T Nation

Bulgarian Weightlifters and Injuries

If there’s no pain or loss of function, would that compression matter? (asking)

I wonder if it might be due to a suboptimal mineral intake. Also, might that compression make the spine more stable?

I am working my way into (or trying to) something similar to this, but my focus is on squatting. What does your week currently look like? How many BP, DL and Squats a week? What are your goals, in terms of how many times a week for each?

DL: 3x/week.
Session 1: 4-8 singles at or above 90% (of course, volume is increased progressively).
Session 2: 10-20 reps @~80% + 1 or 2 heavy singles
Session 3: 20-30 reps @~60% + 1 or 2 heavy singles or a heavier set (80-85%)

I want to get my nervous system to adapt to heavy singles. Some months ago, pulling over 95% burnt me out for weeks. Now, I can pull singles @95% one day, and then still pull singles @90% in the same week, and be fresh for the next week.

When I DL, I don’t do any other pressing or pulling in the same session.

Squat: RFESS, 3x/week. Want to see where 1 leg squats and heavy deadlifts lead to, in terms of BB squat strength.

BP: 3x/week. Since I’m really weak in BPing, I do 10-15 reps each session, @75-85%. Current max: 180 lb

Squat and bench done in the same sessions, if I don’t have time to train twice in a day.

Back work: rows every session when I press. BW chin-ups/pull-ups pretty much every day (a BW chin-up is ~60% of my chin-up 1 RM)

Abs: every session, leg raises or crunches
Biceps: 3-4x/week, 3-4 sets

Volume? Dude, there is no volume, it’s all about heavy singles and doing multiple sessions a day to get the volume in. Not do more volumes by doing triples in…or multiple sets. It’s heavy singles.

Injury? You ever met a National level lifter that hasn’t been injured or is carrying an injury in ANY TRAINING SYSTEM? I don’t know about you but I don’t know any weightlifter that isn’t carrying an injury in some shape or form. Granted some injuries are a lot worse then others. I don’t know many with big injuries though.

Let us know how you get on with your training in regards to PL. But the Bulgarian systems beauty is in the minimalist exercise selection. You doing additional stuff besides BP, Squat, DL would be against this. Not sure how doing BS and DL will affect this, since Uncle doesn’t do BS let alone DL…


What’s BS?
Noted: Thanks, I’ll do more singles and see where this leads to, and split the volume. Maybe DL 4 days a week… Hmm…

As for extra exercises, wouldn’t BP without upper back work result in shoulder injury?

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Planning to be able to bench 220 for reps, and DL 440 for 1 by the end of the year.

BS = Back Squat

I didn’t make the rules to the Bulgarian system and it is NOT FOR EVERYONE. You have to be THE MOST ROBUST MOFO to do it…and you build it up over YEARS AND YEARS of training, not a single year…these kids start at 11 and by the time they are 16-17 they are Junior World Champs…it’s crazy.

Is that 220kg for reps?

This is my point. I’m not sure how hammering the BP will work long term for you…don’t BP much but about 4yrs ago I went from 112 to 130 in 6 weeks. I maxed out once a week for every week, granted my state of BP training was lame as I don’t BP. The Bulgarian system is FS, Sn, CJ…John Broz own take on it has his lifters do BS. Uncle doesn’t do BS.


Well, I don’t plan on “Bulgarian” per se (especially since I’m PLing), just high frequency-heavy weight, especially for the DL, and seeing where this leads to. The question was about Bulgarian weightlifters because

  1. their training involved sudden loading of the spine with very heavy weights
  2. the C&J involves a deadlift, and a maximal C&J was supposed to be something around 85% max deadlift.

Edit: Ha ha… I just realized that what I’m doing is getting closer and closer to Power to the People, with the frequent, heavy but low volume DLing and BPing…

5-10 Singles @ or above 80%, Mon. to Sat., FTW!!! (for the DL)

I have no access to any of Uncle’s programming, only a few of his philosophies. I have had access to John Broz and his ideas to a greater extent, and he suggests volume after the heavy single with the minimum of 3x2 up to 30 - 50 reps by doubles, triples, and sometimes sets of 5 at 20 - 40kg less than the heavy single. This was what I was referring to as volume.

Long live coach BROZ!!!

For PLing, apart from squatting everyday, he recommends DLing 3x/week, 10 sets of 2 or 3, 70-85% (if I got that right)!!!.. How cool is that?

Eh, I have to get my sleeping, vitamin, and mineral intake in order… (so that my disks stay happy and healthy and laminated and hydrated till I die. Or stop lifting. Or both)

Did I get it straight?

The Bulgarians used only/mostly 3 exercises, did them a few times a day, day after day, year after year?..

Abadjiev coaches in the US now, you can keep up with what his lifters are doin on youtube, which is mostly just the 3 exercises up to 8-9 hours a day. Podium gold is the weightlifting club, and they did very well at nationals this year.

Let’s see how this works for powerlifting…

Also, thanks.

[quote]boldar wrote:
true Bulgarian training has a lot of injuries. Abadjiev would take 100s of professional lifters that had there whole life dedicated to the sport and stick them on his program. out of all the lifters he would find enough that would be able to survive the program and out lift the rest of the world. if a lifter came to him with an injury he told them that they weren’t meant to be a world champion and would just move on to the next lifter with potential to win.

And from where do you have this very “reliable” AND “truthful” information about Abadijev my good sir??

And besides that most people that i know who use the method are always hurting in at least one part of the body. but to be fair they really don’t really know how to use the program. [/quote]

So youre critizising the idea and program based on people you know who dont really perform the program properly and have no idea what theyre doing? MORON

[quote]Sterneneisen wrote:
What’s BS?
Noted: Thanks, I’ll do more singles and see where this leads to, and split the volume. Maybe DL 4 days a week… Hmm…

As for extra exercises, wouldn’t BP without upper back work result in shoulder injury?

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Planning to be able to bench 220 for reps, and DL 440 for 1 by the end of the year.[/quote]

another thing broz recommends. u can max out on squat everyday. but not on deadlift. deadlift is more taxing on nervous system. i dont remember exactly how often u can max out. probably once or twice a year

[quote]rell816 wrote:
Go find some forums and q and a’s with John Broz. The joint he says is most at risk by this style of training is the wrists. Other than that yes ease into it, it’s taken me a while to work up to daily training. Its also taken more faith and discipline than any other style of training.[/quote]
And drugs.

Hey sterneisen, I’ve actually done a routine wherein I squatted and Deadlifted Monday,Wednesday and Friday, I also benched Monday and Wednesday, and did Overhead press on Friday. My Squat went from 315 to 385 in ~3months, my deadlift went from 415 to 440 with a little room and my bench press went from 245 to 285, so I would say It is easily possible to adapt this style of training to PL, though I simply do not have the resources to be in the gym every day. took ~2 weeks to stop the soreness.
Good luck stern, and have fun.

I also did a routine that involved squatting daily to max, the olympic lifts daily to max and bench press 3 times a week. It worked very effectively especially for gains in the squat and bench press.

However I would argue that lifting to max in DL at this sort of frequency is not a good idea. Either do speed pulls at a lower intensity increasing weight but keeping the speed. Or train the Dl to max infrequently.

With regards to specificity in olympic lifting you can be very specific i.e. f squat, clean/jerk and snatch but in powerlifting (in my experience) it is very important to do horizontal rows with your bench pressing as well as rotator cuff work. Otherwise, unless you are gifted with a type 1 acromion process, you will notice a lot of debilitating shoulder impingement.

My bench press went from 125kg to 145kg in around 5/6 weeks. I did this by working to a heavy single followed by 3 sets of 3 quite powerful reps. I tried to push the max up based on how i felt as well as the back off sets of triples. My only other recommendation would be to include some overheading pressing at a lower intensity (5*5) perhaps once a week.

All of this worked very well for me and hopefully it will for you too!
P.s. the high squatting intensity took its toll on my hips, it doesn’t happen to everyone but I would still recommend some serious hip stretching as it really messes with your progress otherwise!

The funny thing about the " Bulgarian system " in the USA is that I’ve found so many experts that I would need hours to count them.
To start with you need to understand that Weightlifting was extremely popular in Eastern Europe (still is at some point). In the Soviet era becoming a Master of the sports athlete was the ticket to a better life( travel, clothing, food, electronics, if good enough maybe a Niva, Lada, Polonez, etc, car).

All the systems started with the high volume Soviet system (average 1900 reps per month). Now some countries started adapting to their own needs and did a lot of research. keep in mind before the Berlin wall fall it was a political war against the Western world and of course the Eastern block wanted to be better. Iron curtain countries invested a lot of $$$$$ ion research to develop better systems, specially the Soviet Union did a lot of research in the Snatch and the Jerk portion.

In Bulgaria there was a big pool of lifters and different national teams (A,B,C,D,) Teams C and D would attend to not very important meets such as Invitational Cups. the Manuel Suarez in Memorian in Cuba was a must for Junior teams where you would see a 52kg lifter snatching 85kg and C&J 110 when their best 52 of that time was doing 120 in snatch and over 140 in C&J. Mr Abadjiev was in charge of the elite team and this is the team that used the Bulgarian high intensity program and not for the whole year, but for part of the year(this lifters had started very early in sport).

I do not consider myself an expert in this system, but i did study weightlifting in Easter Europe in the 80’s. (East Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, Rumania, Soviet union,etc also not in Europe China, Cuba, Colombia)
To answer the question of injuries; yes high intensity training with not proper adaptation and technique will lead to serious injuries.
Please see my links:
The first link is a day in the training of Stefan Georgiev former world champion at the Team Slavia in Sofia.