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Thread: 'old school' programs

  1. #1
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    Aug 2015
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    'old school' programs

    Hello, friends and countrymen

    There is a strong trend recently to do some of the following:
    - splitting up the snatch and CJ sessions / days
    - a moderate to low amount of time spent with the classic lifts, once technical ability is at least good
    - a lot of assistance and muscle training

    what I mean by old school is:
    - frequent snatch and clean&jerk training, usually from the floor but not always
    - train both lifts together on many of the days
    - assistance mostly being focused on core, squats and pulls

    an example of an old school program would be something like:
    day 1
    CJ variation, 3-5 sets at 70%+
    lighter/easier SN variation, 3-5 sets at 70%+
    maybe push press, 3-5 sets of 3
    heavier pull variation, 3-5 sets, 3-4 reps around your best sn/cj weight
    easier squat, 3-5 sets of 1-5 reps
    abs, lower back 3-5 sets

    day 2
    SN variation, 3-5 sets at 70%+
    lighter/easier CJ variation, 3-5 sets at 70%+
    easier pull variation, 3-5 sets, 3-4 reps around your best sn/cj weight
    heavier squat, 3-5 sets of 1-5 reps
    maybe bench press, 3-5 sets of 5
    abs, lower back 3-5 sets

    whereas a 'new school' programme would be:

    day 1
    muscle snatch + OHS, 3-4 sets
    snatch from floor, 6-8 sets
    snatch pull, 3-4 sets
    snatch deadlift, 2-3 sets
    Snatch push press, 4-5 sets

    day 2
    muscle clean + squat jerk, 3-4 sets
    clean and jerk from floor, 6-8 sets
    clean pull, 3-4 sets
    clean deadlift, 2-3 sets
    bench press, 5x5

    day 3
    back squat, 5-8 sets
    RDL, 4-6 sets
    back extensions, some
    other bodybuilding, many many sets

    These are very rough descriptions, but you get the idea. One has fewer movements, done very consistently and frequently (we are not talking Bulgarian max the fuck out stuff, we are talking proper volumes and weights for that level of lifter), while the other is more specific to a particular goal movement of that day, with a little more focus on a particular movement's pattern across the majority of that day's exercises.

    The thing to remember is that over the entire week:
    They probably have similar volumes in total for all movements, similar %s as well, for sake of argument
    The first approach has more frequent practice of the technical movements
    The second approach has more focused time on a particular main movement over the week
    The second approach has more what would be considered 'assistance training', while the former has less assistance training and more time spent with the core lifts.

    Examples of the old school method:
    The Cal Strength programmes
    Bud Charniga's favourite approaches and almost all coaches over the age of 40
    Cyril Martin's training in the UK if anyone knows him
    Kazak/Uzbek training (not to max all the time)
    Travis Cooper!

    In between these two approaches is something of a hybrid. The Russian team, Spanish team, Polish team and probably many more have snatch and related in the AM, CJ and related in the PM, and strength movements the next day. This is slightly tricky because it separates everything, but it also implies an availability to train upwards of 6 sessions a week. If you ask them specifically what would you do if you could train 3 or 4 sessions only, unanimously they would say (and have told me at various points to various extents) that it would almost certainly be snatch, CJ, squat/pull, and then once you do that 4-5 days a week then you add more sessions and split things up and add more exercises - but not before then. If you could train 3 days a week, the majority of coaches, experts would cite a similar structure, and only get a little trickier when you can do more sessions. This is, however, my own experience and would like to hear from other people.

    New school method:
    Chinese approach to training, as we are informed by visitors and what they want to tell us.
    The hybrid folks, to an extent - but probably a larger extent than the old school structure applies

    Why have the older school methods fallen out of favour a little bit?
    Is it a harder, but more effective, way to train?
    Is it too monotonous to be long-lasting?
    Are superior results collected with less frequent but more concentrated work?
    What are the neurological benefits to the two approaches?

    Thoughts on either?
    Experiences with either?

  2. #2
    Member Blairbob's Avatar
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    Jul 2014
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    My buddy talks about the old school method, especially before the mid 50's when drugs weren't in the mix really. However I have heard that some Americans were definitely using steroids or trying to get their hands on them in the 60s and 70s. And even 80s. Apparently the first PanAms where they tested, lifters disappeared fast.

    Also, they trained less often. Nobody was doing split sessions back then. No idea when that started happening but my guess is the Soviets did it first when teams started training full time in the 60s? I don't know or think the Americans started doing it for decades though.

    They trained 3-4 days a week with more rest days. Schmitz is programming relfects and most of his programs are 3-4 not 5days a week. Not 2-3hrs each

    Also the reason CalStr does training their way is because a lot of Glenn Pendlay. Their stuff is still somewhat similar though Spitz has his own ideas on strength training.

    As well as old school training was done by amateurs not professionals. And the same could be said of training programs where athletes worked regular jobs. And talent recruitment and sport participation was also lower.

    The new school approach is also how the Soviets train these days as well. Easier to do with double days.

    I also think a lot of ppl have a lot more fun when they get to snatch, clean, and jerk more times per week. I used to feel like I had to do each lift every day to get better.

    There is something to be said about frequency when it comes to skill learning. Many lifters in the Western or 1st world nations are coming into the sport past compulsory education or during college or afterwards (thru CF). And while we do have youths training, they are not specializing in the sport like they do in sport school programs (though I do know one teen who homeschools and trains twice a day but she does come from $$ and was a former L9/10 gymnast).

    I swore I saw an Uzbek program awhile ago on ATG and while it wasnt Bulgarian, it was very heavy in a sense like the Kaz stuff.

    Personally after a few Catalyst/ish programs and LSUS, I realized I dont need to SCJ every fn day. Also Im 40 now so my body probably thanks me

  3. #3
    AKA Tony Arkitect FFF's Avatar
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    Jul 2014
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    When I first got into personal training and then eventually strength coaching one of the first things you learn is that "muscles need time to recover."

    I distinctly remember when I had my very first Weightlifting coach, and I looked at the program and saw that we would be doing some variation of snatch, C&J and squat just about every session. This didn't make sense to me, but I was assured that what I had been taught was "wrong."

    The more experience I gained in Weightlifting specifically, the less I performed these "old school" programs, and more I started to structure my programs like traditional strength training (with the inclusion of the classical lifts of course), and the better the results became for my athletes. There are two factors at play:
    1. Drugs help you recover faster
    2. These "old school" programs are taken from the training of elite athletes with long time development.

    Let's remove drugs from the discussion, since that topic has been beaten to death. I'm more interested in what Artem Okulov did in his first three years of training and not so much what he's doing now that he's an international elite. Obviously I wasn't participating in Weightlifting in the 80s and 90s, but I feel like all the coaches who came up during that time were way more influenced by the Eastern Europeans and the Asians than we are now, because Weightlifting as a whole was a much more niche sport, and the data we have today simply wasn't available.

    Getting back to the original point: I think anyone can hold on for a certain period of time whilst abusing themselves. We have people who do "Bulgarian" training, or squatting every day, and they use the 4-6-8-12+ week period where they managed to survive as self "evidence" that it can work. Personally, what I've found I like the most is treating Weightlifting like a seasonal sport. We have a period where we do more general training, and a period where the exercise selection decreases, and the frequency of those few exercises increases. This has seemed to work pretty well for me and my athletes over the years.

  4. #4
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    May 2017
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    If you read the old Soviet literature (Roman, Medvedyev, etc.), their training sessions rarely combined the two lifts, especially for younger lifters. You would see them being done on the same day when the athlete was training two sessions on that day. One of the reasons why is that you can get more training in for a set amount of time. That is, you only really have to warm up one lift during the session, so it’s more economical and thus you can get more volume in for more practice.

  5. #5
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    Apr 2016
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    The old school program you outlined seems very old school in the sense of training prior to research into training, recovery, and adaptation or just the good ol' Bulgarian "just try harder" method. The "new" model you present makes much more sense given the context of how research has evolved over the last half century. We understand the need to periodize training in order to focus on specific qualities of the athlete in specific parts of the year ("conditioning," hypertrophy, explosive strength, power, maximal strength, preparatory, and competition periods, etc), and realize that we need assistance exercises to bring up lagging portions of the lift itself or the athlete. Some old school coaches practiced what you would call "modern" methods and some "modern" coaches utilize the older methods.

    Just in observation (first and second hand experiences) athletes who are really good in this sport (technically sound, consistent in competition), these lifters come from methods/programs that practice the movements frequently. I do not mean Bulgarian in terms of frequent, high intense sessions nor SN/CJ same sessions. I mean, they snatch and CJ as often as possible, even if it is with nominal weights (30-50%) or the bar. They use all sorts of drills but these systems focus on skill acquisition and mastery. That is a common thread that runs through some of the best systems in the world I think and my experience in applying that concept. From a motor learning perspective this means you are continually grooving these movement patterns and practicing them regularly. They no longer become unfamiliar and remain that way. Adding to that, your "modern" method is more conducive to motor learning if you include a whole variety of Snatch variations in one/multiple session through something called "contextual interference." More or less, through practicing muscle snatch, hang snatch, block snatch, power snatch, and classic snatch in some form in a single session you will better acquire the skill, retain it, and transfer this to greater performances in the long run.

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