Free Olympic Weightlifting Program

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INTRO PROGRAM is aimed at the beginner’s adaptation and preparation for the full training process, as well as to work out the main technical elements of Snatch and Clean & Jerk.

INTRO PROGRAM consists of 2-week cycles of 4 workouts, 2 training sessions in snatch exercises, and two ones in C&J exercises. You can repeat each week 2 times in a turn. The sequence of exercises and their individual elements help to develop organically the correct movement. There are no stress loads in the program, it is possible to perform workouts throughout the week in a row or to alternate training days with days of rest.
The most important component of competitive exercise is the Power position. It is very important to properly practice it from the first training. Therefore each training in INTRO PROGRAM starts with high pull with PVC from the hang.
At the end of each training, an additional load is planned to increase general physical preparation: presses, jumps, ABS, hyperextension.
INTRO PROGRAM is recommended for men and women during the start stage before the sterling training process.

DURATION: 2 weeks (8 sessions)
GOAL: Muscle and technical preparation
GOOD FOR: Weightlifters and functional fitness athletes
PERIOD: Introductory / Off-season
VOLUME: Average

What's olympic weightlifting 

Olympic weightlifting is a sport that consists in lifting a barbell as heavy as possible in the manner prescribed by the competition rules. Competitions take place in two exercises - snatch and clean and jerk. Winners are determined both in individual exercises and in total.

Men compete in 10 weight categories: up to 55 kg, up to 61 kg, up to 67 kg, up to 73 kg, up to 81 kg, up to 89 kg, up to 96 kg, up to 102 kg, up to 109 kg, over 109 kg;

Women respectively:

up to 45 kg, up to 49 kg, up to 55 kg, up to 59 kg, up to 64 kg, up to 71 kg, up to 76 kg, up to 81 kg, up to 87 kg, over 87 kg

All athletes compete on standardized equipment - a bar with a steel rod that rotates on bushings fixed at its ends. For men, the length of the bar is 220 cm, for women - 201, the thickness is 28 and 25 mm. For competitions, a set of colored standardized rubberized discs (diameter 45 cm) is used:

Red - 25 kg.

Blue - 20 kg.

Yellow - 15 kg.

Green - 10 kg.

In addition to large discs, smaller ones can be used to increase the weight in small increments. The color designations of these disks are as follows:

1 kg – green;

1,5 kg – yellow;

2 kg – blue;

2,5 kg – red;

5 kg – white;

0,5 kg - white.

The weight must be clearly indicated on the plates.

There should be two collars, weighing 2,5 kg each, to secure the discs on the neck.

Athletes compete on a 4×4 m platform. The platform should stand out clearly and not merge with the floor, so sometimes its edges are painted in a bright color. Such a line is at least 15 cm long. The material from which the platform is made is wood, plastic, any hard material. The only requirement is that it should not be slippery, so sometimes the litter is covered with a special material to avoid this. Its height is allowed in the range from five to fifteen centimeters.

Olympic weightlifting benefits 

It is well known that weightlifting is useful in that it contributes to the effective maintenance of the overall tone of the body.

Does weightlifting affect height? 

This question is often asked by children's trainers, since there is such a point of view: power loads contribute to the cessation of growth. According to both recent research and the experience of athletes, training with adequate load, begun at the age of eight years, does not adversely affect growth, does not slow it down. The claim that weightlifting affects height has been debunked.

A competent trainer should monitor the correctness of the exercises. It is very important not to allow excessive stress on the fragile bones, muscles or ligaments of children.

The advantages of adequate strength for children

Here are just the main ones:

  • Increased stamina;
  • Building muscle, increasing strength;
  • Strengthening bones, joints, ligaments;
  • Acceleration of metabolism;
  • Maintaining a normal level of weight, pressure, cholesterol;
  • Raising self-esteem, dignity.

Thus, we can conclude that competent weightlifting with a good coach will have a positive effect on the well-being and condition of even the youngest athlete. 

The benefits of proper strength for adults

Now we note how weightlifting is useful for adults:

Weight loss, normalization of weight. Regular training can not only form a beautiful body externally, but also contribute to this from the inside. It has been proven that weightlifting effectively speeds up the metabolism. Of course, training burns a lot of calories, preventing fat from being deposited in problem areas.

Main Olympic lifting exercises

Now let's talk about technique in this sport. 


A snatch is an exercise where the athlete must raise the barbell above his head in one movement. To do this, he needs to sit under the bar in the process, after which, raising it over his head with his straight arms, he should straighten up completely. At the same time, the legs can be in lunge or bent. The execution or non-execution of this technique is determined by the judge.

In the training process, a large number of snatch variations are used, which allows you to practice certain phases of movement, or to develop speed or strength more purposefully.

Here are some of these exercises:

Power Snatch - the main feature of this exercise is that the athlete tries to fix the weight in the highest possible position. This performance technique allows you to improve the amplitude of movement and its speed.

Hang Snatch - the athlete performs a snatch not from the platform, but first takes the initial standing position and then lowers the barbell to a height above or below the level of the knees. Performing a snatch from a hang allows you to load the back muscles more and improve the technique of undermining and going under the bar.

Deficit Snatch - is performed in the same way as a snatch, but the athlete stands on the stand. These exercises are used to strengthen the legs, as well as to train balance, posture and improve the quality of pull. Also, this exercise can be used just for variety and as a way to increase the power of the snatch.


The Clean and Jerk consists of two movements. First, the weightlifter must lift the barbell to the shoulders. After that, you need to jerk the bar in an overhead position with straightened arms.

Let's take a look at CLEAN first. As a training exercise, clean serves as a way for weightlifters to prepare for the push during competition by training technique, strength, speed and all the other qualities necessary for lifting. For other sports, it can be used to develop strength, speed, accuracy and mobility.

In the training process, a large number of clean variations are used, which allows you to practice individual phases of movement, or to develop speed or strength more purposefully.

Here are some of these exercises:

Power Clean - the main feature of this exercise is that the athlete tries to fix the weight in the highest possible position. This execution technique allows you to improve the range of motion, explosive power and speed of the elbows rotation. This exercise is one of the most popular exercises in sports that require a high level of power.

The Block Clean is an exercise that can serve different purposes depending on the goals of the athlete or coach. The Block Clean should be performed in the same manner as the Clean, except that the bar is on the blocks instead of the platform. The most common block height is knee level and below. This exercise will force the lifter to accelerate the bar faster due to the limited distance available for acceleration and the fact that the movement starts from a dead stop without first stretching or straining the lifting muscles. This means that Block Clean can be a good solution for developing speed and power.

Clean Complex - since the competitive exercise Clean and Jerk requires a high level of strength endurance from the athlete, using the Clean exercise together with other strength exercises in the same set can be a rational solution. For example, Clean + Front SQUAT or Clean Pull + Clean are very effective in improving power and strength endurance in athletes. These exercises must be used during the preparatory period.


This is the second part of the clean and jerk exercise. There are several styles of performance allowed by the competition rules. Split Jerk - after driving the weight up, the athlete spreads his legs in a forward-backward position: an athletic lunge.

Power (Push) Jerk - after pushing the weight, the athlete immediately puts the feet slightly to the sides. After the limbs are straightened and the athlete stands fixedly in one position, the referee gives the command to lower the barbell onto the platform.

A weightlifter's training program includes a fairly wide range of exercises to improve JERK. Consider some of these exercises:

Jerk Behind the neck - an exercise similar to the traditional jerk from rack, but in this case the athlete takes the starting position in which the barbell is on the shoulders behind the neck. This exercise allows you to better feel the center of gravity and work out the dip & drive phase.

Push Press is one of the auxiliary exercises practiced in weightlifting. The essence of this exercise is to forcefully push the barbell with the help of the leg muscles (using the squat) and press the barbell with your hands at the top point. In other words, this exercise can be described as a standing press with the legs dip & drive.

Jerk Complex - since the competitive Clean and Jerk exercise requires a high level of strength endurance from the athlete, using the Jerk exercise together with other strength exercises in one set can be a rational solution. For example, Front SQUAT + Jerk or Push Press + Jerk are very effective in improving the power and strength endurance of athletes. These exercises must be used during the preparatory period.


SQUATS is the main strength exercise for weightlifters for the development of leg and back muscles. The most common and popular variations are:

- Back Squat (with narrow or wide stance, pause, on bench)

- Front Squat;

- Split Squat.


Most powerlifters use the term deadlift, but in weightlifting we call this group of exercises - PULLS. The most important of these are Snatch & Clean Pull. These are specific exercises for developing strength and improving the technique of snatch and clean. There is a great variety of these exercises:

- Hang pulls;

- Block pulls;

- Deficit pulls;

- Combo style and different grip pulls;

Goals Of An Olympic Weightlifting Plan 


Long-term development and injury prevention depend on establishing a basic level of fitness. The health of the athlete requires a range of free weight lifting routine including plyometric, strength, and assistance workouts.


Despite the fact that many beginners lack fundamental flexibility and control in specific postures, the majority of them may really grow their mobility by simply doing the movement and gradually improving their general flexibility.


Most athletes constantly want to lift heavier and heavier weights. The development of technical patterns is a priority. Strength without technique is a direct and fast route to injury.


In order to grow more strong and powerful during a weightlifter's sporting career, quality muscle mass needs to be increased. Many athletes won't be able to increase their strength and performance over the long run without the right development of muscular hypertrophy.


Weightlifting is a highly neurologically demanding sport in which novice lifters must learn to perform motions requiring high levels of motor control while carrying large loads in quick succession. Throughout a weightlifting career, a lifter must improve their neural connections and impulses due to the necessity for speed, power, and extremely accurate movement. 


The capacity of an athlete to train with action is usually without sacrificing work performance or becoming overly exhausted is referred to as performance. You can enhance performance by gradually increasing  training volume, cutting down on your rest times, and including assistance and fitness exercises. This is essential for development and the capacity to complete increasingly demanding training sessions.

Programming for Beginners vs Intermediate and Advanced Lifters

Building a weightlifting training program is a whole science. Therefore, we will not describe the entire course of university lectures in this article. Here are 3 basic rules you need to know for a general understanding of programming.

  1. The basis of the loads is snatch and jerk exercises.

Weightlifting movements should be practiced at least twice a week, ideally three times, for maximum results.

There are two reasons for this:

- research shows that you need to improve your motor skills regularly.

- you need to build specific speed strength to see the desired adaptation in the snatch and clean and jerk.

  1. The regularity of basic strength exercises.

Olympic weightlifting is a strength sport and your squat, deadlift and overhead strength must be constantly improved. Just a weightlifter's weekly strength planning rule: two squats, two overhead exercises, and one pull.

As for squats: the most rational way is to do Front SQUATS in one workout and Back Squats in another. Experience shows that this is the most effective effect on progress in the clean and jerk.

Exercises above the head, it is also advisable to vary among themselves according to the types of load: one workout is a purely JERK exercise, the other is a military press or push press. This will create a balance between purely strength and dynamic load on the shoulders.

As for the load in the pulls, these exercises should be taken not only as a means of developing strength, but also as a tool for practicing the technique of the first part of the snatch and clean. Therefore, it is necessary to select variations of rods depending on the technical and power tasks of training.

  1. Plan loads so that you have time to recover.

Now you have an understanding that the program should contain a wide range of auxiliary and strength exercises. In order to avoid overtraining, use the example of the load pattern on the 5-day schedule:

Day 1 - Heavy

Day 2 - Light

Day 3 - Average

Day 4 - Heavy

Day 5 - Medium/Easy

On heavy days, you can do heavy lifts, or do high reps, or try to put it all together. Then lower these parameters on medium and light days.

  1. Distribution of load in snatch and C&J exercises.

For a competent distribution of loads, coaches use 4 zones of intensity:

- up to 60% - warm-up and recovery, in light and recovery workouts, the entire load is performed with these weights, and during the warm-up it is on these weights that the athlete catches the "muscle feeling" (the optimal working range is 4-6 sets of 3-5 reps);

- 70-80%, these loads provide optimal technical practice and the greatest training volumes are performed here (the optimal working range is 4-6 sets of 3 reps);

- 80-90%, the most difficult strength work with medium volumes (for example, 3-4 sets of 2-3 reps).

- 90% and above - extreme and competitive loads (recommended in one workout, from 2 up to 5 singles)

The higher are working weights in snatch and C&J exercises, the higher the probability and risk of technical errors. That is why the basic rule for distributing the amount of work is this: most lifts with weights of 70-80%, the average number with a load of 80-90% and the minimum number of lifts with a weight of 90% and above. As an athlete's class grows, his training program becomes more intense. Nevertheless, even unique athletes do not exceed 13% in loads of 90% and above.

  1. Load distribution in strength exercises.

As for strength work, then you should not complicate it so much. For squats, pulls and presses, try to work in a range of 3 to 5 sets of 3-5 reps.

For athletes who are more comfortable building loads with RPE, it is recommended to do the bulk of the strength work at the RPE 8 level so that the sets are really heavy, but a couple of reps are missing in reserve. In percentage terms, this can range from 75 to 90%. This type of load you will find in the most free lifting programs.

It is also important to consider the differences in load programming between beginner, intermediate and advanced weightlifters. There are a lot of free weightlifting programs, but you need to keep in mind that loads must fit your level.


Athletes with experience from 2 months to 6-12 months can fall into the beginner category. They have a low level of technical skills and the goal of their training process is to study the mechanics of competitive and auxiliary exercises and strengthen the main muscle groups. In principle, an athlete can remain in the beginner category all his life and there is nothing to worry about. Some athletes repeat a 2 week weight lifting program for months and it is okay for them. Beginners don't need complicated programs and often don't even have a clear and defined 1RM for training. Instead, they need regular practice of weightlifting movements with controlled weights that allows them to focus on technique. They may follow a fixed set and rep pattern (3x5) for strength work, progressing linearly from session to session. As an example you can try our free olympic weightlifting program pdf 


Intermediate weightlifters have a stable 1RM and need more volume and intensity than beginners, but it's important to understand that this is still very far from being professional. Intermediate weightlifters use a wider range of weightlifting variations to eliminate technical errors and improve the quality of movement. Along with this, strength work in pulls and squats can use more variety of sets and repetitions, and the progress of the result will be more dynamic.


The main feature of training for advanced athletes is an increase in the number of training sessions, volume and intensity. The effectiveness of the training of weightlifters of this level depends on the weight being lifted and the means and methods of training. The training of a weightlifter with a long sports experience, compared to a beginner, is distinguished by the use of a small number of exercises, but at the same time, a large volume and intensity of training loads are noted. Training with near-maximal weights is more effective, but it can cause overstrain, as a result - injuries and other negative consequences for the athlete. 

Key Factors in Weightlifting routine

Modern weightlifting is a complex coordinating speed-strength sport. For this reason, special attention in the training process of weightlifters is paid to the development of strength and speed. The relationship between these physical qualities is the closest and most ambiguous - the development of one noticeably affects the development of the other, but not in all cases. This occurs when the level of maximum force required to overcome a large external resistance at high speed increases. Along with improving physical qualities, weightlifters must constantly improve flexibility, improve coordination of movements and develop agility. These qualities directly affect the success of competitive exercises.

The load is determined by such characteristics as the mode of muscle activity, the amount of load, the amount of weight, and other factors. But basically two factors determine the load in training - volume and intensity.


With the increase in the preparation of an athlete of such a characteristic as volume, the athlete gradually increases the level of his fitness and begins to enter into a sports shape. And, the greater the amount of training work done, the longer the athlete retains his athletic shape. In simple words, volume is the amount of work done. Most often, it is considered in the number of reps per set, workout, week, mesocycle, year.


Another characteristic is the intensity of the load, it determines the time of entry into shape form and the duration of its maintenance. The ways to increase the intensity of the load are quite diverse, but basically come down to the following factors: a gradual increase in the weight of the barbell, the number of repetitions in the approach, the execution time, the increase in the speed of the exercises performed, etc.).


The increase in the volume of loads should be gradual and have a variable character in the form of waves, steps or jumps. This takes into account the age of the athlete, his level of physical, technical, psychological and theoretical preparedness. Variability provides for a change in the load not only in a long time period (mesocycle and more), but also in microcycles, as well as in one training session. In addition, variability determines not only different options for building a load, but also a different combination of training means. They should be quite diverse, even though highly qualified athletes have a minimal amount of them. Unfortunately this aspect is often missed in the free weightlifting program that you can find in the Internet.

Common programming errors in weightlifting 

Lack of sufficient base strength work

Beginners and some coaches often forget that weightlifting is, in fact, a power sport. If an athlete can't do a 100 kg deadlift, then he definitely won't be able to clean with that weight. Likewise, squats of 2 sets of 3 reps with 70-75% of the best clean will not increase the leg strength and performance needed to perform big lifts in the future.

Incorrect balance between strength work and snatch and jerk exercises.

There is also a twist to the other side. There are some free lifting plan which focus too much on strength development and don't spend enough time on quality snatch and clean & jerk practice. This is a fairly common picture among fitness who are able to effortlessly squat over 200 kg and deadlift 240 kg, but still fail to snatch 100kg. It is important to remember that no amount of strength work will improve the technique and mechanics of the Olympic movements. 

You also need to know that there is a gold standard for the balance of power and snatch and C&J loads in the total volume. For adequate progress in Olympic weightlifting in weekly and monthly cycles, the load should strive for the following ratio:

Snatch exercises - 25%

C&J exercises - 25%

Snatch pulls - 10%

Clean pulls - 10%

Squats - 25%

Of course, fluctuations of 5-7% are allowed, depending on the period of training and the individual characteristics of the athlete.

Planning without considering recovery 

It is also a common mistake when a free olympic weightlifting program has all the right ingredients in terms of strength and technical work, but they are distributed in such a way that the athlete is constantly in a state of fatigue, which ultimately leads to overwork and injuries. Easy days and fasting weeks exist for a reason.

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