Olympic Lifting for the Master Athlete

Don’t skip this article just because you are not an old geezer. Trust me, the lessons most Master athletes learn usually are lumped into the category “I wish I would have known this before.” There are certain lessons you can learn from the mid-life crisis crowd that will pay for themselves in the long-term.

A couple of points before we look at programs. If you are lazy and don’t feel like reading my ramblings, let me summarize them here:

Focus on speed, speed, speed.
Use your checkbook
Seek and destroy your weaknesses
A little bit goes a long way
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Dan John Rule of Ten

From about ten years ago…

Ten quality reps a workout is about all I can do.

So, 3 by 3 is great for me, as is 2 sets of 5, or 6 singles.

I only count the real sets though. I remember one guy who said at the Upper Limit Gym that he was doing 5 x 5s, with 4 sets at 135 and one at 225. Well…, I don’t know about that, I look at that as a 1 x 5.

High volume, lots of reps, lots of sets has its place. I had one of my throwers, Mike Slazac, do 8 by 8 in the squat one day a week, military press another, and a back movement another to put on some weight after football season. He grew like a weed on this…for a few weeks. But, not one single set of 8 was with any serious weight!

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My Favorite Training Program of All-time

Week One

Alternate Day One and Day Two three days a week. Week One will have two “Day Ones” and Week Two will have two “Day Twos.” The entire program repeats every third week.

Day One

Warm Up

Overhead Squats A few Sets of Three; Mix in some “Extension Snatches” (From the extended “on the toes” position, pull yourself into the Overhead Squat position

“The Drill” One Power Snatch followed by one Overhead Squat…then, lower the bar to below the knees for one Hang Squat Snatch…then, lower the bar to where it just skims for the floor for one Full Squat Snatch

At least eight sets of the Drill

Front Squat with Chains Five sets of doubles
The two reps focus on speed, but strive for all five sets with the same weight.

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Doing the Movements

An answer to a forum post about the O lifts

Just by doing the lifts…even just the squat variations…you are miles ahead of most people who just talk about them.

As a beginner, do the two O lifts very light multiple times a day. I would recommend a little more than a broomstick, but honestly not much more. Do 3 or 4 sessions a day of maybe 8 sets of two in the snatch or just 4 sets of 2, and 8 sets of singles (or 4 X 1) as many sessions as you can a day. This will get the nervous system and the flexibilty issues taken care of in a hurry.

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The Transformation Program

This is my basic training plan. It is nice “in-season” or when time is an issue.

The Transformation Program

This is a workout that has worked very well for a number of discus throwers/hammer throwers/shot putters that I have trained for the past few years. Its simplicity can really overwhelm an athlete. However, after a few weeks, the athletes always find themselves ‘harder,’ more explosive and ready to compete. We call it the ‘Transformation Program’ because we use it right after either football season or a long period of basic training.

Day One: (Perhaps Monday)

Power Clean & Press: One power clean and eight presses.
3 sets of 8 with one minute rest between sets. If there is a single key to the program, it is the one minute rest period. By strictly monitoring the rest period, and obviously keeping track of the weight, one can track progress.

Power Curls: 3 sets of 8 with one minute rest between sets. Using a curl grip, slide the weight to just above the knees and ‘curl-clean’ the bar. Let it come down under control. Again, get all eight reps in, don’t change the weights, and monitor the rest period.

Some kind of ab work. We used side bends, but any kind of crunch is fine, too. Today, I might recommend One Arm Lifts.

Day Two: (a day or so later, perhaps Wednesday)

Power Clean and Front Squats. One power clean and eight front squats.
Once again, 3 sets of 8 with one minute rest. Stay ‘tall’ in the front squats and keep your elbows high. We usually use this as more of a warm up for the next exercise.

Overhead Squats: 3 sets of 8 with one minute rest. Using the wide snatch grip, lock the elbows with the weight overhead and squat down. Athletes who do this exercise well not only develop flexibility, balance and leg strength, but an incredibly strong lower back. Also, this exercise builds what we used to call ‘Dad strength.’ Growing up, a lot of us used to lift weights all the time but still could not torque a wrench or open a jar like dad, who never did any lifting. Overhead squats make you very strong.

Again, finish with some kind of ab work.

Day Three ( perhaps Friday or Saturday)

Whip Snatches: 3 sets of 8 with one minute rest. With a wide snatch grip, stand up and hold the bar at crotch level. Dip and snatch the bar over head. Continue for 8 reps. You will be surprised how quickly this exercise can get into your blood. If you want big traps and explosion, this is the king.

Clean grip snatches: 3 sets of 8 with one minute rest. With a clean grip, stand up and dip the bar to your knees. Then, explode up driving the bar, in one basic movement, over head. It is like a clean and press, well, without the clean.

Ab work if you wish.

Another day or two a week, we used uphill sprints to train the legs and body This program is a great transition program. You only do each exercise once a week. You work your whole body each workout, but focus on upper body day one, lower body day two, and explosive pulling on day three. Moreover, the workouts are finished very quickly, but still tax the system.

Try to add weight when you can, but use the third set as your basis for adding weight, not the first. You will discover that the culmination of sets one and two really effect the third set.
I hope you consider this program.

Be careful of getting too crazy in the weight room. If all you did was Clean and Press, like the lifters in the Sixties, you could get pretty awesome. 
Clyde Emrich pressed everyday!