sabato 24 settembre 2011

Your Monthly Moment of Zen #18 – The Bulgarian Issue



The second is that the Olympic-Weightlifting/Blogger community isn’t all that big.  And, none of us are professional bloggers.  We don’t get paid for this.  We have jobs: actually coaching, teaching, researching, etc.  In light of that, our posting frequency just isn’t as high as some of the other niche blogs out there.

So … in practice this means that if I want to have a nice list of cool and informative information for you, it will take a while.  A month is about perfect for all of us to finally have put out enough stuff that I can gather it up in one place for you.

You see, the thing is, I made a point to myself about a year ago that I was only going to post on here about things I’m passionate enough about that I can really write something substantial.  Yes, my posts are probably too long, too wordy, too personal, and too full of side-tracks (like this one!!).  But, I’m an essayist by nature.  If I’m going to write, I’m going to write.  I’m going to lay it all out. 

The downside, is that it takes time and energy to write like that.  I wish I could post 3 times a week up here and have every last article be a meaningful, enjoyable, and worth-a-damn post.  But, that wouldn’t happen.  So, I hold back until I’m putting up something I truly believe in. 

There are plenty of blogs in the world full of tiny little posts.  Some of them are GREAT.  And, they do what they do very well.  The Iron Samurai isn’t that.  And, Your Monthly Moment of Zen should reflect that.  Big, full of fun, informative, and something to really sink your teeth into. 

Thus, “Monday” becomes “Monthly” so that I can focus more on the actual articles.

Thankfully, it still alliterates!  (Yes … I DO find that important.)

Now … on with the show!!

“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication” – Leonardo Da Vinci

Michael Hartman on Consistency in Technique.

One day everything flows smoothly and the lifts are quick, crisp, and everything feels right.  Then, for whatever reason, everything falls apart.  The bar doesn’t go where it is supposed to, everything is out of place, and nothing is in sync.  We have all been there…even for the best lifters in the country, as I have seen it occur.  The main difference between the advanced lifters and the up and coming novice is usually the time between “those days”.  The advanced lifters maybe has one a month, where the novice has them much more frequently.  Sort of like a golf swing.  Anyone can hit it perfect once or twice a round, but what separates the Pros from the Joes is the ability to do it every round. 

In my opinion, for those of you out there living the “Bulgarian lifestyle”, this means you have to pay attention to back-off sets.  Yes, the daily maxes are the sexy part.  But, it’s the back-off sets that allow you to dial in the right technique when you are tired, and when it matters.  Now, I’m a big believer that how you do these, the variety in them that you choose, and the timing of when you push them, and when you pull them back is at the heart of what makes Bulgarian programming work.  This is precisely the type of thing that will be dealt with in great detail in the book that Michael Hartman and I are writing.  Stay tuned …


The “Broz” Version of Bulgarian Training.  Bret Contreras wrote an article on T-Nation examining John Broz’s take on training in the Bulgarian style.  Here’s an important quote (a paraphrase of Broz) that drives much of my own philosophy:

Forget jump shrugs, high pulls, etc. Forget all assistance lifts, unless you want to become a master of assistance lifts. The classic full lifts take an immense amount of dedication to learn, so why waste energy on something that probably won’t carry over?

Getting in enough quality reps on the snatch and clean is THE key to what works.  The more you do them correctly, the better you will be.  Period.  If you are missing a certain weight, it is NOT because you lack some kind of specific strength in a bodypart.  The Olympic lifts are like Pole Vaulting with heavy shit … it’s technique.  You will almost never miss a weight because you aren’t strong enough. (The clear exception to this is when you can’t stand up with a clean because you can’t front squat enough.  But, it’s a rare lifter who will have this problem.)

That doesn’t mean that you need to train twice a day every day.  But, it does mean that you have to do more than you are comfortable with.  I have lifters who train daily and I have many lifters who only train with me 2 times a week, some only once! 

With CrossFit athletes, for instance, who are used to 1 hour block “classes” that have a Mobility portion, the WOD, and maybe some skill work at the end, the way I run things can seem weird.  They come in at 4 or 5pm and they might just snatch for a full 2 hours (even 3)!  Then, squat.

The “real” thing that makes the Bulgarian method different than most is a philosophical belief that you only get good at what you do.  If you want to get good at the snatch, you have to snatch – a lot. 

Jim Wendler Responds to Bret’s article on Broz

Look at the overall IDEA of the training, interpret it and see how you can apply it to your own training. To me, it’s not about squatting every day or doing two workouts a day. It’s about realizing that the human body is much more capable of stress than most of us think. I don’t read an article by Mike Boyle and get all mad because it’s NOT what I do; I read it and try to figure out how single-leg training can be used in my own programming.

Bret Contreras himself responds to it also:

I believe that this type of training can be modified to suit everyone; including old and young, beginners and advanced, steroid users and natural lifters, and men and women.

Coach Dos is running a little workshop here in Portland that I’ll be attending on July 30th.  Should be interesting.  I’ll make sure to write up something about it afterwards.  I’m sure it will not turn out like this POS!!

Glenn Pendlay on Kelly Starrett and his helping out Donny Shankle’s hip.  If you don’t follow Kelly’s Mobility WOD’s, you are doing yourself a disservice!

Here’s an example:

Michelle Obama replaced the governments Food Pyramid with what she hopes will be an easier to understand guide called My Plate. 

Adam Stoffa on how to make your own Peanut.  No, not the food … the Mobility Tool.  Get to rollin’, people!  I know it hurts.  But, too bad!!

Protein Brownies! Adam Stoffa shares a recipe he has for Protein Packed Black Bean Brownies!  I need to try these out. 

Michael Hartman on Overtraining vs Under Recovery. 

Overtraining is real, but it is very misunderstood and grossly overstated by most people. 99% of people will never experience overtraining, and maybe only 5-10% of athletes. Now, fatigue is common and a normal response to training. For full blown overtraining to occur that fatigue would have to accumulate over a period of months. Most people will take a few days off, or an overuse injury limits their training, before overtraining develops. If tendonitis flairs up in your knee and reduces your ability to squat, that is not overtraining.  Two separate issue, overtraining and overuse (possibly a future post).  Overtraining is a whole system issue which has effects on the endocrine, neuromuscular, and cardiorespiratory systems.

Lyle McDonald on common sense.  The world isn’t black and white, don’t exclude the middle!

Life is not binary and most things comes in varying degrees of extreme and shades of gray.  As my favorite author once put it “The universe can count beyond two.”  He was using this statement in a different context (to point out that most things fall into a yes/no/maybe type of situation and there are rarely simply yes/no answers) but it applies here too.  Hopefully this little piece will help you count beyond two.

Nick Horton’s article on whether Back Squats are necessary turns out to be surprisingly popular here.  I suppose that means people either really like it … or really hate it!!

We’ve all heard that the back squat is the King of lifts.  It’s been at the bedrock of some of the most productive routines of the last 70 years.  So, what I’m about to say might sound sacrilegious, particularly here in the world of Olympic Weightlifting.  But, I’m going to say it anyway.  You don’t have to back squat – ever!

Ben Claridad on admiring those that stick to their passions, even if that puts them outside the norm.

I’m a fan of weightlifters and artists.  I’m a fan of musicians, fishermen, chefs, dancers, pharmacists, coaches, or anybody who’s passion takes them outside whatever is considered normal.  That’s because it takes a great deal of hard work and sacrifice to turn passions into full-time commitments (however brief or long that time may be).  I’m just a young guy (well I guess not THAT young). But I am young in the sense that I have only just begun to understand what this commitment actually means.  But I’m equally excited and determined to make my own thing work.  Since I’ve started bitching on the internet, I’ve had tons of people come up to me and tell me stories  about what they had to go through to make it work.  I’m a fan of you too.

AMEN, my brother.

Mighty Kat has a few killer gym photo’s to check out!


Gwen Sisto on a major rule change in weightlifting.  Fashion just got interesting!

The International Weightlifting Federation just ruled to permit full body covering weightlifting uniforms.

Gwen has a few observations about some possible ramifications from this, including this one that is dear to my heart … er, legs!

3. Fully covered legs — from sock to knee wrap to singlet — allowed, yey!!
I guess this means we can now wear tall socks with knee wraps and upper leg covering singlet (ie most singlets cover your femurs, tall socks cover the entire legs, hence the addition of a knee wrap would cover your entire leg –this was prohibited under the old rules).  In the past, part of your leg had to be exposed, this lead to lifters having to roll down their socks if their knee wrap covered the, typically, bare stretch of skin between singlet on the upper leg and socks on the lower leg.

Weightlifting Epiphanies has an interview with David Spitz, the owner of California Strength.  Very interesting!

Pretty Strong Blog has a post on the benefits of CrossFit as an organization to the sport of weightlifting.  I agree!!  I’m a HUGE CrossFit supporter, and we’ve got a lot of CrossFitters in my gym.  The more we work together, the better for all of us!

Nick Horton shows you how to do a Close Grip Power Snatch From the High Hang.

Women and Muscle, a defense of sensible training for women over on Everyday Paleo.

In my gym, the girls with the heaviest lifts and the best overall physical capacity are also the girls with bodies that are envied by the rest.  I think that most girls who are new to fitness would assume that you can either be strong or you can be cute.  I think most men would disagree – at least men with any fitness experience.

Posture, it turns out, really is important!  Well … duh.  What you might not know is that it is good for decision making.  Your brain often follows along with your body.  If you frown, you are more likely to be unhappy than if you arbitrarily smile.  It turns out that if you stand up straight (the posture of confidence) then you are more likely to feel “powerful” and in control.  Add a smile to that, and you are getting somewhere.

Bob Takano on the weighted ankle stretch.  My lifters do this one a lot in my gym.  Here’s the video:

Even More Bulgarian Training.  The Bulgarian method gets a nod in the Wallstreet Journal.  Ivan Abadjiev is a controversial figure in the world of weightlifting.  On the one hand, he’s produced so many world and Olympic champions that many have called him the worlds greatest weighlifting coach, ever.  On the other hand, his methods are extreme, and the taint of drug use by his athletes has always been strong (this last point is idiotic in my mind, considering the rampant drug use by ALL top athletes in the sport.)

The truth is, I like to err on the side of overtraining my athletes.  The ideas of Abadjiev, and his followers, are part of the reason why.  Our results are substantially better since I’ve adopted this philosophy.  I put it out there – the top of what I expect – and then we dial it back as needed.  Many coaches do the opposite:

"It kind of made me think, ‘Gosh, am I loading my athletes enough?’ " said Mr. Barnes, adding that American coaches tend to "lean on the side of undertraining" to account for other stresses in their athletes’ lives, like classwork and relationships. "We tend to be on the reserved side, but then again, the American [men] haven’t won a gold medal in 40 years."

Jared Enderton has moved from Cal Strength to Average Broz.  Here he is Jerking 200k off the blocks:

Finally  Do NOT do this in my gym!!


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