let’s get this out of the way first:
Squat: 45×4, 135×3, 225×2, 315,355,385,405,420×1; 355×3, 360,365,370×2, 375,380,385×1
squat time: 1 hr
Bench: 45x8p, 135×4, 225×2, 275,305,325,335,345×1; MGB: 285,290,295,300,305×2, 310,315×1
Deadlift: 225×2, 315,360,385,400x1; SGD: 320x7x1
Now let’s take a look at Christian Thibaudeau’s t-nation article, Bulgarian Training Simplified.
Here’s what you need to know…
1. His analysis of the Bulgarian system contains several errors.
2. The attached program is total bullshit.
the only assistance work consists of front squats and the power variation of the competitive lifts
Wrong. Abidjaev said that he thought he would someday eliminate back squats. His champions did not train like this. Broz was skeptical.
Elite athletes in all sports fragment their daily training volume into more than one daily session, but the original Bulgarian system took this to the extreme.
All right, this is a common straw man that I need to address. PL2Win says, “there isn’t a single powerlifter out there who truly uses the Bulgarian Method.” The Bulgarians trained six times a day, possibly to keep them in line. Fine. Many of Broz’s athletes train two times a day. Many other weightlifters train 1-3x a day. Ok. I usually train once a day. Great. If you meet the other four characteristics that Thibs (I’m going to call him this, not because I’m mocking him or because I’m his pal, but because it’s easier to spell and type) lists (extreme frequency, extreme specificity, max effort, low reps), then you are doing Bulgarian Training. If you squat to max every day, you are doing Bulgarian Training. If you squat to max 5 days a week, bench to max 3 days a week, and do some shit for your deadlift, you are doing Bulgarian Training. I personally consulted the Prime Minister of Bulgaria and he approved my clarification, but told me to remind readers that if you are training every day but using a percentage system, you’re not doing Bulgarian Training, you’re doing Sheiko.
Practicing the same lifts every day or multiple times a day is the best way to become technically efficient. Strength-skill work is great if you want to become good at a specific movement, but it’s not the best way to build overall strength
So if you are good at the clean, the snatch, the back and front squat, you are not “overall strong?” If you are good at the bench, squat, and deadlift you’ve not built “overall strength?” What are you weak at? Leg curls?
Sure we want to be the best we can, but enjoying what we do is also a big part of it. Most of us need some variety to maintain our motivation.
Honestly, I know what he’s saying and sometimes get burned out on certain exercises, and I drop them. Right now I would like to drop the following exercises: Squat, Bench, Deadlift. Ha ha! Here’s a rule of thumb that applies to everything from the NBA to the Starcraft Championships: If winning is not enough motivation, you will not be the winner.
Very few elite weightlifters actually look muscular. There are exceptions (Lu Xiaojun, Klokov, etc.), but most don’t look much more muscular than the average guy you see in the gym.
What fucking gym do you go to? Oh, that’s right the secret gym in the T-Nation compound where Tim Patterson has rigged the water fountains to dispense Plazma. All elite weightlifters except the big fat heavyweight ones look muscular
It’s very hard on the nervous system. Although it’s not metabolically demanding because of the low mechanical workload, working up to a 1 rep max is very draining emotionally and neurologically. It can even affect the hormonal system (the adrenal glands especially) over time.
I’ve been doing this shit for a year and a half. So either:
A) I’m a genetically gifted superman
B) You don’t know what you’re talking about because you never tried it.
C) You did try it but it was too hard because you jumped in 110% like an idiot
D) You’re a pussy.
Choose one or more. Take your time. (Hint: I’d like you to choose A, but sadly, it’s not the right answer)
People have recently been saying that “CNS fatigue” isn’t real. Well maybe it is or maybe it isn’t, but something is definitely going on when you work up to your max frequently.
People have recently been saying that the “Loch Ness Monster” isn’t real. Well maybe it is or maybe it isn’t…
I do have a criticism of one of Broz’s platitudes/anecdotes. I’ve never liked the one where he talks about how if you were a garbage man, you would be very sore when you first started out, but you wouldn’t take a day off or you’d get fired, and in a little while you’d be tossing cans and joking around. My problem is not that it’s not true but that the proper analogy would be that you’d need to throw the cans farther than anyone else had ever done it before, otherwise it would be better to convince the boss to let you work every other day or something.
Listen, it is still completely undetermined whether:
1. Bulgarian training can/will make you an elite powerlifter
2. It’s worth training like this. Not in the sense of “I don’t want to spend fifteen hours a week lifting” but in the sense of “I could have done this in ten”
However it has been established by numerous internet maniacs, including myself, that when performed with a proper buildup and knowing how to do the lifts, your adrenal glands and/or CNS, if those are actually real things, will not explode from this type of training.
Doing the original Bulgarian system is pretty much a full-time job. If you have an actual full-time job, it will be hard to do both.
Back to the straw man. Fuck six times a day. If you squat every day, it takes about an hour. If you bench and deadlift every day too, it takes more like two hours (the above was maybe my longest workout of the year). I’m not promising that if you work an eight hour day and spend two hours lifting weights that it’s going to be easy and/or thrilling. Or that if your job is running a jackhammer or being an infantryman, it’s even going to be possible. Or that you’re going to be able to watch as much TV as you’d like. But man walked on the moon, guys survived the Bataan death march, and listen, go to Chaos & Pain to find other examples of hard motherfuckers from days of yore. I can promise you that it is possible to work for a living and do barbell squatting exercise every day.
ugh I doubt he did this program. I don’t think anyone else he trained ever did this program. Nobody is going to do this program. Everyone who reads this article and wants to try:
A) is going to use an actual Bulgarian program
B) is going to change this one to make it even more shitty because they’re a T-nation pussy (“can I do this three times a week instead of four” “can i run sprints on the treadmill instead of training legs”)
C) is going to just make a comment in the facebook forum or retweet it and not do anything because they’re a T-nation pussy.
There’s so much to criticize and so little point (see above). But really quickly:
1. Great idea to lead off with Zercher squats. Because for a competitive powerlifter a) this matters b) you want to lift heavy weights with your fucking elbow tendons.
2. Percentages are not Bulgarian. Okay fine, let me clarify: Broz criticizes them but sometimes uses them as a rough guideline. I make a guideline to keep my volume at 80% or more (otherwise I’ll be tempted to drop down to 135 and be a sissy). But 90% of 4×3 of your 3RM is not fucking Bulgarian.
3. Periodization is a fucking scam. Again let me clarify: Training lightly a week before a powerlifting meet is one thing. Lifting less during football season than in preseason is a similar thing. Making complicated flow charts with Speed/Strength Phase IIIa -> Strength/Speed IIIb -> Power/Endurance Phase IV is utter nonsense perpetrated by the NSCA. I have a theory that complex periodization is a Russian hoax that was motivated by:
a. revenge for our SDI hoax
b. an attempt to cover up copious steroid use
c. a need for the thousands of Russian sports scientists to seem intellectual/necessary
It’s not just me; Louie Simmons and Brooks Kubik (two VERY different guys) have both figured out that these complicated phases are a joke. (Sadly, Rip has not)
4. Bulgarian training may be too much work for you but make sure you get in enough extra bodybuilding training: “Pump-enhancing techniques like partials, slow reps, rest/pause, double contraction and the like can also be used.”
5. How about, for an intermediate/semi-advanced type (target audience of T-Nation), starting off training every day or 6x a week, but not going to a real heavy max the first day, and not doing very much volume. Do this on squats only. Then, over time, you can try benching and deadlifting more frequently, increasing your max weights, and doing more volume. You know, like Broz suggests. Or, try this completely unproven program from a guy who doesn’t know shit. It’s up to you.