Stan Luttrell is the head football and weightlifting coach for Chestatee High School in Gainesville, GA. He was my original weightlifting coach and has helped develop me and push me spiritually and physically for 12 years. He has coached multiple National Champions and American Record Holders including Megan Poole and Jenny Arthur. Below are his thoughts toward beginner weightlifters.n

Beginning Olympic Weightlifting


Stan Luttrell

n Olympic weightlifting is a mandatory component of anyone wishing to reach their maximum potential as an athlete. The olympic movements should be the foundation of every quality strength and conditioning program. When I speak of Olympic weightlifting I am speaking of the snatch, clean and jerk, full front squats, and full back squats. The benefits of these exercises are well documented, but just to name a few:n


  • Strong legs, back and shoulders
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  • Develops explosiveness (triple extension)
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  • Enhances athleticism and flexibility (forced flexibility)
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  • Builds coordination, timing, and body awareness (movement)
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  • Maximizes time in gym (total body training)
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  • Injury Prevention (the best way to work stabilization of joint is to stabilize)
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nIn our weight room at Chestatee High School, we have 130 high school students train daily while school is in session. We have athletes from every sport and other students who do not participate in high school athletics. Every student that comes into our weight room goes through the same teaching progression and every year that progression is re-taught during the beginning of each new school year. Our progression begins with all of the squats (body weight, front squat, back squat, and overhead squat) and then moves to the lifts. While teaching the squats many components of the lifts are taught. I will teach footwork (jump stance and squat stance), proper squat depth (crease of hip below the knee), hand placement (clean grip and snatch grip), and how to miss (front squat/clean and overhead squat/snatch). For the lifts we will work top down from the high hang (crease of hip), to hang (top of the knee), to mid chin, and finally to the floor. We will now do all of our lifts from the floor and begin to develop a great starting position off of the floor. I believe that with most beginning lifters they aren’t strong enough or disciplined enough to consistently do the lifts from the hang.
The first program that my students/lifters will do is a simplified progressive program where they will start with a light weight that they know they can do, around 70% for established lifters. The program consists of only core lifts:
Snatch: 5 sets of 3 reps
C&J: 5 sets of 2 reps (we will alternate which leg is forward on the jerk on each rep)
Clean: 5 sets of 3
Back Squat: 5 sets of 5 reps
Front Squat: 5 sets of 3 reps
Press: 5 sets of 5 (exercises here can very dependent on the need between military press, push press, bench press)
We will work out every day that school is in session. The way the workout is put together is dependent on your situation or for me our teaching schedule. At Chestatee we are now on a 7 period day with 50minute classes, which translates into about 35 minutes of actual work time with 5 minutes to dress in for class and 10 minutes to dress out of class. Our weekly schedule for the 7 period day looks like this:
Monday: C&J 5×2 and Back Squat 5×5
Tuesday: Snatch 5×3 and Bench Press 5×5
Wednesday: Clean 5×3 and Front Squat 5×3
Thursday: Snatch 5×3 and Bench Press 5×5
Friday: C&J 5×2 and Back Squat 5×5
With this program once the student/lifter makes all of their sets and reps they will go up in weight 2 kilos on all lifts except Squat and they will go up 5 kilos on squats. They will continue this progression until they can’t make all of their sets and reps. When this happens the student/lifter will have to go down in weight 5k for all lifts except squats and we will take the squats down 10 kilos. This system is great for beginners because to go up in weight they have to make weights and finish workouts. We will do this scheme for at least 4-6 weeks. After 4-6 weeks I will evaluate if the students/lifters are ready to test the lifts, start over with 70%, or move to our build up scheme. This decision will be based on the movements being done correctly and bar speed.
The Build Up scheme is progressive weight scheme where instead of doing the same weight on every set the weight will increase every set. The exercises, sets, and reps will all remain the same with only the weight on the bar changing. The way that I like to do this is to begin with the end in mind and make jumps to get there. We will classify our students as “Strong” and “Not Strong Yet” for the weight increases. The Strong group will take 20k off of where they want to finish and then add 5 kilos every set and the Not Strong Yet group will take 10 kilos off and make 2 kilo jumps. We will use this for all lifts except squats and squat will go off of Strong taking 40 kilos off and make 10 kilo jumps and Not Strong Yet taking 20 kilos off and making 5 kilo jumps. We will progress this finishing weight beginning at 80% and work it up 5% over a 4 week cycle and then test again. So the final set progression will look like this: Week 1: 80% Week 2: 85% Week 3: 90% Week 4: 95% Week 5: Test Week
As always dealing with beginners is fun because with practice most people will learn to really enjoy the benefits of the lifts and have a sense of accomplishment for being able to complete them. I have used these schemes with great success from my own children to the several national champions that we have been blessed to have on our team. Ultimately if a coach and athlete are committed to the time and effort that it takes to learn and complete the movements, they will inch ever closer to reaching their maximum athletic potential.