Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Determining Volume, Intensity and Load for the "Olympic Lifts" While Training for Other Sports

By Oliver Whaley

I think we sometimes beat ourselves up in the weightroom doing these lifts, not necessarily because of doing the lifts themselves. But more so because we tend to push ourselves to go too heavy, or too heavy too often when doing them. Any lift done too heavy or done too heavy too often will result in some bodily breakdown and eventual injury. Volume, load, and intensity are highly individualized, but I think throwers especially have the tendency to push to the limit more often than not (what can I say we are competitors and its fun).

Here are some suggestions:

It would be better to work in a 60 to 80% (positive gains can be made at these percentages) range and focus on moving the weight quickly when these lifts are performed. Heavy singles can be mixed in periodically, occasionally heavy doubles or triples. But the majority of the time your doubles and triples should be done at lighter percentages and the heavy percentages done with singles. For a thrower there is no real reason to hit a total max single lift or attempt, when doing heavy singles it would be best to keep them in a 85 to 95% range and never miss a lift (it can be hard to control yourself though). Sets should best be kept to no more than six, excluding any warm-up and the repetitions no higher than three. Unless you’re working out of the hang position or doing pulls off the ground. Then going as high as five repetitions can be beneficial. If you’re trying to build a strength base, sets of higher rep pulls can be good.

Primoz Kozmus doing hang snatches at 125K

Mixing up sets between rapid sequence and clusters is also best. The quick lifts are done quickly and we should finish with them quickly also. It really shouldn’t take more than 20 to 25 minutes to finish with this part of your workout. If it takes longer than this, then either the intensity or volume, or both are probably too high.

Here is one last thought to take into consideration.

Most of time people base their percentages for doubles and triples off their single rep max. I think it would be better to base it off your best set of doubles or triples when doing doubles and triples rather than your best single. And if you don't know what that is, then just guesstimate.

How often a week your perform the lifts is highly individual and often comes through trial and error as each person recovers at different rates. I know some throwers that do them every lifting session, as for me, once a week I have found to be sufficient. But often the frequency in which they are performed is another area where people tend to weigh in on the "over doing it" side. Doing them less frequently when combined with all the throwing volume will probably leave you feeling fresher, more explosive, and with more reserve in the tank.

I think keeping these things in mind will help prevent ourselves from becoming overtrained, from over taxing our nervous system in combination with throwing volume, and help keep our bodies feeling fresh and avoid that beat up feeling that can sometimes come as a result of what we do in the weightroom.


  1. Wow. Is this really you? Mr. "Go to the Max" himself?
    You must be learning something at college! lol
    Seriously, good insights. For a lot of us training is fun, but less can be more.Listening to our bodies beats injuries always.

  2. Sorry,the above post was me. Your father couldn't figure out how to post properly. I am amazed how much that article sounds like me trying to talk to you. lol