Ilya Ilyin is currently training in Sochi, Russia, alongside his teammate Nijat Rahimov in preparation for the 2019 Asian Weightlifting Championships. Alongside Ilya are as few of the Russian national team members including Yarkin Vyacheslav (- 81 kg), who famously snatched 170 kg weighing 76 kg aged 18.
A few weeks ago Yarkin Vyacheslav spoke with Ilya Ilyin and gave permission to Weightlifting House to transcribe, post, and help share this interview.
Before we start, check out Ilya’s best ever training and competition lifts from age 13 to now. Also follow his 2019 comeback tracker.
You can watch the Ilya Ilyin interview video below and/or read the transcription (mildly edited to improve translation).
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Ilya Ilyin Interview
Yarkin – What effects weightlifting the most? (Editors note – Yarkin is asking what factors are most linked with an improvement in weightlifting)
Ilya – I think there are multiple factors: Training sessions, experience, and an athletes age. But the main thing is the training, your level of professionalism. The way in which way you train must be correct!
Your body is also a factor. You must be naturally gifted and have a good coach… a genius coach… All of these things improve your result. But yes mainly you must have a close relationship between you and your coach. This will give you a better result. You must feel your body.
“Nowadays either the Soviet or Bulgarian method is good, but you must bring them together with your own personal needs”
Yarkin – Which do you think is better: high volume but medium intensity? Or high intensity with low volume?
Ilya – I think it depends on your level as an athlete… It depends on your training level. If you are a professional then you will have trained your base with high volume. Then, when you become more trained as well as during the pre-competition period, you work more on your result, improving your personal best lifts.
Of course without a good base you cannot lift 90-95% of your best for more than 3 weeks. You must work with high volume so that you can train for around one and a half months with high intensity (90-95%).
So, when we begin preparation, we train on a high volume system, then we train on a high intensity system. If you train this way your result will be very good. But, if you only train with high volume with around 75-85% of your PR and once a month you attempt 95-100% you will be unsuccessful in reproducing this heavy lift in competition because you have only tried the max weight once in one and a half months. So, at the start, working on high volume is more important than work on 90-95%.
Editor’s note – It isn’t completely clear how long Ilya is suggesting beginners/intermediate level lifters should train in this high volume way before a high intensity program.
Yarkin – Which methods do you use to minimize the risk of injury?
Ilya – Stretching, bodybuilding (a light workout), living a healthy lifestyle, healthy nutrition, healthy mind, being positive, working on technique… I’m always in search of new methods for minimizing injuries.
Other things that help are sport supplements, consultations with medical professionals, and constant inspection of your body (Editor’s note – Inspection of the body means to do what your doctor recommends). These are all of my methods to minimize injuries.
Yarkin – What are the best methods of recovery?
Ilya – I think the best methods are water procedures (ice baths, swimming…) and examination of the body. I always use water procedures,I also stretch, train correctly, and preparation properly before every training session. These things are very important.
“you mustn’t die! You must find the reason why you are dying and work on it. This might mean adding something new to your program or getting rid of something old from your program”
Yarkin – How does your training look at the moment?
Ilya – Right now I train ten times a week like this.
- Monday – Two times
- Tuesday – One time
- Wednesday – Two times
- Thursday – One time
- Friday – Two times
- Saturday – Two times
In the mornings I have a light workout: stretching, yoga… Also I use machines at the gym too, and I do a little for my core. In the afternoon session I start with thirty minutes of stretching, then I work on my problem muscles, and then I perform the snatch, clean & jerk, deadlift (either snatch or clean style) and do squats.
That’s all what I do with a barbell for now. I can’t do a lot of exercise variation with bar at the moment because I have some injuries. I am recovering and so in the near future (stay tuned for part two!) I will do two full lifting sessions a day. It will look more like this:
- Monday – AM weightlifting, PM weightlifting
- Tuesday – AM stretch, PM light weightlifting + bodybuilding
- Wednesday – AM Weightlifting, PM weightlifting
- Thursday – AM stretching, PM light weightlifting
- Friday – AM weightlifting, PM weightlifting
- Saturday – (he didn’t mention, but presumably weightlifting like his last schedule)
I now understand how important it is to work problem muscles with some light bodybuilding. Bodybuilding is a new way to load the body, not like weightlifting training.
I usually swim, but now that it’s winter… maybe I will start in spring!
Yarkin – If you were to become a coach then in which weightlifting style (Soviet, Chinese, Bulgarian) would you train your students?
Ilya – You know, for starters, I would always do work to build a base with 80-85%, but I would mix it with high intensity work and create something new.
The Soviet and Bulgarian schools are presented all over the world. More than 30 years ago a lot of scientists, sportsman and coaches introduce these systems to others. Now, many countries have built their own systems based on the Soviet and Bulgarian methods. I grew up on the Kazakh system which is something a little bit different. I worked from 2011 in this way.
Nowadays either the Soviet or Bulgarian method is good, but you must bring them together with your own personal needs. Every coach, if he is progressive, must look to the future in order to discover new interesting things… Maybe he can take something from South or North Korea for example, or from any other country and unite it with his own system. For example you, Vyacheslav, work alongside your brother with the Soviet method, but if you take some elements from other systems it will bring more success!
“I would always do work to build a base with 80-85%, but I would mix it with high intensity work and create something new”
Yarkin – We die on the Soviet method and you want to add more???
Ilya – Oh, you mustn’t die! You must find the reason why you are dying and work on it. This might mean adding something new to your program or getting rid of something old from your program. I respect you, because the things that you do are copied from day to day, it’s always the same.
Yarkin – What is more important for weightlifters: A strong back or legs?
Ilya – Hah… I think… legs… But it’s individual. My legs have gotten a little weaker and weaker because of my age and so now I work on my back. Also for me right now my back is more important because my legs are stronger. Of course I train the legs too because they’re the base for the clean and jerk and my result would be worse if I didn’t work on them. Some people prefer working more for the snatch. Your back is for the snatch, your legs are for the clean and jerk.