• Alex Parry Weightlifting Coach

Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting Programme

Updated: Apr 12, 2021

If you’re looking to maximise your snatch, clean & jerk, squat, bench and deadlift (aka your ‘supertotal’) then you’re in exactly the right place. This article is going to show you exactly how you can train all five lifts simultaneously whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced level lifter. Also, if you're interested, I've put together a free 40 minute training video on how to Get Stronger, Look Great & Avoid Injuries which you can check out here.

weightlifting and powerlifting programme

Constructing the Supertotal Programme – 3 Key Principles

1) The Squat Must Increase

The absolute foundation of the programme is squatting strength. Bringing up your squat numbers strongly correlates with increases in the snatch, clean & jerk and deadlift.

To accomplish this we will be squatting 3 times per week. The exact nature of these sessions will depend on your ability. A novice might just do 3x5 and increase the weight each session, whereas an intermediate right run something more like the texas method. An advanced lifter on the other hand might run a percentage based programme with peaks anywhere between 4 and 12 weeks.

2) Weightlifting movements must be practised regularly

If you’ve read my article on SRA curves then you know that the weightlifting movements have the shortest stress, recovery and adaption cycle. Their technical nature requires regular practice in order to optimise.

We will therefore train the snatch, clean & jerk and variants of these as frequently as possible. In the template below, each lift is practised twice per week.

3) Simplicity is key

When you’re trying to train to be good at five different lifts, you’ve got to be super focused with regards to your training. Put simply, your recovery is already going to be pushed pretty hard, so you can’t go throwing a shit tonne of other things into your workouts and expect to make progress.

Every exercise in your programme must serve a very specific purpose.

Weightlifting snatch

The Weightlifting and Powerlifting Programme itself

Step 1) A rough template for all levels, we’ll fill in the details later.

Day 1 - Monday

Clean and Jerk variations



Day 2 - Wednesday

Snatch Variations



Day 3 - Friday




Day 4 - Saturday


Clean & Jerk

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Step 2) Now we fill in the details depending on level

Novice Progression

Day 1 - Monday

Clean & Jerk variations 3x3

Squat 3x5

Bench 3x5

Day 2 - Wednesday

SnatchVariations 3x3

Squat 3x5

Press 3x5

Day 3 - Friday

Squat 3x5

Bench 3x5

Deadlift 1x5

Day 4 - Saturday

Snatch 3x2

Clean & Jerk 3x2

For the novice, squats can likely increase every session by around 2.5kg. Bench and Press can increase every session by around 1.25kg. The weightlifting movements will also likely increase each week, though progress won’t always be quite so linear.

Intermediate Progression

Day 1 - Monday

Clean & Jerk variations 3x3

Squat 3 to 5 x 5

Bench 3 to 5 x 5

Day 2 - Wednesday

Snatch Variations 3x2

Squat 2x5 @ 80% Monday

Press 2x5 Moderate difficulty

Day 3 - Friday

Squat 5rm

Bench 5rm

Deadlift 1x5

Day 4 - Saturday

Snatch 3x2

Clean & Jerk 3x2

For the intermediate, strength progress will no longer happen session to session, so we integrate a texas method style system that allows for progress each week. In essence we do loads of volume at the start of the week, have a recovery day in the middle of the week and then have an intensity day at the end of the week.

Advanced Progression

As an advanced lifter, you’ll no longer be able to progress on a weekly basis. You’ll instead follow a percentage based programme where we manipulate volume, load and rep ranges over a period of 4 to 12 weeks in order to hit a new PR at the end of the cycle.

One example might be a 10’s phase, 5’s phase and 3’s phase with rep maxes at the end of each phase. This is pretty much the LSUS and Juggernaut 2.0 system.

What do you mean by ‘Variations’ of the weightlifting movements?

By variations, I refer to training specific portions of the movement with very clear and defined goals. Some examples include:

  • Using high hang variations to improve the third pull and speed under the bar

  • Using muscle or no contact variations to improve arm positions and turnover

  • Using pull variations to work on hip contact and extension

This requires an honest and knowledgeable analysis of your technique so you have two options.

a) Start reading books, watching videos and picking up as much knowledge as possible so that you can identify your own technical issues

b) Invest in a coach who already knows these things and will suggest which exercises to do. [For online weightlifting coaching click here]

Rules to Follow for Your Hybrid Programme

Here's the thing, any time you add extra things into the programming mix, recovery gets that little bit more difficult. If you haven’t yet read my article on recovery then I strongly suggest you open a new tab and do so now.

To give you the basic shorthand version, you need to follow 2 golden rules.

1) Sleep as much as possible

For most people, this means 9+ hours on days when you’ve trained, and 8+ hours on rest days.

2) Eat as much as possible (within reason)

Whilst you don't need to be in a calorie surplus to use this programme, it can certainly help if you're looking to maximise performance. Generally, I think you should be eating at least 500kcal above your maintenance amount if your goal is to maximise your weightlifting and powerlifting totals.

In other words, you should be gaining weight.

*Pro-Tip: It’s not the end of the world if you lose your abs and gain a bit of fat for a while. Gaining strength and muscle takes time. Losing weight is pretty damn quick. Even if you somehow manage to gain a half a stone of fat during the programme, you can lose this in less than a month! And trust me, weighing 90kg with 14% bodyfat still looks a shit tonne more impressive than weighing 70kg with 10% bodyfat.

Weightlifter Vs Powerlifter Physique

Since I've gotten about a dozen messages on this, I thought I'd add a little section on weightlifting vs powerlifting physiques, and how they relate to the programme. The long story short is that you're gonna build a well-rounded, athletic-looking body. The weightlifting movements are gonna build you some HUGE traps and shoulders, because you're literally doing maximal intensity shrugs three times per week, plus putting big weights overhead three times per week. Then the powerlifting movements are going to build your chest, legs and back through loads of squats, bench and deadlifts.

Powerlifting and Weightlifting and Bodybuilding Programme?

And yes, if you want to throw some extra bodybuilding style work into your olympic weightlifting and powerlifting programme then feel free. I tend to find 1-2 isolation style exercises at the end of a session work great, usually for something in the region of 3-4 sets. All I'll say is, keep it focused on small muscle groups like biceps, triceps, side delts, rear delts. Don't go throwing in loads of extra leg work, because you're already doing a tonne of it with your powerlifting and weightlifting movements.

Is This A Supertotal Programme?

Another question I keep getting asked. Yep. Supertotal just refers to the combination of your snatch, clean & jerk, squat, bench and deadlift, all of which get plenty of work in this programme.

Time to go train

Alright, enough reading. You’ve found a good programme. It works. It’s been tested on dozens of people. It’s based on programmes that have worked for thousands of people.

No more mental masturbation.

It’s time to take action.

1) Copy this programme into your journal or an excel spreadsheet and start following it.

2) Get in touch using the form on this page if you want some coaching

3) If you have any extra questions about the programme, email alex@characterstrength.co.uk and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Let’s go lift some heavy shit!

Your Coach


#olympicweightliftingandpowerliftingprogramme #supertotal #supertotalprogramme #powerliftingandweightlifting

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