Olympic Lifting Max Effort

Olympic Lifting Max Effort

Below are max-effort workouts that will surely raise your lifts. It is very important to max out as often as possible, as you know this was the method the world renown Bulgarians used that produced Naim Suleymanoglu. The Olympic champion Vomi Zatsiorsky says the maximal effort method is superior to all others for improving both intramuscular and intermuscular coordination.


The muscles and CNS adapt only to the load placed on them. The max-effort workout calls for working up to a new max even by five pounds a month. This would add up to 60 pounds a year. For the first, the snatch-grip deadlift, use straps as the weights grow to a max, if needed. Stand on the floor and work up to a max single.

The Soviets and Westside only count an all-time record. This accounts for about 600 new records in a yearly plan. The Bulgarians would count the largest possible weights on a daily basis. That could amount to 4,000 lifts in their yearly plan.

The second special exercise is the power clean with straight legs and not allowing the bar to touch the body. You must keep records on all lifts, and always break a record. Remember, don’t get greedy, get a small record and move on to the new special exercises.

The third special exercise is a high-box squat where you can handle about 100 pounds over your best full squat. One can max out on a back, front or overhead squat. If you like, use a power rack and set the pins, then crawl under the bar and squat the weight off a set pin high for a record.

For the snatch grip deadlift and straight leg muscle up and power clean you can stand on a two-inch or four-inch box for a greater variety of possible special barbell exercises. Don’t worry about your technique as special barbell exercises have no ill effect on coordination, timing or sporting technique. You must get accustomed to lifting all-time records constantly in training.

The exercises must switch each week to avoid the law of accommodation. It was the basic theory of the Bulgarian team, but with less special exercise. Westside uses many special exercises and methods to switch from. This was the Soviet method, so Westside’s method is a mixture of both the Russian and Bulgarian systems.



More Olympic Max Effort Workouts

Let’s look at isometric training. In the 1960s isometric training was very popular due to Bob Hoffman, the founder of the famous York Barbell Club, plus names like Bill March, Phil Grippaldi and the rest of the York gang. Isometrics were done in a special rack. It was designed to lift a barbell at a set position on a pin and lifter concentrically to a second pin and held for three to six seconds.

This was known as the Hoffman method. Isometric means constant length. This is a plus as it caused little inflammation due to no eccentric or concentric actions. Isometric actions will radiate 15 degrees in both directions. This means for all cleans, snatches or deadlifts six positions can be utilized.

For the Olympic lifts it is common to do holds at floor level, mid-shin, at knee and at the second pull position. One of the four mentioned York lifters, Joe Dube was the last U.S. lifter to win a world championship in 1968. Coincidence or training methods? Joe was very strong and isometrics is how absolute strength is measured.

Now the workout: Start at floor level and pull on a non-moveable bar for three sets of five exertions for three to five seconds. Next, repeat at mid-shin, then above knee and finally at top of thigh or second pull position. This accounts for 60 max efforts with a clean or snatch grip. Note: this is a plus for a coach or your training partner to analyze your technique.

            After initially starting to pull on the barbell, pull yourself into perfect pulling position to best utilize the correct muscles at those precise angles. Westside recommends maximum exertions on each repetition. It is very important to train all realms of muscle actions eccentric, concentric and static.

Now it is time to lift a loaded barbell from floor level up to a preset pin at knee level, above knee or at second pull position and hold the barbell against the pin for three to five seconds. Always try to hold heavier weight against the pins with perfect form.

            Squats and presses have also been employed in other workouts. Explosive movements like jumping can finish the workout. Isometric training has said not to be used on novices, but Westside has trained 16-year-old track girls isometrically with only positive results. Y.V. Verkhoshansky notes the pro’s and con’s of training isometrically.


  1. One only uses a barbell and a power rack. If training only floor level, load a barbell to a weight you cannot move and perform the isometrics.
  2. One can train at specific joint angles.
  3. It takes little time to do the sets.
  4. There is no increase in muscle mass.
  5. It is easy to perfect form and builds the kinesthetic retention in the positions needed in the dynamic regime.


  1. Isometric exercises can fatigue the CNS. and can be stressful on the cardiovascular system.
  2. If only isometrics are used, one can lose coordination and speed of movement and possibly lose the elasticity of the muscle. This means to do active work after isometrics, and use proper uniform breathing and do relaxation after workouts.

For more sample max effort workouts look below. Here is a list of fundamental special strength exercises in groups for rotating workouts for max effort.

Workouts for the Snatch

  1. Power snatch with barbell above knee in starting position. Power snatch standing on a box. Squat by lowering 80 percent slowly and raising fast with 60ercent. Use weight releases or have spotters strip 20 percent off bar before rising as fast as possible.
  2. Power Snatch, leg straight, lean over. Snatch pull from the floor. Snatch pull up to knee level. Push jerk.
  3. Three-phase snatch, pull snatch pull, pull snatch pull, from below knees. Plus, snatch pull from above knees. Snatch pull plus classic snatch. Overhead squat with snatch grip.
  4. Push-jerk from behind head plus squat. Power clean from above knees six-inch box squat with long relaxed pause.
  5. Half-jerk plus full jerk off stands. Power clean standing on box. Power clean then squat. Power clean squat then jerk.
  6. High box squat at least 100 pounds over best front or back squat. Work up to max five reps in arched back Goodmorning power clean with bar at top of legs off boxes or pins. Always push back raise, calf ham-glute raise up in volume and intensity. Belt squat or pull weight sled.

The above is just an example of workouts for max effort. Always note each week and keep careful records and break new records. Remember, even if you break a power clean record by five pounds a month, it is 60 pounds a year. This is easy to do when you choose the correct rotation. Why work up to 85 or 90 percent of a one-rep max when you can consistently lift over 100 percent just like the Bulgarians?

A sample week

  • Speed squat and pulls thru max effort Sunday.
  • Small special exercises for back and legs Monday.
  • Max effort Tuesday.
  • Plus two to four small GPP workouts during the week.





Search The Blog
Like What You're Reading?

Sign up for our newsletter and get new articles sent straight to your inbox weekly.

Search The Blog
Like What You're Reading?

Sign up for our newsletter and get new articles sent straight to your inbox weekly.