two times each week. The idea is to build up slowly until you can hit your main lifts between three and four times every week.
Follow the same principle for your volume. You should be building up with each lift. Proceed too quickly and there is a good chance you will be injured.
The Characterizations of the Original System
The Bulgarian system originally revolved around a variety of competitive lifts including the clean and jerk and snatch. This was the main workload of the system. There was very little assistance work involved.
The assistance work included competitive lift power variations such as power clean and power snatch and front squats. Back squats were only included occasionally. This is extremely different than other successful weightlifting schools.
The majority of the schools we have used include a lot of assistance lifts. This is a key difference in the Bulgarian training method.
When you are using the standard training method, you gradually work up to your maximum weight lift for each rep. You can perform a single rep every day or several times per week.
Bulgarian lifters no longer have light days. Instead, you will use the power snatch for maxing out as opposed to the full snatch. You will also substitute the power clean and jerk for the original clean and jerk.
You will perform either competitive lifts or one of the variations during every workout. In most instances, this is accomplished during intense training periods between two to five times each day.
This means you will be performing the snatch and clean and jerk a maximum of 12 times every week. Shortly afterward, your front squat sessions will increase to the same number and frequency.
We have found this to be important because the more frequently we practice our skills, the better we become.
Extremely Low Reps
Even elite weightlifters rarely perform more than three competitive lift reps. The maximum for assistance work is generally eight with basic strength movements requiring no more than five reps.
The original Bulgarian system was different because everything was taken to extreme levels. The majority of sets were performed with one or two reps with three rep sets only included occasionally.
Extreme Training Segments
Regardless of the sport, elite athletes will segment their daily training volume. More than one session is necessary every day. This concept was also taken to extremes by the original Bulgarian system.
In most instances, the workload was split into two segments. Sometimes three segments were incorporated each day. Every session was then separated into two or three different units.
A good example is when the athletes practiced snatch for between 30 and 40 minutes then rested for 20 to 30 minutes. The clean and jerk were then performed for 30 minutes before the athletes rested for 20 minutes.
Between 20 and 30 minutes were then spent on the front squat. All of this encompassed just one session.
Your training is extremely easy to plan. You need to consider all of the following before you begin.
• Volume or sets and reps
• Intensity or a percentage of your maximum
• Excercise selection
• Training splits
• Frequency of every lift performed
This process is even simpler with the Bulgarian system because you do not need to choose your exercise selection. You simply perform the same three lifts repeatedly. These are:
• Training split
• Intensity or your maximum effort per day
• Always one to two or occasionally three reps or sets until you reach your maximum
The original system eliminated the need to analyze your plan since you followed a type of blueprint for your training.
Maximizing Skill and Strength
The best method to ensure you become technically proficient is to perform the same lifts daily or multiple times per day. If you want to become good at a particular movement, we recommend working on your skill and strength.
Keep in mind there are much better methods for building your overall strength. You will lose your strength much faster by building with this type of workout as opposed to using a combination of greater exercise variety and volume.
If your main goal is becoming good at the front squat, clean and jerk and the snatch, you can accomplish this with heavy daily workouts.
Learning How to Feel Your Body
You need to test yourself on a daily basis to determine when your body is capable of performing. This will enable you to learn when your body is up to a rigorous workout and when you do not have what it takes.
We recommend using autoregulatory training for the development of this essential skill. Pushing your body when you are not ready increases your risk of injury and overtraining.
Eliminating the Fear
The Bulgarian method does not require a lot of thought. To become successful, you have to use everything you have every single day even if you are not feeling especially strong or rested.
You must conquer your fear of performing maxes by making maximum attempts every day. A lot of lifters have a technique allowing them to perform 85 to 90 percent of their max. If they are intimidated by weight, their technique will suffer.
By lifting heavy regularly, you will begin to feel more natural and not be impacted by your fear.