Leo Hernandez


Leo Hernandez is a 26 year old lifter who was born in Cuba.  He began weightlifting in the Cuban sports system.  He began training at age 9, he says he would go to school for half the day then after school the weightlifters were picked up by the coach and driven to the weightlifting training center.  He says they trained 2 or 3 yours, but the training in Cuba for lifters that young did not emphasize heavy weights at all, nested they were “graded”  on their technique.

Leo says that the program was very well rounded, and emphasized GPP and lots of basic physical skills designed to prepare the kids for the heavy specialized training they would have to do as teenagers.  There were lots of sprints and jumping, and a lot of different variations of the snatch and clean and jerk.    Leo entered a sports school at age 12, and at that time his training increased to 6 days a week.  At the sports school, the athletes went to school for only half a day, from 8 am till noon, then the afternoons were reserved for training.

While in this training camp the athletes followed the Russian school of lifting using a very periodize approach, lots of volume, and a large variety of exercises.  Leo says he make good progress every year till he was 16 at which point he went into the Cuban military for 2 years.  Once out of the military he opted to go to university instead of taking up his weightlifting training again.

At age 22 Leo immigrated to the USA.  He did not resume his training immedietly though, instead he worked for a couple of years, but people kept asking him about lifting, and why he had given it up.  So, eventually Leo decided to resurrect his career.  He says that starting to train again was the hardest thing he has ever done.  His first competition he snatched 130kg and clean and jerked 156kg.  At the 213 Arnold he lifted 135kg and 165kg, and the next year at the Arnold he increased that to 141kg in the snatch and 170kg in the clean and jerk.  At the 215 Arnold he did 148kg in the snatch and 184kg in the clean and jerk, but bombed out at the 2015 nationals.

The bomb out at nationals forced him to go to a Grand Prix in China to earn a spot on the world team

here is a quick peak at how leo is training for the 2015 Worlds.


Muscle Snatch

70/4 80/3 90 4/2

Push press 2 sec stop in the deep

100/3 110/2 1253/2

Romanian Pull

120 4/6


Snatch + OHS

70/3 90/3 100/2 110 /2 120 2/2

Clean and Power Jerk

100/3 120/3 140/2 147 2/2

Back Squat

140/4 160/3 185/3 200/2 220 3/2

Accessory 20 min


Power Snatch

70/3 90/3 100/2 110/2 115 3/2

Power Clean and Jerk

100/3 120/3 130/2 140 2/2

Clean Pull

170/3 195 3/3

Accessory 20 min


Snatch balance

90/3 110 /3 130/3 145 3/2

Hiper snatch pull

155 3/3

Military Press

100 5/3


Hang snatch

70/3 90/3 110/3 120/2 1302/2

Clean and Jerk

100/3 120/3 130/2 145/2 155 2/2

Front Squat

140/3 165/3 180 4/2

Accessory 20 min


Rest day


Power snatch

70/3 90/3 100/2 1103/1

Snatch Pull

150 3/2

Push press

100/4 120/3 1303/3

Accessory 20 min



70/3 90/3 100/2 110/2 122/2 132 3/1

Clean and Jerk

100/3 120/3 140/2 155/2 162 3/1

Back Squat

160/3 180/3 200/3 215 3/3

Mobility 20 min


Power snatch of the blocks

70/4 90/3 100/2 110/2 1173/1

Power clean and push press

90/3 110/3 120/2 135 2/2

Clean Pull

185 3/3

Accessory 20 min

Jessica Lucero


Jessica Lucero is a 26 year old weightlifter from Florida, and found the sport though the Florida high school program.  Danny Carmargo was her first coach, and he actually worked at her high school in a city funded after school program.  Jessica used to train for the high school sport (which is bench press and clean and jerk) during the school day, then start working with Danny right after school.

She describes her program during that time as very basic, just the competitive lifts and the power versions and squats and pulls 5 days a week.  Jessica says she always had problems doing lifts in competition that she had done in training, and shis is one of the reasons she rarely finished in 1st place.  But in spite of a long like of 2nd and 3rd  place finishes, she continued to improve her total.

Jessica lifted as a 53kg lifter in high school, but became a 58 lifter while going to Northern Michigan for college for now year.  After leaving Northern Michigan, she moved to Idaho for a year, and trained with Michael Conroy.  Eventually she was offered a resident spot at the the training center in Colorado Springs, and she took it.  She trained at the OTC for almost 2 years. then moved to California to train at Catalyst athletics in for a year, then moved back to Florida to live with her parents.

At that point she met her husband and moved with him to Colorado.  She is currently living in California again, staying with her husbands family so that she can train full time.  Jessica has medaled in almost every national meet in 2013 and 2014, but 2015 is her first time winning Senior Nationals.  It was at that meet where she qualified for the World team.

Jessica says that strength has come easy for her, but self confidence and the mental side of the sport has been more difficult.  But she says that her present coach, Aimee Anaya-Everet has been a big help with mental preparation, and she feels that she is in a very good place right now with a lot of self confidence.

Kathleen Winters


Kathleen Winters

Kathleen Winters is 22 years old, and began weightlifting when she was 19.  She has had quick rise in the sport, in fact she might be the least training experience of anyone on this years World Team.  Kathleen is coached by Steve Gough and resides in Montana, where she has resurrected Steve’s old team, Team Montana.

Steve was her first, and so far, only coach.  Kathleen was formerly a high level gymnast, although she is quick to point out that she never made it to the “elite” level in that sport.  She competed in gymnastics from age 2 to age 14, and when she gave up gymnastics, she very quickly found a new activity, Crossfit.  Initially her only interest in weightlifting was as something to help her get better at Crossfit, but her mother decided to enter the world masters games and to qualify she needed a total in a weightlifting meet.  She trained for the meet, but unexpectedly broke her foot the week before.  Since plans had already been made, and the entry fee paid, Kathleen decided to just take her mothers place at the meet.

Kathleen did well at the competition, well enough in fact to qualify for Junior Nationals, the American Open, and Nationals all at once.  After that she started training seriously for the next national meet on the calendar, the 2012 American Open.  Kathleen did well at the Open, totaling 147 which was good enough to earn a Bronze medal in the 53kg class.

While Kathleen had been Crossfitting, Steve had come to the gym where she trains frequently to coach weightlifting classes, so picking him as her coach made sense.  Having discovered that weightlifting was something she was good at and could compete in at a high level she continued to train with Steve Gough about twice a week, he drives down to her gym to watch her biggest training session on Wednesday and Saturday and on the other days she trains alone.

She competed in the next Junior Nationals as a 53kg lifter also.  She earned silver medal at Juniors, and did well enough to qualify for the Junior World team.  She totaled 159kg at Junior Worlds, enough to earn 12th place.  A few months later, she also made the Junior Pan Am team, where she got 2nd place with a 160kg total.  She competed in the 2013 American Open, but unfortunately she bombed out.  Kathleen took some time off after that bomb out, but came back strong for the 2014 nationals, totaling 165kg and placing second.  After Nationals Kathleen got extremely sick which caused her to lose a lot of weight, and force her into the 48kg class.

The new weight class has worked well, she won nationals in 2015 and made the senior World Team.  Kathleen will be competing in Houston in November of 2015 representing the USA at the first Weightlifting World Championships held in the USA in 40 years.

Here is an out like of Kathleen’s training program


front squat, work up to a max double  ( she makes a new PR about once a week)

snatch up to a max for the day (if she feels good, this might be a PR, if not it will always be at least 90%)

clean and jerk up to about 80% for 5 singles


snatch to at least 90%

clean and jerk 10 singles at around 70%


front squat to 90% to 95% for 2 doubles

max effort snatch

max effort clean and jerk

then max snatch again

she sometimes snatches more the second time than the first

then if she is feeling really good, she might take 10 or 15 minutes, then snatch for a third time

Thursday is usually a rest day but sometimes might do a crossfit workout on Thursday, but nothing heavy


front squat to max double

snatch to about 90%

clean and jerk to 85% roughly


snatch to max

clean and jerk to max

go back down to around 85% for 5 to 8 singles on clean and jerk

max snatch again

Sunday  rest

Alex Lee


Alex Lee a 69kg lifter from Chandler, Arizona. Alex started weightlifting in 2005 when he was 16 years old. He was introduced to weightlifting by his high school football coach, and he started training 3 times a week, doing snatches, clean and jerks, and squats.  He recalls that they did a lot of squats, and a program that was very general in nature with a lot of assistance movements, almost like a bodybuilding program.  Alex met Joe Micela at Gold’s Gym, and started training with Joe.

Alex ended up training up to 8 times a week with Joe, and he made a lot of progress. By 2010 Alex had done very well in national competition,  he totaled 275 in the 69kg weight class but cut down to 62kg for collegiate Worlds, and won that meet.  He ended up having a falling out with Joe that year and taking on a new coach, Shahin Nasirinia, a former world champion from Iran who had recently immigrated to the USA.  Nasirinia helped Alex really kick his training into high gear, taking Alex with him to a training camp in Mexico for 4 months where Alex got to train alongside several Olympians.  In 2012 Alex also attended a training camp in South Korea for  for 6 months and he thinks that both international training camps added to his knowledge base and helped him progress along the path to his goals.

Partially because of his attendance in the two international training camps Alex did not compete in 2012 or 2013, but in 2014 he totaled 305kg at 69, then in 2015 he totaled 308 to make the 2015 world team.  Alex was actually a resident at the OTC for about 9 months in 2015, but he ended up going home and training with Shahin again,At this time he is still training with Shahin and will soon compete for the USA  in the 2015 World Championahips.

Alex trains with between 9 and 13 sessions per week, and they only count the volume of lifts above 90%.  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday he does snatch, clean and jerk, squats, and pulls, all over 90% for mostly singles and some doubles, and repeats that basic formula 2 or 3 times throughout the day.  He will often go right up to his max on the snatch and clean and jerk, with up to 95% for doubles on the squat, and up to 110% of his snatch or clean on pulls.  On Tuesdays and Saturdays, he does the power versions of the lifts, but still often does 2 workouts.  On Thursdays he does something different, which could range from just playing basketball or doing sprints, to going to a bodybuilding gym and doing some bodybuilding exercises.  With this schedule and only counting the lifts that are above 90%, Alex often lifts over 5 tons in a day, and over 35 tons in a week.

Jared Fleming


Jared Fleming did what every weightlifter wishes they could go back in time and accomplish, he started at age 10.  And he did not start in a haphazard way, his dad took him to Jim Storch for coaching.  Storch became his first coach, and continued with him until he was12 years old.  Jared still has a ton of respect for Storch, and mentions him frequenttly even today.  At age 12 Jared’s dad took over coaching duties, and continued to coach Jared until he graduated high school.

Starting early and getting great coaching early certainly paid off for Jared as he won Schoolage Naionals that first year at age 12.  He took second the next year, then reeled off a long string of first place finishes that lasted till he ended his school age career.  He also broke the school age record in the snatch and the total.  During this time Jared also played soccer with a Elite traveling squad and wrestled for a year. One interesting thing is throughout this time Jared never trained more than 3 times a week!  Hard to believe in an age where every crossfitter with 6 months experience is training twice per day, but Jared managed to win 5 Schoolage National titles, 3 Junior National Titles, and an American Open title, and was on 2 Junior World teams training only 3 days per week.

Jared attended LSUS right out of high school, training in Louisiana under Kyle Pierce, Jared continued to win.  He racked up a few more victories and accolades while at LSUS.  He made another Junior World team, won another Junior National title, another American Open title, won 3 University National titles, made the senior World Team 2 times (the first time as a junior lifter) and won his first National title, and broke 2 Junior and 1 university national record.  While at LSUS Jared upped his training to 5 times per week, and got a TON stronger.

Currently Jared trains at MDUSA coached by Glenn Pendlay, with his dad still offering advice and helping out at competitions.  Training at MDUSA seems to agree with him, as he has upped his total 16 kilos within his first year in South Carolina.   Since being at MDUSA he has upped his training to 9 sessions per week. During his stay at MDUSA he has won yet another American open and National title, qualified for another world team and broke his first senior american record with a 170kg anatch. Everything seems to be in order for a great World Championships showing.

Here is a look at Jareds workout log.  This is about 4 weeks prior to the 2015 World Champioships in Houston.


1. Snatch sotts press – 50-2×3

2. Snatch – 110-2×1, 130-2×1, 140-2x1x, 150-1, 160-1 (94%), 150-1

3. CJ – 170-1, 180-1, 190-1 (96.4%)

4. Clean Pull – 200-3, 210-3, 215-3

Typically do 2 training sessions on monday with snatch and snatch accessories in the morning and Cj and cj accessories in the afternoon. Just arrived in Houston for a training camp and we only have gym access for 1 training session.

Accessories for back health

1. 1 leg RDL – 30kg – 2×8 per side

2. Suitcase deadlift – 60-2×8 per side


1. Snatch Balance + OHS – 150-1/1, 160-1/1, 170-1/1 (100% of Snatch)

2. Front Squat – 200-3, 215-3

3. RDL – 150-3, 170-3, 190-3

Accessories for back health

1. Lunges (opposite leg then I jerk with) – 70-5, 90-5, 100-5

2. 1 arm walking deads – 20lbs – 2×13 steps per side


1. Snatch – 130-1, 140-1, 150-3×1

2. Snatch Pull – 160-3, 170-2×3

Normally have 2 sessions on Wednesday but I was still in Houston for part of the world training camp so we only had 1 session then had to rush to the airport. Typically I snatch and snatch pull in the morning and do Cj and clean pull in the afternoon.


1. Back Squat – 210-3, 230-3, 240-3* 

*240 is the heaviest Ive squatted since injuring my back in 2013.

2. Jerk Recoveries – 200-1, 220-1

3. Good Morning – 80-3×5

Accessories for back health

1. Lunges (opposite leg then on jerk) – 80-5, 100-5, 110-5

2. Long stretch session in sports medicine


Morning Training

1. Snatch Sotts Press – 50-2×3

2. No hook snatch – 120-1, 130-1, 135-1, 141-1x, 142-1 PR no hook snatch

Afternoon training

1. Snatch – 124-1, 134-1, 144-1, 154-1, 164-1x, 167-1x, 160-1

Normally would do Cj and Clean pull after Snatching but tweaked my wrist on final snatch at 160.


1. Front Squat – 190-3, 200-3, 210-3, 220-3 PR

2. RDL – 170-3, 185-3, 200-3

3. Stretch

Jenny Arthur


Jenny Arthur is from Gainsville, Georgia, and she was introduced to weightlifting while in high school.  Her first coach was Stan Lutrell who was a football coach at the high school Jenny attended.  Matt Mayes also assisted with her early training, which she performed at 6:30 AM along with the football team.  Jenny recalls that there was not a lot of emphasis on using proper technique in her early training, and that training was most often performed with multiple sets of 3 and multiple sets of 5 with around 60 to 70% intensity.

Jenny ran track in high school as well as playing softball  and competing in weightlifting.  she thinks her mental strength is her best quality as a lifter and she credits her parents with that.  She told me that her parents were strong people and they passed that determination on to her

One of her biggest goals as a young lifter was to get to the OTC, and she never even considered any other college program.  Jenny got accepted to the OTC immediately out of high school, but she did start taking college courses at UCCS as soon as she got Colorado Springs.  She is not currently enrolled but she does plan on going back to finish her degree after the 2016 Olympics.

When Jenny got to the training center she says there was a huge increase in training intensity as well as an increased focus on technique.  When she started at the OTC she did experience a few injuries, and she has since learned to hold back in training sometimes, and that you don’t always have to make PR’s.  She learned to, as she calls it “pick her battles”.

Jenny feels like at this point in her career she still needs a lot of technical work.  She is still getting stronger, but not nearly as fast as when she first got to the OTC.  Wile I was at the World Team Camp I watched her break a squat PR that she had set almost 2 years ago, a back squat of 126kg.

Jenny is one of the favorites to make the Olympic team next year, and I wish her the best.

The following is an excerpt from her training log that will help give you an idea of what she does in training.


Snatch balance + squat     35 2/1 50 5/1 65 4/1 75 5/1 85 3/1 90 2/1 95 2/1

Snatch     35/2 45/2 55/2 60/2 65/1

Snatch pulls    45 55 65 75 2 for 2, 3 85 1 for 1

Front Squat     3 95/1 ( 3 singles with 95)

Sots Press in snatch     15/6 25/4 35/4 40/4

Snatch     40/2 50/2 60/2 65/2 65/2 70/2 75/2 80/2   3 83/1

Press in split     30/4 35/4 40/4 45/4

jerks     55 2/2 65 2/2 75 2/2 85 2/2 95 2/2 103 1/1   3 108 1/1   (I believe this means she did 2 sets of 2 with 55, 2 sets if 2 with 65, etc)

Pulls clean     115 3 for 2, 120 2 for 2, 125 1 for 1 (I believe 3 sets of 2 with 115, 2 sets of 2 with 120, and 125 for 1 set of 1)


Back Squat     55/6 75/5 85/4 110/3 125/3 140/2 155/1 165/1 169/1

Power Clean     45/3 60/3 70/3 80/2 90/2 100/1

Power Jerk     45//2 60/2 70/2 80/2 90/2 100/1 105/1 110/1

Jump UP   10X3


Push snatch + squat    35 4+1 45 3+1 55 2+1 65 2+1

Snatch     40/2 50/2 60/2 65/2 70/2 75/2 3 78/1

Snatch pulls   45 2/2 60 2/2 70 2/2 80 2/2 90 2/2 97 2/2 3 102 1/1

Clean pulls   110/2 117/2 122/2 125/2


Front squat    55/3 70/3 85/3 100/3 115/3 125/3 136/1 143/1 148/1

Push press   35/6 45/6 55/4 65/2 70/1

Jump Up     10X3


Drop sn + OHS     30 40 50 60 64 all 2 + 1

Snatch     30/2 40/2 50/2 60/2 64/1

Clean pulls     45 60 70 80 2 for 2, 84 1 for 1

Front squat     3 95/1


Front Squat     65/6 80/5 95/4 110/3 122/3 132/2 142/1

Power Clean   45/2 55/2 65/2 75/2 85/2

Power Jerk     45/2 55/2 65/2 75/2 85/2

Pulls  50/2 60/2 70/2 80/2 90/2 95/2 100/2

Jump Up     10X3

Donovan Ford


While I am at the world team camp for a couple of weeks, I thought I would interview some of the top lifters in the USA.  There are 4 MDUSA athletes on the world team but I thought I would start things out by profiling one of the lifters at the OTC.

Donovan Ford is a lifter that I have liked since way back in my CalStrength days, in fact I tried to convince him to come and train at CalStrength but he ended up at the OTC.  That was probably for the best, because he has done extremely well and has become one of the top ranked lifters in the USA.

Donovan has been lifting for almost 10 years, having started as a sophomore in high school.  He started competing for Hassle Free barbell with Paul Doherty as his coach.  The Hassle Free club is a high school based club so many of the lifters compete in other high school sports, and Donovan played football, as well as competing in track and field.  He played football for 3 years, and did the shot put and disc for one year.

Donovan had the chance to play football in college, but chose weightlifting instead.  One of the reason is that he felt that in weightlifting he could control his own destiny, which was not possible with football.  A sense of self control was important to Donovan, he thinks that was because he grew up in the foster care system and  during his childhood he had very little control over his life.  in high school his training program was usually 5 days per week.  The program looked very “normal” consisting of 3 days a week of snatching, 3 days a week of clean and jerks, and squats and pulls.  He says that he trained particularly hard on the squat, because Paul was determined that none of his lifters would miss lift because of a lack of leg strength.

Looking back on his early training at Hassle Free, Donovan feels like the strong points of that prigram were that he had a well rounded training program, and not a lot of pressure.  He says weightlifting was always fun at Hassle Free, and that is a big reason he fell in love with the sport  Donovan ways Paul Doherty was very good at keeping kids motivated

One of the regrets that Donovan has is that there was not enough focus on proper technique during his first few years of lifting.

Donovans first coach at the OTC was Paul Fleschler, who was there for about 3 months after Donovan got there.  Bob Morris took over the OTC program after that and coached Donovan for about 9 months, then the OTC hired Zygmund Smalcerz, who coached Dovpvan for the next 5 years and is still his coach today.

The training program at the OTC is similar to the program at MDUSA, they train 9 sessions per week, 2 sessions per day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and one session on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  Squatting is done Tuesday Thursday, and Saturday.

I have a sample training program from Donovan so you can get an idea what he is doing at the OTC.  Obviously the program changes from week to week so the weights and the intensities change but this should give you a good general feel for how they train.

Monday   August  5

1. Push-snatch      70/6    90/5    110/4    130/3    145/2   155/1

2.     Snatch hip/knee   50/1/1    70/1/1   90/1/1   110/1/1    120/1/1

3. Pull snatch/snatch box below knee      70/2/2    90/2/2    120/2/2     135/2/2    4/145/2/2

4. Pull snatch/knee                                2/160/1/1    2/170/1/1   2/180/1/1

5. Split squat forward                            120/3    150/3    180/3     200/3    210/3

Tuesday   August   6

1. Press in split    40/6    50/5    60/4    70/3    75/2

2. Jump to split   70/2    100/2    130/2    150/2    170/2

3. Jerk back collors       70/2    90/2    110/2    140/2    160/2    175/2

4. Dip                          185/2    195/2   205/2   215/2

5. Back squat               3/235/3

Wednesday   August    7

1. Clean knee/squat jerk     60/1/2     80/1/2     100/1/2    120/1/2    140/1/2

2. Pull clean/clean below knee/squat/dip        70/1/1/1/1      100/1/1/1/1     130/1/1/1/1    160/1/1/1/1    4/175/1/1/1/1

3. Pull clean down        2/190/2    4/200/2

4. Press in seating snatch grip      60/6    70/5   80/4    90/3   100/2   105/1   3/90/4

5. Rowing         60/6    80/5   100/4   115/3    130/2    140/1

Thursday    August   8

1. Drop bar/squat70/6/1    90/5/1    110/4/1   130/2/1    140/1/1

2. Snatch without moving feet          60/2    80/2   95/2   105/2   115/2   125/2

3. Pull snatch bench                         150/6    160/6   4/170/6

4. Front squat                                140/2    170/2    190/2    3/210/2

Friday   August   9

1. Press in snatch    40/6    50/5   60/5   65/3   70/2

2. Pull snatch/snatch70/2/2    100/2/2    120/2/2   135/2/2    6/145/2/2

3. Press in seating               60/6    75/5    85/4   3/95/3

4. Pull clean/clean/dip           70/2/2/1    100/2/2/1    130/2/2/1    160/2/2/1    6/175/2/2/1

5.Rowing                            70/6    90/5    110/4    130/2    140/1   120/6

Saturday   August  10

1. Press in split     50/6    60/5    70/4    75/3   80/2

2. Jerk in split       80/2   100/2    120/2    135/2    145/2

3. Jerk back/jerk   90/1/1    110/1/1   130/1/1    150/1/1   170/1/1    155/1/1    175/1/1   160/1/1   180/1/1

4. Jerk position     200/2   210/2    220/2    230/2

5. Back squat       200/2    230/2    245/2    260/2

Add in 2 or 3 sessions at sports med for contrast baths, and a massage or two and you have the training program for the USA’s current top 105kg lifter.


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