T Nation

Learning Oly Lifts


What's the second best way (the first being getting an experienced coach) to learn the olympic lifts? Is there some good videos? I know the net is full of them but trying to figure out which one are good can be a little bit overwhelming. Or should I find a good book that explain step by step how to learn them? Anyone you could recommend?

I'm looking to learn the moves mostly to develop power and athletism. Not necessarly interested in competing or set new world records.



1) Glenn Pendlays progression for the clean and the snatch.
2) The training of the weightlifter by Roman. Amazing books by one of the greatest sport scientists. Its on the web (ilegal)
3)Buds charniga translations and articles in sportivnypress.com and dynamic eleiko. Bud is dogmatic but his site is a wealth of information (horribly designed tought).
4)Don Maccauley book, power trip. My favourite to learn technique. don is a great writer and a better coach. He has coached olym[pians and world team members.
5)Greg everett book. They say it's great. I don't have it, tought.
6)Lifthard.com Kirksman is a student of coach Wu, a former chinese lifter and actual coach. Kirksman is super funny and inteligent.
7)Frank Rothwell youtube chanell. He has lots of videos of competitions. They are super fun to watch and you, subconciously learn a lot. Some of the most funs are: 105 kg world championships 2011, 94 kg wwc 2005, 85kg 2008 olympics, 1999 Europeans 94kg.
8)Bob Takano for programing. I don't have it but I'm planning to buy it.


You probably forgot the no.1 resource: The Weightlifting Encyclopedia by Arthur Dreshler which covers everything possible when it comes to olympic lifting.

Also, I have Takano's book and I'm not fond of the programming. It is strictly an adaptation of the old Soviet model. Which doesn't mean that it's bad. I personally lean more toward other schools of thoughts. The Soviet model includes tons and tons of assistance work... on some mid-level program in the book you have 6 assistance exercises in ONE workout. I personally prefer spending more time on the full lifts. Obviously the soviet school has produced a lot of elite lifters, so I'm not saying that it isn't effective... but it is much harder to adjust and tailor to your individual needs as it is a lot more complex.



Another question, which one (Snatch or clean and jerk), is better (easier?) to learn for overall athletism/power?


There's also this one book called The Big Black Book of Training Secrets that has a whole section on learning and training for the olympic lifts, including a progression schedule for working up to them... written by M. Thibaudeau himself.


Yeah, but that was written about 10 years ago. I use a much better learning progression now.


A lot of people will argue that the power clean is easier to learn than the power snatch, mostly because you CAN "muscle up" a decent amount of weight on the power clean. So even if you are using bad technique you can still lift some weight, giving the illusion of learning the lift properly.

I actually always teach the snatch first. You NEED to be explosive to lift any kind of weight on the snatch... so you learn explosive pulling which can be transferred to the clean. But if you learn the clean first you can learn to muscle-up the weight instead of using proper technique and explosiveness which will lead to bad overall motor habits.

And to quote former Canadian national coach Pierre Roy: "Anybody can clean, the snatch is a true athletic move".


I don;t have arties book but the guy is a wealth of knowledge. Last weekend he was one of the comentators at Nationals and, man, he knows his shit. As for Takano, I love programing. I had hoped that takano would be more influenced by the more modern russian system but I'll have to wait and see ( Charniga has talked about how Prilepin, Alexei Ni, the crazy jumping kazajastan coach, and other's work has led to a intensification and specialization of the soviet system, even since the 80s). Another thing I totally forgot was pendlayforum. It's amazing, you have Glenn, Don, Dan Bell, Stephen Powell and lots of other very knowledgable and friendly dudes.


Don't forget that the guy asked about how to learn the lifts. Advanced books about programming and the soviet texts will be of no use to him and will only confuse him more.

The Pendlay teaching progressing is fine and Will Flemming wrote a few good articles on T-nation about learning the lifts.



Haha, you're right. Got carried away. TL;DR buy Don's book "Power Trip" Very simple, very good, very funny.


thanks a lot.

Yes I need to learn the technique before I can make any training plan. I'll probably slowly learn the technique while doing my 'regular' training. My goal is to supplement my training with olympic lift to develop more power/explosiveness that can be transfered to other lift and/or work.


I agree that you should learn the snatch first. That lift is harder to "fake" than a clean, which ends up being something like a power reverse curl for many people who try to learn it themselves.

Also agree that Glenn Pendlay has the best learning progression.

What I am about to write may be heresy, but I will throw it out there because you said you are not looking to compete. Here it is: start by doing a muscle snatch from the hang. Not everyone agrees with this exercise. CT has written that he does not like the lift because it can teach some bad habits that make learning the full lifts very difficult. Wil Fleming, however, likes it. I've seen videos of Glenn Pendlay's lifters doing the muscle snatch, although they don't do it often. I like it and here's why:

  1. The first hardest thing about the snatch is getting the bar past the knees and into the correct power position, hence the recommendation to start from the hang. The second hardest thing about the snatch is having the guts to pull yourself under a bar that must go directly over your head. With the muscle snatch you just press the bar the rest of the way up.

  2. While I do not disagree than someone aspiring to compete may pick up some bad habits with this lift, the one thing it will teach you to do is to keep the bar close. If you try to do some kind of crazy wide grip power front raise, you'll be using baby weights.

  3. It does good things for the shoulders.

  4. While it is easier to fake a muscle snatch, you will soon find that unless you are explosive with the hips, you'll be using baby weights. You only use your arms to pull the bar overhead.

  5. It builds confidence. As you get comfortable with this lift, starting bending your knees when receiving the bar. You have now converted the muscle snatch to a power snatch.


Mike, I do not disagree. I actually began using the muscle snatch myself to practice keeping the bar close to the body. It does have its place in a progression especially if used in completement to Glenn's progression


I recently started working on the snatch (muscle snatch) and find the hardest thing is the full squat landing, keeping the weight overhead without tipping over. At best, I can get a quarter squat.

Work on overhead squats, right?


i think i used to do split snatch.


THANK YOU! I am so damn glad somebody else does this, especially since it's you! I always teach the snatch (or power snatch) first because it requires you to pull properly in order to complete the lift instead of reverse curl splitting a bar to your shoulders. So much easier and natural a final pull as well, since the bar fits neatly into the hip crease as opposed to being on the thighs.


I haven't teach anybody the lifts via being a newbe myself. So everybody, what do you do when you teach someone the PS but they don't have the flexibility to perform a legit full snatch: they cant get to the bottom, they rotate the shoulders, whatever? Do you keep hammering the powers, do you stop and mobilize the shit out of the lifter? You punch him in the face?