3 Reasons Why Coaches Should Program Weightlifting More Frequently (and How)

Like any skill-dependent sport, Olympic weightlifting demands high degrees of motor control, neurological stimulation, and force capacities. While advancements can surely be made training the formal lifts (snatch, cleans, and jerks), many lifters can benefit from training weightlifting specific movements more frequently.

Here’s why.

Skill Development

At a recent discussion with Max Aita of Juggernaut Training Systems, the concept of Stimulus, Recovery, Adaptation (SRA) was discussed, specifically when addressing technique in Olympic weightlifting. Due to the motor patterning, speed component, proprioception, and technical mastery needed to execute a lift, weightlifting programs should employ snatches, cleans, and jerks (and/or their variations) frequently, as in nearly every day.

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Because weightlifting is dependent on bar patterning and an awareness of the relationship between the barbell and lifter, athletes need to see technical and strength workouts for weightlifting as two separate entities to best maximize performance. Much like other skill-based sports (baseball, track and field, etc) technique must be constantly trained to allow for the expression of an athlete’s maximal capacity.

Address Specific Faults

There are very few recreational lifters (basically everyone who does not receive compensation for their weightlifting efforts) out there who have perfect technique. Training less frequently will impede the coach’s and athlete’s ability to not only program specific drill and technical work for the athlete, but also train the fuller versions of the lifts as well (which should be done on a regular basis to increase the training program’s application to competition). Increasing the frequency at which one can train (even if only 20-30 minutes) can have a significant impact on a lifter’s technique and skill mastery.

Enhanced Movement and Mobility

Like most mobility and movement practices, acute effects can compound into long-term adaptations. Likewise, in the event you stop and don’t move in similar patterns, movement specificity is lost.

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By including drills that express full range of motion and control (or mobility and corrective exercises set to address deficiencies), lifters can potentially speed up a their timeline to success.

How to Program Weightlifting More Frequently

Below are four ways coaches and athletes can program more weightlifting derived movements into daily routines.

1. Varied Intensities

In a recent article I discussed how coaches and athletes can manipulate relative training intensities to have lighter, moderate, and higher intensity loading days. By cycling the intensities, specifically implementing more lower intensity training (70-75% of rm) you can increase a lifter’s technique, speed, barbell awareness, and even work capacity.

2. Complexes

Complexes are a great way to build in lifts and movements that can address a lifter’s individual issues, yet still tie the partial lift into the fuller, competition version. By including complexes, such as these one’s for increased confidence and technique, you can increase a lifter’s exposure to sound barbell patterning, acceleration, and address their individual concerns more frequently.

3. Weightlifting Assistance Exercises

Assistance training, specifically movements that affect positioning  in the snatch, clean, or jerk, can be added into other non-weightlifting intensive days to develop positional strength, awareness, and confidence. Movements like behind the neck push presses, high pulls, and belt squats can all lead to muscular development and can positively impact movement patterning.

Final Thoughts

While many athletes have conflicting schedules that may not allow for daily and/or almost daily training, coaches and athletes should do their best to program weightlifting specific movements as frequently as possible to best address individual limitations and needs.
Additional resources, such as weightlifting articles, videos, and athlete/coaching forums set out to analyze technique to teach lifter’s outside of the gym can also be a very helpful training tool.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured Image: @mikejdewar on Instagram

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Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.