Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Heavy Lifting, No Rest, Candy: the Bulgarian Method" by Hannah Karp - Part 1

Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about Ivan Abadjiev and the Bulgarian method. To view the article follow this link

Ivan Abadjiev knows a thing or two about heavy lifting.
Bulgaria's most renowned weightlifting coach led his tiny country to a stunning Olympic victory over the Soviet Union in 1972. By the 1980s his country's strongmen completely dominated world competitions, hoisting more than three times their body weight—a feat that has rarely been matched. He's produced champions in Turkey and Qatar—and he even turned around his country's junior national badminton team.
Now, at age 79, the soft-spoken, silver-haired legend who speaks little English is taking on his most difficult challenge to date: Convincing American athletes they can do better. If only, that is, they would only adopt "the Bulgarian method."
Under the Bulgarian method, which Mr. Abadjiev invented, there is no danger of overtraining. The body, if pushed gradually and consistently, will adapt to any level of stress. Practice should ideally consume nearly half of one's waking hours and, most important, there are no days off. The theory is that injury and fatigue are less likely while adrenaline is coursing through the body, stimulating protein synthesis. Junk food is fair game.
By contrast, most American fitness trainers believe peak performance results only from an expertly plotted combination of exercises to build things like endurance, core strength and cardiovascular health—while including periods of stretching and rest. A healthy, balanced diet is essential.
For the past six months, Mr. Abadjiev has been spending nearly every morning and afternoon training competitive weightlifters at a new academy here, missing work only when he heads out of town to lecture. A former student hired Mr. Abadjiev to spread his message: Never attempt less than the maximum.
So far, there are only four Americans and one Mexican training at the Danville academy, which hopes to produce several Olympic medalists in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"It goes against everything you were ever taught," says Jacqueline Janet, a 48-year-old personal trainer who swore off jogging, sit-ups and yoga in order to do a monotonous series of lifts, up to five hours a day, with Mr. Abadjiev. She says she's now a believer after recently breaking a national record for her age group in an amateur weightlifting competition. Still, she disagrees with Mr. Abadjiev's "horrible diet" and tosses out his candy and soda.

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