OL Periodisation Stratgegy

I have found the following to be highly effective with intermediate/national level lifters. It’s an amalgamation of heavy:light; Bulgarian and wave periodisation. (Both lifts are performed each session):

(Session) 1 5x1r @ 85%
2 5x1r @ 75%
3 Rest
4 5x1r @ 85%
5 5x1r @ 75%
6 Rest

1 5x1r @ 90%
2 5x1r @ 80%
3 Rest
4 5x1r @ 90%
5 5x1r @ 80%
6 Rest

1 5x1r @ 95%
2 5x1r @ 85%
3 Rest
4 5x1r @ 95%
5 5x1r @ 85%

1r @ 102%

  • The length of each phase can obviously be adapted to provide variation between cycles (and to accomodate individual differences in training response).
  • Smaller 2.5% increments could be used but I have not found them to be as successful


Interesting. A couple of questions: Are you using a six day training cycle? If I wanted to fit it into a standard weekly cycle, where would you put the extra day (of rest I would assume?)

Any recommendations as far as phase lengths? What is the criteria for moving on to the next phase?

You say both lifts are performed each session. Does this mean that for session 1, I would do 5x1r of snatch, then 5x1r of clean? Or do them in the reverse order? Or interleave them? Or something else? Do you vary the lifts at all, say full clean versus power clean? What about ancillary work? Where does the jerk fit in?

Thanks for sharing!

Yes, 2 days on 1 off. You could put an extra days rest anywhere.

Follows the Bulgarian template, i.e. 5x1r snatch; (time permitting) 10 -15 min recovery; 5x1r clean & jerk; other

Currently, the guys are squatting in higher volumes (alternating 4x6r & 4x4r) and only on the second session.

If adapting the program for one lift I recommend increasing volume (5x2r) and decreasing all percentages by 5%.

Phase lengths? That’s the art of coaching!!

David, concerning the advanced level OLifters you have worked with, I presume that technical profficiency is reached earlier in the lifting career, therefore, leaving the increase of strength/power the primary focus later in the career. Thus, what have you found to be the primary motor ability, if it may be narrowed to one, which tends to be the inhibiting factor towards setting competition PR’s?

The periodization scheme that you illustrated, although wave like, is progressive/linear in the grand scheme. In light of the success with which you have had with your current methods, Have you ever experimented with or implemented conjugate methods in the training of your Olifters?


But even conjugate methods are progressive/linear in the grand scheme. The goal of ME work is, after all, to break PR’s isn’t it? Isn’t it obvious that any good periodisation scheme must be progressive in the long term?

Yesand no, conjugate training is progressive in the sense that ME percentages are increased over time, but not because of the preconceived programming of percentage schemes, but rather because of heightened strength levels which are a facilitated by the consistent application of 1. rotating/changing the ME training stimulus, 2. supplementary work, 3. adjusting the volume of assistance work according to where on is in the pre-competition cycle, and 4. the manipulation of DE percentages based upon new competition PR’s and improved bar speed on DE day.

So, the results of conjugate training are ideally going to be ‘progressively’ increasing over time, however, the progressive improvement of abilities is not to be confused with progessive overload.

Yes, any viable periodization scheme must yield progressive results over time. I am not knocking David’s outline, only curious as to other methods which he may or may not have employed in the past.



When would you establish the 1RMs? Similar to the Bulgarians or from the competition or from the beginning of the phase?

Competition or test from preceding cycle.

The Bulgarian methodology is, in some ways, a direct contrast to the one advocated by Westside. Abadjiev actually narrowed the assistant exercise pool from 19 to 4 exercises whilst improving results on the world stage. Additionally, he practically outlawed reps >2.

In the symposium video he sited research that suggested hypertrophy of lower threshold motor units actually inhibited the optimum functioning of high threshold units. Obviously, such hypertrophy also has a negative effect on Sinclair scores by increasing non functional mass.

What would Ivan think to 12 reps in tricep push downs!!

Ivan’s philosophies (and undoubted success) certainly raises questions over the need (and effectiveness) for high volume assistant exercises. Unfortunately, Powerlifting is an immature, fractured (numerous governing bodies; rules etc) sport and therefore it is actually quite diffciult to measure the true effectiveness of training methodologies.

[QUOTE=David W]

What would Ivan think to 12 reps in tricep push downs!!


He would think, “Cable exercises really help me to bring out the detail in my tris. I’m gonna get totally ripped. BEEFCAKE!” Except he’d think it in Bulgarian.


:smiley: :smiley: You ain’t lost it!

Why is there this insistance that comparisons between elite level, world class athletes and your average joe are valid?

Bulgarian lifters are state supported, they also have no job but to lift, eat, and recover, and they are also the best of the best, weeded out of the pool of Bulgarian lifters.

You can’t compare a Bulgarian lifter and the program under Ivan to, say, a university footballer who also competes in olympic lifting in the off-season. The circumstances are vastly different: Apples to Oranges.

Interestingly enough, an OL I know showed me some data that suggested that injury rates diminished under Ivan’s programming.

I discussed the reasons that contribute to the success of the Bulgarian on another thread.

The skill in coaching is adapting ‘ideal’ methodologies to our own part time athletes.

Our athletes don’t have the support network that Ben Johnson benefitted from but we are still here to learn from Charlie.

David, I would have quoted him but I am not motivated enough to search for the post right now…

You may remember a post that an individual made on the WSB thread which made a claim that the Bulgarian method is seemingly more applicable to smaller lifters who’s biomechanics are better suited to handle such volumes/intensity. Thus, if I am not mistaken, history has not presented many Bulgarian world champions in the heavier weight classes.

In contrast to Russian methods which have produced many world champions, not only across the board but many in the heavier weight classes. Thus, Russian methods are argueable better suited for lifters with a wider range of biomechanics.

Curious as to your thoughts on this.


He was wrong! Abadjiev took over in '69 and since then Bulgarian lifters have won 8 Olympic medals in the top 3 weight classes.

To be fair however Russian lifters have won all SUPERHEAVY weight golds available to them (not including boycotts).

Remember also the enormous difference in population size between the two countries!

David W, would the wave loading apply to assistance work? And what kind of exercises would we see as assistance work?

Large Bulgarians are killing it this year 105+ Cholakov(third in worlds), 94- Dobrev(first in worlds) 105- Tsagaev(bomb in snatch and gold in jerk)


I thought I ahd read that the new national coach had gone back to a more ‘traditional’ type of training for their OL’s (%age based, more assistance, longer workouts). Think I saw it in Milo: cited problems with burnout and injury under the Abajaev (sp?) scheme.


Talking about OL´s…
last night, i was watching a TV Special about 1996 Olympic in Atlanta.
Man, what was that chalenge between the “little” Bulgarian now Turkish against the Greek ( -64kg ).
5 WR broked in a few minutes of “fight”. It was amazing.

Sulli - you’ll never see his like again