Trying to learn more about the bulgarian training system? This short article covers the most frequently used Bulgarian weightlifting exercises, plus intensities, and ways to alter the program to make it work for you.

Bulgarian Weightlifting Exercises

This may be one of the simplest and shortest articles I’ve ever written. The Bulgarian weightlifting system was built around specificity, and so only used a very limited number of exercises. The main three exercises used were the:

  • Snatch
  • Clean & Jerk
  • Front Squat

And if some ‘variation’ was required, sometimes the program would also include:

  • Back squats

Bulgarian Weightlifting Sets, Reps and Intensity

The program simply had athletes perform each exercise up to a maximum, multiple times per day. This might look something like:

AM Session: Snatch to max, Clean & Jerk to max, Front Squat to max

Midday Session: Snatch to max, Clean & Jerk to max

PM Session: Front or Back Squat to max, snatch to max, clean and jerk to max

Incredibly simple. Incredibly brutal.

Is the Bulgarian Method Good?

I wrote an in-depth review on this which I recommend you check out. The TLDR is that…

“The Bulgarian method has the potential to produce incredible results, as evidenced by the system’s international dominance for many years, but is also has the potential to completely wreck a lifter.”

This is a system that maximises specificity but violates key principles of training such as variation, individualization, and most importantly fatigue management.

For the overwhelming majority of people, this programme (as described above) is a one-way ticket to injury and burnout.

Bulgarian Light Program

Here’s the thing, though, if you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve got your heart set on trying out the Bulgarian style of training, right?

You’ve read some stories, maybe some reddit bulgarian training reviews, and you want to give it a try.

Well you can, you’ve just got to be smart about it. Take some of the Bulgarian principles and adapt them – allowing for better fatigue management.

Bulgarian weightlifting

I’ve created a six-week bulgarian weightlifting programme that can work for regular lifters.

It’s designed to be used as a peaking block to maximise your lifts and hit some crazy PR’s, followed by a return to more normal training.

The programme also uses light days mixed in with the maximal days so as to make sure that you recover properly and avoid burnout.

You can learn more about the programme here

Next Steps

1) If you want to give bulgarian-style training a go, do so with caution. Either follow a structured programme like the one I’ve created above. Or make your own but add in light days, some exercise variation where needed, and potentially some % work.

2) If this article was useful, feel free to share it around.

3) Consider joining my mailing list for regular workouts, programmes and training advice.

‘Til Next Time


Strength coach

Alex Parry, MSc, BA

Alex is the Head content writer and Coach at Character Strength & Conditioning, as well as an Assistant Lecturer and PhD Researcher at the University of Hull.

His experience includes 7+ years within professional strength and conditioning, as well as working as a tutor & educator for British Weightlifting