Olympic-style Weightlifting

by Dr Lon Kilgore, PhD



Olympic weightlifting is a sport in which athletes compete to lift the greatest amount of weight overhead within an athlete's weight category. The competition lifts are the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. Each weightlifter receives three attempts in each lift. The combined total of the highest successful attempt for each lift determines the athlete's placing within their respective bodyweight category.

In contrast, Olympic-style Weightlifting is a form of weight training incorporating the competitive lifts or variations of the Olympic weightlifts. Athletes use Olympic-style weightlifting as a part of their sports conditioning program to develop explosive speed strength, or power. Also see Exercise Power Outputs and Suggested Repetition Ranges.

Strength Standards

Standards represent performance that can be reasonably expected of an athlete at various levels of training advancement using standard, full range-of-motion barbell exercises. Includes strength standards for Power Clean, Power Snatch, Press, Bench Press, Squat, Deadlift.

Weightlifting Shoes 101

A basic primer for why you need real weightlifting shoes to train safely and effectively.

A Smattering of Training Programs

At the USA Weightlifting Regional Development Center, we get lots of requests for copies of the programs we use. This is a bit of a problem as we use so many. A single model of training cannot accommodate the broad spectrum of trainees we service. Every program included below can be useful for a while and in specific types of trainees, but every coach must be able to design their own program for the specific needs of their unique trainees. What we have here can serve as examples, but you can't base your whole coaching system on them. We never stop experimenting with programming and looking for improvements, so what you read here may not be used any more at the RDC, BUT, when we did use it, it worked.


MSU Experimental Training Program 1.0 (2000)

MSU has a 6 week training program available for download for those who have access to Microsoft Excel (.xls file). This program utilizes large variations in intensity and volume designed to cause adaptations in the endocrine system which assist the athlete in gaining strength. See Hormone Fluctuation Model. Weeks 1 and 2 seem very easy, while the 3rd and 4th weeks seem viciously hard, and the last two weeks are tapering weeks leading up to a competition at the end of week 6. This program was adapted from some very well documented programs used on elite European lifters and from scientific literature. This version has been used successfully by athletes ranging from junior to master, and ranging in experience from beginners to athletes with over 20 years training experience. Don't worry if you feel like you are on death's door for the 3rd and 4th weeks, everyone on the program feels like this, but without exception, everyone using the program will experience performance improvements at the end of the 6th week. Do not alter the program and expect gains, do your best to execute the training as written. While the program does work well, we believe that additional recovery time (i.e., a longer taper) will enhance performance gains.To this end, we are investigating a similar program but with a 4 week volume-biased taper. Right click below and save as an MS Excel (.xls) file

Weeks 1 and 2
Build Up
Weeks 3 and 4
Hard Training
Weeks 5 and 6

WFW Program (2003)

Several of our lifters utilized a Louie Simmons (Westside Barbell) inspired program under the supervision of Coach Glenn Pendlay (former Jr World Powerlifting Champion) with good success. This may be a good program for both increasing strength and developing technique. It seems to be particularly effective when used between more specialized peaking cycles like the MSU Experimental Program 1.0 because it allows the lifter adequate time to work on individual technique problems and individual strength deficiencies, something which is lacking in highly structured programs like the experimental program.

This program is basically a 4-day- a-week program, where the lifter works on the Snatch and Clean & Jerk on Monday and Thursday, and works on strength on Tuesday and Friday. We have found that 8 to 12 singles done on the Clean & Jerk and Snatch work well, with the lifter using between 65 and 85% of his/her maximum. Usually, only one specified weight is used for each training session. A limited rest period is used, usually performing one rep per minute. This allows the lifter to work with a light-enough weight to practice technique, yet still get a good workout. It appears from early results that this protocol works very well for building consistency in a lifter's technique. The focus is to complete each workout with zero misses at the target weight before allowing the athlete to increase the weight in the next workout or next week (The athlete is not allowed to increase the weight after a workout with misses).

Progression, variety and individualization are the keys on Tuesday and Friday. The athletes should perform exercises that work on their identified individual weaknesses (i.e., weak legs - concentrate on Squats, weak back - concentrate on Romanian Deadlifts, problems catching the snatch - include Snatch Balances, Overhead Squats, or Snatch-grip Push Presses). The variants are endless. Vary the reps, and vary the exercises, and always try to make new personal records on whatever strength exercise you are working on.

See Coach Pendlay's more recent comments on the WFW Program based on Westside Barbell training philosophies.

Youth Weightlifting Program

The Wichita Falls Program is iteration from Coach Glenn Pendlay.

Doc Stone's Basic Program

Dr. Mike Stone has been one of the major scientific influences in weightlifting, all the way back to the days of the National Strength Research Center at Auburn. This program has been described as his basic program for getting strong.

"Russian Squat" Routine

This program has been around for a long time. It is rarely used with any of our athletes as we believe our other training models are more effective.

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