Training Olympic Lifting in Younger Populations

Training Olympic Lifting

by Wil Fleming – www.beforcefit.com


How soon should you start training Olympic lifting technique in young athletes?

My answer? As soon as the athlete walks in your door. 

olympic lifts

As soon as a young athlete starts training at my facility we are either doing the Olympic lifts or preparing them to eventually perform the lifts.


I do not advocate loading up a bar and telling younger athletes to start cleaning and snatching immediately, but I do advocate training the technique and qualities that produce great Olympic lifts later in training. Athletes at any age must learn how to properly create and absorb force. Teaching the young athlete how to produce force from the ground up is not only important to their athletic endeavors later in life, but also serves the purpose of learning the basics of the pull in both the clean and the snatch.


A portion of each coaching session with even my youngest athletes, focuses on the foundations of pulling technique, and even the technique at the catch position of both the clean and snatch.  Once a young athlete has been training in my system for a period of time, we will progress to very light external loads.


For the younger athletes we will often use the lifts from the floor to increase hip mobility, and combine the exercises into a complex, we often superset exercises that train similar qualities.


For example a couple of my youngest athletes have this placed in the program for a portion of their workout.


1A Power Clean + Front Squat
1B Rocket Jumps
2A MB Front Squat + OH Throw (Pushing Straight OH)
2B Split Jumps


Of course these athletes have been taught in a targeted and progressive teaching system.  One that leads these athletes to predictable and great results.


Athlete preparation is one of the most important aspects of the IYCA’s certification system.


Do you know how to optimally prepare your young athletes?


—-> Click Here To Learn If You’re Doing It Correctly



6 Responses

  1. Garrett Arndt says:

    The olympic lifts are highly valuable to sports performance training, yet they are by far the most incorrectly taught lift in most high school programs. Too many coaches rely on the BFS program as their base program in high school. The BFS program has the potential of being a good program and I won’t knock it, but I will knock the coaches who use it yet have no idea how to teach the lifts properly. Too often all the coaches care about is how much weight their athletes can lift. I feel the most important thing about the olympic lifts for sports performance is actually how the weight is lifted. Are the athletes coordinating their movements correctly to maximize force production? Are they being explosive in their movements? Are they getting full extension of the body? Is the bar path straight? Are they catching the bar correctly?

    At our facility we teach the olympic lifts in a “parts” progression. We will not let our athletes move to the next “part” until they have mastered the current “part” that they are on. We teach athletes of all ages the olympic lifts. With our younger group we primarliy teach them with dowel rods and only progress them to external weight as their form and age/maturation will dictate. We are big on teaching the olympic lifts from the hang position, simply because it mimics the athletic position and teaches the athlete to be explosive out of that position. We focus on form first, then the speed of the bar, and finally we start to add weight (but not at the expense of form or speed).

    Olympic lifts can greatly benefit athletes of all ages. They only become a liability when they are taught incorrectly or not at all. I am glad that there are starting to be programs out there that are teaching coaches how to teach the olympic lifts correctly.

  2. Wil Fleming says:


    That sounds awesome! I think that you and I are very much on the same page when it comes to use and teaching of the Oly lifts. I was reading your response and thought that I could have been the author.

    Now a question. In terms of starting position, what percentage of the lifts do you do each week from the hang, from the floor, from a block?


  3. Garrett Arndt says:


    To answer your question I will start out by describing the program that we run a little more indepth. We seperate our athletes into two age groups 12-14 and 14-18. We had a younger age group, 8-11, but unfortunatley it was not a very popular program so we discontinued it (very hard decision because the ealrier we can start instilling proper mechanics the better). We basically have three different stength days per cycle for our athletes. With the younger group we have one Olympic lifting day per week, a work capacity/circuit day, and a general strength training day. With this group we really divide the start postion evenly to teach them the general broad spectrum and to make sure they practice each equally.

    With our older group we spread the olympic lifts evenly through the three days. We start off the day with an olympic lift, followed by a strength super set, and then we finish with a timed circuit of different exercises. With the older group we will teach I would say 75% of the olyimpic lifts from the hang position, 20% from the power position, and 5% from the block position.

    With either group, again we make sure that they do not advance to the next progression until they have demonstrated the one they are on with proficiency. We also make sure that their posterior chain is ready for the olympic lifts through strength training exercises throughout the program.

    Our strength programs change every 8 weeks and we really look at what has worked in the past, what hasn’t and we see how we can appropriatley progress the program. We are always looking for ways to improve and evolve so if you have any recommendations I would greatly appreciate it.

  4. Anthony Munoz says:

    I started with my girls soccer U14 team, introducing olympic lifts. I used PVC pipe with no weight to show technique. This worked and we progressed from kettle bells to light weight bars, MB, and to olympic bars with no weight. They have noticed the strength gains and it has shown in their acceleration and power when striking the ball.

    What is your recommendation on lifting during their season, and Why?

    In season,Sept.,Oct.,Nov.,Jan., Feb.,May.

    They have Dec.,Mar.,Aprl.,Jun,July,and Aug.Off.

  5. Wil Fleming says:


    Can you tell me how often you will be able to lift with your soccer team while in-season??

  6. Vince Hogue says:

    It’s always refreshing to know that the problems I’m facing aren’t just in my area. I also believe in strength/resistance training for children, as well do I appreciate the olypic lifts. So much so that I have been teaching my (own) children how do them. However, it’s like you said there has to be some lead up preparation to the lifts. When my kids were younger, we would practice form and technique with med balls and things of that nature. I’m a strong believer that it is ALL about technique. Other coaches wouldn’t short a QB throwing drills or a ball player on his free throw shooting to save time, so why try it in the weight room. I also agree Garrett about the BFS, it’s a good program but most coaches will copy, cut and paste the workout. Heck, we even had a p.e. teacher who used it on everyone! I work with alot of high school kids in my community, but since I’m not a football or basketball coach most of the kids who need my help never see it. I’m a track coach and when I end up in the weightroom with some of my throwers, I’m amazed at what they’ve gotten away with. Normally I have to start them from basic movements of the lift. I’ll start the athletes with these lifts before we progress any further; front squat, push press, deadlift, and upright row. When I show the kids these lifts and how you can transfer them into olympic lifts when they are ready they are always amazed, and usually it’s more for the fact that someone actually took time to teach them.


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