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1/11/2007 8:09:56 AM - Josh E.
For James: I was asked to explain the Eastern Bloc/Soviet philosophy of training today. My first thought was to get into concurrent and conjugate periodization, then I realized it is so much more than a "program" or a set/rep scheme or a certain means. I had trouble answering the question. I know this probably won't do it justice, but if you had to summarize their training philosophy, what would you say?

Josh it's timely that you ask this question.

Mark McLaughlin and I just had an exchange the other day in which I referenced this subject.

Here's what I stated to Mark:

People are confused into thinking that there's something extraordinary about
'Russian' training. What they don't realize is that what distinguishes the
Russians and Eastern Europeans is the training is simply congruent with
physiology and methodically planned to suit.

I recall that one of my critics from the Syracuse seminar wrote (on a survey) that he wasn't
convinced that I knew anything about Russian Training.

Perhaps he was expecting me to dim the lights, turn on the dry ice, and perform
something out of the Matrix.

A squat is a squat, a jump is a jump, a press is a press, a pull up is a pull
up, a throw is a throw, a sprint is a sprint...

Ah, but how should we organize these means, at what intensities, in what
volumes, at what times of the annual plan, etc.

So there you go Josh. The signifiance of the Soviet training is that an enormous amount of money and resources were put into it leading into the 80's. Meanwhile, over here we were doing aerobics and jogging.

Any widely published system of planned/periodized training here in the west is an adaptation of what someone learned from our overseas counterparts.

Western periodization stems from Matveyev's model
Westside Barbell Method is an adaptation of conjugate training which originated in Russia
Charlie Francis's model was largely influenced by the East Germans and (Mach) from Poland
and on and on

The Russian's, East German's, etc simply exhausted a plethora of time, resources, and money into the exploration of strength and sport science and they did it on sportsmen ranging from the youth stage to the master of sport international class in multiple Olympic disciplines. Data was collected on EVERYTHING. We only see a glimpse of it all in the translated literature.

Additionally, their research protocols were not nearly as restrictive as western ones.

Lastly, the strength events are hugely more popular overseas. There were over a million registered weightlifters in Russia at one point and the sport is nearly a national past time in Bulgaria for instance, just behind football (soccer for westerners).

Over here, the majority doesn't even know the difference between weightlifting and powerlifting.

So, to sum it up the difference between here and there is the testing, the subjects who were tested (Olympians), the research that was performed on the subjects who were tested (massive budget, little restrictions), the scientists (many of whom were former world class sportsmen) who conducted the research, the national scale of the systematic/unified training model, and the list goes on.

Strict systematization and organization of training and research from youth to highest stage in sport.

The west prides itself on democracy, freedom, and so on. So while soft westerners bask in their option to do what ever the hell we want (which is great by the way and thanks to our military for enabling this) the training of our athletes (among many other things) suffers to an unimaginable extent.

So the question remains, can a national unified system of training that is based upon the classification and selection of youths, school age, high school age, college sportsmen, and beyond exist in our democratic society?

The Thinker

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