Category Archives: Clean and Jerk

The Lazy Man’s Guide to Olympic Weightlifting

The Lazy Man's Guide

The Lazy Man’s Guide
People like the bare minimum. Instinctively we want to know what’s the least we 

can do to get a result.  Yes there are some that would say “if one ibuprofen is good, then 10 must be better” but those are the same people that end up with liver problems.  It could be laziness, but it’s more than likely intelligence.
Training is no different, we should strive for the minimum effective dose, when delivering it to our athletes or to ourselves. Becoming great at a skill like Olympic weightlifting is a different beast, but for most that is not an issue until after we have tried out the minimum effective dose.
This is the bare minimum Olympic weightlifting program you should be doing to be a good Olympic lifter.

Combos to start

Start here. Use combos to get used to real Olympic weightlifting. Combos ease the transition to the full lift.
For the clean use a power clean + front squat and a jerk (power or split depending on your comfort). Get used to pulling under the bar and catching at a lower height to move to the full clean.
For the snatch do a similar movement, power snatch + overhead squat. Start pulling under the bar and eliminating the pause before going into an overhead squat.

The Real Thing (or a variation)

To be effective at the Olympic lifts you have to use the real movement. Even if you have every intention of power cleaning for the rest of your life, take some time to get good at catching in the deep squat position.
Once you are comfortable at the real movement, choose a variation that is the right one for you, or your athletes. This means one that will get your athletes the greatest benefit, or yield the biggest returns for yourself.
For most field sport athletes: use the hang power clean
For sprinters in track: use the power clean
For tall athletes: Use a dead start on the blocks
For times where hypertrophy is needed: Use the full movement to grow some massive quads.
I recommend some time spent doing the full movement because the full movement is the purest expression of technique. You can’t do the full movement while catching the bar in the starfish position, you can’t do the full movement without great mobility.
These technical details will then carry over to whatever variation you choose for your main movement.

LOTS of squatting

A wise man once said “squatting helps everything.” Since I am referring to this man as wise, lets go ahead and assume that I agree with him.
It’s true. If you want to be better at the Olympic lifts squatting is the life blood of champions.
The crazy thing is, even if you aren’t doing the full lifts (floor start, A2G catch), squatting still helps. One of my elite pole vaulter’s does the hang clean exclusively but she was missing all of her lifts at the receiving position. Slightly forward catch and dumping the weight anytime she got heavy.
The solution was simple she had to squat more. After adding 20k to her front squat, and with no technical changes to her clean, she made every clean she attempted.
I do have some bad news for you. You have to be able to squat deep for their to be carry over. Power lifting squats just don’t work for Olympic lifting improvement. Olympic lifting squats need to be front squats or high bar, narrow stance back squats.
Like these (this is Clarence Kennedy a European Jr. lifter, he’s good)

Some pulls

Plenty of people argue against pulls as part of the training program. The typical objection is that they teach people to extend up too much rather than move under the bar (I am in favor of them, they are my plateau busters).
Pulls shouldn’t make up all of your program, but including them periodically will go a long way to making your O lifts improve.
Remember the snatch grip deadlift and clean grip deadlift are pulls as well, just approach the lift like you are moving the bar from the ground for an O lift and not a normal deadlift (Like this).

The Lazy Olympic Weightlifting Program

The bare minimum Olympic weightlifting program could look as simple as what is below.
Two movements per day.
This is designed to be something that you could do while also doing all the curls, bench press, and leg presses you want.
Week 1: Day 1
Exercise  Set Reps
Power Snatch + OH Squat 4 (1+1)x3
Front Squat 4 4
Week 1: Day 2
Exercise  Set Reps
Power Clean + Front Squat+Jerk 4 (1+1+1)x3
Clean Deadlift 4 4
Week 2: Day 1
Exercise  Set Reps
Power Snatch + OH Squat 5 (1+1)x2
Back Squat 5 4
Week 2: Day 2
Exercise  Set Reps
Power Clean + Front Squat + Jerk 5 (1+1+1)x2
Snatch Pull (or from deficit) 5 3
Week 3: Day 1
Exercise  Set Reps
Snatch 4 3
Front Squat 4 3
Week 3: Day 2
Exercise  Set Reps
Clean and Jerk 4 3+2 (1+1 style)
Back Squat 4 3
Week 4: Day 1
Exercise  Set Reps
Snatch 5 2
Snatch Deadlift (or from Deficit) 5 3
Week 4: Day 2
Exercise  Set Reps
Clean and Jerk 4 2+1 (1+1 style)
Front Squat 4 2
*On combos (including clean and jerk) the first number is for the first movement, the second number is for the second movement.
**Loading should be done with the greatest amount of weight that one can handle for each prescribed set.
***This program can be repeated, replacing the combos to start the training program with full movements or your chosen variation


Getting better with the Olympic lifts does not mean that one has to spend hours upon hours on the platform (becoming GREAT does). Rather, focused attention to the craft and the movements that assist the craft the most.

Why You Need to Know Your Snatch to Clean and Jerk Ratio

When I see lifters competing in a meet, I and other experienced coaches can easily determine the appropriateness of their trainings and the expertise of their coaches. I can see common features of the technique of a team’s lifters. I can see whether a certain phase of a given lift is especially strong or weak. I can determine whether or not lifters are competing in the proper bodyweight class. Many things about the coaching and training become obvious in a competition. 
weightlifting, olympic weightlifting, snatch, clean and jerk, snatch ratioOne item that is rather obvious is the ratio of the snatch to the clean and jerk. If an athlete is mature, and is lifting in the appropriate bodyweight class for his or her height, proper training is reflected by this ratio. For many years, the top international lifters had best snatch figures that were within the range of 78 to 82% of the clean and jerk. With the advent of heightened drug testing protocols at the international level, that range is likely to expand upwards to about 84%, as the use of performance enhancing drugs is more necessary to improve the results of the clean and jerk. 
So when I see a lifter who has been competing for some time, is at the appropriate bodyweight for his or her height and the technique is sound, but the snatch figure is below or above the aforementioned range, I know that the training needs some adjustment.
How is the training to be adjusted? The key figure that must be calculated is the average absolute intensity. This number is determined by taking the average weight of each repetition performed in the training over an extended period. 
I have a twenty-week training program I wrote for my lifters that worked exceptionally well through several meets. I set up the program for a lifter who wanted to snatch 130 kg and clean and jerk 160 kg at the end of the cycle. For each exercise I multiplied the amount of weight used by the number of repetitions and added all these figures together.
This lifter totaled 910,945 kg over twenty weeks. He performed 7,782 repetitions for an average of 117.1 kg per repetition. At the end of the cycle he did snatch 130 and jerked 160. 130 divided by 160 equals 81.25%, which is comfortably within the 78 to 82% range, so this average figure of 117.1 is a valid one. 
If the results were, for example, a 120 snatch and 160 clean and jerk the quotient would have been 75%, which is below the optimal range. In that case the training would need to be restructured so that the average weight is less than 117.1 kg. 
weightlifting, olympic weightlifting, snatch, clean and jerk, snatch ratioAnother way to look at it when projecting ahead is to calculate what is called the K-value. In this calculation we use the same absolute average intensity and compare it to the total lifted at the end of the cycle. In the previous example if we take the 117.1 average absolute intensity and divide it by the total of 290 (130 + 160), the quotient x 100 is equal to 40.5. Empirical studies of the best training programs show this quotient should be in the range of 38 to 42, so this absolute average intensity is an appropriate one. 
By using the ratio of the snatch to the clean and jerk and the absolute average intensity, it is possible to determine whether or not the training is balanced and will continue to lead toward ongoing progress. Some of you might think that this is a lot of work, and it is, but this is the type of work a coach must perform in order to get an athlete up to championship levels. 
For those of you who are just getting started, the ratio of 78 to 84% is a good place to start and use as a monitoring device for your own training program planning. If your athlete’s number is too far below this range, the average training weight must be reduced. If it’s above this range, the average training weight needs to be raised.
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