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Guidelines for Competition Preparation

When preparing for a competition, every kilo in training must be done with the aim to increase the competition total. In other words, develop a sound plan or plan to fail. Unfortunately, I see a few of our best lifters have an arbitrary approach where training is more suited to fit their own whims and wills rather than sticking to a sound, plan. I can't begin to count how many times on social media I've seen lifters drive themselves to exhaustion needlessly missing lifts on "max out Friday" or get into a friendly bet with a teammate as to whom can snatch more from the hang, or who can back squat 200 kg for the most reps. The problem becomes training turns into mini competitions with others when it should be solely aimed at improving one's own performance in competition.

First, when training for a competition, you must find how many reps in the snatch, clean & jerk, and supplementary work such as pulls and squats need to be done per week to achieve what your goals are in competition. This is where many lifters like to copy cookie cutter programs of other lifters and coaches. Use these as a guide but a training routine that achieves optimal results for one lifter will not be optimal for others. There have been many lifters in the same weight class who train with very different methods with each achieving optimal results.

Vasily Alexeev preferred to train with lighter weights using many complexes and a variety of exercises..He rarely went above 160 kg for the snatch and 220 kg for the clean & jerk with his best competition lifts being 190 and 256. Leonid Taranenko stuck to training more on the snatch and clean & jerk using less variety and using heavier work loads. His best results were 210 and 266 in competition. If progress became stagnate they both made changes. If progress stalls be flexible and willing to make changes to your training plan.. Your hard work in training should translate to improved performances in competition. if time proves it doesn't look up Einsteins definition of insanity...

There will be some trial and error. However, decades ago the Soviet Union developed a system of training that is unrivaled in weightlifting. This system has influenced numerous countries now dominate in weightlifting especially China. This system allows room for error as well as lifters to train by how they feel on a given day. If they feel good and rested stick to the plan, if feeling tired or rundown change it by decreasing the weight and number of sets and reps done on the lifts. The training plan is highly individualized with exercises that target flaws in technique and weaknesses in specific muscle groups.

A common competition preparatory phase is often broken down into two cycles each lasting 4 weeks. The first 4 weeks are focused on the snatch and clean & jerk along with squats, pulls and other supplementary work. The total number of reps done at or above 80% in the snatch or clean & jerk in the first week are between 20-26 in the snatch, 16-20 in the clean & jerk. For the next 3 weeks the volume of reps done between 80-85% increases 25% so that by the end of the 4th week the total number of reps on the lifts has doubled with the intensity not rising above 85%. During the first 4 weeks, intensity on squats and pulls is higher, with emphasis on increasing strength.

Szymon Kolecki (POL) and Georgie Asadnidse (GEO) training 1 month out from the 2001 Sr. World Weightlifting Championships. Georgie swept all Gold medals in the 85 kg class Snatching 180 kg and a 210 Clean & Jerk. Szymon won overall bronze and gold in the clean & jerk with 230 kg.

The second 4-week phase changes from the first. Intensity for the snatch and clean & jerk increases more frequently to 90% or higher with the totals reps done per week (volume) lowering for the snatch to 15-21 and 12-15 for the clean & jerk. If the intensity increases by 2-3% for the next 3 weeks lower the reps each week by 3-4. The intensity on squats and pulls is reduced to ensure recovery as the main focus becomes increasing performance of the competition lifts. As to what extent the intensity reduces differs. Russia, along with former Soviet bloc countries such as Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia and Kazakhstan have different views on this. The goal isn't to copy what they do but use what they do as a guide to lead you to progress.

At the completion of a full competition phase, a lifter must taper and rest the body while maintaining the condition achieved for competition. How this is done differs between weight classes and genders. In general, it is wise to only perform the minimum amount of training to maintain peak condition while letting the body recover, especially if cutting bodyweight. For lighter weight classes warmups and total number of reps done in a training session while tapering can be 4-6 at 85-90% in snatch, and 2-4 at 85% in clean & jerk. You must be very careful in the clean & jerk as it is much harder on the body when making weight and requires more recovery time regardless of weight class.

Heavier lifters compete last and must save their nerves for the competition. It is foolish to continue lifting maximum weight one week out from a competition due to the physical and mental toll it takes. It takes longer to warm up and train a lifter weighing 140 kilos than one weighing 77. Save your nerves and energy for the competition. There is nothing that builds confidence better than feeling well prepared and rested one week out from a competition.

Lasha Talakhadze (+105kg, GEO) training the week of competition. Total number of reps above 85% is 2-3 in the snatch and 1-2 in clean & jerk.

In conclusion, this example of a competition preparatory has been used by dozens of World and Olympic Champions from numerous countries in Central and South America, Europe and Asia. This is an example. You must find what is most effective for you. This training example gives the lifter the chance to perform a minimum or maximum number of lifts per week depending on how recovery is going. Back off training when needed, push it when feeling good. Find what works and come up with your own plan. This takes a lot of time, but it is worth finding so you can reach your potential in competition.

Article about training from Alexeev's biography.

Documentary on Taranenko.

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