Olympic Weightlifting Resource

Bulgarian Training Methodology
Everyone has heard of the Bulgarian training method and in fact people use the phrase "Bulgarian weightlifting/weightlifters" to support everything from nutritional supplements to setups as the new leg training protocol. However, one should be skeptical about people promoting a product or new machine or exercise claiming that the Bulgarian weightlifters use it, because chances are they do not use and would never have any intentions of using it. The main goal of this article is to help people understand the Bulgarian training methodology and the reasons behind it, in addition sample routines will be provided, hopefully with this information it will be easier to see past marketers tossing around the term "Bulgarian" to promote products and weird exercises.

The first distinction of a Bulgarian training program is the intensity of the program, the overall lack of variety in exercise selection in the program, and the consistent in the loads throughout the weeks, months, and year. Another major distinction in the training program is there are multiple training sessions per day almost every single day. The Bulgarians believe training sessions should last roughly 30-60 minutes with the average being 45 minutes. The training of the Bulgarians raise a few eyebrows but they have their reasons for creating their program.

The psychological and physiological reasons the Bulgarians adapted a multiple session training day and every day training system. One reason is that the multiple training sessions per day with rests in between will allow the athlete to perform their best at each session. Another reason given is that the multiple training sessions help elevate testosterone levels. The theory according to the Bulgarians is that testosterone level peak during training but after 1 hour the levels decline. So they came to the conclusion that multiple training sessions with short rests of 30 minutes to an hour between each session will help keep testosterone elevated and allow faster recovery and better performance. Another proposed reason for the long training days almost from 7 am to 10 pm is to make sure the athletes are not doing activities that are detrimental to their recovery and progress. It has been suggested that famous Bulgarian coach, Ivan Abadjiev, wanted longer training sessions to help control his socially and physically so they would not harm their weightlifting career and progress. Whether this was the main reason behind the long training sessions no one really knows, as of now it is just speculation.

Program Layout
Bulgarians varied their loads through the months though. Bulgarians would have a loading month and unloading months in the program. The loading months were usually 3 weeks of intense training, high volume and intensity, followed by 1 week with light or moderate loads. Similarly when an unloading month was planned there would be in a month 3 weeks of light or moderate loads and 1 week of maximum loads. So some could say there was a method to their madness. Even though the Bulgarians planned the their program for the workouts out in advice there was flexibility when it came to intensity. An athlete never knows at what intensity they will be able to perform until they begin lifting. If an athlete is unable to reach their maximum intensity that means it is possible the athlete is fatigued and needs improved recovery measures.

In Review
In review the Bulgarians favored training daily with multiple training sessions per day. The suggested reasons for this type of training were physiological, elevated testosterone, and potentially psychological/social, although the social aspect was never truly confirmed. Below you will find two sample routines, the first sample is a general routine and the second sample is a specific routine taken from someone's planner.

Session 1
(Mon, Wed, Fri) Time Exercise
9:00-9:30 Front Squat
9:30-10:00 Break
10:00-11:00 Snatch
11:00-11:30 Break
11:30-12:30 Clean and Jerk
12:30-13:00 Front Squat
Session 2
(Mon, Wed, Fri) 16:30-17:30 Clean and Jerk
17:30-18:00 Break
18:00-19:00 Snatch
19:00-19:30 Front Squat
19:30-20:00 Pulls
Session 2
(Tue, Thu, Sat) 9:00-9:30 Squat
9:30-10:00 Break
10:00-10:45 Power Snatch
10:45-11:15 Break
11:15-12:00 Power Clean
12:00-12:30 Front Squat
12:30-13:00 Pulls

Bulgarin Weightlifting Routine