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Sample Masters Weightlifting Training Program
Greg Everett

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The following is a training cycle I wrote to prepare one of our masters lifters for the NorCal Open. He recently began training at Catalyst, and this is the first program I’ve written for him after helping him modify the program he used to prepare for Masters Nationals. He made PRs across the board at the meet.

This is a fairly general program, although there is some work specific to his technical needs, which can be used as-is or altered to suit someone else.

Week 1

Monday
Snatch – 70% x 2 x 2, 75% x 3 x 2
Snatch Pull – 80% x 5 x 3
Front Squat – 70% x 3 x 3

Wednesday
Halting Snatch Deadlift + Mid-Hang Snatch – 70% x 2 x 5
Snatch Deadlift – 100% x 5 x 3
Muscle Snatch + snatch balance + OHS – 5 x 3
Push Press + Jerk – 60% x 2 x 3

Friday
Clean & Jerk – 70% x 3+1 x 2, 75% x 3+1 x 2
Clean Pull – 80% x 5 x 3
Back Squat – 75% x 5 x 3


Week 2

Monday
Snatch – 75% x 2 x 2, 80% x 2 x 2
Snatch Pull – 85% x 4 x 3
Front Squat – 75% x 3 x 3

Wednesday
Halting Clean Deadlift + Mid-Hang Clean – 70% x 2 x 5
Clean Deadlift – 100% x 5 x 3
Snatch Balance – 70% x 2 x 3
Jerk – 80% x 2 x 5

Friday
Clean & Jerk – 75% x 3+1 x 2, 80% x 2+1 x 2
Clean Pull – 85% x 4 x 3
Back Squat – 78% x 5 x 3


Week 3

Monday
Snatch – 75% x 3 x 2, 80% x 2, 85% x 2, 90% x 1
Snatch Pull – 90% x 3 x 3
Front Squat – 75% x 3, 80% x 3, 75% x 3

Wednesday
Snatch Deadlift + Mid-Hang Snatch – 75% x 2 x 3
Snatch Deadlift – 105% x 4 x 3
Snatch Balance + OHS – 80% x 2 x 3
Push Press + Jerk – 65% x 2 x 3

Friday
Clean & Jerk – 75% x 3+1 x 2, 80% x 2+1, 85% x 2+1, 90% x 1
Clean Pull – 90% x 3 x 3
Back Squat – 80% x 5 x 3


Week 4

Monday
Snatch – 75% x 3, 80% x 2, 85% x 1, 90% x 1, 95% x 1
Snatch Pull – 95% x 3 x 3
Front Squat – 75% x 3, 80% x 2, 85% x 2

Wednesday
Clean Deadlift + Mid-Hang Clean – 75% x 2 x 3
Clean Deadlift – 105% x 4 x 3
OHS – 85% x 2 x 3
Push Press + Jerk – 70% x 2 x 3

Friday
Clean & Jerk – 75% x 3+1, 80% x 2+1, 85% x 1, 90% x 1, 95% x 1
Clean Pull – 95% x 3 x 3
Back Squat – 80% x 5, 85% x 5, 80% x 5


Week 5

Monday
Snatch – 75% x 2, 80% x 2, 85% x 1 x 3
Snatch Pull – 90% x 2 x 3
Front Squat – 80% x 2, 85% x 1, 90% x 1

Wednesday
Power Snatch – 70% x 2 x 5
Power Clean & Jerk – 70% x 2 x 5
Snatch Balance – 80% x 1 x 3

Friday
Clean & Jerk – 75% x 2, 80% x 2, 85% x 1 x 3
Clean Pull – 90% x 2 x 3
Back Squat –85% x 2 x 3


Week 6

Monday
Snatch – 70%x1, 75%x1, 80%x1x2
Clean & Jerk – 70%x1, 75%x1, 80%x1x2
Front Squat – 70%x3, 75%x2, 80%x1

Wednesday
Snatch – 60%x1, 65%x1, 70%x1, 60%x1x3
Clean & Jerk - 60%x1, 65%x1, 70%x1, 60%x1x3

Friday
Snatch – 50% x 1 x 5
Clean & Jerk 50% x 1 x 5

Sunday
Meet

Greg Everett is the owner of Catalyst Athletics, head coach of the national-medalist Catalyst Athletics weightlifting team, publisher of The Performance Menu, author of the books Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches and Olympic Weightlifting for Sports, and director/writer/producer/editor/everything of the documentary American Weightlifting. Follow him on Facebook here and and sign up for his free newsletter here.

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44 Comments
Pat M 2011-06-06
As a master's weightlifter I am interested in this. How long did each session take? How much total time did this lifter train (it looks like about an hour, 3 times a week). How easy was it for him to make the prescribed %'s? Is going with set % better the "by feel" or "max for the day"?
Greg Everett 2011-06-07
Pat - His sessions were usually about 90 min or so including warmup. I don't recall him missing any prescribed %s, and on week 4, his 95%s felt really good so he took them up and actually made PRs. So it's good to be able to adjust day to day based on feel, but I prefer to have some kind of plan in place as well.
Tim 2011-06-07
Thanks for posting a 3 days/week program.
Pat M 2011-06-07
Greg and Tim, Many moons ago, I asked if you could adapt the daily workout to a 3 day a week schedule, Greg said Mon, Thurs, Sat days. Would you still agree with that? Thank you again for putting this sample program out there. I think Day 1&3 are the meat and potatoe days, day 2 looks like a technique day to work on skill specific to this lifter. I imagine just doing days 1&2 would be a very good 2 day a week program. Thanks again. Pat
Greg Everett 2011-06-08
Pat - The daily workout format changes from cycle to cycle enough that I can't really say what days will always be the ones to choose. Generally I'd actually say Mon-Wed-Sat. You could turn this program into 2 days/week, but day 2 does have some pulls/DLs you'd want to move to one of those days at the very least.
Pat M 2011-06-08
Greg, Thanks for your feedback. Personally, I like this sample program for the master's lifter. I think doing days 1&3 are priority days. Day 2 is looks like a an optional technique based day that can be altered or skipped based on the needs of the athlete. I have long trained "by feel", but your response on comment 2 has challenged my thought process. I am starting to wonder, if the masters lifter with limited training and recovery time, would do better following a percentage based program and adjusting those percentages based on life outside the gym. I am sure that if the vast majority of time, loads lifted are between the 70-90% range, progress will be made. Thanks again for this article.
Jen 2011-09-18
Greg, What makes this a masters program? What considerations did you take for age and recovery?
Greg Everett 2011-09-19
Jen -Reduced frequency, volume and intensity. There's really no clear delineation between masters, beginner, advanced, etc, but I wrote this for a masters lifter based on what he has demonstrated he can manage.
andrew butler 2011-09-29
love this routine for masters-family and jobs and never an "olympic" standard,but aiming to get good age group national totals-like me! personally i just do a 3 day of c&j and front sq, snatch and back squat and total on the weekend with some deadlifts of both grips-and it seems to be working-i will do your above programm for next cycle.
Eric N. 2011-10-01
Greg A couple of questions about the program.Do you list reps first than sets? On week 1 friday C+J i do not know what the +1 means,and on week 4 wednesday is that a typo clean deadlift +mid-hang snatch.Thank you very much.
Greg Everett 2011-10-03
Eric - Weight x reps x sets; if there is no weight, sets x reps. This is also in the about page about the workouts here."Clean & Jerk - heavy 3+1; 90% x 3+1" means you work up to the heaviest 3 cleans and 1 jerk you can (+1 is the 1 jerk after the 3 cleans), then do 90% of that for another 3 cleans + 1 jerk.I don't see the DL + snatch you're talking about, but yes that sounds like a typo. Snatch DL.
Eric V 2011-10-06
Greg, Did he do WODs during this cycle or just the lifting? I've been doing CF for about 19 months. My Metcons are pretty good but I really want to improve my max Lifts, without completely sacrificing my Metcons. Thanks. Eric
Greg Everett 2011-10-06
Eric - He did only the program shown here.
Geoff 2011-12-20
Hi Coach, this schedule is working nicely for me. Can you please offer some advice as to what week 7 looks like? Thanks, Geoff.
Greg Everett 2011-12-21
Geoff - There is no week 7 - this is the entire cycle. Just a quick one to prepare for the meet at the end of it.
Geoff 2011-12-21
Sorry Greg, I meant to ask what type of recovery week would the master lifter have after the 6 week cycle.
Greg Everett 2011-12-21
Geoff - Probably a week that would prep him for the following cycle. So if you were repeating this cycle, for example, you could do the first week but reduce wts by 10-15% or so and volume by 15-25%. If you were moving into a different type of cycle, doing a week that looked like that cycle but with reduced volume and weight.
Geoff 2011-12-21
Thanks and wishing you all a Merry Xmas!
Steve 2011-12-30
This is just what I've been looking for, becuse i think I've been overtraining a bit. At any rate, if youwere going to incorporate some metcons would you do it on the m, w, f, after the strength work or on tues, thurs? Thanks Sp
Greg Everett 2011-12-31
Steve - Kind of depends on what they involved, but I'd be inclined to maybe do Tues and Sat so you have a rest day mid-week.
Steve 2011-12-31
Greg- Thanks, that's a big help. I've been doing cf football, which uses a similar 2rest, 3rest program. For the metcons I was thinking something short and sweet, nothing long and grueling, maybe a cf football WOD or something like that, just to keep my conditioning up. Problem for me is that lately I've defaulted to low bar back squat to get high numbers and power cleans. My snatch sucks and at 37 years old, I think I'd be better equipped to try and compete at a local masters weightlifting comp, as opposed to the cf games, lol. Thanks againg for your help and a great site. On another note, I am editor of an online magazine about evolution, I recently video podcasts with Robb, wondering if you have an evolutionary take on o- Infringing, like it's functional equivalence, that you might want to podcast with me about? Sp
Greg Everett 2012-01-02
Steve - I'm not sure I would have much to say; I would need to put some thought into that. Send me an email.
Geoff 2012-01-10
Just finished this cycle and raised my snatch and clean and jerk by 5kg each. THANKS!! I missed my last Sn and C+J (couldn't get up out of snatch bottom position and didn't quite lock the jerk out). Should my next cycle percentages be based off the successful lifts or can they be based off the near misses Gregg?
Greg Everett 2012-01-10
Geoff - You can base them off the near misses if they were close.
Marty 2013-02-23
Started this program today, I'll let you know how it goes :D
Bill 2013-12-13
What type of introductory program do you recommend for the 50+ yr old that is highly interested in OlyLifting, that has experience with general weight lifting, but has not been active for the last 20 or so years? Thank you
Steve Pan 2013-12-13
Bill - This may be a good program to try, however you may have to adjust some of the weights and/or exercises depending on your skill level. I would suggest easing your way into a program and make sure to keep on top of your stretching and recovery. Another program that may intrest you is our starter program which can be found here: catalystathletics.com/articles/article.php?articleID=131
Will 2014-02-19
What age was this lifter?
Robin Cadmus 2014-02-20
As a 60+ year old woman, would you alter this at all?
Andrew 2014-05-05
Awesome program but could I have some clarification on Week 4 Wednesday Clean Deadlift + Mid Hang snatch.Does this mean clean grip snatch?
Steve Pan 2014-05-06
It should be mid hang clean. It has been corrected.
Tom 2014-05-12
Hi Greg - I want to give this a try, however due to injury I am unable to do back squats. Obviously I would do FS again on the Friday, but do you recommend doing the same rep scheme as Monday or something different?
Greg Everett 2014-05-13
Tom - Do the same prescription for Friday's back squats and just substitude front squats.
Tom 2014-05-14
Thanks Greg, as leg strength is a weakness more than pulls due to lack of back squat, would it be worth a 3rd Front squat session on the Weds? and if so, how would you suggest programming it?
Greg Everett 2014-05-15
Tom - Try it out as is and see how it goes. If you're looking for a real leg-strength-emphasis program, there are a few on the site.
Tom 2014-05-16
Thanks I wont fiddle with it then and will see how it goes
Thorin 2014-06-24
I just followed this program for 2 cycles leading up to the Pan Am masters this weekend. It was in stark contrast to the Bulgarian style programming I am used to. In fact it took a bit of a leap of faith. The end result was PRs in both the snatch and total and a silver medal. Thank you!
Greg Everett 2014-06-24
Thorin - Congratulations! Nice work.
Jason 2014-07-20
I just completed this cycle. I haven't attempted 1RM yet for each lift (snatch & CJ). Once I do, can I use this cycle again and continue to see improvement or should I try a different cycle. I am 43 and have been Olympic lifting for about a year.
Steve Pan 2014-07-21
Jason - You can make a choice if you want to run this cycle again or choose one from the training cycles tab.
Louie 2014-08-12
Steve, decided the 12 week "Jessica Complex & Competition" was a bit much (volume) for this old man (50) so I've started this masters cycle. Week 1 day 2 (MS+SBal+OHS), what is the prescribed % for the movements? Is this more of a go by feel movement? Thanks again for all you do.
Louie 2014-08-12
Sorry... Above meant for Greg.
Steve Pan 2014-08-12
Louie - For that particular exercise you will have to feel out a weight that works for those reps and sets on that complex.
Louie 2014-08-14
Thanks Steve... The weight I used worked out for the complex. It was just enough to tax the shoulders.
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