Getting Into Weightlifting – Part 2

Whether or not you have an “every day coach”, you will have to figure out how you are going to program the Olympic lifts. There are plenty of programs you can find that include, but are obviously not limited to international teams (Bulgaria, Greece, China, etc.), the US Olympic Training Center, or standard stuff you can find in Milo or online resources. I caution any of you to get very interested in advanced programs designed for successful national teams. Typically these are advanced lifters who have been in a system for 10+ years and they require the kind of volume and intensity that is present in their program in order to undergo an adaptive stress.

The rest of us are not so fortunate, whether we are talking genetics or childhood exposure. Since the Olympic lifts are an expression of strength (as opposed to primary strength movements), a strength emphasis should be inherent in the training program. For some reason the previous statement is borderline blasphemy in some weightlifting circles, yet it is the same message that has been touted by Tommy Suggs and Bill Starr since their competitive days. Starr recently wrote an article that touches on the matter for the Starting Strength website called, Keeping the Strength in the Strength Program (any article by Starr is a good read — it has been said he has forgotten more stuff about strength training than we will ever know).

In any case, the thing that is going to help a beginning weightlifter get better at the snatch, clean, and jerk is getting stronger, thus strength training is incorporated into the program. Now, depending on your relationship with your coach, this may be contradictory to what they teach. The coach may want you solely on their program. It may be a situation where you see them less frequently which means programming is up to you. Maybe you cannot even perform the lifts unless you are at the coach’s gym because of equipment limitations. Whatever your circumstances may be, improving your strength is vital to increasing your lifts, and this is should always be the heart of your program.

Tomorrow I will leave the fuzzy conceptual strength stuff and give some vague outlines that a beginning weightlifter could try. In the mean time, discuss the topic, and if any of you are experienced weightlifters or coaches, you can share what has worked for you or your athletes.

Here is Olympian Kendrick Farris, a really fucking strong 85 kg lifter. In this video he deadlifts 280 kg (616) — he attempts a double.

Here he smokes the piss out of a 170 kg power clean and jerk:

17 thoughts on “Getting Into Weightlifting – Part 2

  1. All I know is I got lost in the Polish montage yesterday. I ended up watching 5 of those 9+ min videos. I wish I could get the government (or anyone?) to subsidize my training…

    I second getting a keen-eyed coach to work with you on the fast lifts. Very, very few people have the ability to teach themselves properly.

  2. I had an argument regarding coaching with my brother the other day. His point was that if the 2 lifts are so technical that learning them without a coach is detrimental, why are they more beneficial to performance than say just doing power cleans.

    My only response was that lifting stuff over head is just bad ass, and the o-lifts are the most efficient ways to get stuff overhead.

    So the question is, in the absence of coaching do you guys still see a real benefit in the o-lifts?

    Well, of course. Even the NSCA (sort of) knows why.


  3. A coach can be very important especially if you are coming from a background of other strength movements because different motor patterns will be the norm to you. A deadlift is so much different from the pull on a snatch or clean and jerk that somebody who deadlifts consistently will need to force their body into a groove its not used to and its much easier if somebody is there to remind you and tell you what to do to get into that pattern. I””ve been lucky enough in my olympic lifting career spanning all of 3 months now to have been surrounded by good coaches the entire time who have consistently gotten me out of my powerlifting motor patterns while performing the olympic lifts. Having a good strength base is huge in olympic lifting as you can spend more time properly learning the form without having to get stronger to get to new weights. I””m actually currently attempting a linear progression (far different from the normal linear progression obviously) with both of the olympic lifts along with my normal powerlifting training.

    Note: The way that we teach the clean and the snatch, they are similar to the deadlift in that the bar is directly over the middle of the foot which is in a vertical line under the scapula. In fact, the starting position in the clean is the same as the deadlift, albeit with a wider grip. Conventional weightlifting coaches teach a different starting position, but that is not so with us.


  4. I was lucky enough to see Kendrick at the Pan Am Games in Chicago this past year. Very strong. He has the oddest jerk technique I”ve seen from a high level oly lifter. It”s like a semi-split squat jerk. Somehow it works for him.

  5. I””d like to take this opportunity to recommend Greg Everett””s excellent book, “Olympic Weightlifting” for any one trying to get into the sport. It is a really great book. The style taught in there is a little more modern than that which Justin advocates, but the author makes it clear when there is an area of disagreement over an issue – for example, he recommends shoulders right above bar, but he acknowledges some people prefer shoulders in front of bar and explains that starting position as well. A really excellent book.

  6. Strength is obviously important,as Olympic Lifters try to lift maximum weigths,but not always strength relates to great lifts,as Bud Charniga,for instance,so well describes in his articles about past american method,that relied on strength vs other schools of thougth:

    Armando,amazing lifts from Vardanian,a true athlete..and all without a belt!!


  7. Just got back from my first session with bob white in norman. The first thing I noticed walking in was a sign on the wall that said something to the effect of `weak lifters just can”t be fast.”

    He coached me on the clean from a hang and we worked up to 60kg and then he coached me on front squats and worked up to 100kg.

    It was awesome.

  8. I worked with Richard Flemming from Spoon Barbell in Dallas last week and I really enjoyed it. Every time I think I am getting strong, I lift with someone and get knocked down a few pegs. He wants me to completely change my work load, which I was a bit weary of, but if I am going to work with him then I need to trust the system and do it as prescribed. Unfortunately (as Justin stated above in a response to Nolan), these teachings differ greatly from what I have been doing for the last 4 months.

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