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The Simplest Olympic Weightlifting Program in the World
Greg Everett  |  Olympic Weightlifting  |  January 5 2012

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The Simplest Olympic Weightlifting Program in the World, Greg Everett,
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.
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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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Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches
Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches
Olympic Weightlifting: Cues & Corrections
Olympic Weightlifting: Cues & Corrections
Weightlifting Programming: A Winning Coach's Guide
Weightlifting Programming: A Winning Coach's Guide
The Coach's Strength Training Playbook
The Coach's Strength Training Playbook

64 Comments
John 1 | 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 2 | 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 3 | 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 4 | 2012-01-05
David -Yes. After 3-4 weeks, drop the weights 10-20% and reduce the volume 20-40% before restarting.
Chris G 5 | 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 6 | 2012-01-05
How often should you to 100%. Thanks
Greg Everett 7 | 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 8 | 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 9 | 2012-01-08
Is it able to combine this with a running schedule or will that be to much of a load?
Luke 10 | 2012-01-08
Thanks Greg, Ill be done with S/S soon, and this is just what I was looking for.
John 11 | 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 12 | 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 13 | 2012-01-09
Andre - You should be able to add some running in there.
Greg Everett 14 | 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 15 | 2012-01-09
msgt reeves - never too old. Just be smart about it and do what's necessary to avoid getting injured.
Andrew 16 | 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 17 | 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 18 | 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 19 | 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 20 | 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 21 | 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 22 | 2012-01-11
Thanks Greg for your answer. I'll try that and see how it feels Regards from France
David Griffin 23 | 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 24 | 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 25 | 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 26 | 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 27 | 2012-02-02
*Actually you pretty much answered my second question in the post before mine.
Greg Everett 28 | 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 29 | 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 30 | 2012-02-03
Mark- That would be fine.
Jack 31 | 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 32 | 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 33 | 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 34 | 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 35 | 2012-04-14
Gregg - Sounds good, got verified via the forum and posted. Thanks for the help!
Tom 36 | 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 37 | 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 38 | 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 39 | 2013-02-14
Nick - Jerk will always be split jerk. It will specify power or push jerk if they are called for.
Lee 40 | 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 41 | 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 42 | 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 43 | 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 44 | 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 45 | 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 46 | 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 47 | 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 48 | 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 49 | 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 50 | 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 51 | 2014-03-07
@Brendon - Thanks for the reply, but Gregg already gave me a nice program which im following right now :)
David L 52 | 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 53 | 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 54 | 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 55 | 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 56 | 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 57 | 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 58 | 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 59 | 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 60 | 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 61 | 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 62 | 2014-09-09
Thanks. Sounds doable
janaka wannaku 63 | 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 64 | 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!
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