School of Champions: Bulgarian Weightlifting Training Documentary

(Originally posted Feb 10, 2013)

Documentary time …

Here is a weightlifting classic:  “School of Champions: Bulgarian Training Documentary”.

Featuring: Max effort lectures from Ivan Abadjiev to a crowd of drained lifters.

Update: Now on YouTube



  • Anonymoose

    Is Abadjiev sniffing salts before the lift of his lifters?

  • http://www.facebook.com/alex.gorham.982 Alex Gorham

    Loving the Bulgarian Boogie, will definitely add that to my routine.

  • Mecham89

    Seems to be a brutal way of life. The lifters that won didn’t have much emotion.

    • xinezeguy

      they lifted those weights hundreds of times in training, it’s really not a big deal for them, just routine.

  • Klara Ivanov

    It’s amazing how so called less developed countries can dominate and out do the big boys like the USA with all their money and college training programs. Nothing like good old fashioned grit and hard work

    • Evgeny Filatov

      You also forgot Stanazolol.

    • Matthew Anderson

      Yeah, with the drug testing being so stringent in the US, they can’t really compete. It’s almost like they don’t want their guys to win or something.

  • Alfonso Rodriguez

    This is an old documentary that only covers to the WWC 1987. The next year for the 88 Olympics the entire team withdrew because the did not wan t to get caught using steroids. In 2008, it happened again and they have been rebuilding since then. Abadjiev was the coach for over 40 years. He achieved great success but at the cost of some bad scandals. I would not call it cheating, it is a matter of opinion,since the use of steroids do not make you stronger by itself; weightlifting does that. What steroids do, if use properly, is to allow an athlete to train longer and harder and heavier by allowing the body to recover very fast between training sessions which is something not possible with just regular nutrition. All the great teams used it , and they still do to this day but only the smart ones do not get caught. Most Russians and Chinese do not get caught. David Rigert was never caught. Abadjiev was a martinet and no saint and had a high burn out rate among most of his athletes but he produced many world champions in the heyday of Bulgarian weightlifting except for the Russians in the 70’s and 80’s and even into the 90’s. Remember that Suleymanolu is actually Bulgarian though ethnic Turk and Botev was a world champion before going over to Australia. To address Klara Ivanov about small countries prowess vs. the US in weightlifting: Olympic weightlifting in the USA has never attracted great athletes since the early 60’s (exceptions were Bernardski, Dube and James); It has never been popular in the US because it is complicated unlike powerlifting and it does not have the “glamour” of bodybuilding. Most strong guys go into pro sports. But small countries cannot reach the overall level of the US or other high industrialized country in all sports. If you do not believe it, just look at the medal count at the Olympics, the US is always at the top with rare exceptions. Weightlifting, though one of the classic Olympic sports, is a small sport in most countries and it does not take many resources to establish a decent program with government back up. That is why many small countries are succeeding: they are placing all their effort into it unlike most of the bigger, richer and more diverse countries. It also happens in other sports ( like Track & Field, wrestling, boxing and shooting) but it is culturally dependent. Going back to steroids, it ridiculous to expect the highest level of performance without reaching the body’s natural limit with regular nutrition. It you ban steroids and treat athletes like criminals, do not expect the highest the body can give you. Why not let everyone use them and thus level the playing field? And please do not give me medical reasons, practicing very physical pro or even amateur sports at the highest level is not healthy anyway. Just look at the injuries, and at old retired athletes and their physical problems from bad joint to arthritis to concussions and even Parkinson related problems like in boxing or football. But I am rambling and just put in my two cents.

    • Mike

      probably closer to a dollar than two cents, but still entirely true

  • Borislav

    Abajiev is such a pimp!

  • aboynamedsue

    Can someone please make a movie out of this and get Robert DeNiro as Abadjiev?

  • FMStrength

    Alfonso, you cannot really believe that the US does not have access or use restoratives in every competitive sport that we participate in. You cannot blame the lack of steroids for a poor performance. Every level of high level sport has them, deal with it as part of the competitive landscape and figure out how to win. All you have to to do to know this is experience sports at a high level.