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Training for the Supertotal
 11/20/2010  by  Glenn Pendlay

Training for the Supertotal

I recently was asked how I would set up a training program for a person wanting to compete in BOTH weightlifting and powerlifting.  Here it is, the program I would recommend for someone wanting to do both iron sports, and incidentally it’s also a pretty decent program for someone who just wants to be big and strong.

The basic layout is this.


Back squat

Bench Press




Clean and Jerk



Front squat

Military press or push press




Clean and Jerk

An occasional deadlift


Monday is the heavy back squat and bench press day.  If you are doing a heavy sets across workout, like a 5x5 or something similar, this would be the day to do it.  On squats you will be using the same form you plan to use in powerlifting competition.  Tuesday will be the lighter day for the Olympic lifts.  If you are doing technique building variations of the lifts, like hang snatches from the hip or knee, this is the day.  In any case, moderate weight or even light weight is the name of the game.  Thursday is heavy but low volume front squats, and an overhead strength lift like military presses or push presses.  Saturday is your heavy day for the Olympic lifts, with the occasional couple of singles in the deadlift thrown in after clean and jerks are done.


Because this program is a compromise, we don’t get to do what is “ideal” to maximize training affect for any one lift, but, we are able to do a pretty good job at training all 5 competitive lifts, snatch, clean and jerk, squat, bench press, and deadlift.  Because the bar is overhead so much practicing the Olympic lifts and this stresses the shoulders, we only bench press once a week.  Back squatting is only done once a week, but it’s done on the day when you should be the freshest, and this should keep all the other leg work involved in practicing the Olympic lifts from affecting your squat any more than it has to.  We pretty much throw deadlifts out the window, because all the pulling involved in practicing the Olympic lifts trains the heck out of the pull.


To get ready for a powerlifting meet, about 3 weeks out you make these simple changes.  Monday stays the same, it’s your “difficult” day for the squat and bench, whatever that means for the set and rep scheme that you choose to employ.  Tuesday gets very, very light.  Thursday turns into a “practice” day  for squat and bench, if you are going to use gear this is the day that you would put it on get a little practice lifting in it.  If you’r not using gear, then a few moderate to heavy singles to practice competition form are in order.  Saturday  you come in and pull a few singles on the deadlift, just enough to get a good idea of what attempts to take at the competition.


The week of the competition,  you hit your openers on squat and bench on Monday (a deadlift that is near your opener should have been hit the preceeding Saturday), go ahead and practice the Olympic lifts reallty light on Tuesday, then Thursday come in the gym and do a very light  and quick squat and bench session, and I mean very light.  For many people, a few doubles at 50-60% would be fine for most people, adjust up or down based on your personal recovery ability.


If you want to enter an weightlifting competition, you simply turn Thursday into another light practice day for the snatch and clean and jerk 2-3 weeks away from the contest, which leaves you with heavy squats and bench presses on Monday, technique practice with moderate weights on the Olympic lifts on Tuesday and Thursday and a heavy snatch and clean and jerk day on Saturday.  


The Saturday before the competition, you will want to hit somewhere around your openers or maybe 2nd attempts depending on your individual recovery ability. The week of the competition, take Monday off, on Tuesday take snatch and clean and jerk singles in line with your recovery ability, for most people about 80% of maximum should be about right.  One or two moderate sets of front squats and bench presses can also be done, but don’t go crazy with the weight.  If you are “recovery challenged” lighten it up, especially the clean and jerk.  Thursday will be very light (50-60%) singles in both snatch and clean and jerk.


So there it is, a way to do both sports at once, and a pretty decent program for getting bigger and stronger to boot.