Shrugged Collective

How I go heavy – Two methods for programming the olympic lifts


I’m a big fan of auto-regulation. This is an intuitive style of training where you go by feel, adjusting the numbers based on what you’re capable of on any given training day.

I’ve found that this method accounts for my bad days, and it makes the very most of my practice when everything feels just right. Also, when the technique standard is very high, I believe this style of training lets the athlete focus on quality over quantity. They can reduce the pressure of having to hit a certain number just because it’s written down somewhere.

That’s a bad habit that I myself was obsessed with for a long time. You don’t have to be ruled your programming. In fact, to make the most of your barbell time you must remain flexible.

 

I use this intuitive approach all the time with my novice lifters, because their priority is developing a working proficiency in the lifts. The weights should increase organically, and rather quickly, as movement quality increases. That’s a critical point in fact. Programs are great, but you will only maximize the benefits of that program if your technique is sound and your movement is consistent. The following plan works great if your goal is to move well, and you don’t mind being patient and letting the numbers move up organically. There should be no rush, so skip this if you have a competition coming up, or if you prefer a stricter timeline. Find a style that works for you. How to Auto-Regulate Here are two easy ways to increase training loads week to week. The first method is a more flexible, while method two gives the athlete and coach a more specific training map. Method 1 Try this. Set a target rep range and then work up to your very best set for the day. Let’s say snatches up to a 3 RM. After charting the sets and finishing all of the work, look back and mark all of the sets that were within 10% of the final set. Take a look at this sample progression:

  • 40kg x3 x2
  • 50kg x3 x2
  • 60kg x3
  • 65kg x3
  • 70kg x3
  • 73kg x3
  • 75kg x3 (Heaviest quality triple for the day)

Note: I define a “heavy single/double/triple/whatever” as anything that is challenging but well within the limits of good technique. So, if 75kg was your best heavy triple for the day, then you would work backwards from there. This set’s an effective loading limit, and it serves as our basis for programming down-sets.  You want to spend more time practicing the snatch. So, while you’re feeling strong and moving well, reduce the load and do some more work. Do 1-3 more snatch triples, depending on how you feel and how well you’re moving. Use a sub-maximal load that is around 90%+ of your 3RM. 

 

Method 2

The second method is more like classic periodization.

You should know the exact numbers you need to hit on any given training day in the cycle. Each cumulative phase of training should focus on different aspects of training, which pushes you closer and closer to a targeted goal.

To speak about periodization in depth would take too much time. So, here’s a simple approach that I’ve used successfully with my intermediate and advanced athletes. These are lifters who move very well and know their limit lifts very well.

Here’s how you should adjust your loads week to week. Start off with 70% of your 1RM, then increase that load by 5% each week for 3 weeks. On week 4, reduce the load by about 10% and the volume by up to 20%.

This unloading week will allow your body to recover, adapt, and strengthen. On week 5, you can resume your work by get adding 5% more weight to every set from week 3. Continue to ramp-up from there. Here’s how it works:

Week 1

For the snatch (Load% xReps xSets)…

  • 50% x3 x2,
  • 55% x3,
  • 60%x3,
  • 65% x3,
  • 70% x3 x3

Total Volume: 24 lifts

Week 2

  • 50% x3 x2,
  • 55% x3,
  • 60%x3,
  • 65% x3,
  • 70% x3,
  • 75% x3 x3
  • Total Volume: 27 lifts

Week 3

  • 50% x3 x2,
  • 55% x3,
  • 60%x3,
  • 65% x3,
  • 70% x3,
  • 75% x3,
  • 80% x3 x3

Total Volume: 30 lifts

Week 4 – Unload

  • 50% x3 x2,
  • 55% x3,
  • 60%x3,
  • 65% x3,
  • 70% x3 x3

Total Volume: 24 lifts

Week 5

  • 50% x3 x2,
  • 60%x3,
  • 70% x3,
  • 75% x3,
  • 80% x3,
  • 85% x2 x3

Total Volume: 24 lifts

Week 6

  • 50% x3 x2,
  • 60% x3,
  • 70% x3,
  • 75% x3,
  • 80% x2,
  • 85% x2,
  • 90% x2 x2

Total Volume: 23 lifts

I stopped it at week 6 because there are a few directions in which you can take from there.

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Click the link for info about Diane’s upcoming seminar tour. Click the picture for dates. 

To peak or not to peak?

If you were to continue escalating the intensity while reducing the volume then you’d soon be ready to taper the work off and “peak,” or maximize 1RM performance.

You’ll when you’re ready to peak because you’ll be hitting solid lifts session to session with lifts around that 90% range.  It’s like a pot of hot water sizzling as it’s getting ready to boil over. The conditions are ready. This is when art mixes with science heavily. You can to continue this delicate flow and peak at just the right time.

If I can offer another lesson from personal experience, don’t beat yourself if you don’t get it right the first few times. The road to each peak is a lesson. Start again, you’ll be fine.

Remember that almost everything works until you get to an elite level of lifting, as long as you keep addressing weaknesses and leveling up your strength. Above all, consistency is the key ingredient that will make your progress robust and lasting.

I hope you found this information helpful. These methods have pushed me and my athletes along for many years now, with no over-complication or fuss. I think they can do the same for you.

Diane

 

For more

Mike Bledsoe

11 comments

  • Of course another great article.

    Few simple questions though on the knees….
    Lifting heavy has caused me to have some knee pain. I am sure most of it has to do with technique. I really put an emphasis on mobility and try to do my best with technique. Obviously a bigger issue in terms of heavier loads.

    I just want to know if you have some tips on this?

    Such as

    a) Knee pain. How to alleviate knee pain properly (what do you think of icing).
    b) How can I strengthen the knee
    c) How do I prevent future knee issues.

    Thanks!

    • When/where specifically does pain occur? Do you run/jump a bunch too? Do you have a history in sport? There’s lots that can be going on. You can ice and use ibuprofen. You should wear knee sleeves or light wraps to hold in heat and provide light support while you train. But you won’t strengthen the knee to reduce pain. You have to take away the irritating factors, or injury if you have something like articular damage.

      • What about patellar tendonitis? From going heavy on the squats twice a week along with 2 heavy days of Olympic lifting? Squatting done on the same days. Not sure if it’s my age of 41, but I fine the snatched and cleans that I love stress my knees out but don’t cause pain during the workout. Just during rest days the patella tendon feels inflammed. A physical therapist tried to say my squat was too deep. I couldn’t take her seriously. I took my Naprosyn before the wod. Tumblr..roll over my sensitive tendons before and after the work out. And hope for the best with omega 3s…and MSM..supplements. After dealing with the pain and laying off squats for 1.5 months…. felt better just doing the Olympic lifts heavy with technique and heavy deadlines and pulls. Now I feel much better and squat heavy only once a week. Just wish I could deal with more frequent workouts and more volume. I don’t recover well if I do more than 2 days of barbell club.

        • Everyone wishes they could train more frequently. That’s why anabolic steroids and such are used in performance…They help you to recover quickly, so you can work more and improve faster. You can still lift heavy without it. You can still improve and get stronger. But!!! …The work and pace will/must be reduced. I say all that because the same limits apply to masters athletes. Your ability to lift heavy is there, but not with the frequency of someone who’s 25.

  • Can you explain more how you would break these lifts down throughout the week? How often would you do snatches and cleans at these percentages and reps each week?

  • Great article! I really appreciate all of the solid information barbellshrugged puts out. Are these methods geared toward strength? I want to get stronger but I also need to add some size so If I were to incorporate the 2nd method using her rep scheme for deadlift, squats, snatch , and clean&jerk twice each a week would it offer enough volume to increase mass as well as strength?

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