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Jarod Barker
09-21-2010, 02:42 PM
I didn't want to hijack the Pat Mendes/John Broz thread, and I didn't want to address his training methods as a whole, but more specifically I just wanted to focus on a Q&A from his website.

http://www.averagebroz.com/ABG/Q_%26_A/Entries/2010/5/28_Central_nervous_system.html

The "chemistry," or science if you will, makes sense to me, and I buy the explanation, but this is nothing like my experience, nor the experience of anyone I know.

Is this explanation of biochemistry even correct? Will you make the adaptations if pushed far enough for long enough?

Are only certain people able to make these adaptations? Are they short term adaptations? Do they only apply to athletes who are going through an off season/in season cycle? Is periodization the secret ingredient he's leaving out? In 16 weeks, I dug myself a hole. How can his athletes sustain this kind of training?

And I'm not trying to be a whistle blower or make accusations, but didn't the Bulgarian training programs in the East bloc succeed only because the athletes were making use of exogenous substances? I've heard Mendes and Broz in interviews say there is no steroid use, so it's just very difficult to believe that this kind of training could be successful.

I went through the "dark times" and never experienced the "adaptation" he has referred to. It almost makes me think of Charles Poliquin's Super Accumulation where you train like hell 2x a day for 2-3 weeks, and then take a full week off to allow your body to catch up, only Broz doesn't have the recovery times scheduled.

Any opinions?

Garrett Smith
09-21-2010, 02:58 PM
Broz's athletes are always doing the same lifts.

Broz watches his guys carefully and likely adjusts their training based on what he observes.

Broz doesn't have his guys get psyched up before their lifts. I'm sure they aren't "nervous" before a workout.

Broz has them slowly build their volume and intensity, over years.

Note how they talk about low rep sets.

Pay attention to how these things are the polar opposite of CF-style metcons, particularly the building up slowly part.

Steven Low
09-21-2010, 06:10 PM
It's true that you adapt to the stimulus.

But if you don't it sends you into the pit of hell called overtraining that may take weeks, months or years to recover from depending on how bad it is.

The major thing is that the greater the stress on the body the bigger adaptations you can build, but if you cross the line of your body's limits to adapt you will crash and crash hard.

The biochemistry is for the most part correct for general adaptation syndrome, and for the neurotransmitter stuff though.

I mean, I crashed from trying to do maximal intensity strength training for 5-6 days a week for months at a time even with week breaks here and there in my training. Not everyone has good genetics to adapt to super heavy all the time.

In the soviet and bulgarian and now chinese system they throw thousands of athletes into the meat grinder.... only a few make it out but those few set world records. Is that a good way to train for everyone? Probably not. But if you can do it then more power to you... just don't expect everyone else to be able to.

Jarod Barker
09-21-2010, 08:00 PM
Thanks guys

I do see in the programming that they are lifting the same basic lifts day after day. Broz recommends training 3x a week and then adding another day as soon as possible and working your way up to 7x a week. Then to start adding 2x a day sessions. I also see that it's low reps per set, but very heavy. Although, he does state that it's often 50 reps per workout. But yes, it is completely opposite of CF.

I'm just hung up on the neurobiology part. Like Steven said, the soviet/bulgarian/chinese programs throw thousands of athletes into this program and only a select few make it out.

If the explanation of adaptation and neurotransmitters is correct, what I'm wondering is are only certain people able to adapt? Is there some variable that makes some people adapt?

In just 16 weeks, I dug myself quite a hole. I believe I've been to the "dark times," but I obviously did not have a favorable adaptation. Perhaps I'm being myopic, but I often look at science, like biochemistry, as laws of cause and effect.

If stress hormones, like cortisol, cause a favorable adaptation to training over time, what I can't understand is why I had such a negative outcome. I've also seen articles citing marathon runners who suddenly started suffering numerous stress fractures due to high cortisol levels.

Does this programming and stress adaptation only apply to heavy weightlifting? It seems to me that if it is neurological in nature, then all stressors regardless whether it's weightlifting or running, should eventually result in a positive adaptation as you "get used" to the stress.

The science makes sense to me, but I've just never seen it in real life application.

Garrett Smith
09-21-2010, 09:22 PM
I do think it mainly applies to short-duration, high intensity activities that are repeated in nature. Remember that the body "gets used" to certain movements and activities, so much so that the "stress" on the body becomes less over time even though higher weights are used.

Overdoing somewhat inherently catabolic activities, like marathon running and obscenely long metcons, is just too much of a load in the wrong direction on the system to recover from. Add in randomness of exercises, there is a recipe for disaster.

Adaptation implies doing something repeatedly and allowing whatever amount of "breathing room" for the system to recover.

Steven Low
09-22-2010, 05:53 AM
Please note that the people who work up to 7+ sessions a week and even more than that usually start lifting from a pretty young age.

These guys have 5+ years under their belt most of the time before they even begin to hit that 7x a week marker... and usually at least 10 before they start hitting 2x a day most weeks.

This is true for athletes not just in weightlifting but in football and other sports that use weightlifting for strength/power building activities. Heck, same thing with the elite endurance athletes too. You're not going to be building up to 5-10 mile runs 2 times per day for 6-7 days a week in a few years. That takes years to build up to that kind of volume.

That's the major divide I am seeing honestly between most people who think they're ready for programs with high frequency vs. people who actually are.

Do you have training base upon which your strength/neural/etc. foundation has been laid to even attempt a much higher frequency of using the system (your body) or did you become so anxious to become "elite" that you either neglected to prepare your body adequately for the stimulus?

When I invariably ask people who overtrained going high frequency it's generally people who have lifted for less than 5 years, who are attempting to go 7+ times per week with high intensity.

----------------------------

My "theory" if you will is to add an extra training session per week every YEAR you've been training.

You start with 3x per week... then up it by 1 day per week every year (or when playing with more than 6x per week every other year if not a teenager with massive amounts of hormones). This allows adequate time to adapt to the frequency, and with planned deloads should be enough time to recover and adapt.

Does that make sense? Do you think it's logical?

Personally, most people will glean a lot of progress from 4-5x a week, and don't need to put so much stress on the body. It's not likely you're going to be an elite athlete if you haven't been training since you were a kid. So if you're an adult wanting to go high frequency without a training base as a kid, I would seriously reconsider why you want to do this..

Andrew Wilson
09-22-2010, 09:54 AM
Reality is though, John Broz was coached by Antonio Krastev, Krastev never competed in the Olympics, just Euro & WC which were in Eastern Bloc countries during the cold war

Krastev was coached by a man who is banned for life by the IWF along with many lifters from Krastev's country for drugging. (BTW When was the last time you saw a Bulgarian compete in the WWC and Olympics?)

Krastev competed pre Ben Johnson being exposed, before testing really started digging deep.

John Broz has never put an athlete in international or national competition, nor does he have an athlete on a national team. He's just a guy that puts videos on youtube with bad weightlifting technique.

John Broz has continually said on the internet that his interest in building weightlifters is mainly guided by making money and taking his lifters to any country that pays and supports them the best

The puzzle pieces do not fit in my opinion in following his advice on training.

But there are coaches here that do have athletes competing on international and national level, and that do follow evidence based training programs supported by studies and are doctors in Exercise Physiology and Sport Science, and that do have an athlete that could potentially set a world record (Mike Stone & Kyle Pierce).

John Broz is not in either of these positions

And I believe Dr Mike Stone did a study on the maxed out training program vs periodized and found that periodized saw a greater increase in performance gains with a longer athlete career

Dave Van Skike
09-22-2010, 11:52 AM
Not to put too fine a point on it...but. What exactly is your point?

That Broz drugs his athletes?
That the "Bulgarian" system doesn't actually work?
That it only works with drugs?
That Broz is a hack?

Any of those could be true none of them could be true, all of them may be true. I don't know. I'm not sure what you're taking issue with, High frequency training like what Broz purports to do or the man himself.

Arden Cogar Jr.
09-22-2010, 12:05 PM
I refuse to criticize the methods as there are athletes who are improving from them. Moreover, it's not new. It's just a bit more in our face than the same or similar systems were implemented at the time.

I have decided to try a hybrid of it myself. I cannot, given my level of strength and age, go anywhere near what the protocols call for......but, I have decided to add 10 sets of 5 of light active recovery back or front squats on my "off days" to see how it works. This will put me at squatting six days a week.

I'm on day 3 right now and feel pretty good. Today was my heavy back squat day (after doing power snatches and overhead squats). It was very difficult to get the rep schemes I had contemplated. Further, I've run into a nagging trick knee that will likely need scoped in the near future. But, amazingly, it feels better when I squat more frequently. So, by god, I'm squatting more frequently.

Who knows where this will end up?

All the best,
Arden

Dave Van Skike
09-22-2010, 12:18 PM
I took a run at this foolishly and burned up going too high, basically hitting and 85-90% single every day. My squat went through the roof but my knees hurt badly so I dropped back to one day a week, then two and now I'm running a smolov three days a week and my knees feel great. Here's some good advice from Duane over at P&B that helped me make a rational transition.

The only thing that I suggested that squatting every day of the week might be a good way to work on the groove that the body needs to learn if you (and your body) intend to squat on a regular basis.

The squat is a powerful training tool (i.e., busting some ass while training the squat will make you stronger), so you can't actually bust ass on the squat every day of the week. A serious squat workout every 2-3 days is plenty, as long as you are working hard when you do it. On all of the other days, however, you could load the barbell with 135-225 pounds and do some squats with it. The actual weight will not be hard, since it barely approaches half of what you could do in the squat. But if you take a ridiculously easy weight like that and go through the motions you may find that the next time you have to squat a real weight (real = big and heavy) that the biggest thing you have to pay attention to is being strong enough to lift the barbell; you have been practicing the easy part (i.e., squatting down and standing back up) so that aspect will not take away from your real focus (lifting a heavier weight).

That is the essence of squatting every day: you will still only work really hard a few days out of the week, but the rest of the time you will practice. I hope that helps a bit. If I do not seem too crazy to you, please ask me if you have more questions.

John Alston
09-22-2010, 12:22 PM
John Broz has continually said on the internet that his interest in building weightlifters is mainly guided by making money and taking his lifters to any country that pays and supports them the best



Good for him. That's an honesty I can support. It's a good goal, too. If someone has the potential to be a world class lifter it makes sense that they would try to be somewhere that their world class talent is appreciated.
The countries that kick our (USA) asses in WL (all?) pay for medals. I don't support tax payer funded prizes. Go to where you're appreciated and can do your thing. I can dream of winning the lottery and running meets with 6 figure prize pools...

Andrew Wilson
09-22-2010, 04:12 PM
In just 16 weeks, I dug myself quite a hole. I believe I've been to the "dark times," but I obviously did not have a favorable adaptation. Perhaps I'm being myopic, but I often look at science, like biochemistry, as laws of cause and effect.


Hey Chad do you happen to have a log of this (16wk of workouts) ? I'd like to take a look at that

Garrett Smith
09-22-2010, 04:24 PM
Chad, I believe the hole you dug was in process for a lot longer than 16 weeks....

Tyler Micheli
09-22-2010, 04:51 PM
I don't support tax payer funded prizes.

Which is a practice not done in the US. The USOC operates independently of and without any financial support from the US government.

Jarod Barker
09-22-2010, 10:27 PM
Chad, I believe the hole you dug was in process for a lot longer than 16 weeks....

I won't disagree with you there. I'm sure my years of abusing my CNS and disregard for periodization and recovery played a serious role. But, at least in my mind, I picture it as, here I was kicking ass, sub 4 minute Fran, Diane, Grace, Elizabeth, benchmark workouts. Then I trained my ass off for 16 weeks, and suddenly the "machine" started "malfunctioning" and I wasn't feeling more like my ass was getting kicked by the workouts. But yes, you're completely correct, this was a long process.

I'm not bashing Broz, as a matter of fact, I'm quite impressed with him and his gym. I'm just struggling to understand the science of the article I posted. I'm not trying to criticize his programming either. It's not like he created Bulgarian training, but I find his implementation of it very intriguing. I'm simply trying to make sense of what I'm reading and figure out how he does it.

I know this seems out of left field, but here's where my thought process started.

Way back when, in another lifetime, I was a hockey player. I woke up at 4am, went to rink and practiced for an hour, went to school, went back to rink at 3pm, went home for dinner and homework, and then went back to rink that evening for a game or a practice. I did that 5-7 days a week, from about 10 to 17 years old. I cannot recall ever feeling "overtrained." Sure, playoffs I was beaten black and blue. And when at 16, I started trying to play junior hockey in an under 20 league, I got beaten so bad I had teachers asking me if my parents were abusing me, but I was never feeling "beaten down" from the volume of training.

In college, I was a runner. I worked my way up to 10 miles a day, five days a week. I'd get up and run 5, go to class all day, and then run 5 more after classes. I also weighed 110 pounds standing at 5'8". I also had a max back squat of 50 pounds just to keep things in perspective :rolleyes: During that time, I don't remember feeling "overtrained" either.

Then I found Gym Jones, and later Crossfit. And once I started doing Crossfit, I started getting into overtraining.

Now, reading Broz's post, it sounds to me like if you just keep pushing through the "dark times" your body will just adapt, and you'll have a positive adaptation to the stressors. Now, perhaps this adaptation happened to me during those years when I played hockey and was running all those senseless miles during college.

But, following Crossfit, suddenly that adaptation doesn't occur? Or further, when my training shifted towards a mix of Crossfit and long swims and runs, the favorable adaptation to training volume didn't occur. According to the neurobiologist in the article, my body should've just upregulated the necessary neurotransmitters.

As Dr. G pointed out, the randomness of exercises and long distance training is a recipe for disaster. But, in line with what Steven was saying about having a training base built from a young age, I kind of thought I had one.

Now, having experienced the effects of overtraining and the stress fractures and injuries that seem to just come out of nowhere, I can't imagine trying to follow a program that has you squatting 6 days a week or lifting 2x a day 7 days a week even if you worked up to it adding 1 session per year.

I guess I have a few answers so far though, which leads me to believe that this type of training can only be applied to weightlifting, and that the loading of volume is a long term process.

I've been googling this for 2 days now, and I still cannot find an explanation that satisfies my curiosity. I just can't understand why if it's all a neurological adaptation and you can adapt to a sport as demanding and stressing as weightlifting; why then could you not adapt to long distance running, Crossfit, or other programs?

Jarod Barker
09-22-2010, 10:28 PM
Hey Chad do you happen to have a log of this (16wk of workouts) ? I'd like to take a look at that

Shoot me an email, and I'll give you an overview. I log everything.

Andrew Wilson
09-22-2010, 11:19 PM
Then I found Gym Jones, and later Crossfit. And once I started doing Crossfit, I started getting into overtraining.

Now, reading Broz's post, it sounds to me like if you just keep pushing through the "dark times" your body will just adapt, and you'll have a positive adaptation to the stressors. Now, perhaps this adaptation happened to me during those years when I played hockey and was running all those senseless miles during college.

But, following Crossfit, suddenly that adaptation doesn't occur? Or further, when my training shifted towards a mix of Crossfit and long swims and runs, the favorable adaptation to training volume didn't occur. According to the neurobiologist in the article, my body should've just upregulated the necessary neurotransmitters.



The thing with CrossFit though, is that it isn't a specific event, specific motor pattern, specific forces or specific energy that your body can progressively adapt to like in hockey and running, which have all those specifics. It's just some guy posting interesting pattern of any combination of exercises with random reps and loads to make it hard and make the client think they're weak so they'll keep buying the product that's suppose to make them better. It's not GPP or work capacity, its not even close. Nor is it structured to allow your body to legitimately progress. Legitimate GPP and work capacity like in track and field is just high volume, low intensity strength training and running/sprinting to prepare the athlete for high intensity training that mimics competition. The CrossFit style doesn't allow the progressive adaptation so you're continually beaten down until the only thing you adapt to is sweating and pushing/pulling random things. So people get hurt or hate it or quit, or do more of it to get better at sweating and pushing/pulling more random things hahaha

Shoot me an email, and I'll give you an overview. I log everything.
Great! I'll send you a PM

Steven Low
09-23-2010, 05:44 AM
If you're randomly switching sports, and randomly gaining weight that's not building a base.... especially if you're not weightlifting.

John Alston
09-23-2010, 06:00 AM
Which is a practice not done in the US. The USOC operates independently of and without any financial support from the US government.
Yes, I know, which was to my point.

Nicholas Wyss
09-23-2010, 12:17 PM
Even CrossFit isn't completely random, there are limits to what you do in a CrossFit workout. I'm sure over time you can adapt to CrossFit as well. It's just easier to overtrain with CrossFit because the volume is high, there are a variety of movements, and they encourage you working until you puke.

You could overtrain with even a a single movement like squats if you upped the volume quickly enough. Take someone who doesn't squat and have them do 10x3, 5x5, 3x10, 5x20, and 200 air squats 7 days a week. They'd probably get tendinitis before they burned out, but I guess that's another way CrossFit wears on the CNS more, the variety of movements allow you to work around tendinitis in certain joints to keep blasting yourself.

Dave Van Skike
09-23-2010, 02:38 PM
why is this thread failing? one word....


Back to CNS/Bulgarians/Daily Squatting and other things which are awesome.

Grissim Connery
09-23-2010, 02:46 PM
The hockey analogy doesn't exactly compare to strength/endurance sports. In competitive sports with an opponent, you conserve your energy until you need to use it.

if comparing hockey to lifting weights, the dude would be more like a furniture mover than an OL. the furniture mover doesn't try to max out his ability to move weights on every go. he plans out which things to move when, and mentally takes note of times like going down stairs and such when it's gonna take more effort.

in hockey you sprint when you need to and set up position when that's needed.

Garrett Smith
09-23-2010, 02:48 PM
I will say this, I found the part in that original article about serotonin influencing the intensity of muscle contraction very interesting. I may be experimenting with this in the future.

Gant Grimes
09-23-2010, 03:04 PM
Chad, the CNS is like the boogeyman. Stop believing in it, and it will stop bothering you. Just saying the letters CNS will take 2% off your total.

John Broz has continually said on the internet that his interest in building weightlifters is mainly guided by making money and taking his lifters to any country that pays and supports them the best.

What's wrong with this?

Steven Low
09-23-2010, 04:49 PM
I will say this, I found the part in that original article about serotonin influencing the intensity of muscle contraction very interesting. I may be experimenting with this in the future.
Yeah, I'm not too sure about that part of the science since I've never seen that before.

Generally, in motor learning and muscle contraction is an all or none phenomena and neural strength is regulated by increasing recruitment, rate coding (frequency), synchronous contraction, and a couple of other factors.

I never seen anything that suggested serotonin in the in the brain is involved with increased intensity of muscular contraction. Even googling this there is nothing on it.

I looked at the abstracts that were posted and most of it is on peripheral serotonin, and most of them were on blood vessel effects, and I tihnk one was on attentuation of tension so..... I'm not exactly sure where he's getting the serotonin chemistry from. It seems bunk unless better resources are posted.

Garrett Smith
09-23-2010, 05:32 PM
I'm not one to ever believe that we'll fully understand neurochemistry.

I don't want to go read the original article again, but I didn't notice where he was talking about brain serotonin, I was under the impression he was talking about peripheral serotonin...so that first link he posted http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC492609/?page=1 seems to bear this out.

Steven Low
09-23-2010, 06:28 PM
I'm not one to ever believe that we'll fully understand neurochemistry.

I don't want to go read the original article again, but I didn't notice where he was talking about brain serotonin, I was under the impression he was talking about peripheral serotonin...so that first link he posted http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC492609/?page=1 seems to bear this out.
Yeah, I read that one.

The funny thign is that there's no significant research on that from that point (1970s) on which I find hard to believe if it was really that important.

Plus the fact that they were injecting 5mg/kg of serotonin into the animals makes me think that it probably doesn't occur that way in the human body

It does seem to influence the presynaptic release of acetylcholine, but even then those nerve transmissions to alpha motor neurons are still all or nothing. Varying the intensity of a-motor doesn't increase strength; you have to increase firing rate of a-motors (or amount of a-motors) to get increases in neural aspects of strength


edit: just auth'd you John Broz so hopefully you can clear up some of the stuff for us? (if that's actually him).

Garrett Smith
09-23-2010, 08:59 PM
Broz didn't write that stuff. A guy named Brent did.

A quick search of PubMed would seem to show that serotonin and the NMJ is still being studied...Temperature dependent modulation of lobster neuromuscular properties by serotonin (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17337715) and Characterization of prejunctional serotonin receptors modulating [3H]acetylcholine release in the human detrusor (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16166271), among others.

Steven Low
09-23-2010, 10:15 PM
SSRIs actually attenuate performance in this study

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11441370

This one too:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10919962

If anything I think exercise would downregulate serotonin receptors in an attempt to decrease fatigue for the adaptation that we're looking for

I haven't seen any compelling evidence that shows serotonin is important peripherally though...

Steve Shafley
09-24-2010, 06:08 AM
Speculation at best. If it fits with his experience, then cool.

Cillis: From what you've said previously here, and what I've seen you post on Facebook, you are fond of ignoring the advice on topics that you specifically ask people about, wasting everybody's time and effort.

I see John Broz joined up. Maybe he can comment on this stuff. He seems to be fond of googling his name and seeing what folks are saying about him and his athletes.

Gant Grimes
09-24-2010, 07:15 AM
He seems to be fond of googling his name and seeing what folks are saying about him and his athletes.

That's never a good thing.

I'm excited that guys like Broz are getting hard, heavy training front and center again. He's doing a good job and has a hell of a stable of athletes right now. I can't believe he's willing to go on the internet and listen to the rash of garbage he has to, but that's the tradeoff, I suppose.

The question I'd like him to answer is at what point on time do you know that someone has the genetics to build their recovery capacity to train like Mendes does.

Jarod Barker
09-24-2010, 01:15 PM
Chad, the CNS is like the boogeyman. Stop believing in it, and it will stop bothering you. Just saying the letters CNS will take 2% off your total.


Gant, I like the way you think. :cool:



Cillis: From what you've said previously here, and what I've seen you post on Facebook, you are fond of ignoring the advice on topics that you specifically ask people about, wasting everybody's time and effort.


Steve, being that I have no idea who you are, I'm impressed that somehow you know something about me. It's been a process of errors and learning. I'm not afraid to try new things, and I'm certainly not afraid of failing. I have consistently integrated new knowledge directly into my training as best I can, however, due to my career choices, which I do not feel the need to discuss, there is training I have to do that is not exactly preferable for overall health and performance. Having just gone over my test results with Dr. G, I'm already improving and recovering, so I do appreciate and utilize the time and effort of others. Thanks for insulting me :confused:


Anyways, I apologize for the comparison to past training and sports experience, I was just trying to explain where my train of thought was coming from. All I was really getting at was looking at the article Broz posted, I was just trying to understand if the "adaptation" discussed was unique to weightlifting or if it was something that occurred from all physical activity. Some guys seem bulletproof, I've trained with guys who consider a 10 mile run a short run, and regularly log 60+ miles a week. I'm just trying to understand if they've experienced a similar adaptation as Broz's athletes have, or if there is a different mechanism at work.

brandon green
06-28-2012, 09:08 PM
It's true that you adapt to the stimulus.

But if you don't it sends you into the pit of hell called overtraining that may take weeks, months or years to recover from depending on how bad it is.

The major thing is that the greater the stress on the body the bigger adaptations you can build, but if you cross the line of your body's limits to adapt you will crash and crash hard.

The biochemistry is for the most part correct for general adaptation syndrome, and for the neurotransmitter stuff though.

I mean, I crashed from trying to do maximal intensity strength training for 5-6 days a week for months at a time even with week breaks here and there in my training. Not everyone has good genetics to adapt to super heavy all the time.

In the soviet and bulgarian and now chinese system they throw thousands of athletes into the meat grinder.... only a few make it out but those few set world records. Is that a good way to train for everyone? Probably not. But if you can do it then more power to you... just don't expect everyone else to be able to.
*********IMHO The Soviets "system" for the most part was not "meat grinderish" . I was the client of Dr. Michael Yessis in the 80's and trained with Jay Schroeder in the 90's, both having personal experience with the Soviet "system". I knew personally two individuals that were vital cogs in their system, a biochemist that has written several books here in the U.S. - Dr. Morris Silber and a sprint coach and researcher- Ben Tabachnick. With all the research centers and scientists involved each athlete and coach used the principles discovered "individually". That means only when they would get together for example the Olympic games would they train according to a common plan. The Bulgarian methodology seems to work well for those "built" to do the lifts. If not closer to a Soviet "methodology", which is very diverse(more varied stimulus) is the better option.