Starting Weightlifting Tips From Champions (Oldschool)

You want to be a weightlifter or start training? In this article 5 weightlifting legends will speak and present their thoughts about starting lifting weights. And when they speak you have to listen! Have fun – Mr. Berg.

Tommy Kono 

Tommy Kono Weightlifting

“The first thing any fledging lifter should do is to familiarize himself with or even memorize the rules and regulations governing the Olympic lifts. Second, secure and study courses or books with explain the correct execution of the three lifts in detail.

Third, save pictures and photographs of national and international lifters in action which best show the extreme low positions in the snatch and clean. Fourth, not forgetting your particular physique, try to copy the positions of these top lifters, imitating the low positions in the quick lifts.

It is essential to learn the correct style at the very beginning, for once the technique is mastered it is just a question of developing more power and speed to elevate heavier weights overhead.

Correct technique in lifting can never be mastered at the beginning if heavy weights are employed. Many times lifters fall into faulty habits because they try to handle too heavy a weight for practicing of form and technique.

It would be wise for a beginner in the sport of weightlifting to spend his rest days perfecting his speed, timing, coordination and balance on the quick lifts using an empty bar or an extremly light weight, and use his regular tri-weekly sessions in the gym developing power by doing basic power movements such as high pulls, power cleans, deep knee bends, barbell and dumbbell presses.

By all means attend a weightlifting contest if a meet is held within driving distance of your town. You will be able to witness the style and techniques used by other lifters and thereby get a better idea of the proper execution of the lifts.

Remember one thing. Faulty habits are hard to erase they are developed. Learn the correct method of pulling and positioning in the three lifts from the beginning.”

Norbert Schemansky

Norbert Schemansky weightlifting

“I’d put this young fellow on a four-day-a-week training system combining power and style. His schedule would look like this:

Press 5 x 3
Snatch 5 x 2
Clean grip high pull 5 x 3
Snatch grip high pull 5 x 3

5 x 3
Clean 5 x 2
Squat 5 x 3


Warm up, then do 6 to 8 singles on each lift with about 80% of limit working on form

C & J

Warm up, then work up to very heavy or limit poundage on each of the three lifts; finish your workout with some heavy squats

This doesn’t look like much, but it is just about what I am doing now, and it is paying off. Instead of cramming a lot of work into three workouts, the idea is to spread it thin over four.

For form, the beginner should obtain pictures of a lifter whose style he feels would suit him and work toward copying that style. A friend or parent, even if not interested in lifting, can observe to see if the young man’s style is something like the picture.

A good way to practice form is to take a weight about 60% of limit, do a snatch with it, stand erect, and then with the weight overhead, sink down once or twice into the low position.

This can be done with both split and squat styles, and the same thing may be done on the clean. This process will give a trainee the feel and yet won’t be too heavy for him to handle correctly.

The hardest part of any program is being able to stick it out for a while to give it a chance to work for you. Don’t go changing style every two weeks.

In summary, I’d say that the most important thing in lifting is form. You can always build power later. In my own case, this is proving to be true 20 years later, for I’m still gaining power. And my final word of advice is TRAIN, DON’T STRAIN.”

Joe Pitman

Joe Pitman Weightlifting training tips

“If you are to be serious about weightlifting, it must be ‘first in your life’. You must be willing to sacrifice a great deal of effort and energy. You must set a goal and work toward it at all coasts.

A workout should be planned, not haphazard, and I recommend that every beginning lifter record his workouts in a notebook. The training schedule should create interest and keep the trainee from going stale. Changes in your schedule be made often enough to provide variety.

Emphasis on the three Olympic lifts is imperative; there should be three concentrated lifting days per week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday), and two pressing periods (Tuesday, Thursday). The lifter should have a limit day every two weeks.

Here’s the training schedule I recommend. Be sure to warm up properly, and always wear a sweatsuit to keep warm and prevent injury.

First, snatch. Work up in 10-pound jumps to within 10 pounds of your best. Use sets of three, then finish with twos and singles.

Second, clean and jerk. Work up in 10-pound jumps to within 20 pounds of your best. Make two cleans and one jerk with each weight.

Third, press. Press correctly. Work up in 10-pound jumps doing sets of threes and finish off with twos and singles.

Fourth, squats. These are a must. Taking 20-pound jumps, work up as high as you can, performing five sets of three repetitions with each weight. Do full squats and come completey erect each time.

When snatching or cleaning, work up by doing flip snatches and power cleans. Do not split or squat ( as the case may be) until the weight gets heavy enough to force you to do so.

On tuesdays and Thursdays you should press only, working up in 10-pound jumps in sets of threes.

Always very your workouts enough to keep them interesting. Try to break personal records for reps. As you get stronger, go for new records in poundages as you do your sets of threes and twos.

Give yourself six full weeks to prepare and concentrate for an important contest. Arrange your schedule so that you work up gradually to a peak at contest time.

Always work for form, speed, cordination and timing. Remember, you don’t get something for nothing. It takes hard work to be a good lifter, and there are no short cuts.”

Steve Stanko

Steve Stanko Training Wisdoms

“Basic training for competitive lifting has to consist of practicing the three Olympic lifts. There is no other way to gain the power and skills necessary for success in this sport.

In the old days, when someone would ask, ‘How can I build my press up,’ I would simply reply, ‘Press, press, press and press!’ The same goes for the snatch. Hard training with plenty of reps is bound to pay off for a new lifter.

Never do less than 3 x 5, 3 x 3, 3 x2, 3 x 1 on the press and snatch.

The dead hang snatch will develop your timing, pulling power (especially the second pull), form and corrdination, all of which are most important for a good competitive lifter.

I always said that presses help one in the jerk and snatches in the clean. Of course this does not mean that one should not train on the clean and jerk.

High reps are not recommended for the clean and jerk, however. In the first place, you should use heavier poundages. Practice the dead hang clean, always jerking the weight on the final rep. Do heavy cleans and jerks at least once a week. Don’t forget power cleans for building strength – simply pull the bar up and clean it with a slight dup of the knees, never splitting or doing a definite squat.

The individual must be guided by his own strength and capabilities in selecting the poundages to be used in this type of training.

After three months on the type of routine outlined above, the new lifter will be well enough along to concentrate on preparing for his first contest. Naturally he will want to bring his records up as much as possible. Single lifts should be practiced, working up to limit or near limit and doing as many singles as possible with this top weight.

Then drop back 20 pounds or more and finish off with 2 x 2, 2 x 3, 2 x 4, 2 x5, decreasing the weight as the reps are increased.

This applies to both press and snatch. Train at least three times a week, and try for new personal records about twice a month.

Try both styles of lifting and stick with the style that is best suited to you. I always favored the split style and still do, particularly for the snatch. The two greatest snatchers, Schemansky and Vlasov, both are splitterls.

I can recommend the following asistance exercises as being helpful to anyone determined to become a good lifter: Squat, deadlift, high pulls, dumbbell and barbell presses, and the dumbbell swing.

Don’t forget Isometric exercise on the power rack. Do three positions in the press, regular grip pull, and snatch grip pull.

Finally, follow the rules of good living. Get plenty of sleep, make sure your diet is supplemented with Protein and vitamins. Good nutrition is most important in helping an individual to become a top competitor in weightlifting.”

Gary Cleveland

Gary Cleveland weightlifting

“To become an Olympic lifter, the most important thing you can do is actually practice the Olympic lifts. To be sure, power exercises have their place, but they are secondary and should not detract from time spent on the Olympic three.

The Olympic lifts are not easy to learn. To do a snatch or clean and jerk with a limit weight in perfect form is difficult indeed – I know this because I haven’t learned yet – and you can bench press, squat, and deadlift all day but it will not bring you any closer to that perfect form.

On the opposite extreme from those who advocate what I consider to be  excessive reliance on the power lifts are those who say that to learn perfect form you should take a stick and go through the lifts concentrating on form. This will teach you that you can get into the positions, and I’m sure it promotes flexibility, but I’ve always found that it is one thing to learn perfect form with a stick and a far different thing to do it with heavy weights.

And so my advice is to spend a lot of time doing the Omypic lifts – at least twice a week – and while light training does contribute, don’t be afraid to go heavy.

As for power exercises. I think you will have to learn about them by experimenting. No one knows better than yourself what your weak points are and what therefore needs most work.

Likewise only you can find the exercises that help your weak points most. We can make general statements about squats for leg power, pulls for pulling power, and presses for pressing power, but each of these with the possible exception of the squat, have endless varieties. Which is best for you you will have to learn by experimentation.”

Morris Weissbrot (Coach of the Electchester A.A. Weightlifting Team and veteran A.A.U. official)

Morris Weissbrot weightlifting coach

“First off, the neophyte lifter should study different styles and technqiues by watching film strips, other lifters, etc., and selecting the one best suited to his own particular physical structure. Learn HOW to do the lifts first.

Spend a lot of time practicing with light weights to learn form. A complete new set of neurophysical response patterns must be established, hence the emphasis on repetitions and more repetitions.

In addition to the work with light weights for form, technqiue, and speed, a great deal of work must be done to develop the pull and explosive force demanded by the Olympic lifts. Power cleans, flip snatches, high pulls, heavy squats – front AND back – rapid deadlifts, heavy bench presses, and, most important, repetition jerks.

To many men can clean heavy poundages only to miss the jerk. The Isometric rack can save a lot of time in developing the necessary tendon and ligament strength.

I also suggest lots of work from the hang. Snatching and cleaning from the hang, or from low boxes, helps develop great speed and good, low position.

When working on the quick lifts, use sets of threes to start, then work up in doubles, one from the floor and one from the hang.

Press every workout, and do one of the quick lifts, plus pulls and squats. If you snatch one night, do clean pulls that same night…and do snatch pulls the night you work on cleans.

Squat every workout! Do sets of threes. Include front squats once in a while even if you’re a splitter. Try a limit lift no more often than once in three weeeks. If you’ve got a contest coming up, lay off the squats for at least a week before the contest.”

If you have to lift on a Saturday, work up to your starting poundages on Friday night of the previous week. On the next Monday do a few singles with about 85% of your limit. On Wednesday, your last workout, just use very light weights for speed and form for a few sets of threes in each lift. Then REST!

Learn how to warm up properly! Use light weights to warm up. Too many men warm up too heavy…and leave all their energy behind when they finally get out on the lifting platfrom.

In every conest, select the right starting poundages. Remember, it’s not how much you can start with, but what you end up with that counts. Your first attempt should be light enough to act as a final warm-up and ensure a total.

In the event of a failure, don’t jump. Take it over again no matter how light it may have felt. You did something wring..that’s wgy you failed. A good first attempt gives you a big psychological boost…don’t louse yourself up by starting too high. Don’t go by what you can do in training…out on the platform is where it counts!

One final word. Get a copy of the official weightlifting rule book and study it, so you know what you are supposed to be doing. “

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