Speed and Strength for Olympic Lifting

Posted by Tom Barry on

A weightlifter must have good form on the lifts and a strong squat for leg strength. For speed strength training for the squat use a three-week pendulum wave. Seventy-five percent to 85 percent weights are used for squatting on speed strength day. Other weights are too fast to build strength, meaning under 70 percent. The very heavy squats should be done on max effort day.

Below is a sample squat for a 300-pound max:

Week 1: 75% = 225 lb, five sets of five reps, 25 lifts.

Week 2: 80% = 240 lb, five sets of five reps, 25 lifts.

Week 3: 85% = 255 lb, five sets of five reps, 25 lifts.

Week 4: 75% and repeat wave.

Here is sample for a 600-pound max squat:

Week 1: 75%= 450 lb, five sets of five reps, 25 lifts.

Week 2: 80% = 480 lb, five sets of five reps, 25 lifts.

Week 3: 85% = 510 lb, five sets of five reps, 25 lifts.

Next the Snatch and Clean and Jerk

For the average do 15 snatch and clean and jerk combinations for a three-week pendulum wave using 75, 80 and 85 percent for five sets of three reps in both lifts for a total of 15 lifts and the squats.

An example for a 300-pound snatch or clean and jerk

Week 1: 75% =225 lb, five sets of three reps, 15 lifts

Week 2: 80% = 240 lb, five sets of three reps, 15 lifts

Week 3: 85% = 255 lb, five sets of three reps, 15 lifts

Week 4: 75% = 225 lb, five sets of three reps, 15 lifts

Example for a 400-pound clean and jerk.

Week 1: 75% = 300 lb, five sets of three reps, 15 lifts

Week 2: 80% = 320 lb, five sets of three reps, 15 lifts

Week 3: 85% = 340 lb, five sets of three reps, 15 lifts

This is the recommendation from A.S. Prilepin’s 1974 data.

The highest level lifter can do the max amount of lifts, which is 24 at 70 percent range and 20 at 80 percent range. This is a high-volume training day when the squats and pulls are combined. Remember, just do one weight per workout after a basic warmup.

Next, special exercises must make up no less than 50 percent of your training. Westside suggests up to 80 percent small exercises must be done due to the fact that our weight lifters do not have the proper proportions.

Meaning highest to weight ratios

Let’s look at some workouts to choose from. A.S. Medvedyev had 62 such workouts for the snatch and clean and jerk, and total of 100 for improving the classical lifts. Remember to pick one snatch and one clean and jerk exercise per workout, 15 each.

Clean Exercises

  1. Power clean plus push jerk
  2. Power clean front squat
  3. Power clean front squat then jerk
  4. Power clean bar at knees
  5. Power clean bar at top of thigh
  6. Power clean standing on 2” or 4” box
  7. Power clean
  8. Classic clean
  9. Classic clean front squat plus jerk
  10. Power clean plus push jerk then jerk
  11. Muscle clean standing on a two-inch to four-inch box
  12. Muscle clean plus jerk. Note: do not touch body on muscle cleans.

Snatch Exercises

  1. Power Snatch
  2. Power snatch plus overhead squat
  3. Power Snatch from knee level
  4. Power Snatch from below knee level
  5. Classical Snatch
  6. Classical snatch plus overhead squat
  7. Classical snatch standing on two-inch or four-inch box
  8. Power snatch with close grip
  9. Power snatch starting with leg straight
  10. Muscle snatch
  11. Muscle snatch plus overhead squat
  12. Classical snatch with holds at below and above knee level. Hold for a count of three.

This is a random list to pick and choose from at your discretion.

If you choose to use accommodating resistance, use 50, 55 and 60 percent  in your three-week waves with 25 percent over the barbell at the top of pull. Note: bar must be centered on the platform as to not disturb barbell trajectory. As you can see, this is a high-volume workout. By using so many different exercises you will avoid the law of accommodation, and your form will become better. The max effort workouts will build strength at the critical positions of the Olympic lifts. Both workouts will complement each other. Always push the small single joint exercises with more volume and heavier weights when possible.




Why Periodization?

If one strives to become a highly skilled athlete in today’s competitive sports world, their training must be organized. I hear someone asking for an eight to 12 or 16-week program. Training must be a multi-year plan. Stop to think, high school sports last four years, collegiate also lasts four years and the Olympics are every four years. That means training 52 weeks a year with only competitions breaking up training. An athlete must increase strength, power hypertrophy and endurance as well as perfecting his or her sporting forms. Wester periodization calls for training one task at a time. This type of training is really D training as when one move phase to the next to last block of training loses some of its merit.

Westside used this type of training from 1970-1980. It then found the methods used by the Soviets. Even Verkhoshansky used out-dated training methods that retarded sporting progress. Westside found a system through much experimentation that raises maximal strength and speed strength while building hypertrophy or any special strength desired. It works by using the loading data by A.S. Prilepin and how to distribute the load correctly by A.D. Ermakov and N.S. Atanasov. They show 85 percentof weight should be used most often. This is Westside’s highest volume training weights. It is done in three-week pendulum waves repeated throughout the entire year, year after year. The three-week pendulum is trained at 75, 80 and 85 percent with 25 speed strength squats. This makes it easy to control the volume for a one rep max. The average intensity is 80 percent.


400 lb squat max= 25 times 320 = 8,000= 80%

600 lb squat max= 25 times 480 = 12,000= 80%

800 lb squat max= 25 times 640 = 16,000= 80%

By looking at the volume of an 800-pound max it is two times the volume of a 400-pound max. It is simple math. By knowing this no one will over or under train. Train at your current max, not a hypothetical max, because it is hypothetical at best.

The bar speed should be roughly .8m/s. For speed strength this has lead to six men holding world-record squats and 26 men over 1,000 pounds. Immediately after squats go to 80 percent of your one rep max deadlift and 20 lifts are in order. Most of Westside training is at 50, 55 and 60 percent bar weight with 25 percent at lockout in both the squat and deadlifts. This is accommodating resistance; it is much more productive than barbell weight alone.

This covers power and speed strength. Next is max effort.

Max Effort

Seventy-two hours later is max effort day. Westside works up to a new max each week and breaks a new all-time record at about a 95 percent rate. This system is a combination of the Russian Conjugate system when large and small special exercises are rotated. The large barbell exercises are rotated each week and the small special exercises about every three or four workouts. No notebooks; do it by feel meaning what you need most. When using a barbell exercise at 90 percent or above for three weeks, progress will stop. For weightlifting, Matveyev had 64 exercises to rotate from. Westside has many more for powerlifting. One must choose six or so to rotate from. Why is it also like the Bulgarian system? No weights are used at 90 to 95 percent, but always attempt a new record on a special barbell exercise, power clean, snatch from below knee, rack pull, low box squat, etc. Work up to a max as fast as possible with as little volume as possible. The total will be the same as speed strength day by the large amount of small special exercises. The ratio for both days is 20 percent barbell and 80 percent small exercises.


The muscle building comes from the 80 percent small exercises training. A lot of single joint work like arm and back extensions are done in very high volume. Belt squatting and reverse hypers are done for back, hip and hamstrings plus glutes as they act as traction for restoration. I hope you can see by using the Westside system you can improve year in and year out in all facets of training. It is based on mathematics.

A training day turns into a weekly, monthly, yearly and finally into a multi-year plan. Learn to train, recover using a special exercise, then remove it and go to a new one for greater stimulus. One must find new methods and exercises continuously. By rotating exercises a transition period will take place. This means you should never go backwards, but continuously gain in any special strength including endurance as well as perfecting your sporting technique through practice and special exercises for strength. All the while, your general physical preparedness will increase with this system. One can raise any special strength, even during track season if you reduce some of the needless running. My conclusion? Without a plan you plan to fail.






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