As a weightlifter, and as a coach, one of the biggest things I obsess over is my (and my lifters) training programmes, I want to make sure we’re getting to our goals as quickly, and efficiently, as possible.

Call me impatient, but I don’t want to follow a 16-week long weightlifting programme just to see if my snatch or clean and jerk has increased. That might make sense for an advanced lifter, but for almost everyone else it’s just a massive waste of time.

Enter, the 3-Week ‘No-Nonsense’ Olympic Weightlifting Programme.

olympic weightlifting programme

Who’s it For?

I designed this programme to work for the VAST MAJORITY of lifters.

It’s NOT for people who are complete novices (less than 8 weeks experience) who are still learning the absolute basics of the lifts. Nor is it for beginners who are still progressing every session.

And it’s NOT for people slamming double bodyweight clean and jerks and pushing for a spot at the world championships.

It’s for those people in between, the pesky intermediates. Not new enough to be hitting PR’s every session, but not advanced enough to benefit from super-long, overly complex programmes.

Defining Classes and Ability Level

Just as a quick side-note, I’m often asked ‘how do I know if I’m a beginner, intermediate or advanced lifter?’ Historically, soviet ranking systems were based on your competitive total (the same as you might have seen in Bob Takano’s books)

Personally, though, I tend to fall more into the Glenn Pendlay way of thinking. Your ability level is determined by your ability to recover and PROGRESS, rather than on the weights you lift.

So if you can recover and progress every single session, you’re a beginner. If you can progress every week or fortnight, you’re an intermediate, and if it takes you multiple months to progress, you’re an advanced lifter. Simple.

The Goals of the Programme

I find it hilarious when the programmes I see online claim to be pursuing 6, 7 or 8 goals at the same time. Like, good luck with that. With the 3 week ‘no-nonsense’ weightlifting programme, everything is laser-focused

Goal 1: Increase Your Maximal Snatch and Clean & Jerk (Classic Lifts)

Fundamentally, weightlifting is a simple sport, you perform two lifts for maximal weight, and so the goals of any programme should reflect that. This programme’s number one goal is to make you better at lifting heavy weights in the snatch, clean and jerk.

Goal 2: Increase Maximal Strength

More specifically, increase maximal leg strength, pulling strength, and overhead support strength. Weightlifting is very much a strength sport, and as an intermediate level lifter, you’ve still got plenty of strength development to be had.

strength coach weightlifting

About the 3-Week ‘No Nonsense’ Weightlifting Programme (Frequency)

The programme is based on a 4 day per week training plan. (Ideally with workouts on Mon-Wed-Fri-Sat) Snatch, Clean and Jerk movements are performed three times per week, leg and pulling strength movements are performed twice, and overhead strength movements are performed once.

About the 3-Week ‘No Nonsense’ Weightlifting Programme (Exercise Selection)

Whilst the Chinese weightlifting team might have a list of 344 exercises to choose from, chances are you’re not lifting like Shi Zhiyong or Lu Xiaojun. For us intermediates, you want as little variation as possible, literally just enough to address technical issues and provide a stimulus for progress. The programme is written with this in mind. In short, there’s no ‘fluff.’

About the 3-Week ‘No Nonsense’ Weightlifting Programme (Volume and Intensity)

At it’s core, the programme is a condensed linear training block. It starts with more volume and less intensity, and ends with less volume and more intensity. The main difference is that the degree to which these vary across the 3 weeks is far smaller than you would see in longer, more complex programmes. It varies just enough to get you progressing.

About the 3-Week ‘No Nonsense’ Weightlifting Programme (Strength Lifts)

The programme includes back squats, front squats, clean pulls, snatch pulls, push presses and pull-ups. Everything an intermediate needs to increase their maximal strength.

I Present…

The 3 Week ‘No Nonsense’ Olympic Weightlifting Programme

Week 1:

Day 1

Snatch 3×3 @ 70%

2 Hang Clean + 1 Jerk. 4 Sets at 75%

Clean Pulls 4×3 @ 100% of Clean

Back Squats 4×5 @ RPE 8

Day 2

Hang Snatch 4×2 @ 75%

Clean & Jerk. 3×2 @ 70%

Snatch Pulls 4×3 @ 100% of Snatch

Day 3

Snatch. 3×2 @ 80% +

Clean & Jerk 3×2 @ 80% +

Front Squats 4×3 @ RPE 8

Day 4

Push Press 5×5 @ RPE 8

Pull-Ups 4 x Max Reps
Core & Stretch

Week 2:

Day 1

Snatch 3×2 @ 75-80%

2 Hang Clean + 1 Jerk. 3 Sets @ 80-85%

Clean Pulls 3×3 @ 105% of Clean

Back Squats 3×5 @ RPE 9

Day 2

Hang Snatch 3×2 @ 80-85%

Clean & Jerk. 3×2 @ 75-80%

Snatch Pulls 3×3 @ 105% of Snatch

Day 3

Snatch. 3×1 @ 90% +

Clean & Jerk 3×1 @ 90% +

Front Squats 3×3 @ RPE 9

Day 4

Push Press 4×5 @ RPE 8-9

Pull-Ups 4 x Max Reps
Core & Stretch

Week 3:

Day 1

Snatch 3×1 @ 85-90%

Clean & Jerk. 3×1 @ 85-90%

Clean Pulls 2×2 @ 110% of Clean

Back Squats 2×5 @ RPE 7 (Move With Good Speed)

Day 2

Snatch 3×1 @ 80%

Clean & Jerk. 3×1 @ 80%

Day 3

Snatch Max

Clean & Jerk Max

Front Squats Heavy Set of 3 @ RPE 9.5 to 10

Day 4

Push Press 3×5 @ RPE 9

Pull-Ups 4 x Max Reps
Core & Stretch

Is it Okay to Change Volume and/or Intensity?

Yes and No. I would say aim to run the programme as written at least once before changing anything. If, after that, you feel like you need to make slight adjustments for you (for example, adding a couple of extra sets if you’re a lighter, female lifter with good work capacity) then go for it.

What Do I Do After This Programme?

The simplest answer is to repeat it, using percentages based on your new maxes. Remember, you’ll essentially be able to run this programme 4 or 5 times in the time it would’ve taken you to to run one of those 16-week programmes.

If you’re feeling fresh, you can jump straight into the programme again, or, if you’re feeling a little beaten up, you can take a back-off/deload week. This would look like week 1, but with half the number of sets and 10-20% reductions in weights used.

Can I Ask You Questions About the Programme?

Sure thing, if you’re unsure about anything just drop me a message,

That’s it for today, give the programme a try and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how your classic lifts and strength improve.

Or, if you’re looking for something more personalised, you can look at coaching options here.

‘Til Next Time


strength coach

MSc Strength & Conditioning

British Weightlifting Tutor & Educator