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The Simplest Olympic Weightlifting Program in the World
Greg Everett

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I've written down this same program so many times for so many people, I thought it would make sense to put it down here for other people to use. I'm sure things that look a lot like this have been floating around for decades because it makes perfect sense and is remarkably simple. I think I may have stuck it or something very similar in a newsletter at some point in the last couple years as well.

The basic structure is as follows:

Day 1
Snatch
Snatch Pull
Front Squat

Day 2
Jerk
Push Press
Overhead Squat

Day 3
Clean & Jerk
Clean Pull
Back Squat

The snatch, clean and jerk can be the classic lifts as written, or any variation of your choosing based on how you're feeling on a particular day, or based on what you need to address certain technical problems. This includes variations like powers, hangs, complexes, etc.

Snatch and clean pulls can be done as pulls as written, or you can substitute any pulling-related exercise such as halting deadlifts, partial pulls, segment pulls and pull complexes. Again, choose exercises that address your own needs with regard to technique and strength.

The push press on day 2 can be any kind of upper body press exercise that you decide is most effective: push press behind the neck, press, incline bench press, etc. Similarly, the overhead squat on day 2 can be replaced with a snatch balance variation, complex of snatch balance and overhead squat, snatch push press and overhead squat, etc.

Front squats and back squats on days 1 and 3 can be done with whatever sets and reps you choose. As a starting point, I would suggest 3s for the front squat and 5s for the back squat, 3-5 sets for each.

To this you can consider adding a technique exercise at the start of each day related to the classic lift of the day. For example, on day 1 if you have trouble with the turnover of the snatch, you might choose to do a few sets of muscle snatches or tall snatches before doing the snatches. Keep this exercise relatively light and easy.

Start the first week with fairly conservative weights and spend 3-4 weeks building the weights up, decreasing the reps or sets somewhat as you go if necessary. For example, you might do triples in the snatch, clean and jerk on week 1, doubles on week 2 and singles on week 3, increasing the weight by 5-10% each week.

Have fun with it and post any variations you use successfully here.








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, director/writer/producer/editor/everything of the documentary American Weightlifting, fifth-place finisher at the USAW National Championships, masters national champion and masters American record holder in the clean & jerk. Follow him on Facebook here and and sign up for his free newsletter here.

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92 Comments
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John 2012-01-05
Hey Greg great post. Is this program done 3 days a week or could you do them in a row. I have followed some of your programs before and have great gains. I want to do something where I am doing the clean and jerk, and snatch or a variation twice a week for each pull. Thanks
Greg Everett 2012-01-05
John - This is a 3-day/week program as written, e.g. Monday-Wednesday-Friday. You could easily modify it to be 5-6 days/week if you wanted. As a quick example, make day 1 Monday, day 2 Tuesday and day 3 Thursday. Wednesday maybe do some power snatch and power clean/jerk, and/or jerk and overhead work. Rest Friday, and Saturday snatch, clean & jerk and squat.Or you could keep these days as Mon-Wed-Fri and on Tue and Sat do powers or lighter sn/cj and/or sn/cj technique work.
David P 2012-01-05
Hey Greg,

Thanks a lot for posting this! After the 3-4 weeks of increasing weights, do you recommend a "deload" week and starting over? I'd like to try a program like this for 12-14 weeks, but I'm not sure how to go about it. Thanks.
Greg Everett 2012-01-05
David -Yes. After 3-4 weeks, drop the weights 10-20% and reduce the volume 20-40% before restarting.
Chris G 2012-01-05
This is exactly what I have been looking for. Thanks Greg! I'll get back to you in a month or two with some monster PR's.
-Chris
DC 2012-01-05
How often should you to 100%. Thanks
Greg Everett 2012-01-05
DC - How often one can do that productively varies a lot among athletes. If you're working in 4-week blocks on a program like this, hitting 100% single attempts on each lift once in each 4 week block is probably good, i.e. make the third or fourth week a max week.
Mark 2012-01-06
Greg

This program will fit my needs very well right now. I typically train about 4 days a week, but the next several months are be busier than normal for me. Can't wait to tweak this a little to fit my needs (my jerk is way behind my clean and my pulling is weak). Will try it starting Monday. Thanks Coach.
Andre 2012-01-08
Is it able to combine this with a running schedule or will that be to much of a load?
Luke 2012-01-08
Thanks Greg, Ill be done with S/S soon, and this is just what I was looking for.
John 2012-01-08
Thanks Greg for answering my question. Can you direct me to a percentage table to go off for the max clean and jerk and snatch on the last day? I want to go off that for m,t,and thur or is that getting too complicated?
msgt martin reeves usmc 2012-01-08
i am 45 years old and have a solid background in bodybuilding and strongman.people tell me i am too old to start and compete in masters class. improvise.overcome.adapt! i believe i can!but at the same time.i would greatly respect your opinion.so far i love all aspects of olympic lifting.please help me realize my dream like you have for so many others.with great respect and thanks.msgt martin reeves usmc.
Greg Everett 2012-01-09
Andre - You should be able to add some running in there.
Greg Everett 2012-01-09
John - Just take them up by feel on the last day. That may be 80% or it may be 102%.
Greg Everett 2012-01-09
msgt reeves - never too old. Just be smart about it and do what's necessary to avoid getting injured.
Andrew 2012-01-10
Greg,

Thinking of giving your program a try. Would like to do a short WOD after each lifting day. Do you recommend it?
Greg Everett 2012-01-10
Andrew - If you need to work on your conditioning, you can certainly do this. Just be aware of how much you're doing and be careful that one is not interfering with the other and preventing you from accomplishing what you want.
Seb 2012-01-11
Hi Greg,

you said "make the third or fourth week a max week."
Do you do a deload week before or after the max week ?

For a 4 weeks cycle :

Week 1 and 2 increase weight
Week 3 deload
Week 4 max

or

Week 1 and 2 increase weight
Week 3 max
Week 4 deload

Thanks
Tony 2012-01-11
Greg,

Lately I have been alternating between the Crossfit Football workouts and yours. I generally cycle between what seems to be kind of a push/pull regimine. I try to lift on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I noticed John seems to have a push/pull theme going, but he doesn't concentrate much on the O-Lifts. That is where you come in. I integrate your workouts on his "pull" days.

For example:

Mondays - Squats and Presses for the Strength WOD and then I follow his Daily WOD.
Tuesdays - Snatches/Cleans (maybe C&J) based off of your daily workouts and then I integrate a heavy pull like deadlifts at the end. I finish up with either John's Daily WOD or your conditioning workout, whichever sounds better to me.
Wednesday - Rest, but sometimes stretching, foam rolling, or walking
Thursday - Similar to Monday
Friday - Similar to Tuesday

Sometimes I will concentrate strictly on the snatch one day and strictly on the clean another. Other days I do both on both of my "pull" days. I have had some success with this over the past month or so. Does this sound pretty good to you? Is there anything I could better? Differently? Am I trying to do too much? Too little? Or am I way off base? Let me know either way. Thanks for everything.

Tony



Greg Everett 2012-01-11
Seb -

You can try either of those and see what works best for you. You can also try adding weight and reducing volume weeks 1-3 and then hitting maxes week 4. When you restart the next 4-week block, you'll be deloading automatically to some degree.
Greg Everett 2012-01-11
Tony - If you feel like you can keep track of all that and it seems to be working, then have at it. That's too complicated for a simpleton like me. I like one program. That said, I haven't looked much at John's workouts, but I do suspect they have considerably more upper body strength work than the ones I post here, so if that's a priority for you, it makes sense to add that in.
Seb 2012-01-11
Thanks Greg for your answer.
I'll try that and see how it feels

Regards from France
David Griffin 2012-01-14
I'm about to move from a more powerlifting style program and get really into the OLY lifts so this is exactly what I'm after.

Thanks!
Michelle 2012-01-15
Greg, for week 1, should I attempt to find 3RM for sn and cj, as I haven't focused on an oly-type training before and I am not sure what I am capable of right now. Thanks!
Greg Everett 2012-01-16
Michelle - You don't need to find 3RMs, just work up in triples until you find something you can do for maybe 5 sets of 3.
Mark Mawson 2012-02-02
Hi Greg,

A couple of quick questions; could you swap the days around? I was thinking of putting the back squats at the beginning of the week.

Also, how many sets should be used for the olympic lifts? I imagine somewhere between 5-8 but I've been wrong before!

Thanks
Mark Mawson 2012-02-02
*Actually you pretty much answered my second question in the post before mine.
Greg Everett 2012-02-02
Mark -You can switch the days if you want, but the way it's set up now, the idea is that you have a good break between your two squat days (not including OHS since that's not really heavy squatting) and then a 2 day break after back squats/CJs (assuming this is done Mon-Wed-Fri or Tue-Thu-Sat), which will be the most taxing day.
Mark Mawson 2012-02-03
Thanks Greg, I'll leave them in order for now. I go to a coached class on Tuesdays (or Thursdays) so would a Monday, Thursday(or Tuesday), Friday setup be workable? Thanks for taking the time to answer.
Greg Everett 2012-02-03
Mark- That would be fine.
Jack 2012-04-01
Gregg,

If you were preparing/already serving in an military unit that requires a lot of running/rucking/swimming, would you implement this program to help Maintain/Increase strength? Or do you feel the volume is still to high to accomplish all necessary goals? Assuming one would run intervals twice a week, and swim twice a week then ruck once. Following week would alternate interval running with rucking. so on and so forth...
Greg Everett 2012-04-02
Jack -

In a case like that, this may be too much. I would probably lean more toward strength training 2x/wk and paring it down a bit by keeping the elements that address your primary weaknesses and dropping or limiting the ones that just play to your strengths.
Jack 2012-04-02
Gregg,

Thanks for the quick reply. Would you be abel to expand on how you would construct the schedule, or would it best I ask my specific questions via Email? Thanks!
Greg Everett 2012-04-03
Jack -

I would suggest posting on the forum - I'll try to get a response in there among anyone else who has info to offer.
Jack 2012-04-14
Gregg -

Sounds good, got verified via the forum and posted. Thanks for the help!
Tom 2012-06-06
Greg-

I'm an athlete with multiple priorities (rowing on the water, running, bodyweight exercises) and a demanding work/travel schedule. I can only consistently O-lift 1 day a week, some weeks I can do more but I also can go 2-3 weeks with no O-lifting opportunities. I've used this basic framework on a "as possible" basis. Each day I O-lift I do one of the workouts; my next opportunity to lift I do the next workout in the schedule and so on. I've seen good results, and supplement my O-lifting with pistols, body-weight plyo-metrics, and running hills throughout the week to keep a good balance of rest, frequency and volume.

I'm curious to hear if you've designed an O-lifting program for a "casual" O-lifter who spends the majority of his time on sport specific (rowing) and GPP training...?

Thanks,

Tom
Greg Everett 2012-06-08
Tom -

Sounds like you're doing the best you can in the circumstances. Honestly I wouldn't write a program for someone like you because, without being able to train consistently, it's impossible to promise success, so I would just steer you exactly in the direction you're already going. When you have to train around a lot of other training with an unreliable schedule, it's usually the best best to just wing it with a casual eye toward making sure you're working on your weakest points as regularly as possible.
Nick 2013-02-13
Hi. I was just wondering about the jerk on day 2. Is it a split jerk we should be doing?
Cheers
Steve Pan 2013-02-14
Nick -

Jerk will always be split jerk. It will specify power or push jerk if they are called for.
Lee 2013-03-07
I'm sure this is going to be deemed a stupid question, but what is the set/rep count for the snatch, jerk, c+j, push press, and the pulls? Thanks.
Steve Pan 2013-03-08
Lee -

For this program it is up to you to adjust how you want to do the sets and reps. The example in the article is to take triples of each of the olympic lifts in the first week, then add weight for the next week and take doubles, and go for singles at a heavier weight the following week.
Lee 2013-03-10
Steve-

Thanks for the response. I really appreciate it. Any guidance on warming up, and/or training sets?

Thanks,
Lee
Steve Pan 2013-03-11
Lee -

Take a few lighter sets and work your way up to a working weight. You will have to feel those weights out as you go and make judgement calls on the weights you are using. Another option would be to try the starter program that has some parameters for you to follow: catalystathletics.com/articles/article.php?articleID=131
Gregg 2013-05-31
Would it be appropriate to follow a 5/3/1 progression with this template? What modifications would you make if any?
Zack Nielsen 2013-05-31
For the press can bench press be used? I am a collegiate thrower and I am using this as a template, but my training does require bench press. Will it have a negative affect on my olympic lifts?
Steve Pan 2013-06-03
Zack -

You can substitute bench press for press. Make sure you keep stretching your shoulders and pecs to maintain good mobility for the snatch and jerk.
Steve Pan 2013-06-03
Gregg -

I would suggest against 5s in any of the olympic lifts. Otherwise you can feel out progressions that work with this general template.
Jort Kramer 2014-01-03
Hello,

what would be a good 2 day/week template excluding the snatch? im a waterpolo player and i like olympic lifts for the back/shoulder/leg strength (the 3 key muscle groups for waterpolo) but i dont have right gym to do risky stuff like snatches. Can some1 help me?
Brendon 2014-02-11
Jort-
Anything is risky if not done properly, but if it is in equipment issue then the risk is out of your control. Being that you are an overhead athlete, learning and practicing the snatch would be a great diagnostic for overhead shoulder function. My suggestion would be to complete Day 2's prescription on Day 1 (keeping front squat in lieu of overhead squat) and keep Day 3 as is. If you have other demands, keep 2 days rest (or other training) in between these olympic/power training days.
Mike k 2014-02-16
So I want to do a 4 day template, very similar to your 3day. Is this okay? and I dont know where to Jerk? on tues and take out push press? Should thur and fri have separate days for snatch,clean variations?
Mon. Snatch, snatch pull, front squat
Tue. Clean, clean pull, push press, back squat
Wed. Rest. or active rest?
Thur. Snatch & Clean: power or 3 position, front squat
Fri. Back squat, press/pushpress, deadlift

Thanks
Jort Kramer 2014-03-07
@Brendon - Thanks for the reply, but Gregg already gave me a nice program which im following right now :)
David L 2014-05-28
Its may seem as stupid question but i didnt understand why to do snatch and then pull snatch it will only exhaust me dont it?
Steve Pan 2014-05-28
David -

It allows you to strengthen the pull portion of the lift by allowing more weight to be used and you are able to focus on good positions.
James D 2014-06-05
Thanks guys this programme is great and i've been using it for some weeks now. Only just got to the point where I'm starting to lift more than previously.

Giving such a concentration to technique is also great, my question would be where do I go with this training once I start to plateau...
David L 2014-06-08
Steve thank you for the quick answer..another question should i do it 3x5 or 1x10 and should i lift more and more every train day or there is a scheme?
Steve Pan 2014-06-09
James -

I would reccomend one of the cycles from the Training Cycles tab next if you begin to stall on this program.

David -

I would recomend 3-5 sets in the 3-5 rep range for the pulls. The article recommends adding weight as you go and decreasing the reps from week to week as the weights go up.
James 2014-06-17
Thanks Steve for the advice, luckily I'm still making good progress but I have another question, what sort of weight do you use for the snatch pull and clean pull by that I mean is a certain % increase on the clean and snatch used to get the maximum effect from doing these lifts ?

currently I am snatching 60 and snatch pulling 75
clean 77.5 and clean pulling 95
does this sound correct ?
or should i be working higher ?
Steve Pan 2014-06-17
James -
It depends on how easy or hard those pulls feel. I think those numbers should be okay as long as they aren't too easy, and you are hitting good positions.
James 2014-06-18
Thanks again Steve,

I guess I'll have to play around with it and see how it goes, I'm not too sure on my form for the pulls as I'm currently not very experienced with it.
Patrick 2014-09-05

How long would you expect these workouts to take? I'm just beginning weightlifting using the multimedia guide and am trying to figure out a routine I can get done in the time I have before work.
Steve Pan 2014-09-08
Depending on how you put it together or what program you follow the workout can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. If you are using the template in this article you might be able to put something together that is about 1-2 hours.
Patrick 2014-09-09
Thanks. Sounds doable
janaka wannaku 2014-10-10
Thank you very much for this down to earth program for working people like us...kindly explain a little bit on rep and set scheme for this programm.
Andy 2014-11-17
Thanks for posting this! I saw it last month when I was getting back to lifting (after injury and time off) and this is the perfect template to restart. I'm combining it with the 3 days a week Russian squat template, but making every other session front squats. So far, it's working great, the comeback numbers are coming back very quickly. Will do this another 3 weeks and then modify the double day squat program to make it 4 days a week instead of 5. Great stuff here!
oscar 2015-01-10
currently attempting this variation. I'm a student, so I'm trying to limit my workouts to the most essential things. What do you think, Greg? Specifically, what do you think about the lack of push accessories?

Day 1
Snatch
Snatch Pull
Front Squat

Day 2
Clean & Jerk
Clean Pull
Back Squat
Planks

Day 3
Snatch
Clean & Jerk
Back Squat
Planks

Steve Pan 2015-01-12
Oscar -

That should be okay and you should be able to add some push/pull accessory work if you feel that is lacking.
Tae Kim 2015-01-29
I've completed your 4-week Starter Program two weeks ago and then started to play with this training template as this fits best in my schedule as a graduate student. As it is a "template", options are unlimited and I was a bit overwhelmed at first. But after two weeks of trials, I now seem to have a clearer idea of what to do with this: Keep it simple!

Set-rep scheme:
- 1st lifts (snatch, jerk, clean & jerk) : 4 x 3 (week 1), 5 x 2 (week 2), 6 x 1 (week 3), 3 x 3 (deload)
- 2nd lifts (pulls and push press) : 3 x 3
- 3rd lifts (squats) : 4 x 4

This is for the next month in which I will be focusing on simply getting used to the classic lifts and putting more weight on the barbell. After finishing this month-long cycle, I will then focus on the second lifts (i.e. pulls) by including some of the pull cycles from your other programs while keeping the others simple. After that, I will have a month with focused squats. I think I can continue in this manner until my imagination runs out.

Anyhow, I just wanted to say thank you, Greg and Catalyst Athletics, for posting this awesome customizable template and for sharing this wonderful collection of all the other resources at this site. I also wanted to share with those who visit this page some of my ideas of how to use this template.
Jimaco 2015-03-12
hmmf overhead squat
Anthony 2015-03-17
Hi - many thanks for all the great resources. One question though; why not put overhead squats on the snatch day and front squats on the clean day? I'm sure there's an excellent reason why the template is designed this way, and I'm curious as to why you haven't set it up so that the squat type specified for each day works the groove already greased, so to speak. Thanks.
Greg Everett 2015-03-18
Anthony -
This is a very minimal program, and 3 days/week is not much. So since we're already doing an overhead squat on the snatch day, why double up and do more when we can overhead squat on a second day and get more frequent exposure? Similar rationale for cleans/FS. Also, because the BS will likely be heavier than the FS, we can combine BS with snatches, which will be less taxing than clean & jerks, to spread the work more evenly across the days. Finally, placing the OHS on a day with no other squatting gives us some squat exposure 3 days instead of 2.
Raya 2015-05-21
Hi Greg,

I am Crossfitter who has done one of your 6 week programs. I am currently transitioning back to Crossfit but still realize that I need to work on my Olympic Lifts. In addition to WODs, I want to Olympic lift twice a week but don't really need to squat more. My problem is mostly technique with needs to add assistance exercises for both the Snatch and Cleans. If I want to Olympic lift two days in a row without adding heavy squating (The strength building for me will be part of the training programmed at my box), how should I go about using the model you provided?
Greg Everett 2015-05-22
Raya -



Day 1 - snatches and whatever snatch assistance exercises address your needs at the time



Day 2 - cleans and whatever clean assistance exercises address your needs at the time
Raya 2015-05-25
Hi Greg,

Thank you for the response and your help. If I wanted to use one of your programs from your book "A Complete Guide for Athletes and Coaches", for example, the Classic Lift Position/Technique Cycle, can I just combine and select the exercises from the program for clean & jerks + Snatches? If yes, how many exercises would you recommend in a given session? I noticed that you program about 3-4 depending on the load.

I'm really a novice lifter and am quite confused about programming for my specific needs and problems.
Greg Everett 2015-05-26
Raya -

Those programs are ready to be followed - you don't have to do anything other than what's written there.
Sha 2015-05-31
Hi Greg,

I recently got into Olympic lifting and I'm doing this program.I'm having some problems with the snatch. I'm finding the third pull of the snatch very difficult. When I make contact with the bar, the bar tends to fly out in front of me in an arch rather than straight up. I only recently noticed this after I filmed myself doing hang snatches. I went back to hang power snatches thinking that might remedy the problem. Any advice?

Thanks.
Greg Everett 2015-06-02
Sha -

Even if you hit the bar with your hips, you can control it with your arms. You have to actively be pushing the bar back toward your body as you extend, and you need to keep doing that in the third pull, pulling your elbows high and to the sides to pull under with the bar as close to you as possible. Tall snatches, dip snatches and muscle snatches will help.
Andrew 2015-06-07
Greg, I come from a powerlifting background and have learned that frequent repetition of the competition movements is a good thing. For instance, squat, bench and deadlifting 2-3x a week. Im confused a bit with this, as well as the starter program. Why such little frequency? Is it different when it comes to the Oly lifts? I know nothing so Im very willing to learn, thanks!
Greg Everett 2015-06-09
Andrew-
Yes, that's great, but the whole point of this program is that it's for people with limited time to train. 3 days/week is not ideal - I'd rather have 5-6, and even double days on 3 of those. In that case, you can get a lot more frequent exposure to the competition lifts. In the case of limited time, you have to make compromises. Look at the other programs on the site or in my book if you want more frequency.
Eric 2015-07-07
Gregg, What weights do you recommend when you start another 4 weeks cycle? + 10% from the first cycle?

Thanks
Greg Everett 2015-07-07
Eric -
Depends on where you finished the previous cycle. I would basically back track to the second to last week and use approximately those weights for week one of the subsequent cycle - set it up so you'll beat your best on week 2 or 3 the second time around.
Eric 2015-07-08
Thanks for the quick reply Greg, really appreciate it! Also, is it any problem when I also incorporate paused pin squats? Say front paused pin squats on jerk day and back paused pin squats on clean day?

What rep ranges do you recommend for accessory exercises like hamstring curls?

Thanks in advance!
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Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches by Greg Everett

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