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Old 09-22-2010, 05:23 AM   #1
Giulio Pizzini
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 6
Default Programming advice for Oly novice master


I'm 37 and a recent addict to Oly lifting. But I need to learn the lifts. Oh, and I'm also quite weak. I put together the following plan to follow until the end of the year based on Greg's book beginner program and since it's the first time I put a real program together and I'm totally inexperienced I'd love any feedback I can get.

  • I just attended Greg's Oly lifting seminar, studied religiously his book and think I understand the theory of the lifts quite well. A coach is not an option (no one close, family life prevents me from travelling far to get one)
  • Flexibility is good
  • Strength is low: my best squat powerlifting style was 80kg x 5 and since switching to Oly style I have built up to 5 sets of 60kg x 3. Overhead strength is an issue.
  • I have snatched 40kg and cleaned 50kg (full versions, not power which is easier for now)
  • I can train 3-4 times a week
  • I'm 6 foot tall and 168lb, a thin guy

Goals for year end
  • Improve the technique of the lifts
  • Snatch 50kg and C+J 65
  • Squat 80kg x 3
  • Get stronger overhead
  • Gain 5-10 pounds


Day 1
  1. Full snatch practice (triples and doubles at comfortable weight up to heavy single if I feel good)
  2. Full C+J practice (5 light doubles)

Day 2
  1. Back squat 5x3 (sets X reps)
  2. Snatch push press or push press 5x5 (alternate the two every week)
  3. Stiff legs deadlift 3x5
  4. Abmat sit-ups 2x10

Day 3
  1. Full C+J practice (triples and doubles at comfortable weight up to heavy single if I feel good)
  2. Full snatch practice (5 light doubles)

Day 4
  1. 2 Snatch hang muscle up + 2 snatch balance x 3
  2. Snatch DL + 2 pulls x 2
  3. Clean DL + 2 pulls x 2
  4. Pendlay row 3x8
  5. Side bends 2x10

That's it. The idea is to follow the program above training every other day or so. Stretching on non-training days. A bit of foam rolling every day or so.
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:19 AM   #2
Dirk Wilcke
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 8

I’m not going to critique the routine per se. If it’s out of Greg’s book, I’m sure that it works.

I will, however, make some comments as someone who (a) started off skinny and weak, (b) has to train alone, i.e. without the benefit of a coach, most of the time.

- I think that it is better for a beginner to separate cleans from jerks, i.e. there is no need to perform C+J’s twice a week. There is a lot to think about as a beginner for both lifts. It makes more sense to train cleans and jerks separately for the first few months (this does not mean that you should never perform C+J’s, but not twice every week). Maybe you could do cleans on day 1 and jerks on day 3.

- I would not overdo the “full” aspects of both snatches and cleans and first focus on proper triple extension. I would also rarely go for an actual max attempt in the classical lifts for the first few months. This is a waste of time with poor technique. You will probably be losing lifts (esp. snatches) well before your max anyway.

- When training alone, I am not a big fan of partial dynamic movements, such as pulls. Clean and snatch deadlifts are fine: But I think it is likely that clean pulls and snatch pulls engrain bad habits rather than help you with the lifts if you don't have a coach that is watching. If you want pulling strength, I would do clean/snatch deadlifts and maybe medium grip pulls off blocks or a bench (the latter being far enough removed from the lifts to not engrain bad habits). If you are videotaping yourself a lot or have someone watch you, this comment might be irrelevant. Note also that squatting increases your pulling strength.

- Your routine needs more “strength” work. Your squat volume is 5x3 in a week. This is not enough (or if you're doing 5x3@90% it makes no sense). You are also not front squatting. You might also want to add overhead presses somewhere. Your lift/squat ratio is not bad (you are probably cleaning roughly what you can front squat for 3), so you are too weak rather than too bad at the lifts.

- On day 4, do either (2) or (3), not both. You could squat on this day.

- What's the point of 2 snatch hang muscle up + 2 snatch balance? You can muscle snatch less than you can snatch and snatch balance more than you can snatch (typically). So I don't see how this exercise makes much sense. Maybe I'm missing something.
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:23 PM   #3
Todd Rehm
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 15

I agree with the point about adding more strength work. I'd have a minimum of 2 days with a real back squat component.

I also agree that adding in presses would be a great addition.

I come to olympic lifting from a powerlifting background and it seems to me that extra strength always comes in handy.
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:16 PM   #4
Arien Malec
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,030

First, welcome and glad to hear of your new "addiction"

IMHO, having started about the same age as you are, and at about the same level of weakitude, and total enthusiasm for the sport:

1) Get strong now. Starting Strength style linear progression for as long as it works should be the first order of business. I totally understand the enthusiasm for the lifts, but you'll get to your goals faster if you work strength until linear gains are exhausted
2) Gain weight. 5-10# won't cut it.... Think 30-40#. Not overnight, not in 3 months, since at 37, your ability to milk beginner gains, and gain muscle quickly is highly compromised, so don't go crazy, but gain steadily.
3) Practice the full lifts (separating cleans from jerks is fine) with lighter weights as you work on strength. Feel free to break it down into parts as described in Greg's books to work on areas where your technique isn't strong (e.g., halting deads to work positions for first pull, tall snatches and cleans to work turnover, etc.)

Between now and year end, a 80kgx3 squat goal is way too low to shoot for, no matter where you are starting from. You have, what, 11 weeks or so? With a SS program, you potentially have 165# to add to your squat, particularly if you eat.

Also, three days a week, unless you prove you can do 4. If you want to do stuff in the gym 4 days a week, use one of the days for super light technique practice. Recovery is a bitch as you get old.
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Old 10-17-2010, 05:18 AM   #5
Giulio Pizzini
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 6

Thank you guys for the replies; the main doubt I had was on the balance between the lifts and strength work and looks like there is unanimous consensus on emphasizing strength more.

I will also remove the pulls since my idea was to do them for technique and not for strength (my pulling strength is way better than squatting or overhead strength), so if it's doubtful that they will help technique training alone better to ditch them.

So I'll do something like

Day 1 - lifts
  1. Snatch practice medium
  2. Clean+Jerk practice light

Day 2 - strength
  1. Back squat 3x5 (sets x reps)
  2. Snatch push press or push press 3x5
  3. Pendlay row 3x8
  4. Abmat sit-ups 2x8

Day 3 - lifts
  1. Clean practice medium
  2. Jerk practice medium
  3. Snatch practice light

Day 4 - strength
  1. Back squat 3x5
  2. Press 3x5
  3. Stiff leg DL 3x5
  4. Side bends 2x8

The strength days will follow linear progression.
The lifts days will not be pushed to max attempts, I will stop at weights at which I feel I can maintain good technique.
I will shoot for training every other day which means I will actually train 3x week factoring in the missed workout for work travel here and there.
I don't like the idea of training cleans and jerks only once a week but I will train them separately even if in the same day.

Overall I will focus first on gaining strength and weight through linear progression and only secondly on slowly raising the lifts focusing on technique.
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:40 AM   #6
Arien Malec
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,030

I would suggest some very light technique work focused on your weaknesses as warmup prior to your strength days. For instance, tall snatches and cleans with the empty bar, snatch positioning drills (like halting deads) with the empty bar or technique plates, etc -- there's lots you can do without interfering with the heavy lifts.
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:53 AM   #7
Tanner Cook
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 14

I'm with most of these guys on adding some more "pure strength" movements. Starting Strength is a great program, but if you really want to put on size look into "Super Squats". IMO, i'd hit "Super Squats", with GOMAD, then do a SS style program with a little more oly than just 5x3 PC. Something like this

3x5 Back Squat
3x5 Bench Press
1x5 Deadlift

Snatch-Heavy single (12-15 reps between 70% and heavy single)
Clean and Jerk-Heavy Single (8-12 reps between 70% and heavy single)
Alt. Each Week w/ Front Squat 3x3 and OHS 3x3

3x5 Back Squat
3x5 OH Press
Alt. Each week chins/dips 3xmax
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