Preview/Changes for Cycle Starting Today

For those of you who have been following over the past 10 weeks I have reminded you consistently that the work we have been doing was to prepare us for a 6-week “Bulgarian-style” cycle coming next. I wanted to take a second and explain two things before this cycle starts next week.

First, it’s important to understand the purpose and intention behind a short Bulgarian style cycle like the one that starts next week. Ivan Abadjiev is the figurehead and coach who made this system popular. The premise behind his system is to forego all the position work, block work, auxiliary exercises, and periodized programming and in its stead simply max the Snatch, CJ, and max (or 3RM) the Front Squat. His philosophy behind this style programming, as best as we can tell, is to complete these max effort training sessions multiple sessions a day and trust the body to adapt to the rigor and intensity. (yes it helps to be on the PR serum) Ivan’s thought is two-fold: (again somewhat speculation) First, this style of training prepares his lifters to lift heavy weights in competition and trains there system to be prepared for the competition stimulus. Secondly, Ivan doesn’t waste time with perfecting movement from different positions and training strength with accessory movements (sorta anti-conjugate system). He takes the approach that it’s important to practice like you play. It’s the idea that if we have to complete the full lifts in competition then lets practice the full lifts in training.

The second part of this cycle that needs explanation is how this cycle is going to be loaded and why a Bulgarian is beneficial for both weightlifters and Crossfitters professional exercisers. Originally, the plan was for this cycle to be 6-weeks. However, due to our goals for this cycle I am shortening its length to 4 weeks. The reason I am shortening the cycle is based on the season of Crossfit. With the Opens likely starting early March I want a full month to load and peak for that competition without the drain and takeaway of maximal level lifting. Furthermore, I am trying to display and peak maximal strength in mid-to-late January such that we can make a conversion into muscular endurance and use the aerobic threshold work we have developed in order to excel at Open’s style AMRAPS. Basically, do maximal level lifting into the middle of February will do us more harm than good if we want to be ready for early March Opens season. For weightlifters I am planning on yall peaking first week of March as well because of the Arnolds (March 1-2). That means we will hold to doing work from the floor but will begin to develop a training volume meant to mimic that of competition and begin the taper for that competition mid-February. If we held on to that Bulgarian style training through mid-February likely the drop-off in adrenal capacity and the fatigue of your CNS would be too great to recover from and be ready for maximal effort lifting the first week of March.

The next four weeks will be loaded very simply. Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday will be maximal effort lifting with a prescribed number of allowed misses at 90% or above. Furthermore, after those maximal lifts (except for week 4) there will be prescribed drop down sets at certain percentages. On week 4 we will lift lighter at the beginning of the week and work to max lifts with no drop down sets on Friday, Saturday. On Wednesdays we will hit power movements to max effort but will stay away from full movements. Week 3 will include less allowable misses and very light drop down sets to prepare for the peak of week 4. As far as squatting goes we will hit 3 rep max front squats on Monday and Saturday and we will hit 3 rep max back squats on Wednesdays. We will slightly taper the squats week 3. There will be very little auxiliary movements as far as strength and accessory movements go. The only difference in the Barbell plan and the Performance plan will be a higher load in the drop down sets for the Barbell folks.

I hope this gives some clarity to what the next 4 weeks is going to look and drums up some excitement for yall. Remember, the reason the Bulgarians were successful with this style of programming for an extended period of time was they made rest, recovery, and healing a priority (and really good pills). You should take that advice and apply it to your own training moving forward (minus the pills) and remember those that recover well perform better. This next month will feel like a kick in the face at times. You’ll survive and results on the other end should be astronomical. Here we go…

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17 responses to “Preview/Changes for Cycle Starting Today

  1. On the drop down sets, are those % based on our best 1 rm or what we just hit for that day’s max??? Thanks!

  2. I’m excited for this new cycle, for our max out days obviously 100% won’t be attainable everyday, what percentage should we be looking to hit regularly 90%? 95%?

  3. This is awesome…feels like Groundhog Day—four more weeks of stuffing my face!! Don’t see me coming anywhere close to strict Paleo and getting through this!

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