The Ivan Abadjiev Method of training is extremely involved. His model of development pushed simplicity to a razor’s edge and stretched training difficulty to the breaking point, and his athletes’ lives reflected the demanding requirements of his training philosophy. They were required to train in front of competition-size crowds...four times a day. Rest and sleep were also regimented and measured. The government fed and housed them, provided gear and clothes, and paid for their travel expenses. Needless to say, this lifestyle is less than realistic for the average Joe. Trying to set up a training program that follows the Abadjiev method is virtually impossible unless the athlete has a bank account with six digits to spare.

With this is mind, I set out to try and distill his method down to its core so that I could try it. Here is what I came up with...


When it comes down to it, Abadjiev’s athletes just went heavy. So I did the same thing. I worked up to a 1RM at the start of each training session. Then, I did between four to six sets for one rep at 90% of that day’s 1RM. Although Abadjiev’s athletes trained four times a day with four different exercises, I only trained once a day with one exercise a day. Basically, my split was set up like this.

Monday: ME Squat, 5-7 sets @ 90% of day’s 1RM
Wednesday: ME Bench, 5-7 sets @ 90% of day’s 1RM
Friday: ME Deadlift, 5-7 sets @ 90% of day’s 1RM
Saturday: ME Front Squat, 5-7 sets @ 90% of day’s 1RM


Abadjiev was extremely conservative in this area; therefore, I was too. I used bench, squat, deadlift, and front squat. That’s it. I didn’t do any supplemental work besides GHR and reverse hypers, which I used as dynamic components of my warm-up.


I have access to an Omegawave, so this was my assessment tool. I determined not to put a time limit on my training block, so I decided to go as long as my system could last. I tested myself using the HRV and CNS assessments on Omegawave every day I trained.


I followed recovery protocols that were nutritionally- and training-based, so no steroids or other synthetic hormone therapies were used. After every training day, I woke up and did contrast showers first thing in the morning to stimulate recovery. On days that I was parasympathetic overreached, I would take warm showers for 15 to 20 minutes. I supplemented Beta-Alanine at the beginning of each workout and took a men’s multi-vitamin. Towards the end of the training program, however, my system became more and more fried. Therefore, I used rhythmic, high volume exercises such as medicine ball throws and light jogging. I did these in place of heavy training in order to aid in recovery as needed (according to how I tested on Omegawave).

My experiment lasted five full weeks. At the beginning of the training my CNS stabilized at 34.5 mV, which is the measuring unit used by Omegawave for the central nervous system.  On Saturday of week five, which was a front squat day, I tested my CNS before training and it was at 5.5 mV (which is an 80% drop in CNS function from day one). I was fried, and my mind was racing a million miles an hour. Over the four previous nights I had totaled maybe 10 hours of sleep due to the fact that my sympathetic nervous system was going full bore, but I decided to train anyways.

I started warming up on the rack. During my warm-up sets, I was resting and momentarily forgot why I was even at the gym. So I called it and went home. Obviously the psychological degeneration was something that I hadn’t seen coming. Lifting heavy like I had for five weeks straight wreaked havoc on my nervous system, but the physical adaptations were pretty impressive as well.

Here is the breakdown of my results in the four lifts over five weeks of training:

Bench: 245 to 265  (+ 20 lbs)
Squat: 365 to 385 (+ 20 lbs)
Deadlift: 405 to 475 (+ 70 lbs)
Front Squat: 245 to 305. (+ 60 lbs)

By the time all was said and done, I had increased my total in these four lifts by 170 pounds. For me, this was extremely impressive. I had been trying to improve my squat and bench numbers for a long  to time with little success. I realize these numbers are weak compared to what many can do, so consider that duly noted.


I decided that this method is not for the faint of heart. It was hard as hell, and that was amplified by the fact that I am not an elite athlete. I wasn’t necessarily as prepared as I could have been either since I have only been lifting heavy for two years. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for those Bulgarian athletes who were doing Olympic movements four times the difficulty that I was. Whatever the recovery means, these athletes were freaks of nature. Abadjiev pushed his athletes to the very edge and his methods grounded their psyche into powder. I don’t know if his training philosophy is the best one, or even if it's morally sound, but one thing is for sure: it can make just about anybody much, much stronger.