View Full Version : Looking for Feedback on a Beginner's Program

Paul Park
08-13-2012, 01:11 PM

I was hoping to get some feedback on a beginner's program that I have written.

A little background:

My girlfriend and I run a small weightlifting club in Moose Jaw, SK, Canada. We are both relatively new to Weightlifting. We both got into CrossFit (myself about 5 years ago, 3 years for her) but over the last two years, we slowly gravitated more towards weightlifting and we somehow inherited the club here in Moose Jaw. We are not trained or educated in physical activity (i'm a school teacher, she's a lab tech) so our education and experience is limited. We are both very active in sports and I coach various sports at the middle school level. Between us we have various CrossFit and Weightlifting certs. We are both NCCP Level 1 Weightlifting Coaches.

Recently, due to lack of money, we had to relocate. We were lucky enough to strike a deal with our local YMCA who gave us a room to set up shop.

Once I had learned that we would be working out of the Y, I anticipated that we would get more exposure and therefore, more laypeople wanting to try Weightlifting. I thought it would be a good idea to draft a beginner's program. I anticipated that we would see some very unconditioned people coming through our doors. We needed a program that would take a layperson who did not have any strength background, had limited mobility, etc, and get them up to speed on our movements.

I've been a fan of both Catalyst and Robb Wolf's so I was familiar with the Nicky's On-ramp program and I knew I wanted to do something similar in order to deliberately and intelligently indoctrinate people into weightlifting.

What I came up with is an amalgamation of several programs - I'm sure you'll see for yourself where I've borrowed ideas. My aim was to design a program that was progressive in terms of skill, strength, and mobility.

I've pasted a link to the overview of our program. It is a Google Doc so everybody is free and encouraged to edit and add comments, if you wish. It tracks changes so even if you deleted everything and pasted the recipe to New England Clam Chowder, I'd still have all previous versions so don't be afraid to make changes or plaster it with comments. The more the merrier.

Thanks for your time.


Blair Lowe
08-13-2012, 10:32 PM

Maybe pressing snatch balance before snatch balance?

Are you going to go over both the split and power/squat jerk?

Maybe neck jerk before rack jerk? Either into power or split.

Javier Sanjuan
08-14-2012, 01:29 AM

I think the plan looks great. I especially like the fact that you highlight a "homework" portion where they're told to work on things that will help them, like mobility. Also, good job thinking outside of the box with approaching the YMCA and keeping your weightlifting club alive! If I could send a few observations your way:

1. You acknowledge the challenges which you encounter, which is the right thing to do. A lot of times, people get excited with the concept of teaching people the classic lifts and have their beginner lifters starting way too soon. I think your program does well to break down the movements.
2. With that being said, it's going to be important to not rush people through the different skills you have laid out. You have to find the right balance in between teaching the movements and having them show proficiency. You don't want to hit a stand still just because the person can't get into a full-depth squat and not teach the lifter other portions of the lift he can do with his limited mobility/strength/whatever other limiting factor; likewise, you don't want to rush into having the lifter do full classic lifts. Again, I think your program does well to break the points down, but I would caution you against feeling pressured to stay on a schedule -- all lifters are individual and your job as a coach is to make the call as to when he is ready to move on and what he learns/rehearses/emphasizes on a given day.
3. If I could recommend something, it would be the inclusion of a day where you teach the third pull/turnover. When I was getting into coaching (and by absolutely NO means am I on any level as some of these other coaches, but I think I do fairly well for myself because I am constantly trying to learn and improve), I found that I could get people to know and understand the feel of where the bar needed to be when they're pulling and have it overhead or in the rack position, but when I asked them to get to those positions by tying them together, they had a very hard time. Using training types like a scarecrow snatch/clean or a tall snatch/clean will help them understand that their is a very active and violent repositioning of their body around the bar. I have found that if I teach it right after showing them the proper overhead positions or rack position, they grasp the concept that much better and are able to transition towards hang movements and, finally, from the floor. If I were to put this lesson somewhere, I would put it after the muscle snatch because it continues to emphasize the idea of pulling under and then pushing up against the bar.
4. I like Blair's idea of pressing snatch balances because it helps stretch the shoulders and compounds a movement needed in the snatch. I only use them when warming up and only use the bar. The snatch balance should be used if the person is having trouble with pushing under the bar and to work on core strength. There's the belief that if you're working on full snatches, you're also doing overhead squats and snatch balances. Again, use at your discretion.
5. I also like his idea of using the behind-the-neck jerk first. You can get lifters to understand exactly where they need to end up without having to negotiate the head, which can be problematic for some lifters.

I hope this helps and I didn't insult your intelligence or anything. I wish you the best of luck!


Blair Lowe
08-14-2012, 10:01 AM
Pressing Snatch Balance was something I got from the Burgener Warmup or Greg's book or the website. Can't remember. I've only used them with stick or bar I think, maybe some light weight on the bar for warming up snatch balances (dropping and the heaving kind).

I got the idea of just neck jerks because I was at an affiliate recently and they were trying to go over with it from a front rack with PVC. Some people it seems can get into a good front rack with PVC, but not me. Anyways, it just looked like ass really and that it would be SOOOO much easier from the neck. A lot of the people were having hard enough times with the rack as it is, the ones who weren't flexible.

From the neck would make sense for either the power or split. Obviously with the split, you'd have to go over footwork and probably start with the bar/stick overhead anyways.

Allen Yeh
08-15-2012, 03:50 AM
A few comments from someone that isn't a club coach like your self so please takes these with a grain of salt, but only trained at the individual level many moons ago.

1. The idea of homework is great I'm a huge fan of the MWOD and all that it entails however some of the bottom squat stuff seems like it would be counterproductive. At this point my assumption is this is for like you said a layperson, so if they don't know how to squat properly wouldn't they just be reinforcing bad positioning and motor patterns? My assumption is that all these days in this template are non-consecutive days so perhaps give them a "homework menu" for lack of a better term. Outline some basic mobility items and people perform a total of 5 minutes per day or whatever and as people progress their menu gets larger.

2. Starting even further back, what I mean by this is that perhaps start with the goblet squat and the Bulgarian Goat Belly Swing. to properly teach squatting between the legs rather than on top and to teach proper hip hinging. I'm thinking to people like you and other people on this board your routine isn't unreasonable but that is also operating under the assumption to me that these people have a moderate basis to work with.

Here is an example A few weeks ago my brother went with me to the YMCA, in my mind I thought rack deadlifts would be a great place to start since I knew a deadlift with good form would be out of his reach initially. Little did I think that he couldn't even perform that properly. My brother is a runner and has some DB's in the basement that is about it. So I had to break it back to hip flexor stretching and glute activation before he could even do a the rack DL with a proper hip hinge and feel.

Blair Lowe
08-15-2012, 01:50 PM
Allen, have you ever tried teaching the Deadlift from the top to bottom? I have found this worked well with my parents, and other child and adult gymnasts.

Goblet squat and KB swing sounds ok though I have no idea what the Bulgurian belly goat swing is.

Allen Yeh
08-16-2012, 05:09 AM
Goblet squat and KB swing sounds ok though I have no idea what the Bulgurian belly goat swing is.

Google it, Dan has an article over at T-mag about it. It's basically a step before the swing. It really teaches the hinge I've used it successfully with my kids from 6 and up.