Most lifters know that while you are on a high volume squatting or strength phase your snatch and clean and jerk are likely to go down temporarily. Of course when you recover from the intense strength work your lifts usually take a jump and more than recover any lost ground.
While practice on the snatch and clean and jerk is important, don’t forget that strength increases are the real driver of long term progress in weightlifting. The competitive lifts are often talked about in terms of their relationship with the squat, and it is safe to say that no one will ever snatch or clean and jerk more than they squat. Both competitive lifts will always be a PERCENTAGE of your squat, and that percentage will never be equal to or greater than 100%. Usually about 65% for the snatch and 85% for the clean and jerk are thought of as the maximal efficiency that a lifter can achieve.
As your strength increases, so does your POTENTIAL for a big total in weightlifting. But the temporary decrease numbers for the competitive lifts while you are on an intense strength cycle seems to make some coaches shy away from programming a lot of strength work. You see this most often in online programs like Train Heroic. While some of t he weightlifting programs (like the california strength programs) are great, there are some have a real lack of strength training to go along with the technical work. While this is a great way to drive progress for a short time, for the long term it falls short.
If you are following an online program, ask yourself what percentage of the work is geared to strength development, and what percent is geared towards technical improvement? A good way to quantify this is to look at the amount of time you spend on the snatch and clean and jerk vs. the amount of time you spend on squatting and other strength work. If you are spending an hour training the snatch and clean and jerk, then only half that long doing strength work then there is something wrong.
A good rule of thumb is that during most phases of training you should spend AT LEAST as much time on squatting and other strength exercises as you do practicing the snatch and clean and jerk and other related lifts. Make sure the coach who is writing your programming is not sacrificing long term progress for short term gains.
If the program you are on is only geared toward technique and gives the acquisition of strength the short end of the stick, then take a hike and find another program. There are plenty of good programs out there!
The most important thing you can accomplish as a beginner is to build great motor patterns. This is priority number one. I believe in lots of drilling as a beginner, and a great way to accomplish this is with EMOM sets. The beginners group that I program for online does up to 18 minutes of EMOM work per lift every Monday, and this is a big part of the program. You have to keep the intensity between 70 and 80% but even at these percentages EMOM sets can be a challenge. And as I have written before, in an EMOM set the fatigue works with you, and not against you. The fatigue actually helps you refine the movement over the course of the workout.
The second most important thing is the workload. This is not only built with the weightlifting movements but also with a large variety of assistance movements concentrating on the muscles that are important in weightlifting. I am of course talking about the hips, the hamstrings, and the back. On my X-Files program we do between 80 and 100 reps of things like glute ham raises, back raises, reverse hypers, and various rowing motions every training day. We usually put this in its own workout, and many lifters choose to do the first workout, rest an hour or two, then come back and finish the accessory work.
Strength is of course important, but I find that by doing plenty of work on the classic lifts then doing a large amount of work on assistance exercises you not only develop a large work capacity but strength increases almost as a by-product.
Accomplishing this as a beginner will set you up to continue making great progress as an intermediate and advanced lifter.
Are you setting yourself up for success? If you are not sure, look at my X-Files program.
No one wants to be labeled a beginner. No one wants to do a beginner program. But skipping agead to an intermediate or advanced program WILL NOT make you progress faster. In fact it will slow down your progress, and could even decrease your long term potential for attaining a high total.
The first 6 months of your weightlifting career are when you should be building good motor patterns that will last throughout your career. These months are also when you will build most of the work capacity that will become so valuable in the years to come.
The beginner period is one of the most difficult periods in terms of training intensity. You will be doing a TON of work. In my X-Files program the only athletes who have ever thrown up have been on the beginner program. This has not happened on the intermediate or advanced program. The whole training program is fast paced and a high workload, but the beginner program is definitely HARDER than the other programs.
The drop-out rate is high, but if lifters can make it through the first 4 weeks they usually are able to stick with it for the long term and become intermediate lifters, and even advanced lifters. They and up winning, first on the local level, then the national level.
Do you have what it takes?