Applying the “Bulgarian Method” to my front squat and bench press. The first 3 weeks.

Week 3 Day 3 Front squat maximum Photo credit : Brad Wendes

Quick post! I very rarely post about my own training, as for some I feel it can be a vanity exercise. But I’ve been getting a few questions about what Im currently doing which has peoples interest piqued its the Bulgarian method.

Those of you who follow my instagram https://instagram.com/poweringthrough/ or facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PoweringThrough will be aware I am giving Greg Nuckols Bulgarian method a run for 12 weeks. Im much busier at the moment which is great, but not so great for my own training. So a get in and get out method using just front squat and bench sounded really good. I’ve toyed with Bulgarian type set ups in the past and even triphasic training has a frequency and intensity ethos at its heart the switch should not be too punishing. I’ve always been someone who respond well the to high intensity high frequency methods. I took a look at the way Greg Nuckols outlined his program in his free manual available here.

I won’t go into the history of Bulgarian Method as there are plenty of resources on the net discussing it and Ivan Abadjiev’s methods, injuries and steroid usage of Bulgarian athletes.

Simply explained the method is;

1) Work up to a daily max on the back squat and bench press
2) Do a couple of back-off sets using doubles or triples
3) Do not grind reps or use “psyche-up” techniques (bye bye double espresso’s)
4) Try to deadlift once or twice a week – primarily focusing on speed work
5) Show up and squat even when you feel like shit

I’m also using the push band to moderate my daily maximum aiming for velocity between 0.18-0.25 m/s based on Nuckols recommendations. I’ll be Squatting and dead-lifting everyday and then Deadlifting and Hang Cleaning at 70% twice a week.

My current Maxes are.

Front Squat 170kg Aim 180kg
Bench Press 160kg Aim 170kg

I used a working up method of switching from my usual 3 day a week squat routine in 5/6 day routine. In the first week having 2 x 60% days and 2 x 80 days in week 3. This maybe a bit quicker then recommend but we’ll see what happens.

Here how the first 3 Weeks have played out so far using the push band to inform when to stop;

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Day 1
Front Squat daily maximum – 85%
1 x 145
Bench Press
1 x 140
Pull up 3 x 10
Front Squat daily maximum – 80%
1 x 140
Bench Press
1 x 140
Pull up 3 x 10 
Front Squat daily maximum – Max
1 x 160
Bench Press
1 x 140
Pull up 3 x 10 
Day 2
Front Squat daily maximum – 60%
1 x 102
Bench Press
1 x 100
Deadlift 6 x 1 x 185
Front Squat daily maximum – 80%
1 x 140
Bench Press
1 x 130
Deadlift 6 x 1 x 185 
Front Squat daily maximum – Max
1 x 165
Bench Press
1 x 150
Deadlift 6 x 1 x 185 
Day 3
Front Squat daily maximum – Max
1 x 165
Bench Press
1 x 142.5
B.hind neck press
3 x 12
Front Squat daily maximum – Max
1 x 162.5
Bench Press
1 x 142.5
B.hind neck press

3 x 12

Front Squat daily maximum – Max
1 x 160
Bench Press
1 x 150
B.hind neck press

3 x 12

Day 4
Front Squat daily maximum – 60%
1 x 102
Bench Press
1 x 100
Hang Clean 6 x 1 x 100
Front Squat daily maximum – 80%
1 x 140
Bench Press
1 x 130
Hang Clean 6 x 1 x 100
Front Squat daily maximum – Max
1 x 165
Bench Press
1 x 140
Hang Clean 6 x 1 x 100
Day 5
Front Squat daily maximum – Max
1 x 170
Bench Press
1 x 145
Chin-up 3 x 10
Front Squat daily maximum – Max
1 x 162.5
Bench Press
1 x 140
Chin-up 3 x 10 
Today as of writing!
Day 6
Off
Front Squat daily maximum – Max
1 x 170 – Miss!
Bench Press
1 x 140
Day 7
Front Squat daily maximum – Max
1 x 165
Bench Press
1 x 140
Off
Planned off

At the moment I’m not using back off sets, I’ll introduce those once I stop seeing improvement as per recommendation.

Thoughts and Adjustments
Current in week 3 honestly feel like garbage, but I also feel strong in the rack. I was warned plenty of times that general malaise hits around week 3, everything starts to ache just a bit. What is nice about the program is just causally hitting weights that are 95 percentish of my maximum, no stress no fuss, no back slapping.

I feel Nuckols velocity recommendations of 0.25 – 0.18 m/s are a little stingy a few times I hit 0.3 and felt done! So I may operate with 0.18-0.30 as my stopping point as front squat is a different animal to back squat and bench press.

Keeping the ego in check is hard really hard. On a few days when I have had a busy schedule and felt worse for wear, I should have probably just aimed for daily minimums and kept it as such. Missing 170 sucked but push numbers said I was good to go hence the above point. Rack position becomes hard to maintain at near maximal loading or in this case 100%! So it maybe a technique issue on my part.

Im hoping to run this for 12 weeks, so in 9 weeks time I will return with an update.

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