A Beginner Olympic Lifting Program

STACK Expert Dr. Matt Tanneberg gives beginners the right way to learn and perform Olympic lifts.

This beginner Olympic Lifting program is ideal for someone who has never performed Olympic style lifting before. It incorporates many of the major lifts associated with traditional Olympic lifting and is structured to allow athletes to learn the movements.

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With this regimen, you perform all the exercises circuit style. Instead of going heavy, initially you need to focus on getting form and range of motion spot on. Each of these exercises reinforces critical Olympic lifting movement patterns, such as the hip hinge, triple extension or the lifts themselves.

Clean Form

Why the circuit? Isn't that for conditioning? Well yes, that's true. But for this circuit, we want you to focus on getting in as many reps as possible to practice the movement and help your body learn the fundamentals. Once you are stable and feel comfortable going through the lifts, you can start to ramp up the weight and perform Olympic lifts in the traditional manner—i.e., completing each exercise on its own at the beginning of a workout. Never rush into a new exercise without first perfecting the lift. If you do, you will put your body at a higher risk of injury, especially if you try to increase the weight too soon. Never compromise technique to add more weight.

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For true beginners, start with no weight at all—use a PVC pipe. Build yourself up to completing the entire regimen with a barbell, and eventually ramp the weight up as much as possible—after you have perfected your form.

However, the nice thing about this workout is that it can also be scaled for more advanced lifters. If you can already use a decent amount of weight, this will provide a brutal conditioning effect.

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Instructions: Perform the exercises consecutively in a circuit, resting for 60 seconds after the last exercise. Repeat. Perform each exercise for six reps.

  • Deadlifts
  • Cleans
  • Front Squats
  • Snatches
  • Overhead Squats
  • Back Squats

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