How Bulgarian Weightlifters structured their Day of Lifting
The Bulgarian Weightlifting System is known to be one of the most successful of all time. The man behind the system was the head coach Ivan Abadjiev who won Bulgaria’s first weightlifting medal in 1957 as an active competitor himself. From 1968 to 1989 and again from 1997 to 2000 he was the head coach of the Bulgarian Weightlifting Federation. As Coach Abadjiev produced 12 Olympic champions, 57 world champions and 64 European champions.
In 2011, during a seminar with Ivan Abadjiev that I attended he said that on the highest level his lifters would do the Clean & Jerk 3-4 times per day, the Snatch 3-4 times per day and the Squat 3-4 times per day. The way they schedule their training depended on different factors such as the level of the individual lifter and their is different examples found in books. There is one example that I recently saw in the Russian Weightlifting Yearbook from 1982 while visiting the former Swedish Weightlifting Head Coach Inge Johansson at his home which has one of the two greatest libraries on strength training I have ever seen. This yearbook had a chapter on the Bulgarian System as the system had such great success at the time. The schedule shown in the article was from the preparation for the 1980 Olympics where the Bulgarians won a total of 8 medals in weightlifting which is the exact same amount as the weightlifting powerhouse the Soviet Union won. Comparing the size of the two countries and the amount of lifter in each from a relative perspective the Bulgarian System clearly outperformed the Russian System. High training frequency being one of the main factors for its success the schedule shown in the yearbook looked like this:
09.00 – 10:00 – Snatch
10.00 – 10:30 – Break
10.30 – 11:30 – Clean & Jerk
11.30 – 12:30 – Clean pulls
17.00 – 18:00 – Clean & Jerk
18.00 – 18:30 – Break
18.30 – 19:30 – Snatch
19.30 – 20:00 – Front Squat
20:00 – 20:30 – Snatch Pulls
Seven workouts in one day with total of 6 hours of training time. Two blocks of 3,5 hours with a 4,5 hour break in between. This was done in that manner on 3 days of the week – monday, wednesday and friday.
This is a great example of high-frequency, high-volume training block. Success leaves clues.
From experience a high-frequency, high-volume training block works very well with intermediate and advanced lifters when limited to 1 to 2 weeks such as the Squat Holiday, Arm Holiday and the Strength and Mass Holiday.
All the Best applying some of this structure during specific times!
Picture: Snippets from the 1982 Russian Weightlifting Yearbook.