If you’re looking to maximise your snatch, clean & jerk, squat, bench and deadlift (aka your ‘supertotal’) then you’re in exactly the right place. This olympic weightlifting and powerlifting article is going to show you exactly how you can train all five lifts simultaneously whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced-level lifter. We’re gonna cover:

Let’s jump right in.

Person lifting weights

Constructing the Supertotal Programme – 3 Key Principles

1) The Squat Must Increase

The absolute foundation of this supertotal program is squatting strength. Bringing up your squat numbers strongly correlates with increases in the snatch, clean & jerk and deadlift.

To accomplish this we will be squatting 3 times per week. The exact nature of these sessions will depend on your ability. A novice might just do 3×5 and increase the weight each session, whereas an intermediate might run something more like the texas method. An advanced lifter on the other hand might run a percentage-based programme with peaks anywhere between 4 and 12 weeks. (Essentially something like 5/3/1 or Juggernaut 2.0)

2) Weightlifting movements must be practised regularly

Training the 5 movements required in a supertotal program requires a good understanding of SRA curves. If you read that article, then you know that your weightlifting movements (snatches and clean & jerks) have the shortest stress, recovery and adaption cycle. This means that you can, and should, repeat them multiple times per week, as their technical nature requires regular practice in order to optimise.

We will therefore train the snatch, clean & jerk and variants of these as frequently as possible. In the supertotal template below, each lift is practised twice per week.

3) Simplicity is key

When you’re trying to train to be good at five different lifts, you’ve got to be super focused regarding your training. Put simply, your recovery is already going to be pushed pretty hard, so you can’t go throwing a shit tonne of other things into your workouts and expect to make progress.

Every exercise in your programme must serve a specific purpose.

Person lifting weights

The Weightlifting and Powerlifting Programme itself

Step 1) A rough supertotal program template for all levels, we’ll fill in the details later.

Day 1 – Monday

  • Clean and Jerk variations
  • Squat
  • Bench

Day 2 – Wednesday

  • Snatch Variations
  • Squat
  • Press

Day 3 – Friday

  • Squat
  • Bench
  • Deadlift

Day 4 – Saturday

  • Snatch
  • Clean & Jerk

Step 2) Now we fill in the details of your supertotal program depending on your level

Novice Progression

Here’s what your supertotal training program might look like as a novice:

Day 1 – Monday

  • Clean & Jerk variations 3×3
  • Squat 3×5
  • Bench 3×5

Day 2 – Wednesday

  • Snatch Variations 3×3
  • Squat 3×5 (@ 1.25 to 2.5kg more than Monday)
  • Press 3×5 (@ 1.25 to 2.5kg more than last week)

Day 3 – Friday

  • Squat 3×5 (@ 1.25 to 2.5kg more than wednesday)
  • Bench 3×5 (@ 1.25 to 2.5kg more than Monday)
  • Deadlift 1×5 (@ 1.25 to 2.5kg more than last week)

Day 4 – Saturday

  • Snatch 3×2
  • Clean & Jerk 3×2

In the novice supertotal training program your squats can likely increase every session by around 2.5kg. Bench and Press can increase every session by around 1.25kg. (This resembles starting strength) The weightlifting movements will also likely increase each week, though progress won’t always be quite so linear.

If you’re unsure what weights to start on, I recommend picking something that feels moderately challenging, but with plenty of reps in the tank. Linear progressions get hard surprisingly fast, so leave yourself a decent runway.

Intermediate Progression

Your intermediate supertotal program uses a bit more variation within the week:

intermediate supertotal programme

Day 1 – Monday

  • Clean & Jerk variations 4×3
  • Squat 3 to 5 x 5 @ 3RIR (Or 90% of last week’s 5rm)
  • Bench 3 to 5 x 5 @ 3RIR (Or 90% of last week’s 5rm)

Day 2 – Wednesday

  • Snatch Variations: 4×3
  • Squat: 2×5 @ 80% Monday
  • Press 2×5: Moderate difficulty

Day 3 – Friday

  • Squat 5rm
  • Bench 5rm
  • Deadlift 1×5 @ RIR 1-2

Day 4 – Saturday

  • Snatch 3×2 @ 75-85% 1 rep max
  • Clean & Jerk 3×2 @ 75-85% 1 rep max

For the intermediate, powerlifting progress will no longer happen session to session, so we integrate a texas method style system that allows for progress each week. In essence, you’ll do loads of volume at the start of the week, have a recovery day in the middle of the week and then have two intensity days at the end of the week.

Each week on the intermediate supertotal program you’ll aim to beat your previous week’s weights by a small amount (typically 1-3kg) You’ll do this for 4-6 weeks before taking a deload week.

Advanced Supertotal Program Progression

As an advanced lifter, you’ll no longer be able to progress on a weekly basis. You’ll instead follow a periodised supertotal training programme where we manipulate volume, load and rep ranges over a period of 4 to 12 weeks in order to hit a new PR at the end of the cycle.

Advanced supertotal programme progression chart

Here’s an example of what this might look like below:

Your powerlifting work is divided into 3 phases, an 8’s phase, 5’s phase and 3’s phase, each starting at around 3 reps in reserve and pushing towards 1 rep in reserve as you increase the load.

Your weightlifting work is also divided into 3 phases, a more technical phase, a moderate intensity phase, and a high-intensity phase where you focus on heavy singles in the snatch and clean and jerk.

What do you mean by ‘Variations’ of the weightlifting movements?

By variations, I refer to training specific portions of the movement with very clear and defined goals. Some examples include:

  • Using high hang variations to improve the third pull and speed under the bar

  • Using muscle or no contact variations to improve arm positions, turnover and receiving the bar.

  • Using pull variations to work on hip contact and extension

For a full list of variations, I recommend the catalyst athletics video library.

This requires an honest and knowledgeable analysis of your technique so you have two options.

a) Start reading books, watching videos and picking up as much knowledge as possible so that you can identify your own technical issues. (I did this for my first few months whilst I saved up some cash)

b) Invest in a coach who already knows these things and will plan out your programming for you. If this is something that you’re thinking about, then consider checking out my online weightlifting coaching option, as well as my custom programme option.

Rules to Follow for Your Hybrid Programme

Here’s the thing, any time you add extra things into the programming mix, recovery gets that little bit more difficult. If you haven’t yet read my article on recovery then I strongly suggest you open a new tab and do so now.

To give you the basic shorthand version, you need to follow 2 golden rules.

1) Sleep as much as possible

For most people, this means ideally getting 9+ hours on days when you’ve trained, and 8+ hours on rest days.

2) Eat as much as possible (within reason)

Whilst you don’t need to be in a calorie surplus to use this programme, it can certainly help if you’re looking to maximise performance. Generally, I think you should be eating at least 300kcal above your maintenance amount if your goal is to maximise your weightlifting and powerlifting totals.

In other words, you should be gaining weight.

*Pro-Tip: It’s not the end of the world if you lose your abs and gain a bit of fat for a while. Gaining strength and muscle takes time. Losing weight is pretty damn quick. Even if you somehow manage to gain half a stone of fat during the programme, you can lose this in less than a month! And trust me, weighing 90kg with 14% bodyfat still looks a shit tonne more impressive than weighing 70kg with 10% bodyfat.

Weightlifting and Powerlifting Program Frequently Asked Questions

Can I do the weightlifting workouts and powerlifting workouts separately?

You can do the weightlifting and powerlifting workouts separately, but I still recommend doing them on the same day so as not to mess up your recovery. For example. Instead of day 1 being a single supertotal workout of clean and jerk, squat and bench, it could become one short clean and jerk workout in the AM plus a second short squat and bench workout in the PM.

Weightlifter Vs Powerlifter Physique?

Since I’ve gotten about a dozen messages on this, I thought I’d add a little section on weightlifting vs powerlifting physiques, and how they relate to the programme. The long story short is that you’re gonna build a well-rounded, athletic-looking body.

The weightlifting movements are gonna build you some HUGE traps and shoulders, because you’re literally doing maximal intensity shrugs three times per week, plus putting big weights overhead three times per week. Then the powerlifting movements are going to build your chest, legs and back through loads of squats, bench and deadlifts.

Powerlifting and Weightlifting and Bodybuilding Programme?

If you want to throw some extra bodybuilding style work into your olympic weightlifting and powerlifting programme to make a hybrid “powerlifting and weightlifting and bodybuilding program” then feel free.

I tend to find 1-2 isolation-style exercises at the end of a session work great, usually for something in the region of 3-4 sets. All I’ll say is, keep it focused on small muscle groups like biceps, triceps, side delts and rear delts. Don’t go throwing in loads of extra leg work, because you’re already doing a tonne of it with your powerlifting and weightlifting movements.

Or, if you want an olympic lifting and bodybuilding programme, you can check my specific pre-written programme for this right here.

Can you combine Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting?

Yes, you can absolutely combine weightlifting and powerlifting. Powerlifting routines are built around big squats and big deadlifts, both of which are essential parts of weightlifting.

This is why weightlifting and powerlifting hybrid programs work so well.

What is the difference between weightlifting and powerlifting?

The difference between weightlifting and powerlifting is the competition lifts. Weightlifting involves snatch and clean and jerk, whereas powerlifting involves squat, bench and deadlift.

Which is better powerlifting or olympic lifting?

Neither powerlifting or olympic lifting is better, they’re just different sports that complement each other well. By combining powerlifting and weightlifting you’ll build some great strength, as well as some real power and explosiveness.

Next Steps

1) Hopefully you’ve found the article useful, if you did, maybe take a moment to consider joining my mailing list for weekly programmes, workouts and weightlifting tips.

2) Feel free to share the article with anyone you think would benefit

3) If you want to find out more about my weightlifting coaching options, or pre-written weightlifting programmes, you can check out the links there.

‘Til Next Time


Strength coach

Alex Parry, MSc, BA

Alex is the Head content writer and Coach at Character Strength & Conditioning, as well as an Assistant Lecturer and PhD Researcher at the University of Hull.

His experience includes 7+ years within professional strength and conditioning, as well as working as a tutor & educator for British Weightlifting.