Help me build a workout plan around Olympic lifts and free weights for burning fat, building muscle...
July 25, 2012 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Working out: Help me build a workout plan around Olympic lifts and free weights for burning fat, building muscle...

I've been working out religiously since the beginning of the year. No, it wasn't a New Year's resolution per se, more like a... "I'm tired of being a tad overweight" kind of thing. I used to weight 180 lbs. in high school. At the beginning of the year, I was 240 lbs at 5'11". Surprisingly, I didn't look overweight as I do have quite a bit of muscle on my body from various outdoor activities, etc. But I did gain some lbs by not working out at all over the last 6 months of last year.

Anyways... long story short, I'm currently utilizing a set of Olympic weights I purchased. I've been pulling down snatches, cleans, and clean and jerk sessions combined with jump rope, some boxing, and various body weight workouts (suicides, burpees, pushups, complete ab workouts). I've dropped roughly 20 lbs, and I've noticeably gained muscle. My diet hasn't been as strict as it should be, so under the current workout routine, I should be able to push on down to 210 if I'm more strict with what I eat.

The problem is... I have no idea how to work out a routine. Obviously, I need to compartmentalize these workouts for regions of the body. I'm not really focusing on groups of muscles every other day. I'm just doing whatever I can when I work out.

At my current rate, I can usually go three days straight before I need to recover, and the third day is normally cardio with boxing and body weight stuff, not really taxing on some of the bigger muscles.

Can anyone point me in the right direction as to how I can lay out an effective workout plan? I would like to add some workouts to my plan as well as I'm mostly doing cleans as a full body workout coupled with shoulder presses and benches, but that doesn't seem like it is enough. Also, I would like some guidance as to how I should break down my workouts every day for each muscle group? Should I be doing arms, shoulders one day, then legs, chest the next? I recall in HS this being one of the methods. In any case, I need some education.
posted by MMALR to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Here are five kick-ass resources that will have these answers. The first three have programs that will directly answer your question by laying out routines for you. The second two are communities and message boards specifically for fitness and strength training:

The New Rules of Lifting by Lou Schuler. Get a copy at your library or for a few bucks on Amazon.

Starting Strength.


John Stone Fitness
posted by MoonOrb at 7:39 AM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Olympic Weightlifting by Greg Everett is the book to get. The above resources are good, but the ones I have read have pretty limited information on Olympic lifts. This book covers everything from form to programs.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:44 AM on July 25, 2012

The Olympic lifts (the snatch and the clean and jerk) are highly technical. They also require specialized equipment when they get heavy -- Olympic barbells and bumper plates that can be safely dropped, as well as a platform on which to drop them. For those reasons they aren't usually part of workout routines for general fitness.

If you're interested in the sport of weightlifting and would like to compete someday, most lifters recommend finding a coach. Check out the USA weightlifting coaching directory. A coach will teach you the lifts and give you a program. Olympic lifters don't typically structure their training around body parts, but around movements. If you want to teach yourself weightlifting, check out Greg Everett's book.

If you just want to look and perform better rather than be an Olympic weightlifter specifically, all of the basic info you need, as well as some recommended programs, are on this page.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:49 AM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not looking to compete. I like those Olympic lifts purely because they work a ton of muscle groups. I have noticed a lot more definition in my body since doing cleans specifically. I may invest in a rack for squats though, but I do wonder about bumper plates, etc. when I get higher gains on cleans, snatches.
posted by MMALR at 8:57 AM on July 25, 2012

Seconding Stronglifts. I have been using Mehdi's Stronglifts plan for nine months and feel great. I am also 5-11 and currently weigh 210. After six weeks I had dropped down to 185 and then steadily built muscle mass back up as I increased the weight I was lifting.

I lead a generally active lifestyle outside of lifting and my day job, so YMMV. I try to do 15-20min of cardio after each workout.

Congratulations on owning your own weights--that will make following the 5x5 routine easier. Eat what you want (within reason), stick to the routine, maybe take a look at the late Kevin Brown's injury prevention checklist now and then.

The community on Stronglifts Inner Circle is also worth the membership fee, in my opinion.
posted by vkxmai at 8:58 AM on July 25, 2012

Guys, none of the 5x5-style workouts focus on Olympic lifts like the snatch and clean.

I'm watching this thread with interest, though; I love Olympic lifting and love the way it makes me feel (especially as opposed to powerlifting-style workouts), but have never been able to find a good program to stick to.
posted by downing street memo at 9:31 AM on July 25, 2012

Nthing the Greg Everett recommendations.

The guys at 70s Big also just recently published a template of training for the O-lifts that might be useful.

Good luck, and enjoy the many snatch jokes that will soon become incredibly banal.
posted by gone2croatan at 10:04 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Background: I have been competing in Olympic lifting (and other strength sports) for about four years now and do a little coaching.

First, I really cannot over-emphasize the importance of getting at least some good basic technique on the Olympic lifts. This is not so you can compete, but so you don't injure yourself. Right now you are feeling good, but if you do the lifts long-term without proper form you can do serious damage to your shoulders and back. Whether through one bad catch or repetitive stress you can end up with something that requires surgery and months of PT. Compound lifts like the Olympic lifts, the deadlift, squat, etc are really good exercises but do require proper form.

Finding a good local coach can be difficult. USAW has a list of clubs here, but that is not a guarantee of quality (especially a risk with Crossfit gyms). The book by Greg Everett munchingzombie recommends is amazing. You can also post videos for feedback on the Pendlay Forums. Glenn Pendlay is an great Olympic lifting coach and also has great instructional videos on the snatch and clean.

For beginner's programs, Everett's book has great programs in it suitable for a beginner.

Online, your best bet is this article by Pendlay. It provides a general guide for building your beginner program as well as an example program at the end.

Everett also provides a wealth of programs on his website. You can find a list of workout cycles here. It can be pretty overwhelming though and none of them are specifically targeted towards beginners. But if you are interested in his programming, I would start with his four-week starter program and follow it with his Classic/Position Cycle. He also posts daily workouts, but they are long-form programs so you don't want to just jump in. He has a database of exercise he and other coaches use.

In Olympic lifting they don't really break training into body parts. You train your body as a whole. Some days might have heavier squats, some might have heavier overhead work, but there is no splitting into body parts. I would throw in bicep curls, tricep extensions, stuff for the "show" muscles after your workouts as you feel like it, no more than twice a week and sets of 3-4x8-12.
posted by schroedinger at 10:20 AM on July 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

As usual, schroedinger and ludwig-van have nailed it. No need for body part splits. Many bodybuilders and powerlifters drop their normal programs for Olympic Weightlifting routines and actually see their bench press and bicep curls go up. (Tommy Kono used to alternative between BB and O training to keep himself fresh in both.)

Remember, keep your reps low but go relatively high on your sets. As these are power moves, it's best to keep things around 3 reps or so. I usually stay between 6-8 sets as others have said above.

Many Crossfit coaches are actually pretty good at coaching Olympic lifting. (Snarky youtube videos aren't the greatest representative.) Keep in mind that Greg Everett was a Crossfit guy for a while. In many cases, Crossfits might be your only option. A lot of Burgener's stuff goes against USAW's Level 1 coaching, but I don't think that's a bad thing. (I improved a lot more after working with a Crossfit guy than a USAW guy. Not everything needs to be broken down into 16 steps.)

As you won't be competing, consider power and hang variations of some of the lifts. What I mean is that sometimes it's ok to start the pull from around bar at knees (depends on lift). Similarly, many people can't receive weights from a full squat, so using a higher positing is ok.

Dan John does a lot of work with power variations. His Olympic instructionals keep things very simple but generally safe. Unfortunately, I don't think Rippetoe's clean instruction in Starting Strength is so great. (The rest of the book is obviously wonderful though.)

Keep in mind, your first goal is safety, then results. If non-Olympic variations are better for your current mobility, then go for them. Everett is very good at going over safe position, so check his videos. Spend the time on getting your mobility and stability up.

If you really want to go true full body, buy a pair of olympic rings and hang them over a tree or something. Start working on ring dips, ring rows, static hold, muscle ups, skin the cat, L-sits and various combinations. I guarantee that will give you the upper body you're looking for. Take your time and you'll see great progress. Slow, steady and safe wins the race in this game. (Progression that is. Keep your snatches explosive.)
posted by Telf at 8:53 PM on July 25, 2012

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