Here’s some stuff about Bulgarian training.
From Mel Siff:
"Mel Siff in his popular Supertrainingg Group at http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Supertraining/ talks about the mysterious an dfascinating wordl of Eastern Bloc Training.
We often seem to revisit the topic of specificity of training and a
comparison of the methods used by the Russians and Bulgarians, so I would
like to share comments made to me in Russia some years ago by Prof Alexei
Medvedev, former world champion weightlifter, coach of the Russian national
team and current Head of the Department of Weightlifting at the State Central
Institute of Physical Culture in Moscow.
We were discussing (through an interpreting friend) this very issue of
Bulgarian vs Russian training methods. He shared many insights with me,
including the different methods of quantifying training intensity and
periodising weightlifting for different classes of lifter, but this one short
comment stood out at the time:
Standing there in his dimly-lit office with his hand on my shoulder, Prof
â??Why do you think that the Bulgarians have so many injuries?â?? He went on to
comment on the typically long years of top-level competition by Russian
athletes, their higher average age at the Olympics and their lower injury
rate. He added that a certain Bulgarian coach had been contracted to work
with teams in China and before long the increased injury rate and drop in
consistent form had ended up in his being dismissed very quickly (actually,
he used a rude gesture with his arm to show exactly what the Chinese felt
about that coach!).
To add to this debate from the other side of the fence, my weightlifting
coach for several years was a top Bulgarian lifter who had trained with
Abadjiev and Spassov, as well as all the famous names in contemporary
Bulgarian lifting and he had very definite views on the Bulgarian system,
both good and bad. In explaining what athletes are expected to do in
Bulgaria, their coaches told them that if they became injured or painfully
overtrained, then they obviously werenâ??t good enough for top level
With great satisfaction, he added that if a nation with a total population of
only one big American city could place so often in the top few nations at the
Olympics, then something serious must be wrong with American training. That
was his simplistic analysis! (Anyway, that was before the last Olympics). No
results, no use for anyone! Bulgarian athlete - no results - no place for
At first I thought that this philosophy is unduly harsh, when I realised that
it is not all that different anywhere else in the world. The Chicago Bulls
start losing a few games in basketball and in no time, the fans are baying
for blood. In world soccer, the scene is no different, nor in American
football. Win most of the time and the fans are deliriously happy - lose one
or two and all the armchair experts and team owners are ready to sacrifice
coaches and players.
So, when one examines the so-called Bulgarian system, one cannot lose sight
of the different cultural systems governing the sport. One cannot simple take
a philosophy, training method or lifestyle (or even foodstuff) from one
country and hope to apply with equal success anywhere else.
Anyway, a lot of this talk about â??Bulgarianâ?? and â??Russianâ?? systems is
somewhat of a misnomer, for, as Medvedev emphasized to me: â??There is no such
thing as one Russian system - we have many coaches and guidelines and each
coach is allowed to develop his own system. It is the Americans who are so
rigid , not us - they want fast foods, fast formulae and fixed programs that
are easy to applyâ??.
He nodded in agreement when I commented: â??You mean something like a sporting
MacDonalds where you can drive up and get a training program off a menu
without waiting?â?? Sad and amusing, but all too often, true in America. Why
do you think that muscle building, fitness, strength training, sports,
rehabilitation and health books sell best if they offer rigidly devised set
exercise routines for anyone and everyone, without much attempt at in-depth
analysis or individualisation?