training days

Basic Concepts in Developing Effective Training Programs

One of the ongoing challenges for coaches is how to create effective training programs for competitive weightlifters as well as sports performance athletes and clients.

It does not service any individual for the coach to download an elite program off of the internet nor to devise one that the individual cannot accomplish because the intensity, volume, and frequency are far beyond that person’s ability.

Components of a Credible Training Program

The fundamental look of any effective training should be as follows:

  • Begin with a proper warm up.
  • This includes both a general warmup of stretching and flexibility as well as a barbell complex of the related weightlifting movement that day.
  • Weightlifting movements should always be the first exercise completed as the nervous system is alert.
  • Strength and Power Movements are next (in this order):
    • Pulls
    • Squats
    • Presses
  • Remedial exercises such as shoulder and abdominal work are last.
  • Proper technique is always a priority and drives the training.

Sets Over Reps

Maximum reps for any set involving a weightlifting movement is 3

  • There should be 2 to 3 warm-up sets prior to 3 to 4 “target sets”.  Target sets are when the athlete repeats sets and reps at a specific repeated load.

    • 3 sets of 3 reps at 70% of a 1RM in the Clean is an example of “Target Setting”

  • Maximum reps for Pulls, Squats and Presses is 5

  • 30 total reps for any exercise should be considered the maximum number to avoid neural fatigue that results in poor movement patterns.

  • Loading

    • 80% and less - Weightlifting movements are for 3 reps, Power movements for 5 reps
    • 85% to 90% - Weightlifting movements are for 2 reps, Power Movements for 3 reps
    • + 90% and above - Weightlifting movements are for singles, Power movements for 2 reps

Variations in Training

Three Models of Training

  • Linear Increase (Light, Medium, Heavy)
  • Linear Decrease (Heavy, Medium, Light)
  • Undulating (Medium, Light, Heavy) - Studies have shown that undulating training approach provides the most variation and therefore the quickest improvement to performance.
  • Number of Training Days 
    • If training 3 days per week consider a Two Week Flip.  Week 1 should  go Snatch Day, Clean Day, Snatch Day.  Week 2 goes Clean Day, Snatch Day, and Clean Day.
    • If training 4 days a week, Snatch twice a week but one session should be a snatch derivative (Partial Movement).  Clean and Jerk twice a week but one session should have the two movements separated. (Partial Movements for both Clean and Jerk).
  • Assistant exercises that go with each weightlifting movement
    • Snatch Pulls with the Snatch, Clean Pulls with the Clean
    • One day a week replace clean pulls with RDL’s
  • Back Squats with Snatch. Front Squats with Clean
    • Consider keeping the daily Front Squat weight the same as the Clean weight as we want the Ft. Squat to maintain technical quality.
  • The Greater the Variety in Training, The Quicker the Improvement
    • Each Snatch, Clean or Jerk session should be a derivative of another movement.  Hangs, Powers, 3 stage, from Blocks and combination movements will bring about results more effectively than constantly performing the full competition movements
  • Rest is AS IMPORTANT as WORK

    • Recovery sessions should be built into the program and not a response to a collapse in training.  Studies (under the topic Supercompensation) recommend that the 3rd week of every training cycle should display a reduction in both intensity and volume.


  • Each training session is related to the one before and the one after.
  • Get Fit, so you can Train Effectively.
  • Prepare the joints for the work that is going to come later (Cycle 1)
  • Power the Muscle (Cycle 2)
  • Recruit the Nerve (Cycle 3)
  • Compete or Test
  • Recover, readapt and repeat.