Olympic Weightlifting Program For Beginners

April 12, 2021

This is a beginner Olympic Weightlifting program for those starting the sport of Weightlifting or those wanting to learn the lifts.

It will guide you through three sessions per week and by the end of the program, you will be able to perform the full Snatch and Clean & Jerk.

You can get the full 10-week beginner Olympic Weightlifting program through the TeamBuildr app, which includes a complete warm-up, accessory, and mobility exercises. Doing this you’re able to track the weights you lift throughout the whole 10-weeks so you can see your own progress and have it all in one easy, convenient place on your phone.

Get your 10-week beginner weightlifting program

Who Is This Beginner Olympic Weightlifting Program For?

This program was built for those who are brand new to Olympic Weightlifting. Whether that be for someone looking to eventually compete in the sport of Weightlifting, or someone looking to get better at the Olympic lifts for their general strength training.

What Makes This Olympic Weightlifting Program For Beginners Better Than Others?

This program has been designed by me, 2018 Commonwealth Medalist Mona (Pretorius) de Lacey. I’ve been competing Internationally in the sport of Weightlifting for 20 years and am currently training for the Tokyo Olympics.

I have lifted under many International coaches and have been coaching the sport of Weightlifting to athletes of all levels from beginner, youth, to advanced adults. Safe to say, I know what works and have tried and tested methodology which I am passing on to you.

How To Use This Beginner Olympic Weightlifting Program

This beginner Weightlifting program runs over 10 weeks. It has 3 sessions per week aimed to get you stronger, more mobile, and learning the Olympic lifting movements.

As you are a beginner, you likely don’t know your 1 rep maximums for the Olympic lifts. This is why I provide these loading guidelines to help you through the program.

  • Snatch exercises – use 30-50% of your bodyweight.
  • Snatch pulls – use 10-15 kgs (20-30 lbs) more than your snatch exercises.
  • Clean & Jerk – use 10-15 kgs (20-30 lbs) more than your snatch exercises.
  • Clean pulls – use 10-15 kgs (20-30 lbs) more than your clean exercises.
  • Back squats – use 10-15 kgs (20-30 lbs) more than your clean exercises.
  • Front squats – use 10 kg (20 lbs) less than your back squats.

Here are some notes on how to effectively use this beginner Olympic Weightlifting program.

The letter and number inside the bracket before each exercise denotes the exercise order. For example, you complete all sets and reps of A1 before moving on to B1.

However, when the letter is the same (e.g. A1 and A2), you will perform a superset. This means performing one set of A1, then one set of A2 directly after, then rest before starting your next set.

Sets and reps and read like this:

  • 5 x 4 means 5 sets of 4 reps.
  • 4 x 1 + 4 means 4 sets of 1 rep of the first exercise + 4 reps of the second exercise. E.g. 1 + 4 of the Press Behind Neck + Overhead Squat means perform 1 Press Behind Neck then 4 Overhead Squats.

The sets and reps provided denote working sets. Meaning they EXCLUDE warm-up sets. You should always perform warm-up sets and slowly work your way up to your working weight.

For example, if the Muscle Clean from Hang is your first exercise, and your working weight is around 40 kg, then you may perform warm-up sets of:

  • Bar x 5
  • Bar x 5
  • 30 kg x3
  • 30 kg x3
  • 35 kg x2
  • Start working sets and reps with 40 kg

Before embarking on your warm-up sets, make sure to perform your own dynamic warm-up so you can get into the positions you need to such as the front rack of squat position.

All of these are programmed for you in the full 10-week program on TeamBuildr.

3-Day Beginner Olympic Weightlifting Program

Here is the first week of the 10-week cycle for you to try yourself! 

Day 1




A1) Behind The Neck Press

5 x 4

Only Barbell

B1) Muscle Snatch From Hip + Overhead Squat

4 x 3 + 3

3 Muscle Snatches + 3 Overhead Squats

4 x 4

Use 10 kg more than Muscle Snatch

Day 2




4 x 4

Start very light

B1) Front Squat

4 x 4

Same weight or 10 kg heavier than hang muscle clean

C1) Press

3 x 10

Barbell only or very light load

3 x 5

Stick on back

Day 3




A1) Muscle Snatch From Hip

4 x 4

Only Barbell or light load

B1) Drop Snatch No Leg Drive

4 x 4

Only Barbell or same weight as Muscle Snatch From Hip

3 x 4

5-10 kg more than Muscle Snatch From Hip

D1) Back Squat

4 x 4

10-15 kg more than the Muscle Clean

All warm-ups are prescribed in the full 10-week program along with accessory work for each day.

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About the Author

Mona is a Bronze Medalist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She has been competing Internationally for 20 years in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting and has also been African Champion, Commonwealth Champion, and the youngest South African Weightlifter to compete on the International stage.

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