Function Training Tips

Beginners guide: Olympic Weightlifting

September 8, 2014

A question that I get asked a lot is: How should I incorporate Olympic lifts (the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk) into my normal CrossFit programming? This is a perfect example of a question with more than one right answer. Over the years, I have found many repeating patterns when it comes to implementing an efficient Olympic lifting strategy. Below you will find components of what I would call an extremely applicable program that anyone can use when they are looking to implement more Snatches and Clean & Jerks in their workouts.

How much time do you need? I hate when I see beginners (and more advanced lifters as well) struggling in the back of the gym for hours with heavy weights on the bar. The technique breakdown is quick, and resting 3-4 minutes between sets means that not a lot is being done. An excellent beginners program can be done in 15 minutes. Seriously.

How often should you lift? The training required to set the motor pattern is immense, especially with beginners. Due to this fact, I believe that beginners would benefit most from spending 15 minutes daily, at least 5 days a week on Olympic lifting.

What days should you perform each lift? Easy! I would rotate. One day snatches, the next day cleans.

What variations should you use? This question alone can be long-winded. However, the more of a beginner you are, the less complex lifts you should be performing. Spending 2-3 months doing nothing more than hang clean pulls and hang power cleans (and their snatch variant) will pay off MASSIVELY. Do not rush the more advanced lift. I would take a weaker individual with a perfect clean pull than someone that can power clean 275 with horrendous technique.

How much work can you really do in 15 minutes? You would be surprised:
A. 3 x 4 Hang Clean Pulls at 50% 1RM Clean (rest 45 seconds between sets)
B. 4 x 3 Hang Power Clean at 50-65% 1RM Clean (rest 60 seconds between sets)
C. 3 x 4 Push Jerks – Load to technique (rest 60 seconds between sets)

I guarantee that many individuals can find a way to make that last 2 hours. IT CAN BE DONE IN 15 MINUTES! You do not need to be resting 4 minutes between sets!
But what about going heavy?

If you are classified as a beginner, your focus should not be going heavy. As for more advanced lifters, if you do not have the best form in your gym, my guess is that you would benefit from taking a step back from heavy, drawn out sessions and focusing on my sample program below:

Sample Beginners Olympic Program

Empty Barbell Warm-Up (EBWU): Performed as an unbroken complex

• 5 Hang Clean Pulls
• 5 Hang Clean High-Pulls
• 5 Hang Power Cleans
• 5 Strict Press
• 5 Push Press

Monday – EBWU

• 3 x 5 Hang Clean Pulls at 50% 1RM Clean (rest 45 seconds between sets)
• 4 x 4 Hang Power Clean at 50-65% 1RM Clean (rest 60 seconds)
• 3 x 3 Push Jerks – Load to technique (rest 60 seconds)

Tuesday – EBWU

• 3 x 4 Snatch Pulls from Hang at 50% 1RM Snatch (rest 45 seconds between sets)
• 4 x 5 Hang Power Snatch *Pause* to Overhead Squat – Load to technique (rest 60 seconds)

Wednesday – EBWU

• 15 Minutes on Split Jerk Technique

Thursday – EBWU

• 4 x 5 Hang Clean High Pulls at 50% 1RM (rest 45 seconds between sets)
• 4 x 4 Hang Power Clean to Reverse Lunge – Load to technique (rest 60 seconds)


• 3 x 5 Unloaded Hang Power Snatch
• 3 x 4 Snatch Pulls from Floor – Load to technique (rest 60 seconds)
• 4 x 3/3 (3 each side) Dumbbell Snatch from hang (rest 45 seconds)

That concludes my beginners guide to Olympic weightlifting programming. If you’re a beginner and have any questions about how else to get started, comment below and I’ll get back to you in no time!



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