Focus Your Programming

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Focus Your Programming


A couple of weekends ago, we hosted the newest group of Mash Barbell Affiliates. One of the topics was “Considerations When Designing Your Personal Program”. I thought that all of you could benefit from some of this information, so here goes.


1. How much do you Clean in relation to your Front Squat? The goal is to Clean around 90% of your Front Squat. If you are in that category or better, then you should focus your training on getting stronger because you are efficient. One of my guys, Tom Summa actually Clean & Jerked 165k when his Front Squat was only 160k. Tom has focused a lot of his efforts on getting stronger, and his lifts are shooting up.

If you Clean 70% of your Front Squat, then your focus should obviously be on performing the movements. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t squat every day. Squatting every day has helped me with my mobility, which has really helped to increase my lifts. It just means that you shouldn’t kill yourself squatting. Spend the majority of your training time working on Snatch and Clean & Jerk.

2. Back Squat to Deadlift- In a perfect world you should Deadlift as much or slightly more than you Squat. Now some people like Nathan Damron are going to have a heck of a time with this one. His arms are extremely short, so his body type isn’t conducive to deadlifting. Does that mean that he shouldn’t deadlift? No way!

We are going to hit a phase of heavy pulling after the American Open to try and work on his imbalance. He might never deadlift the same as he squats, but the goal is to try and come as close as possible. Yes we believe that it will help increase his lifts because right now his pull is somewhat slow. I have watched Travis Cooper and Jared Fleming increase their lifts focusing on their pulling power. The other benefit is balancing the body’s musculature to avoid injuries. It’s not always about adding kilos right now. Sometimes it is about preparing the body to be able to add strength down the road.

Remember that athlete that can lift the longest with minimal injuries will eventually be the victor! That’s why we say that this race is a marathon and not a sprint!

3. Jerk to Clean- If you can Clean 400lbs and only Jerk 300lbs, do you really need to practice the Clean very often? Probably not! You all know who you are. I see you practicing the Clean for hours while the Jerk Blocks grow cobwebs. Use your head and not your ego! Other than obvious technique work, here are a few great Jerk exercises:

• Presses from the Split Position
• Jerk Dip Squats
• Jerks Paused in Dip and Catch
• Front Squats to Jerk (to practice Jerking with tired legs)
• Push Presses for dip and drive power and overhead strength

4. Your Snatch should be somewhere around 80% of your Clean & Jerk. I have watched people that Snatched 120k but only Clean & Jerked 135k take ten attempts at a weight during their Snatch workout. Then when it was time to Clean & Jerk, they would barely work up at all because they were too tired. Does that make any sense? No!

You win with a total! Not a Snatch! This goes both ways. If you Clean & Jerk 170k and Snatch 100k, then you need to put some focus on the Snatch. I think that we all know this, but sometime we all need to be reminded.

These are just four easy reminders when developing a program for yourself or another athlete. This is why a cookie cutter approach won’t always work. The program needs to match the athlete.

I hope that these guidelines help you develop the perfect plan. My boys are getting ready for the American Open right now, so we are looking at these guidelines every day.

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