Articles  >  Weightlifting Program Design
Sample Masters Weightlifting Training Program
Greg Everett
June 3 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pat M
June 6 2011
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
June 7 2011
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.
June 7 2011
Thanks for posting a 3 days/week program.
Pat M
June 7 2011
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.

Greg Everett
June 8 2011
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
June 8 2011

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.
September 18 2011
What makes this a masters program? What considerations did you take for age and recovery?
Greg Everett
September 19 2011
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
September 29 2011
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.
October 1 2011
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
October 3 2011
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
October 6 2011

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.

Greg Everett
October 6 2011
Eric - He did only the program shown here.
December 20 2011
Hi Coach, this schedule is working nicely for me. Can you please offer some advice as to what week 7 looks like?
Greg Everett
December 21 2011
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.
December 21 2011
Sorry Greg, I meant to ask what type of recovery week would the master lifter have after the 6 week cycle.
Greg Everett
December 21 2011
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.
December 21 2011
Thanks and wishing you all a Merry Xmas!
December 30 2011
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?
Greg Everett
December 31 2011
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.
December 31 2011
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?
Greg Everett
January 2 2012
Steve - I'm not sure I would have much to say; I would need to put some thought into that. Send me an email.
January 10 2012
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
January 10 2012
Geoff - You can base them off the near misses if they were close.
February 23 2013
Started this program today, I'll let you know how it goes :D
December 13 2013
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
December 13 2013
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:
February 19 2014
What age was this lifter?
Robin Cadmus
February 20 2014
As a 60+ year old woman, would you alter this at all?
May 5 2014
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
May 6 2014
It should be mid hang clean. It has been corrected.
May 12 2014
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
May 13 2014
Tom -

Do the same prescription for Friday's back squats and just substitude front squats.
May 14 2014
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
May 15 2014
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.
May 16 2014
Thanks I wont fiddle with it then and will see how it goes
June 24 2014
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
June 24 2014
Thorin -

Congratulations! Nice work.
July 20 2014

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
July 21 2014
Jason -

You can make a choice if you want to run this cycle again or choose one from the training cycles tab.
August 12 2014
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.
August 12 2014
Sorry... Above meant for Greg.
Steve Pan
August 12 2014
Louie -
For that particular exercise you will have to feel out a weight that works for those reps and sets on that complex.
August 14 2014
Thanks Steve... The weight I used worked out for the complex. It was just enough to tax the shoulders.
July 24 2015
My intention is to run this program in two cycles leading me up to a medal in the Swedish national championship M45 -85kg . Wish me luck! :D
Joshua Davis
August 13 2015
Hey Greg!
I put together a handy spreadsheet of this program, verbatim, that figures out all the percentages and prints neatly in 5 pages. Before I put it out on the interwebs I figured I'd ask your blessing, and offer to send it directly to you to put on the site. If interested, shoot me an email -

September 20 2015
Hi Greg and team,
Many thanks for this. I'm working my way slowly through it, but have a question I couldn't find the answer to anywhere in these comments or on the help page of your site. If a description says 'Halting Clean Deadlift + Mid-Hang Clean – 70% x 2 x 5' for example, does that mean a set is 2 halting clean d/ls followed by 2 mid-hang cleans (2+2), or one of each twice (1+1) x 2, or merely one rep of each (1+1)?
Many thanks.
When there are multiple exercises there will be a (1+1) or a (2+2) to indicate how many of each exercise you will do. I think the one above should be 2(1+1) so you will do a halting deadlift followed by a clean from the hang two times through.

Steve Pan
Ivan Kolkov
June 21 2016
The everything but the kitchen sink approach usually doesn't work. Their is a reason USA lifters lift in the C Group at World and Olympic meets. Abadjiev was correct, US lifters are weak and their coaches are stupid.
July 29 2016
Thank you for this! Great program to work around my aches and pains, and I feel great, made good progress!
Anthony Billington
August 8 2016
Hi team,
How would you change this program if NOT preparing for competition? It looks like the last 2 weeks are pre-competition tapering, so could you do weeks 1-4, then a recovery week, then repeat weeks 1-4 with slight increases in volume or intensity? Thanks.
That would be fine, but it also wouldn't hurt to just run 6 weeks and work to heavy snatch and CJ even if there is no competition.

Greg Everett
August 25 2016
At 41 as competitor and coach, the simplicity is great. Just a quick question on the pulls and DLs on how your percentaged are written. Is that say 80% snatch pull, 80% of the snatch or of a pull max? I ask on how it is written, because we base snatch pull max for the snatch at 110% of the snatch. And 130% on DLs of the snatch. So when I read 100% on snatch DL, I'm thinking of I along the lines of 100% of the snatch? Just looking for clarification when implementing or adjusting the program for an individual. Also, for my personal needs thought I'd share what I implement on day 2.

Power snatch from blocks contrasted with Snatch DL from floor and the same set up for Power Cleans from the block and Clean DL from the floor. Day 2 is about speed with the Powers and getting some heavy contrast with the DLs. Then I throw in my specific Jerk Work and SG Work between presses jerks balances and overhead squats planning out the cycles. Non competition I use a 5 week for Masters a Base-/Base+/Backoff and Test. But, would implement this 6 week for thier Meet Prep.
February 20 2017
Due to mobility issues I've had to switch to split variations. For you OHS would you substitute an overhead lunge instead?
Yes, you can do split variations of pretty much any snatch-related exercise.

Greg Everett
July 21 2017
Hi Greg- I was wondering if it would be ok to treat week 6 of this program as my recovery week, maybe add some back squats on Fridays workout, then just start back on week 1 , thanks
July 31 2018
Hi, I'm confused with the complex moves here... for an example:

Halting Snatch Deadlift + Mid-Hang Snatch – 70% x 2 x 5

Is it 2 sets of 5 reps where 1 rep = 1 Halting Snatch Deadlift + 1 Mid-Hang Snatch

or 5 sets of 2 reps where 1 rep = 1 Halting Snatch Deadlift + 1 Mid-Hang Snatch

the same for following example..

Muscle Snatch + snatch balance + OHS – 5 x 3

Push Press + Jerk – 60% x 2 x 3

what is the notation followed in this program?

weight x reps x sets; if no weight, sets x reps as explained here.

Greg Everett
Aaron Schwendiman
August 6 2018
If I wanted to run this program as a 12 week program, would you simply just run this program twice or would you do cycle 1 (weeks 1-6) as shown then do a deload week on week 1 of the second cycle and then do 2-6 same as the first cycle? Would you also change any percentages between the first and second cycle?

Also I went back and read the help and info, but couldn't find any clarification on the complexes from Ahmed's comment.

For the complex, Halting Snatch Deadlift + Mid-Hang Snatch – 70% x 2 x 5, does it mean the same as 2(1+1) or since there are no parentheses does "exercise + exercise" = 2?

In this case, those are 1+1

Greg Everett
Mike Phelps
August 22 2018
So I may be beating a dead horse... So the way you have these complexes written throughout the program seems to be one rep of each exercise in succession is a set, despite the fact they are written as ex. 70%x2x5. As in they are actually (1+1)x5. It’s a different notation than your other programs.
Fernando Mendoza
February 12 2019
How are openers determined for the meet day on this program? Are they based on the outcome of week 4? Week 5 and even more so Week 6 downscale the intensity and volume, seemingly in prep for the Meet day.
Not really based on the program per se. See this article.

Greg Everett
Ian Gordy
January 6 2020
Hi, i just started this program. i’m 45 and i’ve been weightlifting for about 10 years. i can’t bring the bar down to my shoulders after a performing a heavy push press or jerk. also i am working without jerk blocks right now. What should i sub for Push press+jerk. i was considering cleaning each one or just doing a single c&j or maybe 2 cleans and a jerk.
I would do just a push press single, or you can do a power clean + push press, drop, power clean + jerk.

Greg Everett
April 15 2020
This is great! I just started your Starter Program, and will do this after the 4 weeks (I'm a new olympic masters weightlifter!) Thank you for all of these great programs- and I learn a lot reading the comments!
May 7 2020
cl & j -75% x 3+1 x 2

That look to me to be 3 cleans + jerk last clean for 2 sets
or is it 3 sets 1 clean 2 jerks
Glenn- you will do 3 cleans and 1 jerk for 2 sets.

Alyssa Sulay
Glenn D
November 18 2020
I am 75 and have been using this program again since the lock down again after playing pickle ball for a year. I am fortunate to still be able to do this stuff. I would like to compete later in 21. How would you suggest I do it. at the moment a am repeating weeks 1,2,3 and then 6. and starting over. Does not seem to me to be the most advantageous thing. hat would you suggest.
Chris Chan
January 23 2022
Just finished this program and got PRs on both lifts, after struggling with injuries and layoff. I feel I have more in the tank and I will repeat the cycle. Thanks Greg!
John Crawford
February 27 2023
Greg, I have used this program 4 times leading up to masters nationals and have had great success. It seems you may have wrote this a while ago so my question is this: is this program still good as is or would you make any changes based on recent changes to improvements methodologies?
Good question... Honestly I haven't even thought about this program in years. Off the top of my head, I might start combing snatch and CJ on same day a bit early for a competitive lifter, but otherwise changes would be specific to the individual based on need. Glad you've found it helpful.

Greg Everett
Daniel Binger
August 6 2023
Hey Greg,

I know you you wrote this article 12 years ago but out of curiosity, do you remember how old your masters lifter was at that time ?

I’m looking forward to your answer and thank you for the ongoing stream of great content !

Daniel - This athlete was 50-55.

Alyssa Sulay
Daniel Binger
August 7 2023
Thank you, Alyssa !
Blake Tanon
January 31 2024
Thanks for this template Greg! I’ve done a few of your programs via excel, running through this one for the second time leading up to states/nationals. Love the simplicity, it’s very effective.