T Nation

Simplify Lifting Drastically

Hey CT.

So, I’ve been trying to simplify my lifting drastically the last few months while trying to gain strength primarily in the front squat and the Oly lifts. What I’ve been doing for the last several months looks like this:

Day 1: mobility/foam rolling followed by some sort of jumping movement for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps, based on how I feel that day. Usually alternates between broad jumps, box jumps, depth jumps or jumping snatches and/or cleans as shown in your neural charge videos.

Then I perform cleans/jerks off the floor, building up to a heavy single. I try not to miss any lifts here although I usually try to still hit my max potential for that day. I drop down by 10% and perform 3 sets of 1 the first week, 4 sets of 1 the 2nd week and then at least 5 sets of 1 the 3rd week. The fourth week I do the same but I just perform a heavy single and call it a day on that exercise. I then move on to front squats and ramp up to a true 1RM for that day, followed by the same pattern of heavy singles at 90% as with cleans.

Day 2: Same rep/set/loading scheme as Day 1 except that I perform power cleans/jerks from a hang or off blocks. I still work up to a true 1RM for front squats, drop down to 90% etc, etc.

Day 3: Rest

Day 4: Same concept as Day 1, except that I perform power snatches off the floor followed by deadlifts in place of front squats. Every other week I pull around 80-90% for speed instead of working up to a true 1RM for deadlifts.

Day 5: Same as Day 4 but I perform power snatches from a hang and perform front squats instead of deadlifts. I build up to a true 1RM on front squats just like on Days 1 and 2.

Day 6: rest

I thought this sort of approach would eventually lead to neural fatigue, but it hasn’t at all. I followed your HP Mass program for about a year or so and got very, very good at learning how to self-regulate myself in that respect which I assume is why I’ve been able to try a 1RM on front squats three times a week and seen steady gains in strength without blowing out my CNS in the process.

So my question is, if I want to maintain this same workout but I want to incorporate more pressing movements on my “off days”, what would you recommend here? Obviously, other than the clean/jerk and the second half of the snatch, I have completely neglected pressing and I haven’t done flat bench more than maybe two or three times since December. I love the progress I’ve made with my current approach and like performing just a few main movements. I was thinking of something along the lines of a simple neural charge circuit on Day 3, maybe something like explosive flat bench press, then medicine ball slams, push/presses and then some sort of plyo pushup. Then on Day 6 some dips, weighted pushups, face pulls and an all-out set of Kroc rows.

As you can see, I would like to work out every day if possible, maybe just take one day a week off wherever I feel I need it. My main concern is that I don’t want to neglect the pushing movement, but I also don’t want to be working with fatigued shoulders when I perform heavy cleans/jerks and power snatches. The other thing is that I simply don’t have the mobility yet to perform proper snatches to full depth. I’ve been improving the mobility in my hips and knees and have no problem back squatting or front squatting ass-to-grass, but the shoulder girdle is another issue. So while I don’t want to neglect the pressing movement, I also want to incorporate presses that will not hinder my shoulder mobility when it comes to snatches. Any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated.

And sorry about the long post. Many people on here will tell you that I have a perverse inclination toward them. It can’t be helped.

I do not hate your plan, but for the olympic lifts I would actually alternate snatch and clean days.

A good approach would be:

Snatch and clean & jerk workouts

  1. Snatch (or clean & jerk)
  2. Chinese pull (snatch or clean grip)
  3. Low pull (snatch or clean grip)
  4. 3 sets of 2 reps of snatches or clean & jerks at 80%
  5. 3 sets of 2-3 reps of snatch or clean chinese pull from blocks at 80%

The first workout of its type in the week you can do the lifts from blocks, the second from hang or floor.

Something like:

Day 1. Snatch
Day 2. Clean & jerk
Day 3. Squats
Day 4. Snatch
Day 5. Clean & jerk
Day 6: Pressing

The squat workout would look like this:

  1. Power snatch from blocks … 3 sets of 2 reps with 60-70% of snatch
  2. Power clean from blocks … 3 sets of 2 reps with 60-70% of clean
  3. Front squat ramp to max
  4. Back squat ramp to max
  5. 1/4 front squats from pins ramp to max
  6. Paused front (or back) squat 3 x 3-5 with 80%

And the pressing workout could look like:

  1. Standing military press ramp to max
  2. Push press ramp to max (starting where the military press ended)
  3. Slight decline bench from pins ramp to max (starting where the push press ended)
  4. Either military, push press or bench 3 sets of clusters with 90% of the corresponding max

Well CT, I just started in on the program you laid out for me today. I had to take a few weeks off due to a badly sprained wrist, which is why I have just now started in with your suggestions.

I started in with the first workout, power snatches off the floor followed by SGCP and then SGLP, intending to do both off of blocks. Unfortunately, the gym I lift at does not have proper blocks and reprimanded me first for using the smaller boxes normally used for depth jumps. So I switched to using two padded incline benches like what you use in some of your videos. That, too, was a no-no.

So I burned the gym to the ground and now am forced to lift at my house where I have a squat rack and pins but no appropriate blocks to use. I can safely perform the clean workout off the pins, but what do you recommend as far as the snatch workout? Should I pull from a hang or simply pull everything off the floor (which is what I did today)? I think I can come up with some good wooden blocks I plan on cutting out of some huge redwood stumps I got my hands on, but until then, what do you suggest?

Thanks in advance.

[quote]DBCooper wrote:
Well CT, I just started in on the program you laid out for me today. I had to take a few weeks off due to a badly sprained wrist, which is why I have just now started in with your suggestions.

I started in with the first workout, power snatches off the floor followed by SGCP and then SGLP, intending to do both off of blocks. Unfortunately, the gym I lift at does not have proper blocks and reprimanded me first for using the smaller boxes normally used for depth jumps. So I switched to using two padded incline benches like what you use in some of your videos. That, too, was a no-no.

So I burned the gym to the ground and now am forced to lift at my house where I have a squat rack and pins but no appropriate blocks to use. I can safely perform the clean workout off the pins, but what do you recommend as far as the snatch workout? Should I pull from a hang or simply pull everything off the floor (which is what I did today)? I think I can come up with some good wooden blocks I plan on cutting out of some huge redwood stumps I got my hands on, but until then, what do you suggest?

Thanks in advance.[/quote]

For the lighter work (the snatches/clean before the squat work) do them from the hang.

Just curious - what sort of physique effects would this have? Obvoiusly it’s O-lift oriented but the volume and frequency (daily) seems like it would produce some awesome fat loss. Not sure about hypertrophy or developing that “look” though?

I’m not CT but I train in the weightlifts. Physique-wise weightlifting is not great for muscle mass in the traditional sense of bodybuilding but there is a definite look that weightlifters obtain once they reach a certain level of skill and strength. Noticeably you will see lifters tend to have very thick and dense thighs, upper backs and forearms. However what I will say though is that it takes time to see any real tangible development changes in your physique, especially in terms of muscle mass, because you have to learn 1) How to do the lifts using the appropriate muscles, that takes time, and 2) You need to get stronger at them so that you are creating enough force and tension to promote structural improvements.

That said, and these are my experiences based off an older (relative term) lifter (beginner/ intermediate; competent in the lifts but don’t match my pre-existing strength)who took up WL after BBing and PLing, is that there are indirect effects that will alter your physique. Firstly, because the lifts are dynamic full body movements and because you do them frequently, especially the classic lifts (snatch and C + J), you develop awesome work capacity, quickly. Heavy sets of reps in the clean are no joke, especially from the hang where the bar is in your hands for a period of time, trust me. This basically means that you will develop a tolerance to training, allowing you to train more, which indirectly, should allow you to burn more Calories if you are lifting more frequently doing full-body lifts. Squats and pulls are usually the easier part of training, if you can believe that.

The second thing you will notice is that the lifts stimulate your nervous system. Meaning that during a workout you get “up” and feel great (if you are not fatigued). What I found was that doing some strength/ bodybuilding work at the end of a weightlifting workout enhanced the training, because I was better able to switch on and recruit the muscles and motor units quickly (also without needing to warm up much). So you may find that you perform this stuff better as a result of doing the weightlifting.

I am injured at the moment and having to do more traditional strength/bodybuilding work and I honestly don’t feel like I am training, at all and i am doing a squat / pull heavy program at the moment.

[quote]-Sigil- wrote:
Just curious - what sort of physique effects would this have? Obvoiusly it’s O-lift oriented but the volume and frequency (daily) seems like it would produce some awesome fat loss. Not sure about hypertrophy or developing that “look” though? [/quote]

Well here are some observations:

  1. AT FIRST when I start doing olympic lifts again, I lose fat fairly fast. This normally lasts 2 weeks, I might drop 3-5lbs of fat in that time (without any change in diet). After those 2 weeks the extra fat loss stops.

  2. If you look at the muscular olympic lifters, you have the chinese who tend to be a lot more muscular than other lifters, Klokov who is also very lean and muscular and the lifters from the 70s and 80s.

What do they have in common? Lots of focus on the assistance lifts.

The chinese do a lot of high pulls, push presses as well as “bodybuilding work” like rowing, dips and even some lateral raises and triceps extension.

Klokov mentioned in an interview that he does the actual olympic lifts only once a week. He spends the rest of the week doing assistance work, lots of pulls, lots of push presses, some bench press. He also does a lot of olympic lifting complexes (e.g. 3 high pulls + 1 power snatch; 1 deadlift + 1 power clean + 1 squat clean + 1 push press + 1 jerk, etc.).

Old school olympic lifters did more work in the 3-5 reps range, even on the competitive lifts and did A LOT of assistance work especially a lot of pressing: push press, bench press, incline press, military press.

A “typical” olympic lifting program (Bulgarian-like) where you do very few assistance lifts and keep reps in the 1-3 range will not build that much muscle mass. But if one does a lot of high pulls and pressing on top of the olympic lifts, you can build a very jacked physique.

  1. Training on the olympic lifts improves neural efficiency, which will, over time, improves your capacit to recruit the growth prone fast-twitch fibers. And this capacity will allow you do grow more from your basic stength work.

For hypertrophy, is there a big difference between high pulls from the floor, from blocks or from the hang?

Thank you very much for all you do, CT.

Hi CT,

Could you please suggest how a program like this would look in basics. i.e. a program which includes olympic lifting but with a emphasis on assistance work?

Thanks

[quote]bro1989 wrote:
For hypertrophy, is there a big difference between high pulls from the floor, from blocks or from the hang?

Thank you very much for all you do, CT.[/quote]

Hypertrophy-wise? No. Plus, lifts from the floor are normally technically harder to do properly.

The hang variations are interesting… there seems to be a benefit when doing rhythmic pulls from the hang (using the downward movement of lowering down the bar to re-cock for the next pull). I like to do my singles from blocks, then when I do sets of 2-5 reps I like to do one from blocks and the rest from hang.

[quote]Hull2012 wrote:
Hi CT,

Could you please suggest how a program like this would look in basics. i.e. a program which includes olympic lifting but with a emphasis on assistance work?

Thanks[/quote]

This is outside the scope of a simple Q&A forum

Just to add to what others have said, it’s been stated that the best workout is the one you’ll do consistently. If that’s the case, then for me, Olympic lifting is the best workout. Because Olympic lifting has a high skill component, each workout is a challenge to make sure I’m using good technique. And when I’m having a better than average technique day, the workout is fun. After I workout like this I want to do another the very next day. Lots of people say “I have to workout.” I say “I WANT to workout.”