Broz on CNS and Overtraining
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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
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.
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,
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.
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