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Bulgarian Powerlifting Training

Ever since Bulgarian Olympic lifting coach Ivan Abadjaev (you will see this spelled about 12 different ways) reinvented training for Olympic lifting in the 70’s or thereabouts, it’s common for his ideas to propagate through other non Olympic lifting sports. And every 5 years or so someone will come along and try to reinvent Bulgarian powerlifting.  Recently an ebook to that effect was written.

When I originally wrote this article I did not name it but then the author, Greg Knuckols and Omar Isuf got butthurt by this article so I’m happy to provide the cover now since he outed himself.

Bulgarian Powerlifting by Greg Knuckols and Omar Isuf

So I want to look at what the Bulgarian approach actually is, then look at how it’s usually attempted to be applied to PL’ing.  And then I’ll tell you why it never actually works and why you should forget about Bulgarian training.

Pre-Abadjaev OL Training

Prior to Abadjaev’s rewriting the rules, most Olympic lifting training of the day followed a more or less Soviet and classical periodization model.  There were preparation, competition and transition phases and usually more reps of varied movements at lower intensities earlier in the year that would move up towards higher intensity specific work for peaking.

The US actually hadn’t done it that way during its short heyday but by the time the US had fallen off the map, most of the Europeans did do it that way.  So during preparation it was a lot of partial movements (cleans from the hang or blocks), lower intensities of 75-85% of max for higher reps with some full competition work and it would shift closer to competition.  Generally.

Then came Ivan.

Ivan Abadjaev

A lifter of some accomplishment himself, and having been openly critical about how stupid he thought most Bulgarian OL training was, Abadjaev was thrown into a coaching role by the higher ups to shut him up.  A few years later, Bulgaria was kicking ass.

OL Training Abadjaev Style

Abadjaev had been one of the first lifters to train twice per day and he basically felt that most of the Olympic lifting exercises then in use (some of the Russian theorists had hundreds of the damn things) were useless.  He took a purely specificity approach to training and is claimed to have said “You don’t become a great violinist by playing the flute.”

He would gradually decrease the movements in use and by the end of his career, he was using about six.  His lifters would do the competition clean and jerk, competition snatch, power clean and jerk, power snatch, front and back squats.  With the occasional pull.  That was it.  I’m told that he theorized that a top lifter could do nothing but front squat, clean and jerk and snatch but never tested the idea.

Realize that this was with the elite team who had already come through years of preparation work.  Their technique was stable and by definition they could handle the training.  They wouldn’t have been elite otherwise.

They were also using steroids and basically lifted full time and there are reports of boredom and injury from the program along with Bulgarian lifters who made more progress not following his program.  It’s claimed that his training broke 60 out of every 61 lifters so keep that in mind when you even think about applying it.
Mind you, Abadjaev really didn’t care how many lifters he broke so long as a Bulgaria won.  And they did.

Abadjaev also introduced the concept of splitting workouts into small chunks.  Typically a lifter would work on a movement for 30 minutes tops, take  30 minute break and then move to the next exercise.  This was done for about 8 hours per day.  And while Abadjaev claimed some nonsense related to testosterone levels, most think it was just a way to control his athletes. By exhausting them they couldn’t go out at night and drink and chase girls.

He also didn’t believe in classical periodization, feeling that the months spent pissing around with lighter weights and higher reps was not relevant.   He didn’t believe in detraining significantly so that you had to do all the build up again.

General prep?  Gone.  GPP?  Gone.  Again this was elites but he got rid of all of the “required” aspects of training.  And his results backed it up.  At most he’d insert easy weeks (3 weeks hard, 1 week easier) or the occasional easy month (1 week hard, 3 weeks easier) but that was it.

But even in easy months, the hard week was hard and lifters were training to the daily max, a concept I still haven’t defined but will shortly.

Specificity and The Daily Max

As I said above, Abadjaev took specificity to its logical end extreme in terms of exercise selection.  If the goal is to lift the most weight in the clean and jerk and snatch, that’s the movements you practice.  Power movements are more for speed and a bit lighter and back/front squat are for leg strength.

But he went further than that.  The goal of OL’ing is to lift the most weight you can for one repetition and Abadjaev saw no point in doing more than that.   His lifters did singles with the very occasional double.  But they did none of the 3’s and 5’s that were common in Soviet style systems.

And the reps were done at maximum.  Well, a daily maximum anyhow. And that’s where people get confused.   First ask yourself what you think of when I say your maximum lift.  If you’re a powerlifter, you probably think in terms of your best gym lift or best competition lift.  Other athletes don’t usually think in those terms but no matter, this is about OL’ing for PL’ing.

Where people get very confused by the Bulgarian system is what daily max means.  Because what it does NOT mean is the maximum that the lifter has ever handled in competition.  Rather, it’s the maximum he can lift on that day.  Which will be impacted by his fitness level, his fatigue level and other factors.  If he’s tired, his daily max might be below his best max.  If he’s on fire, he may blow past an old PR.

The basic structure for any given exercise was this, the lifter would start light and single up until they hit that day’s daily maximum.   If it was 20kg below their best competition max, that’s fine.  It was their max for the day.  Sometimes they would handle above their best weight (or above the current World Records) but OL’s usually train at a heavier bodyweight than they compete.

If they missed a lift at daily max, they might be allowed to try again depending on why they missed it.  Was it technical or a lack of strength?  If they missed a few times, their max for that day was probably a touch lower.

Ultimately it didn’t matter, Abadjaev felt that the key was working at 100% for the day regardless of what that 100% was at least within limits.  It’s interesting to note that Charlie Francis took the same approach to sprinting: your best was your best for the day but 100% is 100% no matter what.  I am told that over time, Abajaev expected the fluctuations in daily max to narrow but that’s neither here nor there.

Once the daily max was set, the lift might take repeat repeat sets at that weight or they might drop down by 5-20kg and for a few sets, or pyramid back up to the max.   But the maximum was defined by what they could lift on that day.   It had nothing, ultimately to do with any previous weight or their competition max.  Daily max is the maximum for that day only.

Abadjaev didn’t believe in percentage training and the decreases were absolute weight drops of 5-20 kg.  But when you’re looking at elites lifting in a fairly narrow range, those absolute drops end up not being too different in terms of percentages (i.e. 20kg off of a 200kg lift isn’t that different than off of a 180 kg lift).

And while it’s often claimed that the Bulgarian system has no variety and that’s true in terms of exercise selection, you can actually get a lot of variety in terms of loads per workout with the above.

Six singles with your daily max is not the same same as 1 single with your daily max, 3 reps at 20kg below then 2 reps heavier.  Or whatever, you can load the body a lot of different ways.  And the power movements are usually about 80-85% of the maximum movements which introduces some Heavy, Light, Medium Training.

Supposedly he would put in lighter weeks at some points which meant less repetitions at maximum or more power movements.  Variety doesn’t have to be about different repetition ranges or even different exercises if you do it right.


And this type of training was done six days per week, 8 hours per day with often Sunday being taken “off” with only light squats.  You have to be elite (and drugged) handle this level of training in the first place and even there it takes years to build up to it (a Greek coach, using a similar system said that building up to the full program takes 10 years or you will die).  Like I said, it broke most of the athletes who tried it.  But the ones who survive destroyed the world.

Everybody thought he was nuts with this program.  How could you throw out everything they knew about training?  You had to have preparation, specificity, lots of variety. Then the Bulgarians started stomping everybody, usually in the lighter weight classes, and everybody started to change their minds.

One factor often ignored in other systems is that the lifter might not go heavier than 95% of their predicted weights in training and they are expected to figure it out on the platform.  And the difference in timing, etc. between 95% and 100% in an OL can be profound.

The Bulgarians were handling maxes all the time.  It makes you fearless when you are constantly jumping under a maximum weight.  When you train heavier regularly handle world record weights in practice, it’s easy to do it in competition.  Just do what you did in the gym last week  And in the modern era, most countries use a system not unlike his although most have their own flavor to them.

Some are basically modeled on the Bulgarian system entirely, some use aspects of that with specific assistance movements (the Chinese appear to do that combining heavy full lifts, specific assistance work and then bodybuilding training).   The Polish team, described in an old Milo apparently uses more Soviet style training in the off-season and switches to Bulgarian style about 3 months out to peak.

And while many have tried and failed, without the 10 years of buildup, the drugs, and natural culling of athletes who can’t handle the system, the Bulgarian system breaks most OL’ers off.   Without out massive modifications (like cutting the volume and frequency of training way down so perhaps 3 maximum singles only once per day), it’s usually felt that the full Bulgarian system is not doable except for the elites who are using drugs, have been lifting for years and basically lift (and juice) full time.  Mind you, there have been some previous approaches to using the basic system with some modifications.

Why it Doesn’t work for Powerlifting

Which is a very long introduction to my main topic, why the idea of performing Bulgarian powerlifting is flawed and really doesn’t work.  I’ve been doing this for two and a half decades and it comes up about every 5 years or so.  And it never works.  Ever.  There are actually a few reasons for it but they all sort of come down to the same thing which is the difference between the sports.

Olympic lifting is about throwing the bar into the air, simplistically speaking.  To catch a snatch means throwing the bar high enough to get under it with your arms overhead.  To catch a clean means the same with the bar on your chest.  You can lift more in the clean since it doesn’t have to go as high.  And the really key part of this is the explosive bit that happens at the end.  It lasts about 0.2 seconds, is an explosive (albeit maximally explosive) movement and defines whether or not you make the lift.

In the snatch, the pull off the floor is never limiting.  The recovery is never limited by leg strength.  The movement is limited completely by the ability to explode in the final part of the second pull and throw the bar high enough to get under it.  Yes, I know there is more to it than that, hitting the right positions, back stability to hit the power position and all of that.  None of it matters if you can’t throw the bar high enough.  That is the ultimately weak link.

The clean is certainly more strength oriented but it’s still ultimately limited by what you can throw at the end of the pull.  The start off the floor is never at maximum, the squat recovery can be hard if the bar is out of position but it’s usually not maximum (just hard).  And that’s before you add the jerk.  If a lifter’s jerk is limiting, that means that their clean will be lower than maximum to begin with.

So while both of the Olympic lifts are a maximum effort, they are only maximum for a tiny part of the movement.  The start, middle, recovery is not maximum.  Only that throw is a truly maximum effort.  And you should mentally contrast that to a maximum squat, bench, or deadlift which will be more or less maximal all the way through.

Pull a maximum deadlift and it’s hard off the floor, in the middle to lockout. Yes, fine it changes a bit, most guys can finish a squat or bench if they make it through the sticking point and gear modifies all of this.  But the movements are fundamentally different in the amount of maximum effort they require.

They also differ in terms of their duration of effort.    A maximal explosive effort lasts 0.2 seconds.  A maximal deadlift can be seconds of all out effort.  And these have profoundly different effects on the nervous and muscular systems.

Louie Simmons, love him or hate him, at least factored that in when he applied Prilepin’s table, cutting the optimal number of reps in half due to the longer duration of the PL’s vs. the OL’s.  A maximum bench might take 2-3 seconds of grinding effort, a maximum clean is not even close.

There are also misses.  OL’ing is very go/no go.   You don’t get the bar high enough in the snatch and you dump it.  Don’t get it right on the clean and you dump it.  At worst you get crushed into a front squat, try a bounce and grind the squat.  Or dump it and try again.   If you can’t lock out a jerk, you dump the bar.  There is no grinding or fighting to make the rep.   Contrast that to a missed squat, bench or deadlift, where the lifter may grind and grind and still miss.  It’s totally different.

Ol’ers often only take a fairly short rest between maximums and less for snatch than clean and jerk.  I’m talking like 60-90 seconds.  A PL doing maximums may be taking 3-5′ and 10′ is not unheard of.  That alone tells you the difference in effort.

The sports are different.  But there’s another issue, often unconsidered by folks who write simplistically about this.   And now I have to get a bit technical.

The Force-Velocity Curve

I talked about the force-velocity curve in the overwritten Categories of Weight Training Part 11 and want to re-address it in a slightly different way here.  But it fundamentally explains why trying to directly apply Ol training to Pl’ing without recognizing the differences, and the Bulgarian system specifically, doesn’t work.  Here’s what it looks like.

Force Velocity Power Curve

The force-velocity curve basically describes the relationship between how much force you can produce and how quickly the movement will be.  So at the highest part of velocity, the force you can generate is very small.  At the higher part of force, the speed is very low (think a grinding maximum deadlift).  Everything else is in the middle.  And here I’m assuming maximum effort, clearly you CAN lift a weight of 75% of maximum slowly if you want but it can be lifted faster than a weight of 90%.

And here’s where it all falls apart.  Powerlifting is a maximum strength sport, a 1RM is basically at the far right of the F-V curve.  The only thing that generates more force are isometric and eccentric work and nobody does those.  For all practical purposes 1RM is a maximum.

But the OL’s do not require maximum strength, they require maximum power to throw the bar high enough.  In the clean, the pull off the floor is not maximum and neither is the squat; it’s maximum during the explosion.

And here’s some trivia: there are often strength relationships between the lifts, how much you should squat, front squat, clean relative to snatch that represents common numbers.  The ones I’m going to present come from Greg Everett’s excellent book Olympic Weightlifting A Complete Guide – Greg Everett.  Apologies, the new WordPress build screws tables up.

Percentage Relationships

Ok, what do you see, the clean and jerk should be about 80-85% of your best deadlift.  Yes, pulling strength off the floor is important but it’s not a maximal pull because the only maximal part is the explosive bit in the middle.  So if your best deadlift is 100kg your best clean and jerk (your maximum) should be 80-85kg.

Think about the implications of this: a 1RM clean and jerk is only 85% of a 1RM maximum strength movement.  It’s called strength-speed for a reason.  It’s a maximal effort to be sure.  It is NOT a maximal strength movement (in terms of the F-V curve).

And the snatch is roughly 80-85% of the clean and jerk.  Mathing that out, the snatch is 64-72% of a max force move.  Again, maximum effort?  Absolutely. Maximum force on the F-V curve?  Absolutely not.  It’s why snatches are used by athletes for speed-strength.  It’s an explosive speed movement.  Not a strength movement. I’ve shown these relationships graphically below.Force Velocity Curve

And you can see clearly that “maxing” in the Olympic lifts is not even remotely the same as maxing in a powerlift.  A maximum clean and jerk is the equivalent of maybe 80-85% of a powerlifting 1RM.

Does anybody think that doing singles with 80-85% (roughly 5-8 reps maximum) that percentage will do anything?  Snatch is even worse, unless you think singles at 75% is going to build strength in a powerlift.  Which I hope you do not.

And that’s why this approach doesn’t work.  Even if you take the recommendations to work at 90% of your best PL, you’re already above what the Bulgarians were doing.  It’s not the same system, it can’t be.  The durations of the lift are different, the loadings are different, the PL is heavier over the full duration of the lift compared to the OL and missing is totally different.

Bulgarian Powerlifting Just Doesn’t Work

This has been tried for years.  It really just doesn’t work.  About the closest anybody has come was Jim Williams who supposedly went to 90% in the bench daily and if he felt good went for a true 1RM.  But trying to apply the Bulgarian system as outlined, with it’s 8 hour workdays, daily max (which isn’t the same as PL maximum), and high volume is not going to work by doing a couple of triples at 90% of 1RM.

I didn’t even touch on that above but although each block of a lift was only 6 daily max lifts, the Bulgarians repeat that multiple times per day.  The daily volume of a given “maximum” lift might be 12-18 repetitions a maximum.  Per day.  Every day.  Do you think you can handle 90%+ in the powerlifts f0r 12-18 reps per day.  Every day.  Me neither.

Doing a couple of reps at 90% even daily isn’t Bulgarian training no matter how you cut it.  Done 6 days/week it’s less total volume than the Bulgarians did in a day.  The simple fact that you can do so much more work in OL at “maximum” tells you that the systems are different.  12-18 reps of max PL work daily would kill a man.  It’s doable in OL’ing because the sports are different and a maximum OL is not anything like a maximum PL.

Despite everyone’s continuing hardon for Bulgarian training, it’s an Ol’ing system and the nuances of the sport make it generally inappropriate to apply to anything else.  Yes, there are elements, specificity, training heavily enough to be ready for competition that are generally applicable.  But leave daily maxing to the Olympic lifters for whom an explosive max is not a true max on the Force-Velocity curve (where the mis-named powerlifting lives).


After writing this piece, it was brought to my attention that the individual who wrote the particular book I referred to was unhappy and posted on his FB “The Bulgarians were some of the strongest squatters” as if that changed my point somehow.  But this person loves to make strawmen like that, or comments that have nothing to do with what I said.

I know they are big squatters.  I never said different.  And?  So let’s look at those “big squats”.

1. Ol’ers do not need huge squats.  A big squat may be 300kg.  660 lbs.  Coan did 1000.  An old rule of thumb is that an OL’ers should be able to front squat for a triple his best clean.  So a 200kg clean needs a 220kg front squat (90% is about a triple so add 10% to get a maximum single).  Front squat is about 85% of back squat.  So add 15%.  253kg back squat. Some go a bit heavier but only for a buffer.

Guys found out early on that a bigger squat doesn’t equal a bigger OL.  Alexeev, one of the greatest only had a front squat 10% higher than his best C&J because his technique was flawless.

2. Abadjaev doesn’t let his guys grind back squats.  It’s not relevant to the sport and I have a friend who trains with the man.  He doesn’t grind squats.  So their singles are SUBMAXIMAL.     Hell, watch Rezezedah front squatting 280 kg here.  See that speed.  It’s not maximal.  It doesn’t ever have to be.

Bulgarian Ivan Ivanov 210 kg front squat at 115kg.  This is maximum in OL.

Now go find a true 1RM powerlifting squat.  Not the monolift half squats.  A true max.  Compare the speeds.

Basically this individual shows a simplistic and incomplete understanding of actual OL training as most do.  What they *think* the Bulgarians did is NOT what they actually did.  They didn’t grind squats and they didn’t train at a max that is equivalent to a PL max.

And while this individual can keep circling around the issue, simply he is wrong.  This idea comes through the game about every 5 years and in two decades the idea of training to a DAILY MAX (not training daily as one commenter misunderstood) it’s never really worked.

People get hurt (so did the Bulgarians who had a 10 year build up and used drugs) and PL makes it worse. WSBB with it’s 3 max singles year round injured people.  Now do that daily without years of build up, elite genetics and all the drugs.  And you will get injured.

To that I’d add this simple fact: yes the Bulgarians were big squatters.  And even RAW powerlifters who crush their lifts don’t squat that frequently. And certainly not to max that frequently.  Some of the best squatters ever squatted once per week.  Most current guys do 2-3 days if that.  And it’s not Bulgarian style.

Finally, the Chinese, currently the dominant Olympic lifting team, with some of the biggest squats out there only do two heavy squat days per week.  So it doesn’t matter what the Bulgarians did in the squat.  Abadjaev did it to keep his athletes tired. Most of them got broken.  So unless Greg Knuckols wants to continue arguing that a system that has been surpassed in recent years which broke most of its athletes is optimal, he needs to admit he was wrong.

Addendum: For people reading this late, I turned off comments as the ignorance an illiteracy is just too much.  I read the book, I know what it says.  I know what the Bulgarians did.  Greg does not and his book has nothing to do with the system no matter how much it’s modified or adapted.

It’s not Bulgarian just cuz it’s high-frequency.   The moronic comment that the cover title doesn’t have to match the content of the book is by far and away the stupidest thing I read the year I wrote this.

When everyone gets hurt (as they always do trying this) because they jump into it without years of leadup, you can all come tell me I was right.  Because I am.  Bulgarian training doesn’t work for powerlifting except perhaps for the very shortest of training cycles.  Even then the best in the world don’t train like that.

And you shouldn’t either.  Forget about Bulgarian training.

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37 thoughts on “Bulgarian Powerlifting Training

  1. Some valid points here, but I think you’re missing the bottom line, which is that daily squatting and benching–albeit less so daily deadlifting–up to a daily max, with back-off sets for added volume, can be a shockingly effective strategy for powerlifters. It does indeed require a certain degree of modification to fit the different sport, as well as the non-full-time lifting of most powerlifters, but it’s very doable and can lead to a ton of success. The key thing to consider is that the Bulgarian lifters also squatted heavy on a daily basis, and it turns out that squatting is fairly important to powerlifters also. While low-bar squatting is harder to recover from, it turns out that high-bar squatting is a great way for a raw powerlifter to build his low bar squat, so that’s not much of a switch to make.

    In my case, I spent 10 weeks on this program (a summer when I was out of the country for work and had a ton of free time after working each day, so I lifted Mon-Fri every week) and added 30 lbs to my squat (405->435) and 10 lbs to my bench (300->310) in that period–a rate of improvement I’ve been unable to duplicate since on more traditional, 4x/week (2x/upper, 2x/lower) programs.

    My program looked like this:

    Mon: high bar back squat up to daily/non-grinding 3RM, lots of triples for back off work; bench up to non-grinding 3RM w/triples; upper back assistance work

    Tues: deficit deadlift up to non-grinding 1-3RM w/back off sets; Zercher squat (to make it easier/lighter while still training the squat pattern) up to 3RM w/backoffs; overhead press, same deal

    Wed: same as Mon except with incline bench

    Thurs: same as Tues

    Fri: low bar back squat w/belt up to 1RM, going for a PR when I felt like it; bench, same deal; upper back assistance work.

    The first time you hit a squat PR on a Fri after squatting heavy every day Mon-Thurs, you realize that there’s something kinda amazing about daily squatting, and it makes you rethink what you thought you knew about training and recovery.

  2. I am not talking about daily training (which is fine if you cycle intensity or keep it submaxima) and you missed the point.

    I am talking about the idea of training MAXIMALLY daily. Which is what the Bulgarians do. Key concept is MAXIMAL. NOT daily. Why I devoted an entire section to the Daily Max and what it represents for OL vs. PL. All of the math and F-V curve and crap.

    I missed no point and if you read the book that I am talking about, you will see that it is advocating Bulgarian training in terms of using a daily max. MAXIMUM is the issue here. NOT daily.

  3. “Shockingly Effective”? Uh, no.

    And, James, what you’ve run into now, i.e. after going hog wild on frequency etc, is what everyone who does that is going to run into. After benching/squatting 4, 5, 6 days a week, what do you do afterwards? You almost HAVE to take an extended break to detrain so you can come back and find another path.

  4. In addition, rapid progress almost always leads to injury.

  5. Although I understand your argument, there’s plenty of competitive powerlifters using daily training maxes. I believe it just needs to be modified to fit powerlifting’s needs.

    I even used it myself, although it’s not for me, since I’m not good at auto-regulating and holding myself back. I was deadlifting every single day, hitting PR’s every 2-4 days, and even with that stupid ass approach and no one with a brain would do, I still managed to progress for almost 2 months before I feel I was burning out. Then I took a deload week, another light week, and started my normal training again, without many issues.

    When people mention the Bulgarian Method for Powerlifting, they simply mean doing at least a top set with your daily maximum, and doing it everyday, at close to it (normally 6). Never grinding, never failing.

    Mike Zourdos specifically has done a tremendous amount of work in this and has successful implemented in many many athletes.

    IMO the greatest difficulty about implementing something like this is that you need to be advanced enough, and you need be VERY good at auto-regulating. You have to know your body and have enough experience to accurately determine if you had another rep or not. If you’re gonna grid it with an extra 2kg or not. It’s also incredibly hard to be objective of your own performance, a coach in this situation would be insanely valuable.

  6. If you are autoregulating you are NOT doing daily maxes. By definition.

    And please point out all of these PL’ers. Then let’s talk about their drug profile and injury rate. WSBB with it’s 3 max singles wrecked most people injury wise.

  7. Great to see you write about training Lyle.

    Great discussion of max effort lift in OL vs max effort lift in PL (OL is a max speed-strength lift vs. PL is a “true” max strength lift). Hence PL requiring more time to recover from. And being less suited for high volume training.

    Seems you’ve sparked an interesting discussion here. Looking forward to see where it goes.

  8. This is a very weird article, you seem to agree on more points with Greg than disagree.

    Work up to 85% (which is what he calls DAILY MIN) , if you feel good keep going up to non-grinding single (which is what he calls DAILY MAX).

    Over time increase the DAILY MIN as it starts to feel easy (very similar to easy strength)

    He even says that it is not the “true” Bulgarian method, and why the true method would be too much for most people.

  9. No, I really do not. His book says to train at 90% or more in the Pl. Which is like 110% of an OL. So no, I really do not. As well, at no time does he address that advanced or drug nature of Bulgarian training. Without those things, people get broken off. Period.


    Is it meant to destroy T-nation’s today article on BG training or it’s simply a coincidence?

  11. I agree with everything in your article, except for all the views you ascribe to me. Direct quotes:

    “If you’re not familiar with the Bulgarian Method, here it is in a nutshell: Lift
    heavy (85%+ of your 1-rep max), almost every day of the week, focusing on
    the lifts you want to excel at.

    Now, that’s the simplified definition we’ll be working with. However, for the
    sake of accuracy, be aware that what I’ll be talking about here is NOT the “true”
    Bulgarian Method. Unless you are literally a professional athlete, with time to
    train 2-3 times per day, every day, under the watchful eye of an expert coach
    who is constantly monitoring your readiness, your strengths, your weaknesses,
    and making constant adjustments to your training within the overall Bulgarian
    framework, you are not doing the true Bulgarian Method. The purpose of this
    guide is to take the overarching principles of the Bulgarian Method and teach
    you how to implement them in your training for maximal effect within the
    framework of a “normal” life.

    It is absolutely crucial that you understand this section. For most of your
    workouts, you’ll be working up to a daily max.
    What a daily max is not:
    A daily max is NOT a true max. A daily max is not an all-out grinder with the
    aid of pre-workouts, death metal, and an ammonia cap. It does not allow for
    any technical breakdown. There’s not room for “it was sloppy, but I got it.” It
    should not be a grinder unless you’ve been on an HIHF (high intensity, high frequency) program for at least a
    couple of months, and you can still grind out a lift with flawless form.
    What a daily max is:
    A daily max is the weight you can hit with NO psychological arousal and no
    form aberrations. Not only should you not need aids like stimulants and music,
    but you shouldn’t even need to psych yourself up. There should be no doubt in
    your mind that you can crush the lift before you even attempt it. If you have to
    stop and think about it, it’s too heavy.
    If too many of your daily maxes start looking like true maxes, it increases
    your odds of getting worn down physically (from form deviations) and mentally
    (from psychological arousal).”

    There’s also entire sections about autoregulation (taking days off or easy when you’re feeling worn down, and monitoring readiness to know when you’re capable of pushing hard on your daily max and dropback volume, and when you should take it easier) and implementing different exercises and rep ranges instead of true 1rms of the competition lifts all the time.

    I’m pretty sure there’s some stuff we could quibble about, but I’m glad to see we agree about most of it, because the version of the Bulgarian Method you just described is one I don’t think would work very well either.

  12. I’m not sure how posting olympic lifters knocking out elite squats with ease boosts your case. You seem to be saying that if they truly maxed all the way to grinding they’d be crushing elite weights. Seems like whatever they are doing works at least for squatting. Though I strongly disagree that you have to grind at a max effort. Explosive lifters typically either make the weight look easy, or they fail. Olympic guys are about as explosive as you get. But that goes for top powerlifters too. Anyone ever seen Andrey Malanichev grind a squat? Are you saying that his raw 1014 squat wasn’t a max effort because it was fast?

    I’ve also never understood people who always resort to the Bulgarians only worked with drugs thing. All the other groups from west-side to the Russians were/are using just as much. Unless there is some sort of evidence that they had some special drug or were taking more than everyone else, this criticism applies to basically all training programs ever.

  13. Drugs are mentioned in the info-graphic on page 4

    “5. Liberal steroid use”

    From page 33 flow diagram.

    He says work up to a daily minimum ( “Usually, this will be about 80% of your true max to start with” page 23)
    If it is hard stop.
    If it is easy work up to a daily max

    From page 21

    “It is absolutely crucial that you understand this section. For most of your workouts, you’ll be working up to a daily max. What a daily max is not: A daily max is NOT a true max. A daily max is not an all-out grinder with the aid of pre-workouts, death metal, and an ammonia cap. It does not allow for any technical breakdown. There’s not room for “it was sloppy, but I got it.” It should not be a grinder unless you’ve been on an HIHF program for at least a couple of months, and you can still grind out a lift with flawless form. What a daily max is: A daily max is the weight you can hit with NO psychological arousal and no form aberrations. Not only should you not need aids like stimulants and music, but you shouldn’t even need to psych yourself up. There should be no doubt in your mind that you can crush the lift before you even attempt it. If you have to stop and think about it, it’s too heavy.”

    I would guess that is an 8.5 or 9 RPE of a grinding max top so submaximal wouldn’t you agree?

    So auto-regulating on a near daily basis to a sub-maximal single, with the long term goal of increasing the daily min over time.

  14. Greg, I read your book and I know what it says. I read your stupid FB commentary and I am literate. You don’t understand the sport of OL’ing or what a max is and what I described that the Bulgarians do is what they actually do. That you are unclear on this or think taht they do something is different is not my problem. Before you speak about a topic, you should know of which you speak. And on this one you simply do NOT.

  15. Because on his FB page, Greg argued that Oler’s have big squats in defense of his thesis. They do. They still do not max like PL’ers do. That’s why it makes my case. An OL’er max is NOT a PL’er max. Period. And I am not saying that Ol’ers would get an elite squat if they trained to grind. Not in the last or I would have actually said that. I’m pointing out that they build their big squats WITHOUT grinding. No more and no less. Is this difficult to grasp?

    Yes, they a big squat relative to other Ol’ers (but not necessarily the best because it’s not relevant to their performance beyond a certain point) and they STILL don’t build it with true maximums. That’s the point of posting the videos. An OL’er squat MAX is NOT NOT NOT NOT A PL’er SQUAT MAX. Why is this concept difficult to get?

    Zac, I stand corrected. Thank you for the clarification and correction.

  16. Complete coincidence. And since he took the time to comment, I have no trouble outing him. It was a commentary on Greg Knuckols and Omar Usef’s book on the topic which shows a total NON-understanding of how the Bulgarians train, why the training doesn’t apply to PL’ing, and why Greg fundamentally does not understand what he is talking about.

    Not clarifying that this is for advanced lifters make it worse as guys who have no business even trying this will jump into it. But I guess adding that single sentence was too much for Greg to bother with.

    “I should note that this approach is only for advanced lifters.” One sentence makes it less stupid. Greg can’t be arsed to qualify anything he writes apparently.

  17. It clearly says 85% 1rm and when feeling good go for 90% (no grind). It clearly says that the Bulgarian lifters were notorious for failing drug tests and that is something to consider. It clearly says that it’s a modified version of the Bulgarian method and not the true Bulgarian method.

    Stick to what you are good at… which is anything but arguing with other people. You are just bad at it. I know you try really hard… but stop.

  18. Book title: Bulgarian manual. Not modified Bulgarian manual. You have to buy/read it to see that it’s not. But that doesn’t grab attention and make sales now does it?

    But if you then say “Oh it’s modified” then do NOT call it that. Call it what it is. It’s like calling something Westside and then modifying it so that it’s not and you know that’s bullshit.

    Because by the time it’s modified to be 85-90% with high frequency, it’s just another PL system like Smolov or whatever else is out there and has nothing to do with Bulgarian training except as an SEO grab. So perhaps heed your own advice about arguing what you’re good at.

    If you call something the Bulgarian manual and it’s not, you’re just talking through your butt to make sales.

  19. It actually seems like you don’t know much about Olypmic lifters. They never do anything slow. It’s either fast or they fail. You can watch them work up to a max squat and crush a weight only to completely fail a couple kilos heavier. Fastnon-max effort for an explosive lifter. Which is besides the point for attacking Greg and Omar anyway because their manual says not to grind reps. Claiming grinding reps every day will hurt you when that is the opposite of what they recommend is nonsense.

  20. I’m not even sure what you are claiming at this point, you seem to be moving goal posts. First you were saying their method won’t work based on premises that go against their recommendations. Now you are changing to criticize them for their choice of title?

    But it is a Bulgarian method for powerlifting which necessitates it being an adaptation. If they were ripping people off with false advertising, okay I see your point, but it’s a free book.

    Anyways, seems like there are some underlying currents at work that I don’t know about which have little to do with actual training, so I’m out.

  21. If I write a book called

    The Westside Manual and take out the DE and ME work, remove the assistance work and replace it with competition work, it’s not Westside. It’s modified Westside. Excpet that it’s not, it’s just another training system with a title meant for no other reason than SEO and sales purposes.

    IF i write a book called HIT Manual and make it all submaximal, it’s not HIT.

    Is this difficult.

    If Greg is presenting nothing more than a high-frequency submax training method IT’S NOT BULGARIAN. But that sure makes a great title don’t it?

    Whatever folks, agree with me, agree with him. Don’t care. His book is falsely titled, shows no understanding of OL much less Bulgarian training and all the gnashing of teeth doesn’t change that. I’m opening comments but have made my case as much as I intend to.

  22. Okay, I can see where you are coming from if you are just judging the book by its title. However, is that truly an accurate way to judge what’s inside the book? That’s basically the same exact thing as about getting upset over the book “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” and making an entire post about how this couldn’t possibly be true because no humans have ever been to either of those planets. Admit it, you are just trying to get attention.

  23. He did actually state in great detail it was not for beginners and recommended a minimum of 3 years experience.

    Page 4

    “Also, just to get this out of the way early, this is NOT intended for new lifters. You could probably pull it off if you were training (in-person) with a good coach who knew how to make the necessary adjustments for you, but if you’re training by yourself or just with some gym buddies, diving straight into the Bulgarian Method without at least a couple of years of serious training with more orthodox programs is not a very wise decision. Unless you’ve already got great technique (and I don’t mean this as recourse to the nebulous but not-toohelpful idea of “perfect form,” but rather technique that allows you to perform a lift hundreds and hundreds of times with minimal injury risk), and unless you understand how to listen to your body (again, with less than a couple of years under the bar, you may think you know how to listen to your body, but odds are pretty good that you’re not as good at it as you think you are), the Bulgarian Method is not for you. “

  24. If you wrote a book that was west side for olympic lifting, you’d expect it to be exactly like what westside does now? You wouldn’t have to make any serious changes to the system?

    The thing is, the Bulgarians did largely sub-maximal work for squatting. Every time they worked up to Max attempts in cleans or snatches they were doing sessions of sub-max squat work. I find it perfectly valid in an adapted system for powerlifting not using those lifts to have sessions of sub max squat work, like the Bulgarians did.

  25. Also when you go an download the free e-book (I think it’s still free), it clearly states “The system that’s produced champions – adapted to work for you.” Modify is a synonym of adapted.

  26. Cuban 280kg (over 600 lbs) single. NOTHING like a PL max. The squat defense doesn’t fly. None of these defenses flies. It’s not BULGARIAN if you take out everything that is Bulgarian. OL’ers max squat is NOTHING like a PL max squat. Take it or leave it. That’s the reality

  27. Someone made me aware of something particularly stupid Robert said above to the effect of “why jnudge a book based on it’s title”?

    Son, are you kidding me? Seriously.

    I’m gonna title my next book “How to pick up slutty chicks.”” And make it about fat loss.

    WHY JUDGE THE BOOK BY THE TITLE? Idiot. I’ve been trying to be nice but you just went full potato. And you should never go full potato.

    Seriously for someone telling me I can’t argue well you need to look in the mirror, child. Your arguments don’t even make internal sense much less making the idiot level point you are trying to make.

  28. Moron, it is not titled MODIFIED BULGARIAN TRAINING

    As modified it is NOT Bulgarian training. It just a high-frequency PL’ing like any other.

    Jesus Christ, Robert. You are a dense mf who is determined to prove that you are clueless. Telling me I don’t know how to argue. Christ on a pogo stick.

    And you only find out that it’s modified or adapted or whatever idiocy you are stating AFTER you buy it. expecting a Bulgarian manual. Which it’s not. By your logic it might as well be a cookbook. Why expect the title to indicate anything about the text? R-tard. Seriously. Stfu please.

  29. So on a subject that’s not pure, completely irrelevant semantics, can I just reiterate that my mediocre, non elite, non drug using ass made rapid progress on an extremely similar system, which I haven’t been able to match since on more traditional programs? I even lost fat while getting stronger on a crappy diet (210 to 200). I only quit because I couldn’t commit to training more than 4x/week anymore, and you don’t really get the benefits of this system with fewer than 5.

    Bottom line: whatever you call it, anecdotal evidence confirms that this system works, period.

  30. Sounds like somebody’s getting manic again and thinks he can take on the entire world with his pedantic opinions.


    You are a fat fuck with too much time.

  32. Lyle man, I thought you had changed. I see your apology letter and thought that you might actually have become a less nasty person. But I guess I was wrong. You’re still bipolar, or whatever disease it is you have.

    What I cannot undertand is why you get so angry when discussing something. Is it beneath you to remain civil? Also very curiously, you always assume you are a right. I assure you, this is not always the case.

    All I can see is you insulting people over whether the book should be called “Bulgarian Method” or “Modified Bulgarian Method”. And you’re getting your knickers in a knot over this something as trivial as this? It’s a title man. Hahahaha

    This method presented is the closest thing most people can feasibly do that resembles Bulgarian training.

    If you really are arguing over soemthing as simple as this I would suggest you reevaluate your life…again.

  33. Ed Coan didn’t use Bulgarian training.

    Just saying….

    But Mr. I am Different (usually a delusional natural fatso) needs to train like the wonder boys.

    I am from Bulgaria and if I were to translate some of the interview with former weighlifters trained by Abadjiev, you will know that large amount of bones, tendons and joints were destroyed with this type of training.


    You don’t need to train every day though.

    Coan and Kawrwoski’s linear periodization is way better for naturals powerlifters.

  34. You forgot to change back to your other account Lyle

  35. You can say all you want, but you got rekted in Greg’s counter-article. Feel free to say that his book isn’t about the true bulgarian method and blabla, which it’s a valid point, even thought he addressed that as well (with some valid points too).

    IMO, it IS the Bulgarian method. You squat and train your competitive lifts very, very frequently (everyday or close), and you max out (a daily, non-grinder max) on each lift. That’s what Ivan Abadjiev did, and that’s what Greg did too.

    Regardless of the above point, EVEN if you’re right, he literally proved you wrong in like more than half the shit you said about his book. I couldn’t even tell if you were trolling or not, because I didn’t even the read the book fully, since I found it a bit boring (already been very familiar with the Bulgarian method and read Matt Perryman’s book), HOWEVER, even I, that didn’t read the book, remember from the first 5 pages or so, a big ass fucking graph, that couldn’t be anymore clear and explicit, explaining exactly what the bulgarian method is about and exactly what the book is about. You couldn’t have possibly missed that, so I just assume you didn’t actually read the book. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that you don’t actually give a fuck, you just hated Greg from the start, so with your already pre-convinced bias and convinced that the Bulgarian method doesn’t work, you wrote an article in rage and attacked his book, with false, easily proven wrong arguments.

    Hope next time if you wanna gonna go against someone and criticizing a book, at least read the god damn book. And I’m a bit disappointed, as many pointed out, at your behavior, I hope it’s a one time thing, I really do. And I’m NOT talking about disagreeing with Greg or thinking that the Bulgarian method can’t be applied to powerlifting.

  36. Alright folks as much as the utter pig-ignorant and illiteracy is, I’m closing the comments.

    to the guy who said I didn’t read the book when he didn’t read it himself, well you prove my point. I read the book when it was pre-released. It just took me this long to write about it.

    Greg doesn’t realize that he is not most lifters. Simply, this book is NOT the Bulgarian system no matter how much you say it’s modified. Modify WSBB and it’s not Westside. Take out what makes the Bulgarian system Bulgarian and the title is nothing but a lie. That’s the bottom line. It also takes 10 years to build up to. And Greg didn’t even qualify it’s for advanced lifters.

    But again, follow it and feel free to come back in 3 months when you’re injured to tell me I was right. It doesn’t ultimately matter to me if you want to be ignorant as hell and defend this BS. /end

  37. Yeah, I think it’s pretty clear he didn’t read anything but the cover.

    Fortunately Greg has some class, so I’m sure he’d offer Lyle a full refund of his 0 dollars for having been duped by the cover.

    I’ll make sure to anything I read from Lyle going forward is taken with a grain of salt.

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