Squat, everyday… LIKE A BOSS!!!!!

So there is a little confusion out there on the interwebs regarding the difference between the conjugate max effort method and the Bulgarian method. As such I thought that I would throw my two cents into the mix and see what happens. The “Conjugate” method was developed in the former Soviet Union by Dr Zatsiorsky, writer of “Science and Practice of Strength Training”, in an attempt to create a program which would allow for the maximal development of the Soviet Union’s athletes. There was obvious success with this considering the consistent domination of the Soviet Union within the fields of athletics, wrestling and weightlifting during the Cold War period. The ‘Conjugate’ method essentially highlights that the aim of training is to increase the rate at which athletes can fire their synapses and express their power via athletic movements.
Power, ultimately, is the expression of ones maximal strength at speed. Athletic movements such as jumping are a key example of ones expression of power. To jump onto a box requires the strength to propel ones mass of the ground, but if we try and jump on to the box slowly… what happens?… that’s right, it can’t be done. We need speed in order to jump onto a box, however, to jump onto a bigger box, we need an increase in strength. As we can see strength and speed are the basic components of power. Zatsiorsky understood that these two aspects of power need to be trained with separate training modalities. Maximal strength increase occurs when working in an upper intensity range, namely 80-95% of your 1RM, speed is increased when working in a lower intensity range of 40-60% of your 1RM, thus allowing you to train the rate at which your CNS responds. However, the issue that Zatsiorsky found was that training at 90% over an extended period of time led too the overall decrease in the rate of CNS response and maximal strength. As such this lead to the development of micro-cycle’s of 3 weeks during which an athlete would focus on working on a single upper body lift and a single lower body lift, splitting the week into two maximal effort training days, and two dynamic effort training days, one for the upper and one lower body. After those 3 weeks the athlete would switch the lift.
Donny Shankle, coached by Glen Pendlay at the MDUSA facility uses the “Bulgarian” method
Louie Simmons, of Westside Barbell fame, uses a variation of the ‘Conjugate’ method to produce athletes that have given Westside the reputation as one of the strongest gyms in the world. Now, I know what your all saying, “but Louie’s guys are on everything under the sun!”, well…yeah! However, using roids is a card that you can flip only once, and even though most of these guys have chosen to flip that card, they keep getting stronger.
Louie in all his glory!
Now, the “Conjugate” method didn’t just come into being, it had its roots in what has come to be known as the “Bulgarian” training system due to its implementation of said program by the Bulgarian Weight Lifting team. Their coach, Abadjieve, had his athletes max out in a variety of lifts which he deemed would improve their Olympic lifting, up to 4 times a day, everyday. He would stagger this training scheme into two macro-cycles, a loading month in which three weeks would be trained at a high intensity and a week of lower intensity. This would then be followed by a deloading month in which three lower intensity weeks would be followed by a week of high intensity training. Abadjieve would have his athletes squatting, amongst other movements, everyday… MADNESS!!!!
Like I said, MADNESS!!!
However, there is a method in the madness, and the method is both physiological and psychological. The more training sessions means a greater number of growth cycles, leading to more transient spikes in Testosterone production, but wait, there’s more! Who ever told you that practice makes perfect… well I hate to break it to you but they lied. In truth, its perfect practice that makes perfect, and perfection is what we are looking at when we speak of training to a ‘max’. When we think of maximal training we think of training to the limit of our intensity, training to the point where we are listening to death metal, psyching up and snorting ammonia like its fine Columbian booger sugar. In the “Bulgarian” training system no such psyching up is required, if you’re doing it then you are doing the training wrong. Once your form has broken, that’s your lot done. The more perfect reps you get under your belt, the greater your skill becomes, and the more efficient the motor pattern associated with that skill becomes. It also makes you mentally tough, its not an easy training system, in fact Abadjieve was recorded stating that if an athlete of his broke is was due to mental weakness as opposed to physical injury or fatigue.

While the max out methodology makes sense from a strength building perspective, people worry that this kind of intense training is going to make you experience adrenal fatigue, force you to enter a state of overtraining, and prevent you from gaining muscle. Well I hate to tell you this but all those excuses make you sound like a sniper using bollocks for ammunition, but it’s not your fault! All training conventions point to this conclusion, that is however if we use our metal listening, ammonia snorting definition of max as opposed to the ironically softer Bulgarian definition. When we use the latter definition of max things become a bit more sensible. Due to the habituation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal response to stress, the body releases fewer stress hormones in response to stressors that is experienced regularly before. This is why you don’t psyche up in the “Bulgarian” system , as to do so would lead to a greater risk of burnout, and allow your hormonal responses to adapt to the frequency of maxing out everyday. In regards to the idea that you wont gain muscle on this system… ooh what’s that I hear a sniper reloading! The fact is that while I will admit that the system runs counter to bodybuilding convention, the fact of the matter is that maxing out everyday, and working a body part once of twice a week are two very different things. The latter allows for 72 hours of recovery time. The reason that the “Bulgarian” system works for size as well as strength is that as you don’t push as close to exhaustion you can recover quicker and stress your muscles more frequently, eliciting a greater number of growth cycles.

Dmitry Klokov has had no issue getting jacked by skipping curls and leg extensions
A sample of a bulgarian style program for a powerlifter would like a little something like the following:
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Squat: 1 RM
Bench: 1RM
Dead: 10 x 1 (70-75%)
Squat: 1RM
Bench: 1RM
Bench: 1 RM
Squat: 1RM
Press: 1RM
Bench: 1RM
Squat: 1RM
Rotational work
Rowing / Pulling
Rotational work
Rowing / pulling
Core / Vanity

 

 

 

 

Simple as it looks, the essence of the “Bulgarian” method is simple; do more, more often, at high intensity. Zatsiorsky describes high intensity as being any lift over 90% of your 1RM. If you head to the gym and perform a 2RM at 95+% of your 1RM back squat you are training a functional movement as high intensity. If you come back next week and perform a 1RM at 97.5-105% of your 1RM front squat, you are performing a constantly varied functional movement, done at high intensity (TAKE THAT CROSSFIT!!!).

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

Rogan

For any information or questions regarding the blog, or for any information regarding my services as a Personal Trainer, please contact me via my Facebook Page, Twitter, Email, or in the comment section below.

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Email: rebellionstrengthhq@gmail.com

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