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Thread: Boris Severov's training methodology

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    Boris Severov's training methodology

    Has anyone ever used Boris Severov’s training methods? If so, what were/are your thoughts on it? The training programming is here:

    http://www.chidlovski.net/liftup/a_s...c_planning.asp

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    In the program, on the preparation stage, Bulgarians lifted 70 percent of their pulls' volume on 100-120 percent weights. The pulls with 110-120 percent weights took almost half of the lifts.
    interesting.

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    No, but thanks for the link.

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    The methodology is very similar to Plukfelder's and my personal coach's. Never do cleans solo, ever; 1-2 reps at a time even with beginners and light weights to instill proper technique and focus; lots of familiar methods (adding/decreasing weight per rep on pulls and squat; waves; etc).

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    Quote Originally Posted by b_degennaro View Post
    The methodology is very similar to Plukfelder's and my personal coach's. Never do cleans solo, ever; 1-2 reps at a time even with beginners and light weights to instill proper technique and focus; lots of familiar methods (adding/decreasing weight per rep on pulls and squat; waves; etc).
    Thanks for the information!

    I hate to be annoying, but do you mind sharing more information about their methodology?

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    Quote Originally Posted by phillicl View Post
    Thanks for the information!

    I hate to be annoying, but do you mind sharing more information about their methodology?
    This is going to be very broad principles we use in training.

    Similar to Boris' write up, classic lifts are limited in reps at all stages. Singles are preferred and recommended, even at 75%, since that is what the sport is about. Just because you hit a rep PR does not mean you can hit a 1RM. Quality of lifting is most important, and no matter what the lifts should look easy despite high or low percentages. So you can go heavier than what is programmed but it should be without struggle. I think this is why rep PRs are not pursued much due to people not making them look easy often times. Ideally you get to the point where the majority of your volume is comprised of >80% weights.

    Squats are usually 2-3 reps, we maybe would do 3 x 7 reps once per week at a weight we did not need to warmup to. We employed 5x5 for a period to maximize strength once per week for a period to maximize strength gains. Back squats are usually preferred over front squat due to the large amount of cleans we do. Pulls are usually 1-5 reps, emphasis on speed even during deadlifts. Weights did not seem to matter but in the same vein as the classic lifts, they had to look easy/comfortable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by b_degennaro View Post
    This is going to be very broad principles we use in training.

    Similar to Boris' write up, classic lifts are limited in reps at all stages. Singles are preferred and recommended, even at 75%, since that is what the sport is about. Just because you hit a rep PR does not mean you can hit a 1RM. Quality of lifting is most important, and no matter what the lifts should look easy despite high or low percentages. So you can go heavier than what is programmed but it should be without struggle. I think this is why rep PRs are not pursued much due to people not making them look easy often times. Ideally you get to the point where the majority of your volume is comprised of >80% weights.

    Squats are usually 2-3 reps, we maybe would do 3 x 7 reps once per week at a weight we did not need to warmup to. We employed 5x5 for a period to maximize strength once per week for a period to maximize strength gains. Back squats are usually preferred over front squat due to the large amount of cleans we do. Pulls are usually 1-5 reps, emphasis on speed even during deadlifts. Weights did not seem to matter but in the same vein as the classic lifts, they had to look easy/comfortable.
    Thank you for the write up! I do have a few follow up questions if that is okay.

    Did you split up your training into blocks (transition, prep, comp, etc.)?
    How long were your typical sessions?
    How many exercises did you perform per session typically?
    Did you do a lot of complexes, or mainly just snatch and clean + jerk?
    How was your volume typically distributed?

    Sorry for basically asking you to outline your entire training program. I have heard about what a great coach Plukfelder was, but I cannot find much on his methodology. So, anything I can glean from a disciple is very appealing. I have read Medvedyev’s book, but I have heard that his approach is quite different. Are there other books, perhaps Roman(?), that are closer to his style of training?

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    pt 1

    I won't answer on Brian's behalf, but you can find a thread on his training here which was an offshoot of the thread on Prilepin's chart thread. I think you will find the answers to most of your questions in those threads.

    Brian is a fairly open book and ends up saying what I think most non-drug based coaches end up saying after a while if they're paying attention. Drugs widen the available parameters of success because drugs work - the training, recovery and entire system of athlete development in every aspect is built around the drug use. Drug use changes the physiology of response to weightlifting on a fundamental level. Yes, ultimately coaching drugged/drug free athletes ultimately comes down to manipulating the same variables, but you could say the same thing for driving a lorry and a Formula 1 car. Throttle, brake, steer, shift gears, turn some knobs, press some buttons and don't crash. Exactly the same.

    Remember that publicly available history alone tells only one story - historiography (the study of how history is developed) is equally important. History is written by the victor and drugs have been winning for a long time. I would say that most of the Soviet weightlifting information from the late 70s onwards is heavily drug dependent and thus you have to read it very critically, even cynically. Most of Medvedev's writings that have been translated into English are on training or technique - what has not been so widely publicised is the work on pharmacology. In the absence of drugs, you must paradoxically train harder to make the same gains and you have less ability to recover from hard training. The constantly rising volumes of work as an athlete progresses is enabled by drug use - the logical conclusion of a drug free athlete approaching their limit is a reduction in volume due to the increased intensity necessary to make progress.

    I can perhaps answer some of your questions from my own perspective.

    Did you split up your training into blocks (transition, prep, comp, etc.)?
    Yes. There is really only one method of periodisation, it's all just organising different needs over time. "Blocks" of training happen as a result of logistics more than anything. If you suck at squats, you train more squats. Now you're good at squats but you suck at something else. Blocks of emphasis will always emerge because you cannot train everything as well as possible at once.

    The key word is "emphasis". Nothing is completely removed in any given block - general prep does not mean never touch anything heavy but it might mean reducing heavy singles to 75-90%/1 x 3-5 sets once a week to enable recovery e.g. snatch 90%/1 x 3 and clean and jerk 90%/1+1 = 5 reps at 90%. Those numbers are not absolute by the way, use ya brain to find what is appropriate for you.

    Likewise, comp prep does not mean zero bodybuilding work - just do a bit less to enable recovery from other training. You can see many athletes doing some bodybuilding work in the Worlds training halls at RPE eh i don't care.


    How long were your typical sessions? How many exercises did you perform per session typically?
    2-3 "big" exercises (competition lifts, variations or strength exercises), 1-2 small exercises (bodybuilding/rehab work). Between 2-6 top sets per big exercise and 6-10 top sets per session if sets/reps are organised conventionally (e.g. 85%/1+1 x 3 sets). Obviously this does not apply if you are doing things like singles on the minute at 80%, or programming squats for 8(3) @ 75% on short rest. Volume of course, inversely proportional to relative intensity. Don't do 4x2 + 4x1+1 at 95%.

    I think most weightlifting sessions should be able to be done within 90 minutes if you're focused on training. 90 minutes is enough time to get in a VERY hard training session, whether it's continuing to maximum (or beyond) on both lifts and maximum on squats, or doing a general prep session of some classics + 5x5 pulls or squats + bodybuilding.

    Too many lifters get caught up in the textbook rest times of 3 minutes or whatever for maximal regeneration of ATP and reduction of fatigue. Which is great until someone burns your clock in a competition, or if you have a real life that has a real schedule. Or if you're Lasha, you train with short rest because you can't find anyone else to go between your attempts.

    Brian has stress workouts which are very long (~3 hours) which need a period of recovery for a while in the days following. This is not a method that I use, firstly because I'm not a fan of smashing an athlete even in a controlled, periodic manner, and secondly because it's not logistically practical for me. If you can only train once or twice a week but you have lots of time during that session, a big session may be appropriate. Everyone's time and availability is different, but you have to do what works for you.
    Last edited by strapping; 09-12-2021 at 12:51 AM. Reason: underlined the hyperlinks

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    Did you do a lot of complexes, or mainly just snatch and clean + jerk?
    Clean and jerk is a combination exercise lol

    As Brian said earlier, snatch and clean and jerk is the priority because that is what you do in competition. Weightlifting is a sport and should be trained like a sport - if it helps as a thought experiment, imagine that you're a thrower or a sportsball player. How would you organise sport training, and strength and conditioning for your sport? What overlap is there - what physiological adaptations are necessary for the sport and which of these are accomplished through sport training itself?

    A working definition of strength for this context would be the ability to produce force given certain positions, given certain direction (con/ecc/iso) given certain speed. The most specific strength training for running is running drills (e.g. bounds), and the most specific weightlifting strength training is weightlifting and weightlifting drills. All training must have a specific technical and/or physiological goal.

    Combination exercises have a place in WL programming, as they can be an effective drill. However, I think in contemporary Western programming (and to some extent, contemporary Eastern bloc programming) they are quite overused. There are two uses for combinations.

    The first is to (over)exaggerate a particular component of technique. This is typically done between 2-4 total reps per set.

    Pull + snatch exaggerates the degree to which you should stay over the bar, multiple cleans and/or FS + jerk teaches the lifter how to jerk under exaggerated leg fatigue. Jerk behind neck + jerk exaggerates the use of the upper back and takes the arms out of it. High + low snatch/clean can emphasise a controlled, aggressive turnover or stopping the bar rapidly in the catch, depending on how it is coached. The common theme is that they all train an aspect of technique through exaggeration, not specific to the classic lifts.

    The second method must be used very wisely. The second use is to make the lifter hate their existence, along with some maximum strength/power endurance qualities (both physiologically and mentally). Being able to get a garbage lift to three white lights is a learned skill, even if it's not what you aim for. Higher repetition sets (e.g. 5-6 reps) can be good for getting a lifter to toughen up, but should be used sparingly and never with athletes who do not have enough of a base of consistent technique. There is also an element of conditioning that this brings, which ties into the power endurance thing.


    On specificity and variation for sport training
    A weightlifting competition is working up to 3 heavy snatch singles followed by working up to 3 heavy single clean and single jerk, performed in front of judges under some psychological pressure. The most specific training exercise is therefore, a small or mock competition. The following level of specificity is doing heavy snatch singles and heavy clean and jerk singles together in that order in training, and the third level is to do them separately.


    Combinations are ultimately a variation of the classic lifts, much like training drills are used in other sports. Lifts from the blocks develop pulling strength/power in that block position. Any variation that decreases catch height (of the lower body) will develop the ability to catch lower. Any variation that increases barbell height will develop the ability to pull higher. However, improvement in a variation does not necessarily carry over to the classic lifts, so you should keep an eye on that and be aware that no variation trains the snatch or clean and jerk like the snatch or clean and jerk.

    For example, an athlete who does a very low hip start snatch and shifts the feet back in the catch. If this lifter does block work, the lack of the first pull means the bar has less backward momentum, and thus the pull is less backwards. Which means there is less rearward force from the bar-body to stabilise for the abs/pecs in the catch. The skill of stabilising is different.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ilya's mid thigh block snatch is so much better than his classic snatch because the lack of first pull means that he's in a much better position to use his legs, which are his strong point as a lifter. In the classic lift he is considerably further over the bar and generates much less vertical force into the barbell. He also shifts further back in the block snatch catch. The point is that these drills are mechanically different to the classic lifts - not necessarily a bad thing, but they are different.


    Doing repetitions is another form of variation. The skill of performing reps is different to performing singles and so is the physiology. Being able to rep 90kg/3 doesn't mean you can do 100/1. On a technical level, the setup can be different between first and following reps, the psychology can be different, the fatigue is necessarily different, and so on. On a physical level, if you can pull 90 and 100kg like piss but you can't hold 100kg overhead structurally, then you will be capped at 90kg even if you can do doubles on it. Heavier weights and/or (particularly) faster movements are more stressful on connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, muscular connective tissue), this cannot be trained through reps at light weights alone.

    This is not to say that rep training is not useful, but the heavy single classic is both a skill and a physical capacity that needs to be trained to be developed. This is the most important aspect of weightlifting and is the most specfic skill training and the most specific strength training.

    On strength and conditioning for the sport of weightlifting
    S&C for weightlifting, like for any sport, does not make you better at the sport. It can however, lay a physical foundation that allows you to train the sport better (e.g. decreased risk of injury), which then improves your technique and your results.

    Broadly speaking, there are a few needs in weightlifting and WL S&C.
    • Joint and connective tissue strength
    • Maximal strength and hypertrophy
    • Concentric power (strength-speed and speed-strength)
    • Eccentric/change of direction power
    • Aerobic conditioning


    Again, I will note that all of these qualities are already being trained in sport training (competitive lifts + variations), so you do not need to train 3 billion exercises. 1-3 assistance exercises (I'm including squats/pulls here) is enough for a session.

    Any given exercise will have an effect on all of these to varying degrees, depending on how you perform them. For example, 3(6) deadlifts at 80% of deadlift will be very effective in training maximal strength and hypertrophy qualities. However, it may not have a big (or any) positive effect on concentric power. On the other hand, 6(3) deadlifts at 80% will have positive effects on concentric strength-power but with smaller effects on hypertrophy.

    Tempos of training exercises matter. The eccentric loading of the legs in the snatch/clean is very fast (as quick as half a second in the snatch), and therefore very stressful on connective tissue and nervous system. Slow eccentric squats do not train the ability to do fast eccentrics. There are certain times where fast, slow and normal eccentrics are useful in squats, but it is dependent on the athlete's response and their training program as a whole.

    For example, a beginner weightlifter who comes from a powerlifting background may have a very strong, but very slow and tight squat. That beginner will likely benefit from fast eccentric exercises like drop squats, continuous jump squats and so on, movements that train relaxation and speed of descent. This will condition the body's connective tissue particularly, as well as eccentric/CoD power, both qualities lacking in a slow-strong lifter. Once the lifter gets better at that, they can move onto harder movements - plyometrics, squat jumps from a box, squat jumps with weight, etc.

    On the other hand, an athlete with good flexibility and speed into the bottom position (currently training one) does not need fast eccentric squats, especially during a competitive preparation phase where he is already doing lots of heavy snatch/clean/jerk. For him, I tell him to use a controlled eccentric for squats, which allows for heavy loading of the bar without overloading the knee joints and causing knee pain.

    For hypertrophy work, heavier tolerable training is better. Presses, split squats and ab work aren't just there to make you look good on the beach, they're also there to strengthen the muscles, joints and ligaments. Heavier weights strengthen ligaments better. You might not be able to go super heavy (e.g. lunges for 5s after 5x5 back squat probably not a good idea), but heavy as is tolerable is good.

    How is volume distributed?
    Honestly, there's no neat way to count, and therefore no neat way to answer this.

    Rather than counting tons, number of lifts or whatever, imagine doing the session and assigning fatigue points on a scale to each exercise, each session, each week. Distribution of training is really about budgeting fatigue/stress and training time, not # of lifts.

    Dedicate the a lot of your training time and fatigue budget towards sport training for most of the year. In a prep phase, this can be 30-45 min classic lifts including light and top sets, 15-30 minutes for specific prep work, 15-30 minutes of general prep work. In a very heavy comp prep day, this could be 45-60 minutes of classic lifts, 15-20 minutes for pull or squat.

    The only period in which classic lifts should take up a very limited time (e.g. 15-20 minutes to work up to 75-80%/1) is in a general prep phase that is months and months out from competition, and typically really only needed if a lifter needs physical/psychological recovery from the monotony of weightlifting.

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    I'll provide a perspective 5 years after I wrote about my training experience in the thread that was just linked, as well as piggyback off of some points made above. Curious how what I write here differs from 5 years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by phillicl View Post
    Did you split up your training into blocks (transition, prep, comp, etc.)?
    Right now, I clearly write out my programs for my athletes and myself into clearly labeled blocks with estimated duration of training and workouts. Serhiy never quite explicitly informed me about these periods of training, only what the major focus of each workout or the next few weeks was going to be. For example after seeing me struggle with a 155 clean and jerk after a few months break, he told me "okay, now we focus on sguat [sic] 5x5 and try to reach 200 x 5 x 5" or when I first started he said "your second pull no good, we do block clean until it is." Serhiy has said that once you have achieved the goal of the desired training exercise or cycle, you "throw it away" and move back to more classic type training. The length of each goal depends, but I notice things usually take as little as 4 weeks for more advanced lifters to achieve desired outcomes, whereas some loftier ones (5x5 @ 200 for example) may take 12 or more weeks to achieve.

    One thing that is particularly unique I think to their methods that I am in large agreement with is that competition preparation does not take that long at all. It can take as little as 2-3 weeks to fully prepare someone for a any meet. There is little need to make a very long competition block because often most people hit their peak smack dab in the middle of a 6-8 week competition block. It's physically and mentally very stressful to be in those blocks for sustained periods of time with just monotonous training.

    In my opinion, the athlete does not necessarily need to know what specific block they are in, most importantly just to understand what the goal and focus of each training session/period should be. I write out each phase and focus as a way to guide my planning and when to rotate back to preparatory/GPP/hypertrophy focus.

    How long were your typical sessions? How many exercises did you perform per session typically?
    Not terribly long, average was probably 1.5-2hrs, 3 nonconsecutive days per week. In the beginning (2012) of my training with Serhiy I did 4-5 exercises on average. Warmup consisted of jogging, 20-40yd sprints, a lot of duck walking/duck jumps with and without weights, and low effort jumps. Typically the lifting sessions were (1)Muscle Snatch + OHS, (2)High Hang [P.]Snatch, (3)some snatch variation, (4)pull, and maybe (5)press. The typical set scheme for all those was 2-1-2; the first two sets across at the first weight you can put on the barbell, 1 set at an increased weight, and then 2 sets at the work weight. The classic variation or pull may have been 3-6 sets across at the end depending on what needed to be trained, but on average I'd say 2-1-2 was used for almost every exercise. Initially for the first few years was about accumulating volume and tonnage.

    As I advanced we added sessions up to 8/week (doubles MWF, single T/Sat). What happened initially is the volume was split up into 6 workouts just to be less fatigued and reduce training time. This is my preferential approach if someone trains more than 3 days per week. More is just more, but how can you make what you are currently doing better? Once I hit Master of Sport ranking for 69kg, 77kg, and 85kg categories it became very clear that more does not work and plans needed to be much more focused. The focus moved towards emphasizing 80%, 85%, and 90% weights and not the lighter percentages.

    I remember sitting in the banya with Yasha Kahn and we were discussing how I was training back in 2016. He remarked that compared to Russians of similar rank to me I was doing significantly less work than they were. I was finishing each workout within 45 minutes including general warmup/stretching, including 5x5 back squat.

    Brian has stress workouts which are very long (~3 hours) which need a period of recovery for a while in the days following. This is not a method that I use, firstly because I'm not a fan of smashing an athlete even in a controlled, periodic manner, and secondly because it's not logistically practical for me. If you can only train once or twice a week but you have lots of time during that session, a big session may be appropriate. Everyone's time and availability is different, but you have to do what works for you.
    Stress workouts were done once every 10 days and had up to 12 exercises. Same set scheme often used as before (2-1-2) for everything, except the final exercise of 5x5 squat with ~1RM CJ. This is one of several stress or shock methods (as Verkhoshanksy calls them) to elicit adaptations. Stress workouts do not necessarily need to be such high volumes of training, they can simply be a multiple attempts maximum snatch/CJ/squat workout as I advanced. Other stress/shock methods used are supramaximal eccentrics, plyometrics, forced repetitions, supramaximal lifting (max pull + heavy snatch/clean), maximal partials, etcetera. These are all great methods to incorporate but must be used sparingly and not mindlessly planned.

    Did you do a lot of complexes, or mainly just snatch and clean + jerk?
    As said above, if there was a technical point to address, Serhiy would select exercises accordingly. For example, in the beginning my clean had a shitty second pull so 2/3 workouts had cleans or pulls from blocks to address that. Even combinations of supramaximal pull + lighter clean from floor. We never eliminated lifts from the floor, even 70% for singles if we needed. Often times the workout could have been punctuated by classic lifts for singles. For example in one of those workouts for my second pull, I may do (1)close grip snatch, (2)floor pull + block clean, (3)block pull, and then finish with (4)classic clean + jerk with ~70-75%.

    If he believed I did not need to address a certain technical point, exercises were eliminated. Since my technique is incredibly stable he tells me to just focus on classic snatch, classic clean + jerk, powers, pulls, and squats. Even when he sees my athletes train, he will always ask "why" do I incorporate whichever exercises or combinations we are doing. It is a very important question when examining the training process. Why are you doing a complex? Does this serve any purpose other than adding work or you saw it online? Variation for the sake of variation is not necessary. We never chased numbers on specific variations, personal bests just came along when we opted to go heavier or see what we could do after a few weeks. Does doing a pull + snatch with 95% mean you can do 102-105% now? Who the fuck knows or cares, it's not on the platform and it didn't look easy so we don't train for it. We did whatever we could do that day as long as it looked easy and was accomplishing the specific goal for that exercise.

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