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Strength Cycles to Increase Snatch and Clean & Jerk
Periodically all of my athletes cycle through strength cycles. The goal during those periods is to always increase leg strength in the front and back squats and to target any weakness. These blocks might last anywhere from 2-6 weeks depending on how long the athlete has between competitions. A strength block can look something like this:
Day 1 Week 1
Back Squat with Belt 10RM, then -10% for 2×10 not paused
Power Snatch from Blocks 3RM, then -10% for 2×3
Axle Bar Deadlifts 5RM, then -10% for 2×5
Elevated Hip Thrusts with band around knees 8RM, then -10% for 2×8
Upper Muscular Imbalance Work 1 1a. Weighted Push-Ups 3×10
1b. Bent over Rows 3×10
1c. Swinging KB Rows 3×10
200M Lunges BW Only
Front Squat with Belt 5RM(1st rep paused 3 sec), then -10% for 2×5 not paused
Power Clean from Blocks 3RM, then -10% for 2×3
Snatch Pulls 3×3
Core Muscular Imbalance 1 1a. OH Carries Axle
Optional Cardio, GPP, HIIT
High Bar Back Squat with Belt 5RM(1st rep paused 3 sec), then -10% for 2×5 not paused
Push Presses 10RM, then -10% for 2×10
No Hook Clean Deadlifts 5RM, then -10% for 2×5
Glute Band Walks 3x10ea
Upper Muscular Imbalance 2 2a. Chest to Bar Pull-ups/submaximal
3 sets of each 2b. Dips/submaximal
2c. KB High Pulls/10
Front Squat with Belt 1RM, then -20% for 2×3
Muscle Snatch 5RM, then -10% for 5
Clean High Pulls 3×8
Core Muscular Imbalance 2 DB Fat Grip OH Walks
Optional Cardio, GPP, HIIT Sled Drags
70lb Forwards 25 yards x 4
70lbs Backwards 25 yards x 4
Back Squat without Belt 3RM with 50lb of Chain 1st rep paused 3 sec, then -10% for 2×3 not paused
Snatch Max Effort Pull to knee, High Pull, Snatch, & OH Squat max, then -10% for 1 set
Clean & Jerk Max Effort Clean Pull to knee, Clean pull, Clean, Front Squat, & Jerk max, then -15% for 1 set
Core Muscular Imbalance 3 1b. Unilateral Farmer’s Carry
Strict Presses 5RM, then -10% for 2×5
Snatch Grip Push Presses 5RM, then -10% for 2×5
Deadlifts from 2″ Deficit 5RM, then -10% for 2×5
Unilateral RDLs 3x8ea
BB Elevated Hip Thrusts 3×8
Yes it is a lot of volume. This is just an example. This plan is designed for a top rank National Competitor with a few years of training under their belts. You might want to consider starting with less volume, and then increasing each future cycle.
This cycle is designed to increase pulling power, leg strength, and overhead strength. I still have the lifts in there, but the volume of snatch and clean & jerk is cut by over half.
This is a great time to target muscular balance. You will notice a lot of carries, unilateral work targeting asymmetries, and pushing & pulling in all planes. Remember it is not always about getting the lifts stronger. Sometimes you want to strengthen the body to prepare it for the years of hard training.
There is so much that goes into becoming a great lifter. The biggest component that most people forget is longevity. If you can’t last in this sport, you will never be great. That’s why it baffles me as to why people focus solely on getting strong right now. “Right now” is only a small part of the equation.
I have watched Rebecca Gerdon start from the very bottom about five year ago. I have watched her steadily improve each and every year. Five years ago, she wasn’t on anyone’s radar, and now she is on everyone’s.
Why? Because she is a true master of the mundane! She is not always snatching and clean & jerking maximum weights. She focuses on bringing up those weaknesses as well. She also focuses on nutrition and recovery just as much as she focuses on the training. That is why she is now at the top of her weight class in America.
If you will take a holistic approach to your training, you will have a major advantage over your competition. During these strength cycles, take the time to address imbalances and weaknesses. Your time will pay off for years to come.
The last point that I want to make is that too much time is spent on just the snatch and clean & jerk. I get it. The lifts are complex, and you must practice them. However, when you spend 4-6 weeks getting stronger, you are not going to forget how to snatch or jerk.
However, you will get stronger, and strength coupled with good technique equals a better lift every time. Weightlifting coaches that never take the time away from focusing on the lifts to get stronger baffle me. If you don’t think strength equals success, simply look at Kendrick Farris. Personally I know it works. I watched magic before my very eyes last Friday.
My whole team is coming off a long strength cycle. This past Friday, they displayed their hard work by unleashing on Max Out Friday. I have never seen so many incredible PRs in one training session in my entire life. I witnesses three Junior lifters snatch over 140k/308lb and one of them, Nathan Damron, smashed 150k/330lb. All three of them are 85k weight class lifters, which made the performance that much more impressive.
Here is the video for your viewing enjoyment:
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Thanks for reading,