In this article I have used the material from the following websites:
For those who don't know Ivan Abadjiev is a famous Bulgarian weightlifting coach. His biography is quite fascinating. Before becoming a coach he was an outstanding weightlifter himself, taking silver in one of the World Championships. His coaching career started in the sixties, and he was known by his frequent critical comments in regards to training methods used in Bulgarian weightlifting. When Bulgarian weightlifting team came home beaten from 1968 Olympic Games Abadjiev reputation reached the ears of some high rank bureaucrat who said: "if he is so clever let him show what he can do". Abadjiev became national coach.
In the next Olympics Bulgarian team won three gold and three silver medals. During thirty years of his career Abadjiev produced 9 Olympic, 57 World and 64 Eropean Champions! In spite of such achievements his life was not that of a celebrity as one would expect. In 1884 when Soviets boycotted Los Angeles Olympics and organized alternative games, Druzhba-84, Bulgarians won in six categories, while USSR only in four. Abadjiev was summoned to the Bulgarian Olympic Commitee and was asked to resign. International Weightlifting Federation has found it unacceptable that such a small country gets most medals. Abadjiev did not resign. Few years before Olympic Games in Seoul one of the Bulgarian sports functionaries told Abadjiev: "All you can win is three gold medals. Any more and your head will roll, together with mine". Winning 1992 Olympics was not the biggest problem for Bulgarians. On the contrary, they were tested positive for banned substances and left the Games early. Abadjiev suspects foul play, as athletes who were caught were main opponents of Soviet weightlifters.
After 1992 Olympic Games Abadjiev formed a new national team that a year later won Eropean Championships. After that he was fired from his position. He could not find a job even in small clubs. He tried applying for work to weightlifting clubs of other countries but was declined: most clubs could not afford to employ such a celebrity coach. Eventually he took employment as the night guard in a kindergarden. Later he worked at the company manufacturing metal doors. Naturally many of his friends turned away from Abadjiev in fear of staining their reputation. In 1993 He got lucky and managed to get the position of a badminton coach, and in 1995 Abadjiev was invited to Turkey to coach his former trainee Naum Suleymanoglu who defected from Bulgaria couple of years earlier. Suleymanoglu won gold in Atlanta.
Abadjiev's philosophy of coaching is based on the principle of Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands, or S.A.I.D. that states that adaptation to stressor is specific to that stressor. The corner stones of the program are the three maximum sessions performed on alternate days, e.g. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Time permitting, and with increased work capacity, lifters can then add lighter sessions (up to ~85%) on the 'off days' which function as active recovery from the preceding heavy workout. The last stage is to perform similar 'tuning' sessions on the morning of a heavy workout. There is substantial practical evidence that suggests a moderate session in the morning can actually improve the quality of a later workout.
When a lifter first begins to employ maximum lifts in training, the workout may require several days to recover. However, over time, tolerance to the heavier loading develops and the athlete can progress to maximum without significant preparatory arousal. Subsequently CNS fatigue is reduced and training consistency will improve.
Recently someone posted the story on IGx how one weightlifting coach trains a fifty-odd years old female in weightlifting. The principle is high intensity and limited volume. Several interesting replies were posted in response, one of the the observation that those practicing low volume/high intensity approach get away with doing no warm-up before the session. One of the first posts of this blog tells the story of Prof. Sergeev who advocated low volume training and long recovery intervals for rowers with good results. Earlier I did a post on interesting training methodology for running 10 km. Instead of the traditional approach where you first run 10 km slowly and then gradually increase the speed, it advocated running at the goal speed for as far as one can, gradually increasing the distance. We all know about the ideas of Mike Mentzer, big proponent of high intensity, low volume and long rest. I tried to start more discussion on IGx on volume vs intensity in this context, unfortunately the question has not been understood.
In Girevoy Sport as it exists in the US SAID principle is applied in the form of OTW training. Every session you do one timed set followed by assistance exercises which for jerks is one arm jerk with heavier kettlebell and swing for snatch. Both assistance exercises are done with heavier kettlebell. More advanced trainees do jump squats. This method is closest to Abadjiev's standard, as you imitate competition during every session. Is this the answer?
Everyone reading my blog knows that I like volume training. As much as I hate to admit it looks like OTW principle has more substance than I wanted to accept. It is sport specific and focused and is based on SAID principle. For me the problem with it is mental challenge. I never tried to conceal the fact that my motivation is not of the highest ranks and that I don't aspire to conquer the world of kettlebells of my age group. On the other hand, the path of intensity may be more suitable for people with limited training time like me. OTW may produce better results in shorter time, if results is what one wants.
I tried OTW when I started doing GS training with Dmitri Sataev. I didn't like it, it was too hard, and I dreaded every workout. I still think that before embarking on OTW one has to build a base with volume. Multiple short sets are less challenging and at the same time allow getting lots of reps in a session. It goes without saying that the technique is paramount. The good thing is that volume facilitates the technique, to an extent of course.
I think EDT is a good compromise between OTW and volume training. I know for a fact that it is favored by several respectable coaches in Russia. With this method the volume stays the same while the intensity is gradually increased. Out of ten sessions six will be very similar to OTW, and the other four are the variation of interval training.
Next question is, what size bells should be used in training? Again, following the principle of specificity it makes sense to use competition weight. In case of beginners however it is not feasible and one should progress through the weights gradually. And this is where I believe volume training again has its advantages.
Another interesting aspect is the speed of lifting. OTW method suggests starting lifting slowly and building the duration. After you can last 10 minutes you reduce the duration, increase the cadence and build the duration once again. Another possible variation is to start lifting at the cadence needed for the result and work on increasing the duration. So if you want to jerk two bells for 100 times in ten minutes start lifting at 10 reps/minute and every session try to last longer. To my knowledge nobody has ever tried this method, so feel free to experiment.
From now on I am going to do more timed sets, slow and fast. I have reasonable strength and endurance base, and now it is time to start working on specificity. I think I wasted time with lighter bells for a little too long. If it works or not - you will see in the next few months.