Technique or Strength: Which is the Most Important?

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Technique or Strength: Which is the Most Important?


This argument has gone on for years in the world of weightlifting. Some people will say that the technique of snatch and clean & jerk are all that’s important. Some people will say that American athletes think too much about technique, and all they really need to do is get strong. Which is the key?

The answer is both are important. It’s a constant battle between strength and technique. All of my athletes go through periods of focusing on each, and the rest of the time they are working on both. Right now, my athletes that just competed at Junior Nationals will be focusing on strength and hypertrophy. There is no easier way to get an athlete stronger than by adding muscle or hypertrophy.

Right now their workouts are going to look like this:

• Reps on the Squats will be between 5 and 10 for 3-5 sets
• Weightlifting specific bodybuilding like standing presses, bentover rows, Snatch Grip Pressing
• Snatch and Clean & Jerks down to twice per week
• Any weakness will be target ex. Jerks, so we will add presses in split and/or jerk recoveries
• GPP with carries, pulls, and sleds

Last training cycle Nathan Damron completed a four-week strength cycle like the one above, and that led to the massive amounts of PRs that we all saw displayed on his instagram nearly on a daily basis. He got stronger, and then switched to his daily attack of snatch and clean & jerk. The results were nothing short of amazing.


The rest of my gang is preparing for the 2016 Arnold Classic. They are about two weeks out from the competition. So are we focusing on strength or technique? The answer as always is both, but we are more focused on technique at this point. Here is the general rule:

An athlete should focus more on strength the further they are from competing. The focus shifts to dialing in the technique of snatch and clean & jerk the closer to the meet they get. I would look at things like this:

8+ weeks out from competition– focus is on strength of squats, pulls, presses, and hypertrophy.

4-8 weeks out from competition– The focus should be on an equal combination of strength and technique.

4 or less weeks out from competition– The focus shifts to perfecting the snatch and clean & jerk.

I know some of my athletes talk about training stupid, but the truth is we just look at training from a simple point of view. We don’t over complicate things. We keep it simple, focused and fun. My guys know their strengths and weaknesses better than anybody else, and you can rest assured that we are targeting each of them right now.

Yeah, we focus on strength, but only during the proper times of the year. Yes we focus on technique, but during the periods when that is appropriate. Biomechanically this sport is fairly complicated. Athletes are asked to move hundreds of pounds at the speed and with the precision that other athletes swing a bat, club, or racket. It’s pretty crazy when you think about it!

I love the sport of weightlifting because of the precision required to perform the movement. It is beautiful to watch an athlete move three hundred pounds from the floor to above their head with one fluid movement. For an athlete to perform the sport of weightlifting well, they have to be strong and athletic.

For a coach to be successful in the sport of weightlifting, they have to be experts in getting athletes strong and teaching the movements of the sport. They cannot be great without having both. This is the main reason that powerlifting coaches will never be good at getting athletes better at weightlifting. They think that it’s all about getting strong, but that is their lack of understanding the sport talking.

I hope that this article answers a few questions for some of you. Balance is the key to improving in the sport of weightlifting. Get strong, and then apply that strength to the sport, and that is how one becomes better.

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