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High Frequency Bulgarian Training


#1

Is it just me or am I seeing more and more people training and discussing this method lately? I know it's been around for a long time but I am running into more people discussing and training with this method now. I started training like this a couple months back and have had amazing results from it. I thought I could open up a thread here about this to engage in discussion about this topic. Here's someone I came across on YT who trains with high frequency, he's an absolute beast.


#2

I definitely think John Broz is spreading the "Bulgarian Method" around more than anyone else. People want to try something different and see a lot of people gain considerable strength on high-frequency programs like this, so they try it out as well. It should come as no surprise that the more frequently you train something the more proficient you'll become at it (within reason). It's obviously extremely effective for Olympic lifting, but in terms of powerlifting it may not be the most efficient means. Sheiko-type programs seem to consistently give trainees of all levels considerable results, whereas I don't know of any world-class powerlifters doing anything even close to the Broz "Bulgarian Method," let alone the actual method used by Bulgarian weightlifters. So in terms of results alone and time-efficiency, I'd go for the "Russian" approach (which is obviously somewhat of a generalization) because they seem to be doing pretty damn well on the raw international stage and don't spend nearly the time in the gym that any Bulgarian-type training system would have them doing.

This post is a bit scrambled, but I hope it's clear what I'm getting at. I'm not saying the Russian methodologies are necessarily the best, because there are obviously a lot of other approaches that have been effective for elite athletes, but if any high-frequency program is used, I would tend to lean toward the proven systems of the Russians over any powerlifting analog of the so-called Bulgarian Method.


#3

uh, the russian methods I know of put you in the gym a looong time. Shieko workouts can be like 3 hours.


#4

That's 3 hours for 4-5 days a week. John Broz's "Bulgarian Method" has you starting off without that much time commitment, but once you get into it you're doing 13 sessions a week for at least 2 hours per session. And that doesn't even compare to the true Bulgarian Method, which has even more training session each week. I recall having heard of weightlifters doing 20-something training session per week for 5-6+ hours per day on average.

So yes, Russian methods are still time intensive, and probably not the most time efficient for most trainees who won't be setting world records, but they're a joke compared to the true Bulgarian Method.


#5

I have and still sometimes do train using a high frequency approach. I have done Sheiko off-and on for years, have tried the Broz method, and have completed Smolov as well. I also came from a weightlifting background so I have trained using this method in it's original style as well (6 days per week, multiple sessions per day, daily maxes for snatch, CJ, and squat). It all works well for me, but the Broz method was my favorite. There's a thread on some forum where he lays out a template, and I tried it to see what's up. I eventually modified it as follows and had better results.

Squat: daily maxes with doubles for volume Mon through Fri
Bench: max with triples for volume Mon-Wed-Fri
Deadlift: 85% for as many singles as possible while maintaining speed on Mon and Fri, maxes every 4th week on Friday
Every training day I alternated between a pull-up and a dumbell row for a 5 rep max.

Saturday was always prehab work, recovery work, and mobility.


#6

As far as the actual Bulgarian method goes, it definitely is overkill for powerlifting. However, I think its philosophy of training to a daily max has its merits. I'm actually thinking about approaching daily max differently. Instead of daily 1RM, I was thinking about rotating between 3RM, 5RM, 8RM, etc. Changing it up on a daily basis. Also, to always cut a rep short of failure so RPE @ 9 ish. This, I think, may allow ample recovery time for the next day's session for us mere mortals.


#7

I don't know if rep work will be as effective, especially when you're doing as many as 8 reps. Having done this style of training before, I know that recovering from doing singles at 85%-95% is actually quite easy if you don't psyche yourself up for any reps. I then did backoff sets for 1-3 reps, up to 12-15 sets. Still, I was able to recover from it just fine. I then switched to a different style routine and found it actually quite difficult to recover from light 5x5 sets, even with 1-2 more hours of sleep a night and less stress in my life. John Broz also never does anything over 3 reps for any backoff sets, so I would tend to follow in suit, if nothing else keeping the reps from 1-5.


#8

Tend to agree i would rarely if ever do 8 rm. I would stick mostly to the 1-5 rep max, with a lot of work in the 3rm zone if youre going to hybridize this. Or singles, but not true maxes. This is where everybody messes up--you're not supposed to miss any rep, so a daily max is not the same as a competition max or a testing max (for squats and such, not the classical lifts)


#9

high frequency powerlifting and high frequency olympic lifting are different animals. O lifts do not have an eccentric phase so you can handle higher intensities with higher volume and frequency.

i think things like smolov and sheiko are great examples of higher frequency powerlifting than a 1 or 2 day a week program. they use lighter loads than high most powerlifting programs too. a good example of changing all the variables to fit a goal.


#10

Last response got eaten in the void, this is not near as eloquent but I don't want to put in the time again after getting the post eaten by the internet gods so....

I agree with this 100%, but I also think that you can do JUST a high frequency squatting program pretty much like the bulgarian method. In fact many olympic lifters do exactly that, and I think it is perfectly conceivable to squat 6 days a week very heavy. In fact my brother does this regularly and not as a 1st exercise in the workout...People who frequent other subforums may have heard me mention my brother does olympic lifting. My brothers last week's squatting was:

Mon 5x3 front squat
Tues 3x5 back squat
Wed 5x5 front squat
Thur 5x3 back squat
Frid 5x3 front squat (the week before he did 3x10 at 70%)
Sat OH squat up to heavy/max singles (an optional squat workout)

These squats were all "top working weight" after the ramp up was finished, and all done as the 3rd or 4th exercise of the day after cleans/snatch/snatch grip deads, whatever. Considering the fact that you do a significant portion of front squatting with clean/jerk, this is a huge load of squats. These are all loads of 85-90%, with the exception of Wed which is a deload of 75% and Saturday which is a work up/optional day.

Little bro's week this week isn't any easier lol. On the other hand--if you are doing a high frequency program for all three of the PL lifts simultaneously then you have to adjust in the manner you speak of and it will probably be unrealistic to do "bulgarian training" for all three lifts with significant eccentric portions to them. Brother btw is doing a Russian system, although he has previously spent a significant portion of time with the bulgarian system.


#11

Thanks for sharing, the training seems brutal.

I mentioned 5RM and more for "daily" maxes but the intention is to never hit it. My thought is to always save one or two reps in tank as this can ensure recovery for the next day. Just something that I've been thinking about...


#12

No worries, it's fascinating isn't it? There's a kid there competing in the 77 kg class I personally saw front squat 190 kg (425 lb) lol. It is brutal for him, but it is working. This is a 4 month peaking cycle they are in. His coach was an ex USSR national team coach and a contemporary of several of the greatest lifters of all time (Alexeyev, Vardanian to name a couple). He's also clean btw (not for you, but to head off the ensuing discussion someone else might bring up). I have trouble getting him to do the bare minimum "normal" supplementation that most of us here know about. It drives me bonkers.

Don't intend to derail the thread, just goes to show that it's possible to do this kind of training. I was always kind of a fan of high frequency anyways, but looking at his training has really showed me a couple things....not that I'd ever admit it; he IS my little brother after all and I'm still stronger than him hah. He'd never listen to me again heh. But yes, definitely enlightening.

I think your plan is a sound one--little bro has been doing that kind of training for over a year and before that (modified) bulgarian style olympic lifting. He is very very used to the volume by now. For people not used to that it pays to a) work into it gradually and b) listen to your body with it. I think your idea is in general really sound. I still wouldn't do anything greater than a 5RM if you're really planning to squat near daily. If you feel good at the end of the week you could do your last day high rep or something, but I think it's the hardest to recover from stiffness and soreness wise (what I've observed and heard has also corroborated that opinion). Take "deload" days as needed--even if you only squat heavy 2x a week at the beginning and just "move the blood around" on the other 3 days you can still do great. Pays major dividends to get used to the volume before dumping it all on your system in intensity.

Also for a full 3 lift powerlifting template I'll agree with the previous poster about starting with Sheiko or something. Doing a bulgarian style training template for all 3 PL lifts with eccentric portions and slow strength, without taking a long time to get used to the volume and intensity, is asking for trouble IMHO. Short term blitz maybe, but long term you're going to be hurting until you let your body adapt to it.


#13

Thanks again for your contribution and I'm definitely interested in hearing more about the 4 month peaking cycle your brother is on!

I've been training high frequency for the past few months and I have grown pretty accustomed to it. In fact, I feel shitty for not going to the gym just to do squats sometimes lol. I maxed daily with back-off sets and it brought my ATG squat from 365 to 425 (just got the 425 yesterday) despite shedding a few pounds of bodyweight. I started with twice a week benching and have recently introduced a third session for the week. It brought my bench from 295 to 315. In fact, I can confidently do 285-295 paused bench anytime I want now. I don't do deadlifts while training like this. Instead, I use speed pulls at around 70% after my squat session for 10-12 sets of singles or doubles.

You're probably right about not exceeding 5RM. It was something that I'm just throwing around. Lately, I have stopped doing the back-off sets of 2-3 reps and opted for one set of 8-10 reps (stopping 1-2 reps from failure, no grind). I've been rotating between that and paused squats as back-off sets after my daily singles. I'm also rotating between days where I use belt for my daily max and without belt. I was able to hit a 395 beltless today and I will try for the 405 soon.

One thing that I've found TREMENDOUSLY helpful is mobility work. I cannot thank mobilityWOD enough for the wealth of information. I purchased voodoo floss a few weeks ago and it has been life changing. I also do a lot of stretching after my training session and sometimes it even goes up to an hour.

I'm excited right now because I've officially ended my diet and will be eating more again (dropped from 205 to 171 at the moment). I'm hoping the reintegration of caloric surplus will keep the gains coming.


#14

Greg Nuckols, who wrote the newest article, does this. He totals around 1900 raw at 242, and he's only 21 years old. He wrote an article specifically about this a while back.


#15

i didn't read the thread because tl;dr but: 1)Bulgarians themselves didn't do a bulgarian program until very late in their carrer. There were many years of preparing the body to such a hard program. 2) Even then, the lack of variety made bulgarians much more injury prone than say, russians or chinesse. 3) The fast lifts (S, C&J) are very, very different from the power lifts. You can do high percentage snatches, go for PRs and be fresh like the morning. A 95% deadlift will fuck you up for a week. This is very important and many people don't realize but it's crucial 4) The bulgarian system is VERY dependent on drugs, much more than the russian. When drug tests became tighter (circa 2005-06) the teams that were based on a 3 lift system (S, C&J, FS) fell of the map. Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece went from superpowers to 0 medals in two olympic games. (Iran, which I heard has a almost 3 lift system is still doing very well but i don't know much about iran).


#16

Do you have an olympic lifting coach for your club?


#17

I'm sorry english isn't my first language and i couldnt understand the question.


#18

I mean, is there an olympic lifting coach where you work out? At the gym you go to train at. I mean a person who has spent his career coaching the olympic lifts for high level athletes and competitive lifters.


#19

Well I'd really love to give you more information on my brother's training cycle, but I don't know it unfortunately--it is written up week by week on the board at the gym he is at, so neither he nor I know what the plan is until that week lol. Only the coach knows! Typical russian....

Anyway, that's good progress on your lifts. And you're right, mobility work is EXTREMELY important to be able to handle the repetitive lifting. I am convinced that is one reason why people who otherwise would physically be able to recover from the frequent style of training do not, proceed to get injured, and then say that it's not going to work for drug free trainees.

mobilityWOD is a GOLD MINE. I love K Star, great resource. As far as the high rep back off set, man just try it and see! If it works, then great. It may help add more muscle, you never know. If it doesn't work, drop it and go back to what you were doing. I wasn't intending to stop you from that--I misunderstood what you were saying and thought you were going to go to an 8-10 RM for your top weight sets.

Your calorie increase is probably going to blow your mind too. You've been so adapted to lower calorie lifting it might really help. I would second one of the above posters and say check out the Greg Nuckols article on daily maxing if you haven't already (I think it was posted up late last year IIRC). It seems you are doing pretty much most of the things he was, but it might give you some other insights as well.

A couple things I might suggest you think about trying: 1st, alternate front and back squat days. I think it might help your upper back and quads especially if you are not pulling much heavy weight in the deadlift. Not necessary at all, just a thought. 2nd, consider doing a single assistance exercise for your weakest muscle group on the bench press after your singles, something like 3 sets of 8-12 just to move some blood in there (like Sheiko's program calling for dumbbell flyes). Nothing near failure or hard struggle obviously. I would take similar guidelines to Thib's NC workouts almost. I would not do this for the squat. Only 1 lift at a time IMHO, at least for as long as you can get away with it.

I would also add them in only once a week--at the end of your week like saturday-- for the first couple weeks since you are still getting results as is. Then 2x a week for the next few weeks. Maybe keep it there or maybe increase to 3x a week. I don't think you need to be going any higher than 3x a week, and 2x will probably work well over the long haul anyways.


#20

I see the Bulgarian method work every day being that my training partners and I run a version of it.

Your body adapts, none of our group run AAS to my knowledge.

We are all previous Sheiko users and strong believer in Sheiko. A method such as the Bulgarian method will tear you apart if you do not have near perfect form. Which a method such as Sheiko's will ensure, (perfect form from the intense volume ect)

There is not much to it, you slowly start adding in more days, sessions. Benching 4+ days a week working up to 100+ % is intense but you would be surprised at how quickly you adapt.

I do however stand by Sheiko being one of the better options in the PL world mainly by the amount of high level PLers it has created.