Eastern Bloc hypertrophy training?

Discussion in 'Barbell' started by andishehhank, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. andishehhank

    andishehhank Double-Digit Post Count

    I have been going to the same gym since 2007, and sometimes I'll stop going for about one or two years at a time. I have had a hard time returning to my training for over one year now, and I think it is because I don't want spend one hour training my body parts every week. Every time I stop training it is usually because I am not motivated to do sessions dedicated to small muscles like chest, biceps or shoulders. From reading about training over the years, I have noticed the Eastern Bloc countries getting mentioned in their successes with getting their athletes to move up weight classes. I think it's time I try training like them, because I don't care to do isolation training. I just want to be healthy and have a base of muscle mass because I am getting skinny-fat. I used to want to be a competitive bodybuilder, but not anymore. Is there any help I can get to find out what the training methods of the Eastern Bloc countries were for moving up weight classes? I have access to bumper plates and I have a base of strength and know proper form for all the basic exercises. Again, this is just to build up a base of muscle for looking good in clothes. handling stress, etc. I don't mind if the training includes strength work either. Thanks in advance!
  2. william bad butt

    william bad butt More than 300 posts

    PTTP may be a good place to start (Power To The People!).
    ShawnM likes this.
  3. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts

    Your Training

    How you write up your training program is up to you, dependent on your objective.

    Spending and hour training a body part is not necessary for your objective.

    Then Don't Train Them

    Compound Exercise provide the most "Bang for the buck" because they work multiple muscle groups during one exercise

    Secondly, the greatest overload occurs with the small muscle groups.

    The smaller muscle group are the weak link in a Compound Exercise; they work harder.

    Thus, the smaller muscle group get more than enough work in a Compound Exercise.

    Reading What?

    It is hard to comment on the information you have read without reading it myself. Please post it.

    With that said, the method for increasing muscle mass and for athletes to move up a weight class are the same for everyone regardless of where they live.

    The Fundamentals Of Hypertrophy

    The key is understand the principles of Hypertrophy. Based on the research of Dr Brad Schoenfeld these three mechanisms are necessary for optimal Hypertrophy.

    1) Mechanical Tension: Increasing Limit Strength (1 Repetition Maximum Training). Employing heavy weights for low repetitions.

    2) Metabolic Stress: This involves "The Pump/The Burn"; the dominate factor for Hypertrophy.

    Moderate loads for 8 plus repetitions per set, with short reset periods between sets.

    Muscle Contractions trap blood in the muscle creating a hormonal cascade that promotes muscle growth; "Accumulation of Metabolites (lactic acid > acidic environment > GH secretion), Dr Jeremy Loenneke.

    3) Muscle Damage

    a) Weekly progressive overload during a training cycle, with the final week of pushing muscles to failure or near failure.

    b) Loaded Stretching: Performing full range exercises that place the muscles in a Loaded Stretch. Examples: Dumbbell Bench Press, Full Squats, etc.

    c) Post Exercise Sets Loaded Stretches: After each set of an exercise, preforming a Loaded Stretch of around 30 seconds. Example: Sitting in the bottom of a Full Squat with Barbell on your back for 30 Seconds. A low load in a Full Squat works.

    Full Body Training

    Based on your information, performing a full body training session would work for you; training let's say, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

    One method that could be employed is employing different type of Strength Training for each day.


    1) Monday: Hypertrophy Full Body Training

    2) Wednesday: Power Full Body Training

    3) Friday: Limit Strength Full Body Training

    Gaining Weight

    The key to gaining weight is increasing your calorie intake.

    Research by Drs Layne Norton and John Ivy, independent of each other, determined that increasing your caloric intake approximately 20% ensured a greater gain in muscle mass and minimal gains of body fat; providing a good training program is followed.


    1) Compound Exercises provide the greatest "Bang for the buck." The smaller, weaker muscle are overloaded. That means is not necessary to train smaller muscle, unless you want to increase the size and/or strength of that particular muscle group.

    2) Hypertrophy Training involves moderate loads with 8 plus repetition per set with short rest period between sets for "The Pump"/Metabolic Stress.

    3) Optimal Hypertrophy Training involves increasing Limit Strength and producing some Muscle Damage.

    4) Gaining Weight means increasing your caloric intake approximately 20%.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
  4. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    Thank you, @kennycro@@aol.com, you have a great way of stating things.
  5. Tarzan

    Tarzan More than 500 posts

    What was the year Schoenfeld presented that research @kennycro@@aol.com?

    Henselmans did a presentation about two years ago that seemed to suggest that metabolic stress and muscle damage didn't play much of a role in muscle growth / protein synthesis. There's no references in his description on the youtube vid, so it's difficult to accept it at face value without being able to verify his work but he made a fairly compelling case.

    Some of his evidence was extrapolated from meta studies or gender specific, which could be quite reliable if the analyses were undertaken in an unbiased manner or highly inaccurate if they cherry picked studies to fit a pre-determined hypothesis.

    I tend to agree with his idea that volume is the biggest factor in muscle growth though and the idea of not beating yourself up as Pavel has been telling us for over 20 years works for me too,

    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
    North Coast Miller likes this.
  6. andishehhank

    andishehhank Double-Digit Post Count

    Are there any websites that outline the exact methods or routines used by the Eastern Bloc teams? I don't have immediate access to the websites I read about this subject, but every once in a while when reading from authors that are strength coaches I will often hear about the Eastern Bloc style of training for gaining weight.

    I am fond of the compound exercise approach because there are around fifteen muscle groups total, and it is not feasible to spend an hour training each one per week.

    I am carrying quite a bit of muscle mass from training over the years. I train heavy so the muscle doesn't go away easily. Lately I had to made a decision if I wanted to keep training or put it in my past and I decided if I could train better for my goals I might be more motivated to be consistent.

    Basically I wanted to read about how the Eastern Bloc teams trained to get their athletes up in weight, because I believe I would like it and do well with it compared to traditional split routines. I have done some searching but the information has changed in recent years. There are a lot of younger coaches giving regurgitated advice and it is not quite what I used to read when I was younger like 10 years ago. The other websites that I found don't really talk about the Eastern bloc training either; I assume I am searching the wrong key words. So I was hoping I came to the right place to find some direction. Thanks for reading.
  7. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    Greg Nuckols has a good article on his site relative to the support for some muscle damage:
    Grow Like a New Lifter Again? • Stronger by Science

    Seems to be necessary to generate more myonuclei, although the muscle can get larger with the same number, it will hit a limit and essentially stop if this factor isn't increased.

    And the argument for some (also in italics) metabolic stress would seem to be backed up by the success of blood flow restriction, which is still being experimented with for best practices.

    Schoenfeld also uncovered an inverse relationship to volume once it got past a certain number of hard sets, I cannot recall what that number is off-hand...I suspect if enough studies are examined we're going to find a very familiar volume/intensity crossing point, the center of which is the sweet spot for size. The work Jones did is still valid, his approach just isn't well tolerated by most.

    I think clouding the issue is the number of methods out there one can choose from for size - for max strength you have to lift heavy, often, with a lot of recovery. The same rules don't seem to apply to straight up mass building.

    LukeV and Tarzan like this.
  8. andishehhank

    andishehhank Double-Digit Post Count

    I have had success with a traditional split routine, as well as strength focused routines for mass building. This time I was curious to try training like an Eastern Bloc lifter trying to move up a weight class. I assumed it would be a high frequency, compound exercise approach. I really like these styles of training.
  9. Tarzan

    Tarzan More than 500 posts

    Thanks @North Coast Miller that adds a bit more to the conversation. There's definitely a sweet spot as far as volume goes, too much will kill your gains for sure.

    Henselmans has an agenda because he's selling a product, so I wasn't totally sold on what he said in the presentation. Without references to back up what he said it was hard to take it as fact.
  10. LukeV

    LukeV More than 300 posts

    Hypertrophy is such a fascinating topic due to the confounding nature of the variables (eg exercises, weight, sets, reps, rest, bar speed, warm up, stretching, nutrition, genetics, calories, pharmaceuticals etc) plus the influence of 'lived experience' (bro science). When reviewing the literature a few years ago I was struck by the large number of outliers amongst the human subjects. It seems that everything we can conclude for most people doesn't seem to work for quite a large group of some people. Building muscle seems to be an unusually individualistic process. For my part I spent years on Schwarzenegger-esque programs with (in hindsight) insane amounts of exercises and volume and to failure training yet got better results when I drastically cut the number of exercises, scaled down the volume and gave up exercising to failure. But did that make the difference or did I coincidentally eat a bit more and/or get better sleep?
  11. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts

    The 80/20 Rule

    When it comes to anything three is a small group of people rather than a large group of people that it does't work for.

    That applies to training method. That means for the largest group of people something works and small group, it doesn't work.

    Another example is medications. It works for the majority of individual but not for the minority.

    The Two Minority Groups

    1) Non-Responders: This is the challenged minority group that doesn't respond well.

    2) Super Responcers: This is the genetically gifted group that anything appears to work for.

    Universal Effect

    Building muscle, increasing strength, etc. is more of a universal effect for the majority.

    For the majority of individual lifting heavy weight will make them stronger (increase their 1 Repetition Max), preforming bodybuilding/hypertrophy training program increases muscle mass, etc.

    That is because the majority of is are more alike than dis-alike.

    Kenny Croxdale
    LukeV likes this.
  12. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    Back in the late 80s early 90s many of the muscle heads I knew trained very similar, and at the gym I used there were only two common strategies - powerlifting and pyramids. Everyone did ascending load/reducing reps. Not everyone trained to failure every set, but set extenders on the last, lowest rep count set (usually 3-5) were very common - drops or rest/pause.

    Individuals might arrange this stuff differently, but everyone was essentially doing a form of increased volume HIT, something that even today is still being endorsed by guys like Christian Thibaudeau.

    I think the one thing that was (and still is) most common is doing more total sets than are necessary if also being done with high intensity of effort.

    Fitness vocabulary doesn't even have a word for intensity of effort aside from RPE, intensity now meaning % RM, but for mass gains it is still a major factor. Not so much for strength, the discovery of which seems to have led to these really high volume/low intensity programs Jeff was railing against.
    LukeV likes this.
  13. LukeV

    LukeV More than 300 posts

    Programs that have you working sub-maximally up to one set to failure or close to are in effect HIT programs, really. I mean what's a sub-maximal set if not a warm up? 531, Greyskull, De Lorme, plenty of Dan John etc all spring to mind as essentially HIT methods. And plenty of muscle has been built on one hard set to failure (or close to). My own experience accords with the research that shows multiple hard sets produce superior hypertrophy but often the research doesn't compare like with like. As you highlight, what's the objective measure of intensity? Fact is many people who claim to be going to failure aren't really. They're failing alright but psychologically not physically. I remember as a teenager reaching my rep limit in bench press just as a hot chick walked past and discovering miraculously that I could do TWO more! I'm convinced that one genuinely hard set per muscle group, close to failure, around once per week is all most people need to be strong and look great but I don't train that way myself
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  14. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    I agree 100%.

    I believe the biggest draw back to the real low volume HIT approach is it cannot effectively be done by an individual - you need someone keeping you honest and helping with forced reps etc.

    The second biggest drawback is the stronger you get the more of a whooping you can put on yourself. It can take enough time to recover that you're basically treading water between sessions and you lose momentum.

    Not many people are willing to train this way, or just as bad they get good results, mentally thrive and wind up applying max intensity to too much volume, for our classic overtrained burnout.

    I consider how I train to be "watered down HIT", with one or two lead in sets and a single hard-working set per exercise. On very rare occasions I'll go to gravity-wins failure, but most of the time I know I've got a rep or two in the tank. Primarily I use this strategy because it plays well with a lot of different modalities - no microloading, no waviness aside from differences in exercise selection. This doesn't work so well for improving limit strength compared to stuff like Easy Strength, but ES requires good control over loading parameters - something that isn't always possible training at home with portable gear.

    For the OP, I couldn't find anything specific to East European BBing except this article by Thib:
    East European Bodybuilding | T Nation
    LukeV likes this.
  15. andishehhank

    andishehhank Double-Digit Post Count

    Apparently this highly regarded methodology I was thinking about was the Bulgarian Method. The workouts are 5-6 days per week, up to 6 times a day. I didn't find anything about how to train if muscle gain is the goal with this system, but there should be other websites I can refer to for that.

    I used to do the typical once-per-week-body-part-splits and enjoyed good gains but I always felt I could do more. I think I have a lot to learn about training muscles every day. I even read about the Bear back in 2009 and tried it, but I tend to be partial to 10 rep sets and more volume of lifts. The reason I am on this particular site is justified, as I have been very partial to basic exercises and strength gain.
  16. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts

    Multiple Sets

    Research and anecdotal data have demonstrated that multiple set elicit a greater training effect than performing one set to failure, High Intensity Training.

    If one set to failure worked, Bodybuilders, Powerlifters, Olympic Lifters, etc would use HIT rather than training with multiple sets

    Yates and Metzer

    Both Yates and Metzer became proponents of HIT. However, the foundation of their bodybuilding was built on multiple sets. Their mass was maintained with HIT and the use of PEDs; as someone once said, "Better living through chemistry".

    However, one of the thing demonstrated by HIT is intensity is one of the key for increasing size and strength.

    With that said, HIT has it place in training for individuals.

    Kenny Croxdale
  17. kennycro@@aol.com

    kennycro@@aol.com More than 500 posts

    The Bulgarian's Training

    Their method centered around the Olympic Lifts, not hypertrophy.

    The Bulgarian Bodybuilding Program" doesn't exist.

    What you will find are individual who have tried to apply the concepts of "The Bulgarian Olympic Lifting Program" for Bodybuilding.

    Multiple training session during the day, during the week are not exclusive "The Bulgarian Method"...

    Blitzkrieg Bodybuilding Training

    Back in the 1970's one of Joe Weider's muscle magazines published an article on "Blitzkrieg Bodybuilding Training". Weider was one of the king's of hype.

    Weider also did a lot to mainstream Bodybuilding into what it is today. Mr Olympia was founded by Weider.

    Weider also took concepts and re-branded them as his own, "The Weider Principles".

    As an example, Weider took the "General Adaptation Syndrome" that Han Selye came up with in around 1923 and re-branded it as "Muscle Confusion". "Muscle Confusion" is the dumbbed down version.

    "Muscle Confusion" amount to someone asking how to gain weight. Your reply, "Eat more."

    "The Blitzkrieg Bodybuilding Training Program" was something that Arnold and every pro bodybuilder was doing.

    The program involved a morning, mid day and evening training session; something pro bodybuilder still do today. Like all full time jobs, being a pro Bodybuilder means you have spend more time at work.

    It's no different in most sports. Preseason for American Football Players means two day practice session.

    The Bear

    As you know, this is a complex of exercise that amount to Circuit Training, nothing more.

    I am constantly amazed at how others take concepts and then re-brand them, as with The Bear, The Weider Principles, etc.

    Jesus was a profit every but in his own land

    Basically, that's what is stated in The Gospel of Mark.

    We tend to believe the mystique of strangers seeing them as profits. We discount information from those we know.

    You seem to be enamored with the training method of far away lands/people like the Eastern Europeans.

    Volume Training

    Volume Training is one of the keys to increasing size and/or strength. The key is finding the amount that works for you.

    Sets of 10 Reps

    Most of us have Rep Ranges that we prefer.

    However, research and anecdotal data have demonstrated that one strength enhance the other: Bodybuilders need to incorporate Limit Strength Training into their programs and Limit Strength Athletes need to employ Hypertrophy Training for optimal results.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
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  18. andishehhank

    andishehhank Double-Digit Post Count

    I was doing an HIT style program where I would do sets of 4-6 and then a back off of 8-12. It was working good. I also tried doing sets of 10 for 45 minutes straight. It worked good too. They all work for different types of results. My HIT style program was DC training, where I would do almost all compound lifts, heavy and to failure. My progress pictures showed I was filling out overall rather than localizing hypertrophy in each separate body part.
  19. andishehhank

    andishehhank Double-Digit Post Count

    The Bulgarians believed in training for 45 minutes and then taking 30 minutes off back and forth until up to 6 training sessions where accomplished. Ever since my early days of training, I thought training a muscle once per week was ridiculous. I still tried it for about 5-6 months and it actually worked but I think I can train each muscle or lift daily.

    Truly some forms of training are like a full time job. I wouldn't get paid to do it so my motivation isn't high. I enjoyed most of my success on abbreviated programs but I always wanted to try training multiple times a day.
  20. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement, SFB, Senior SFG Staff Member Senior Instructor

    I hear conflicting, or at least different, goals in here. One does _not_ need to make an effort to add muscle in order to become stronger, or in order to avoid being "skinny-fat." Strong is strong, sensible training for a specific goal is just that.

    I train for strength and weigh 150 lb (68 kg). No one in my real, day-to-day world thinks I'm too thin, or skinny-fat, or anything like that. A "base of muscle mass" is simply not necessary in order to have a decent body composition.

    Just my opinion, but I think you'd be better off finding something you want to _do_ rather than something you want to _be_, the latter being things like more muscular. How about aiming for a multiple of bodyweight you haven't achieved in a compound lift, e.g., a double bodyweight deadlift or squat, or a 1.5 x bodyweight bench press.

    There's nothing wrong and everything right about the way bodybuilders used to approach their craft, but there are lots of people I see today whose appearance, muscular as it is, isn't something I'd ever want to emulate. If I want to look like something, I'd like to look strong, not muscular - those are two different things, IMO. I look in the mirror to make sure I've done a good job shaving and brushing my teeth.

    JMO, YMMV.


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