Thursday, April 20, 2023

Front Squat, Quadruple Bodyweight.

 In the comments, Grey Cat Barbell Club mentioned Front Squats from that Taranenko interview article. 

I still can't convince the robot that runs this software toy that I'm not a robot via a 2009 dead email account, so I'll just post this here . . . 



It's an outstanding Oly lifting channel. I keep trying to watch more but the speed these guys go under a Jerk makes me wanna take up bowling and drink weak beer all day.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Angel Spassov Interview -- Tony Graves (1990)


Angel Spassov was born on November 18th, 1941. He is affiliated with the Department of Weightlifting in the Bulgarian Higher Institute for Physical Education and Sports Instruction. 

He has trained such notable lifters as 

Norair Nurikian 

and gold medalist 

Asen Zlatev 

Since 1980 he has worked with 760 coaches from 52 countries. 

Q: How many years have you been involved with the Bulgarian weightlifting program? 

A: Thirty-one years.

Q: Were you ever a lifter yourself? 

A: I lifted from 1958 to 1970. My highest placing was fifth at the 1965 Europeans. 

Q: How do you feel about the publicity given the doping situation? 

A: The IOC has done the most fighting to prevent the sport from doping. In 1976, the first time it tested for steroids, five lifters were positive. In Seoul, it was five positive. It was not a successful fight. It's becoming a fight between law and criminals. The law trying to prevent society from the crime. The crime still increasing. We will stop doping when something replaces it. People already know the price of using it. They still use it because they believe it is the only way. 

Q: How do you feel about random testing? 

A: It will be effective if we can control all countries. I don't believe it's possible to control all countries. 

Q: How do you feel about the new rule changes that make it more difficult to set world records? 

A: The rule changes represent the IWF weakness in the fight against doping. 

Q: Are there plans for Mitko Grablev and Angel Guenchev to return to competition. 

A: Both are training hard and will return to competition.

Q: How much of a shock was it to the Bulgarian Federation when they tested positive? 

A: It was quite a shock, as both lifters had tested negative two weeks earlier. It was the first time a lifter had been caught on diuretics. For them to test positive was miscalculation of the Federation and Doping Control.     

Note: Both were banned owing to use of diuretic drugs.   

Q: Where do you thing the future of weightlifting is going? 

A: The sport needs some changes. Since the press was eliminated seventeen years ago, there have been no changes in the competitive program. 

Q: Would you like to see the press returned? 

A: No, the removal of the press did a good job of preventing back injuries. Without the press the athletes were able to train more on the lifts and squats, which produced higher results. With these higher results has also come an 85% increase in arm and shoulder injuries. 

Note: A guy can get hurt within any, or any combination of lifting genres if he falls off the razor's edge onto the injury side. And who doesn't want to push it just a little harder? 

Q: What are some of the causes of these injuries? 

A: By working extensively on the lifts and squats and neglecting the upper body, the lifter creates an imbalance. Lifting and squatting build accelerative power. But when the accelerative power is combined with no increase in upper body strength, the arms and shoulders are not always able to carry the load and injuries occur.

Q: How do you think upper body injuries could be decreased?

A: PUTTING THE BENCH PRESS IN AS A COMPETITIVE LIFT WOULD HELP. The lift would not only strengthen the upper body of the lifter but also draw more people into the sport. 

Q: How is that? 

A: The bench press is the most popular exercise out of all the lifts. It would give athletes that don't have the athletic skills to execute a high snatch or clean & jerk a chance in competition. 

Q: Have you ever proposed this to the IWF Technical Committee? 

A: Yes, as I also believe it would also increase the sport's popularity and stem the tide of powerlifting which is knocking on the Olympic door. 

Note: Thirty-three years and still nothing on the horizon with that. 

Q:  What other things could be done to cut back on injuries? 

A: We need to replace drugs with better training. To increase the culture of training without drugs would mean a longer time for strength qualities to develop. It would also cut back on problems with joints and tendons.

Q: How would you rank yourself with coaching greats Abadjiev and Medvedev? 

A: I am younger. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!     


Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Leonid Taranenko Interview -- Bud Charniga (1989)


Note: Check out the poundages and the training volume here. 
Yes, I am aware of drug use in lifting just like you! 

This interview took place at the Olympic Royal Hotel in Athens, Greece on September 23, 1989, the day following the completion of the 1989 World Championships. Unfortunately, Taranenko had been denied the opportunity to compete in Athens. Mr. Albert Mizhen, acting as interpreter, was of invaluable assistance. 

Q: Tell me something about your training. 

A: I train six days per week: three times per day for three days, a total of six hours per day, and twice a day for the other three days, for a total of four hours a day. 

Q: Who makes out your program? 

A: My coach writes my program. He is not a professional coach. He is an engineer by profession. He watches every workout.

Q: Do you employ a special device in your workouts to help assess the barbell trajectory? 

A: Yes. My coach designed a special device, made of three planks mounted vertically on a base. The planks are marked out in centimeters. I do lifts with the end of the barbell between the planks. 

Q: What exercises do you employ in training?

A: I usually snatch every day, sometimes twice a day. I do the clean & jerk and the snatch in separate workouts. I do pulls from the floor, from the hang, from planks, and while standing on a raised surface (deficit). I do push jerks but no presses in training. Some years ago, I pressed 230 kg. (507) in the old Olympic style, so I don't feel I need to do them. Furthermore, usually do not separate the clean and the jerk, but execute the clean & jerk as a whole.

Q: What strength exercises do you favor?

A: The back squat is the most important strength exercise. I usually squat every day, sometimes more than once a day. My best back squat is 380 kg. (837). But this is with a 2-second pause at the bottom. 

Q: How many reps per set: 

A: Usually no more than three. However, I occasionally do sets of five for explosive speed. I can use 300 kg. (660) for sets of five, done rapidly. Typically, I pause at the bottom for a count of two when doing squats.

Q: Do you have problems with sore knees? 

A: No. 

Q: Do you do front squats? 

A: No. I used to do front squats about twice a week, but stopped some years ago when I was able to do 300 kg. (660) for three reps. At that point I felt I was way beyond what I needed to recover effectively from the clean. And besides, that much weight is an excessive load on the chest. 

Q: Do you do bench step-ups and lunges? 

A: Yes. I do the step-ups occasionally, just to exercise the legs while unloading the spine. The lunges are no big deal. I use them once in a while as a change of pace.

Q: What about the hyperextension exercise? 

A: I don't do this exercise. It's not an important strength exercise. Usually people only do this exercise if they have a sore back.

Q: What back exercise do you like?

A: I do good-mornings with the legs slightly bent. As you begin to bend over you should feel the pressure near the heel of the foot. Begin to straighten up as soon as the pressure nears the ball of the foot. This is a very important principle when doing this exercise. But nobody ever thinks about it. It is very useful to have a strong back for weightlifting. When I was younger, I could do more in the good morning than in the snatch.

Q: Do you do any jumping in your training? 

A: Only with a barbell or a dead Chinmoy. I do jumps with 100-120 kg. (220-265) with the barbell on my shoulders.  

Q: What are your best results in training? 

A: My best results are 210 and 262.5 kg. (463 and 579). But I do not try to lift record weights in training, as a rule. For instance, the  heaviest weights I handled prior to my world records in Australia last year were 200 kg. in the snatch and 245 kg. in the clean & jerk. 
Q: Do you do any abdominal exercises? 
A: No. I am too lazy. However, I believe that the abdominals re strengthened when one exercises the back, just as the biceps are strengthened when one exercises the triceps. 
Q: How has your training changed over the years, with respect to your methods as a 110 kg. lifter? 
A: My training has changed dramatically. I used to train only four times per week as a 110 lifter. The single most dramatic change is the intensity. Today, I train at a much higher intensity (% of max). For example, my average training weight is 190 kg. This includes pulls, squats, etc. When I do squats, for instance, my first set is with 170 (375). From there I take 50 kg. (110 lb.) jumps, until I get to the heaviest weight for that workout. 
Q: What about Alexeev's training? 
A: Nobody knows how Alexeev trained. He trained alone or when no one was around. I trained with him from 1976 on (at the national team camps). He seemed to do more repetitions per set than the norm. He never squatted with more than he cleaned. 
Q: I read that Alexeev was quoted as saying that he never used more than 270 (595) in the squat. 
A: That sounds about right. He never revealed his actual strength in training or competition.
Q: What about Pisarneko and 


A: Pisarenko wasn't that strong. For instance, Zakharevich beat him snatching without a hook grip, 175 to 170. He probably couldn't squat much more than 290 kg. His legs were not that strong. But he has good clean technique. I don't think he could stand up with his cleans, if he had to sit at the bottom for a few seconds. Gunyashev couldn't lift in training or competition. He was always injured.  

When you see lifting photography this great
it's almost always from Bruce Klemens.  

Q: What is your salary? 

A: Three hundred rubles a month. The average salary in the USSR is about one hundred fifty rubles. [Note: the buying power of three hundred per month may be roughly equivalent to a current U.S. salary of $35,000 to 40,000 per year. Scale that 40 up to today's. A little shy of 100,000.]
Q: How much are you paid for a world record? 
A: 1500 rubles. 

At this point, Taranenko attempted to explain what his living standard is like compared to those of a professional athlete in the West. 

A: A soviet sports writer began an interview with Magic Johnson, "What kind of car do you drive?" Johnson replied that he owns a Rolls Royce, a Porsche and two trucks. This ended the interview, because the writer could ask no more questions. You see, it takes 10 years to buy a car in the USSR. And, if you are lucky enough to own one, you can drive it for 10 years and sell it for more than you paid for it because the buyer doesn't have to wait in line.

Q: American lifters think the Soviets have the best restoratives [you know what he means]. That is why they, the Soviets are so much better. 

A: That's nonsense. If we had access to American restoratives, you would see a significant increase in world records. This is the main reason for the Bulgarians' recent successes over our lifters -- they have closer ties to the Americans and can obtain their restoratives. 

Q: I've heard that Christov and Vardanian were not very strong, when not using restoratives. 

A: I've heard that about Christov too. Without them, Vardanian was incredibly weak. 

Q: Do you know the significance of a 273 kg. clean & jerk? 

A: Yes. It is the 600 pound barrier. I read about the track meet where $500,000 dollars was offered for a record in the long jump. I would settle for much less to do that, to do a 600-pound clean & jerk.

Q: What results were you expecting here in Athens? 

A: 210 and 267.5; 270 if I needed it. 

Q: Why was Gueliskhanov moved up to the 110+ and your name dropped from the start list? 

A: It is very difficult to make a USSR national team because there are so many good lifters. Furthermore, there is the necessity to rejuvenate the team and give the younger lifters a chance. 

Q: Tell me about the Soviet system of training, versus the Bulgarian.

A: There is no Soviet system as such. We have many coaches and athletes doing many different things. The coaches are required to report their training. The data is analyzed; the current trends and the fundamentals of what we are doing are established. The Bulgarians have merely taken our research and applied it to their conditions. 

I have trained with the Bulgarians at the major competitions. 
They virtually bleed when they work out. 

Q: What is your impression of the America lifters? 

A: They have to train harder. 

Next: An interview from 1989 with Angel Spassov. 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 


Monday, April 17, 2023

Push-Pull Training -- Kenny Guess


If you enjoy training four days a week or would like to, I am going to list a tested and proven way to split up your training. 

It's called the Push-Pull routine. The thing I like about this type of schedule is it allows you to spend a maximum of four-five hours per week in the gym. If you are a busy person but still enjoy serious bodybuilding, this routine will give you the best of both worlds. 

To begin with, the title of this routine, push-pull, explains how it works.

Enjoy Your Lifting! 

No, wait, that's not the whole article. 

On Monday and Thursday, you would work Chest, Shoulder, and Triceps (pushing movements). 

On Tuesday and Friday, you would work Legs, Back, and Biceps 
(pulling movements). 

Doing frontal thighs and calves should be defined as pushing movementsm, but when these two areas are being worked, other muscle groups will not be invloved. Therefore, it doesn't matter if we put them in with the pulling movements. 

The bodyparts are divided in a way that allows for complete rest the following day [of those specific muscles, not of the entire bodily system, of course. We all know that already, right?] 

For example: 

Monday you work chest, shoulders and triceps. During the following training days, these muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps) are not being used, but are recuperating. However, if you did chest, shoulders, triceps AND biceps on Monday, on Tuesday when you worked your back you would also be using your biceps again from rowing or lat pulldown movements. This would apply if you did chest and triceps on consecutive days. The pushing movements done for chest would involve the triceps and the next day your triceps are worked again. This would also hold true if you did shoulders and triceps, or chest and shoulders on consecutive days. This could cause overtraining in a particular area. 

You will be working each muscle group twice a week, but by doing three bodyparts per session, you can really intensify your training. My training partner, Rick McKay, and I push each other through by doing negatives or railroading at the end of each set. 

Here's Bill Starr talking about railroading: 

With this type of intensity you can really tear up each area with a minimum of sets. Here is our present program: 

Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Incline Bench Press
Press Behind Neck
Dumbbell Laterals
Upright Rowing
Triceps Pressdowns
Barbell Triceps Extension 


Back, Biceps, Legs

T-Bar Row
Front Lat Pulldown
Barbell Curl
Incline DB Curl
Leg Curl
Calf Raise

The sets and reps may vary on a particular day. For example, we may do 10-12 sets for biceps if we are really getting into them, or we might do everything heavy one day and keep the reps around 6. I can't stress the importance of intensity enough. The last 2-3 reps of each set should be difficult to complete, whether you are doing 6 or 12 reps! 


The Push-Pull routine has been around for many years, mainly because of the results it has produced. If you have reached a plateau in your training, give this program a try. I am sure it will help further your progress. 

Enjoy Your Lifting.    


Training Factors -- George Popplewell (1958)


Note: There is still a Clean & Jerk article by Mr. Popplewell to come. This is an article on Oly lifting, but, as always, with a little thought you should be able to use some of this, no matter your choice of lifting genre(s). 

The preceding articles in this series have touched upon certain technical points of the three Olympic lifts. Training for these lifts has been mentioned; for example, exercises and repetitions to perform. But training schedules in themselves are but part of the factors which to to make a weightlifter. Hard training, sensible living and diet, experience and personality all play a very important part. It is proposed, therefore, to examine a few of these factors. 


A weightlifter is not just a mass of internal organs, skin, bone and  muscle, but also a complex combination of psychical states. Strength, skill, speed and endurance by themselves will not make a champion weightlifter. Physical and psychical qualities must be harmoniously fitted together. Strength and speed when lifting must be backed by the heart and the mind. 

The mind is often overcome by the emotions. The emotions influence the form of lifting and tip latent powers otherwise available. The amount depends on the will to win and the strength of feeling. Anger, for instance, usually makes on stronger. 

Note: "The mind is often overcome by the emotions." Yes! Here's a fine example of a man who understands the difference between thoughts and emotions. Quite simple really . . . if it's an emotion you can't change it, only control or override it. If you can change it, it's a thought, not an emotion. 

Therefore, it is vitally important for a weightlifter to emphasize psychical as well as bodily training. During rest periods in training mental equilibrium must be striven for. When the moment to exercise arises the ego must be heightened, great concentration must be turned on and the lifts must be made to go as easy as possible. Experience is needed to be able to rise to the occasion in this manner, both in training and in competition. Many great athletes build up "hate sessions" before performances. The attitude of mind of the individual as a personality must first be considered before trying to develop the aggressive tendency too far.

There are certain emotions which bring about great advantage to a weightlifter. Joy, for example, is one of the most stimulating feelings which favors lifting. The sport should not always be treated as hard work, but should have a recreational undercurrent. An adjustment of schedule, an incentive or change of training partners and training quarters will often help give the necessary enjoyment. It helps counteract staleness, too. 

Sacrifices have to be made in training. Joy can help to offset these. A good training session or victory in competition brings great pleasure. 

Interest and enthusiasm are necessary to spur a lifter. Interest is needed for technical training; while enthusiasm, or heightened interest, is needed to direct all a lifter's energies towards the goal of improvement or victory. 

Constant readiness is of great importance. An easy life of loafing around with little or no thinking makes on unready. Often athletes who have experienced setbacks in life are very reliable. It is readiness which helps one to fit in regular training. A lifter who misses workouts in preference to the pictures, bright lights, or too many dates will not make a great champion.

Note: Unless he's David Rigert. 
Four pounds shy of a 400 snatch at 198. 

Confidence is a very important feeling. It gives a lifter a balanced mind in competition to allow unhampered use of all one's powers. Confidence can be developed through successful and regular training. It can be destroyed by too many failures or irregular training. 

Anger has also been mentioned. It speeds up the blood flow, releases latent power, and renders the lifter free of restraints. If the anger gives way to rage, the lifter may lose control of himself. For an indifferent person it may be beneficial to stir up anger.

There are emotions, however, which can be harmful to the weightlifter. The chief ones are fears. Fear of injury, fear of publicity, fear of the large amounts of work and effort needed. None are conducive to good lifting. Mental fatigue, trouble, inferiority complex and too much confidence are often responsible for poor performances on the platform. It is a very wise plan to mix with company and engage in activities which help to alleviate these feelings if the lifter's personality is so inclined. 

Work-Producing Aids 

A high protein diet, with plenty of milk, green vegetables and fruit are necessary for a high output of work. Vitamins and protein supplements can be helpful and are used by some champions. 

Adequate sleep, fresh air and ultraviolet rays help to give a feeling of well-being which is conducive to greater effort.

Alcohol is best left alone. Old experiments showed that alcohol given in small quantities increased muscular endurance. A small quantity for one person may be a large dose for another. It is definitely bad for skilled movement. 

So don't drink WHEN you lift and avoid anything close to a hangover quantity. What am I? Some kinda monk here at the barbell altar? Nah. 

Equipment Aids

First and foremost personal equipment is of great importance. Proper lifting boots and clothing are essential for good training and competition. A regulation pattern weightlifting belt is useful as a support for the lower back and abdominal region. It also gives a trim appearance. 

The use of squat stands, benches and gymnastic equipment are of benefit to the weightlifter.

Hand clips and straps for pulling exercises are used extensively. So too are supporting devices which enable the lifter to perform powerful movements in a particular phase of a lift. Some apparatus of this kind incorporates the use of barbells suspended from chains. 

Note: When I lived in a house with a basement and had a gym down there, chains hanging from the big rafters were outstanding. You can choose the height the bar's hanging at easily by adjusting the length of the chains. It works great for single dumbbell stuff too. If you're pressing one dumbbell, using the chains (at a closer width) to hang it at the right height is also outstanding. It's really the same idea as a press with the barbell taken from the rack and not cleaned. Real good training aid and I sure do miss it. 

An Olympic type barbell should be used in training as well as in competition. Dumbbells are useful for certain exercises which are beneficial to the Olympic weightlifter. The Russians have long been advocates of the use of kettlebells for general strength and fitness of the weightlifter. 

Bodily Training

During training, a lifter should be about 5-10 lbs. above his weight class. For example, a lifter who competes in the 165 class should train at a bodyweight of 175. This enables greater tolerance to heavy exercise; it enables bodily reserves to be built up; and there is no dehydration of body tissues -- this helps to counteract staleness. When the time for competition is three days off fluids and starchy foods are reduced. Experimentation shows how this should be adjusted to make a certain bodyweight by a certain time and date. 

Note: the added 10 lbs. can also improve your numbers simply by way of creating better leverages and having more bodyweight to put behind your lifts. Try it and see the difference.  

The training schedule should include technical, power and strengthening sections. But the schedule should be balanced and progressive. Training should not be overdone [or underdone]. Overtraining can produce staleness, over-fatigue and it can bring out emotions with a negative effect. Living habits should help training as far as possible. 

Note: What we need is an Oly lifter who trained exclusively with H.I.T. methods. The jokes write themselves with this one. 

Summary of Training Factors

In training, the following details of of the individual must receive attention: 

1) Strength. Explosiveness and power.
2) Skill. Balance, knowledge, timing and technical excellence.
3) Condition. Fitness, endurance and the ability to push oneself forward. 
4) Speed. In terms of movement, mentally and physically.
5) Ability of personality to use emotions to tap latent powers.

In competition all these factors come into play; so, to, does the will to win. 

It is hoped that you have enjoyed this series on Olympic weightlifting. Naturally one cannot touch upon every aspect of the classic lifts in four short articles. 

For complete information on the Olympic lifts I have prepared three courses for the editors. The press. The snatch. The clean & jerk. 

These courses are in booklet form. 

And two of 'em are on this blog. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!     


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