Training Weightlifting with Powerlifting

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Training Weightlifting with Powerlifting


People ask me all the time if weightlifting and powerlifting can be trained together. The answer is without a doubt, “yes”! I have always loved both sports. I still believe that the ultimate strength athlete should be able to perform both at a high level. Both sports represent different aspects of strength and athleticism. Aspects of both sports are crucial with training athletes from other sports where power production is important. Let’s look at both of them separately before seeing how they fit together!

Weightlifting or Olympic lifting as some of you might call it is the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. These are the two-barbell movements that are performed during the Olympics. Snatch is the movement where the barbell is lifted from the floor to overhead in one movement. See below:


During the Clean & Jerk the bar is lifted from the floor to the shoulders, and then from the shoulders to overhead. See below:


These movements require a lot of power production with acceleration being a huge key. Balance, mobility, and kinesthetic awareness are all keys that are necessary to perform the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. Absolute strength is important, but is not the primary concern.

Powerlifting is all about absolute strength. The Back Squat, Bench Press, and the Deadlift are the three movements in Powerlifting. These three are arguable the three best ways to test and improve overall absolute strength. Powerlifting will also add more muscle to one’s frame when compared to Olympic lifting. The absolute strength and muscle production are both reasons why Weightlifters should at least perform some of these movements in sections of their training.

I didn’t include pictures of the Powerlifting movements because almost all of us have been introduced to them at school or at our local gyms. The one benefit of the Powerlifting movements is that they can be performed at any gym in America. The Olympic lifts require bumper plates. The Olympic lifts are also harder to learn, and normally a coach is required to really become skilled.

Weightlifting was the first strength sport on the scene. Originally people asked strong looking men and women, “How much can you put over your head?” That was the question! Now people ask, “How much do ya bench?” With the sport of CrossFit introducing so many people to the barbell that is slowly starting to change. Personally I want people to ask, “What is your Superman Total?”

The Superman Total is the total of all five lifts as performed in competition. Not many people have performed both sports at a high level, which I think is a shame. Both sports are amazing tests of strength, and both are exciting to watch at the higher levels.

Ironically the best weightlifters that I have met could easily be the best powerlifters if they switched sports. Travis Cooper, one of the best Weightlifters in the US, is incredibly strong. Travis competes at 170lbs, and he can squat 600lb, Bench 350lb, and Deadlift 600lb. Yes there are powerlifters that can beat him, but remember he uses these movements as accessory work. They are not focuses at all, and he only performs the movements during certain phases of his program. The majority of the year is spent with the Snatch and Clean & Jerk.

I started lifting weights because I wanted to be strong and muscular like a lot of men and women around the world. I love the barbell. I love every aspect of the barbell. If I could have my way, all strength athletes would compete at all five. The Superman Total would tell us who the true King and Queen of the Barbell really are. Not to mention training all five lifts brings us back to that original state of just loving the Barbell.

When we compete, we sometimes forget the reason why we started in the first place. Our thoughts get wrapped up in the sport, and we forget the path that we were on. It all stops being Pure! That love of strength and power is tainted. I want to see a lot of you stay pure.

The barbell is amazing in all the things that it can do. It can make us stronger, more muscular, and more powerful, jump higher, run faster, and more mobile. It can teach us all about our inner selves as we deal with overcoming fear during the movements. It’s just awesome if we let it be!

If you are training for the Olympics, then you probably want to be a little strategic with how you pair Weightlifting and Powerlifting. However for the rest of us, here is the way it looks:

Typical week-

Day 1
Snatch 70% x 1 EMOM for 10 gradually working up not to exceed 90%
Back Squat 10RM, then -10% for 2×10
Deadlift 70% x 1 EMOM for 10 gradually working up not to exceed 90%

Day 2
Clean & Jerk 70% x 1 EMOM for 10 gradually working up not to exceed 90%
Bench Press 10RM, then -10% for 2×10
Upper Accessory

Day 3
Active Recovery
Sled Pulls, Mobility, and Carries

Day 4
Snatch Complex Max (2 Pulls, Snatch, and 2 OH Squats) then -15% for 2 down sets
Clean & Jerk Complex Max (1 Pull, Clean, 2 Front Squats, & Jerk) then -10% for 2 down sets
Ab Work

Day 5
Back Squat Paused 3 sec 5RM, then -10% for 2×5 not paused
Floor Presses 5RM, then -10% for 2×5
Deadlift from Blocks with plates 6 inches off Ground 3RM, then -10% for 3

This is just a simple way of pairing the two together. I am writing a new plan that I am going to share with you all very soon. It’s the plan that I am using for my own training that I absolutely love so far. It will be a combination of weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics, and conditioning. I am calling this the Daily 180 Strength Workout as it is a part of something bigger that I am working on.

Hopefully this shed some light on how to match the two sports together. Please leave questions and comments below! I will answer all of them!

Don’t forget about the Mash Elite Weightlifting Team Camp:

We are hosting a three-day camp July 8-10 at the Mash Compound. It’s going to look like this:

• Day 1 Max Out Friday with the team and social afterwards
• Day 2 Clinic with Coach McCauley, Coach Wilkes, me and the team
• Day 3 Clinic about meet day prep and strategy, and then a sanctioned meet

We’ve decided to limit the camp to only 20 people, so don’t wait if you’re interested. Here’s the link to find out more:

<<<3 Day Mash Camp>>>

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