21-days to Weightlifting. A safe progression.

As the manager of the 6,700+ member large CrossFit WOD and Programming group on Facebook, I decided it was my responsibility to provide a progression to safe weightlifting with the barbell to help newcomers to the group but also provide a structure to submit videos for skill assessment and receive constructive feedback to improve. Check out the units that can be completed in our group.

 

Program to learn weight lifting

INCEPTOR a 21-Days to Weightlifting Program

If you look closely you’ll see a method to the madness. I’ll post a summary for some of the progressions first, but there is obviously much more to it than that.

Weightlifting progression for CrossFit

Following is a quick summary of progressions used in the program:

 

  1. Hip hinge (for strength and accessory work progression)
    Focus on the movement and adding range. Prime movers: Glutes and hamstrings.
    Slow movement.

    • No weight
    • Hang lift
    • Dead lift
  2. Squat (for movement progression)
    Focus on the movement and adding resistance. Prime movers: Calves, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, and Glutes.
    Slow movement.

  3. Clean
    Focus on the movement, racking, lowering, and adding resistance.
    Explosive movement.

    • Hang clean
    • Dead clean
    • Racking
    • Lowering
    • Squat under clean
  4. Overhead press
    If you can’t press the weight overhead, there is no need to progress to more complex movements.
    Slow movement.
  5. Overhead and squat work
    Practice without weight first and assess form and technique. Make sure the weight can be support in the squat without leaning forward, move on to the easiest (technique) exercise for getting weight overhead, understand how to use the thruster for lowering to back squats, and move into the overhead squat.

    • Overhead wall squat
    • Racked front squat
    • Squat thruster
    • Back squat
    • Overhead squat
  6. Reverse lunge
    Adding leg stability and unilateral strength work. Staying away from weighted forward lunges.

    • No weight
    • Racked reverse lunge
    • Overhead reverse lunge
  7. Jerk
    • Push press (first part of the jerk)
    • Squat under/dip (second part of the jerk)
    • Squat jerk
    • Split jerk
  8. Snatch
    Focus on increasing range of the snatch, ending with the most technical and demanding variation of the snatch.

    • Hang snatch (return to rack/half)
    • Power snatch (full controlled drop)
    • Dead snatch (full range snatch no dipping under)
    • Squat snatch (drop)
  9. Sots press
    If you can Sots press then you meet all the requirements for previous exercises. Thoracic, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle mobility/strength.
  10. Complex/flow
    Have you got coordination? Do you know how to transition? Perform the complex unbroken if possible, no need for speed, just technique and proper demonstration of racking or overhead rest. Barbell complex details below.
    Use lightweight.
  11. Endurance
    Can you last? How good is your racking and ability to rest without putting the weight down? The less you have to put the weight down the more reps you can do unbroken and the better your results in WODs. Complex details below.
    Use lightweight.
  12. Speed
    Time to put your technique to the test under load with a higher volume. Can you still maintain form and technique? Task details below.
    Use light to medium weight.
  13. Strength
    Now is the time to start adding some weight since you’ve proven that you know technique and most importantly, you have control over the barbell. Task details below.
    Use heavyweight.

 

Workouts Programmed

These are the carefully programmed workouts included in the 21-Day program INCEPTOR:

 

1) Barbell Complex/flow

  • Dead lift
  • Hang lift
  • Dead clean
  • Hang clean

Rest if required, put the weight down, or rest in the rack.

  • Front squat
  • Overhead squat
  • Back squat

Rest if required, put the weight down, or rest in the rack.

  • Squat thruster
  • Push press
  • Jerk (squat)

Rest if required, put the weight down, or rest in the rack.

  • Hang snatch
  • Dead snatch
  • Power snatch
  • Squat snatch

If you can, perform all 14 reps unbroken, but not at the expense of technique or safety. Perform 6 rounds.

 

 

2) Endurance

Perform 6 minutes of the following complex unbroken.

  • Hang clean
  • Jerk (squat)
  • Overhead reverse lunge (one side only, do the other side on the next rep)

Rest in the rack, if the weight is put down the set is broken and you failed your task. Chose your weight carefully.

 

Reverse lunge

 

3) Speed

Perform the following tasks FOR TIME

TASK 1
40 dead clean squat thrusters

Rest 5 minutes

TASK 2
4 shoulders presses
10 front squats
4 shoulders presses
10 jerks
4 shoulders presses
20 power snatches

Light to medium weight.

 

 

4) Strength

Find your 1RM in:

  • Dead clean
  • Squat clean
  • Front squat
  • Press
  • Jerk
  • Overhead reverse lunge
  • Power snatch
  • Squat snatch

Find your 1 rep max for one exercise, then rest at least 10 to 20 minutes and pick an exercise which works relatively different muscles. Perform the others on the following days in the same fashion.

 

 

Go through this whole progression over 21-days in our Facebook group CrossFit WOD and Programming.

INCEPTOR a 21-Day
Progressional Weightlifting Program

Each session will include an appropriate full-body warm-up, priming of the main drivers, enough rest, briefing, demo, assistance exercise, Q&A, and cool down.

  1. Day 1. Hip hinge no weight
    Focus on perfecting the movement. Perform 10 to 20 slow reps at a time. Include hip mobility drills between sets. 20 to 30-minute session.
  2. Day 2. Hip hinge hang lift
    Start with no weight, just the bar, add lightweight. 6 to 10 slow reps at a time. Include hip and ankle mobility drills between sets. 30 to 45-minute session.
  3. Day 3. Hip hinge dead lift
    Start with no weight, just the bar and hang lift, add lightweight and dead lift. 6 to 8 slow reps, do not drop the weight, include the eccentric phase of the exercise in your training. Include hip, ankle, and knee mobility drills between sets. 30 to 45-minute session. Warmup for deadlifting.
  4. Day 4. Squat no weight
    Focus on perfecting the movement. Perform 10 to 20 slow reps at a time. Include thoracic mobility drills between sets. 30 to 45-minute session.
  5. Day 5. Squat dead lift
    Start with no weight, just the bar, add lightweight. 6 to 10 slow reps at a time. Include hip, ankle, thoracic, and shoulder mobility drills between sets. 30 to 45-minute session.
  6. Day 6. Hang clean
    Start with no weight, just the bar, add lightweight. 6 to 10 explosive reps at a time with a slight pause in between reps (break the movement, focus). Include hip, ankle, thoracic, and shoulder mobility drills between sets. Stretch the forearms. 30 to 45-minute session.
  7. Day 7. Dead clean
    Start with no weight, just the bar, add lightweight. 6 to 10 explosive reps at a time with a slight pause in between reps (break the movement, focus). Include hip, ankle, thoracic, and shoulder mobility drills between sets. Stretch the forearms. 30 to 45-minute session.
  8. Day 8. Racking and lowering
    Start with no weight, just the bar, add lightweight. Clean, rack and hold for 10seconds. Sets of 8. Include thoracic and shoulder mobility drills between sets. 20 to 30-minute session.
  9. Day 9. Squat clean
    Start with no weight, just the bar, add lightweight. Clean, rack, pause, squat, pause, come up into full extension. Sets of 6 to 10. Include thoracic and shoulder mobility drills between sets. 30 to 45-minute session.
  10. Day 10. Overhead press
    Start with no weight, just the bar, add lightweight. Clean, rack, pause, press, pause overhead. Sets of 4 to 8. Include thoracic and shoulder mobility drills between sets. A great time to add some focus on other parts of the deltoid, the posterior, perform several bent-over rows (static hip hinge) in between. 30 to 45-minute session. Plenty of rest.
  11. Day 11. Overhead wall squat no weight
    Your goal is to come close to the wall with your feet over time. These may look easy but are extremely taxing on the whole body and you’ll especially feel your posterior muscles. Perform 4 to 6 slow reps at a time. Mix it up with hip hinges and deep pause squats. 20 to 30-minute session.
  12. Day 12. Racked front squat
    Start with no weight, just the bar, add medium weight. Clean or start from the squat rack, rack, pause, squat, pause, come up, pause and repeat. Sets of 4 to 6. Include ankle, thoracic and shoulder mobility drills between sets.  Keep practicing all previous movements and exercises as you start moving through these days, a couple of reps here and there of what you know needs more work.
  13. Day 13. Squat thruster
    Start with no weight, just the bar, add lightweight. Mix it up with a set of pause reps and a set of continuous reps. Pause reps 4. Continuous 6 to 8 reps. Adequate rest in between sets. Increase the weight after 4 sets. 45 to 60-minute session. Include full body mobility.
  14. Day 14. Back squat and overhead squat
    Start with no weight, just the bar, add lightweight. 4 back squats and 2 overhead squats. Adequate rest. Don’t worry about the weight, focus on technique, work with just the bar or pipe if need be. Increase the weight after 4 sets if safe. 45 to 60-minute session. Include thoracic and shoulder mobility.
  15. Day 15. Reverse lunge no weight
    Focus on perfecting the movement. Perform 6 to 8 slow reps at a time on each side. Do one side first so you don’t need to worry about foot placement each time Include flexibility drills between sets for the adductors and abductors. 20 to 30-minute session.
  16. Day 16. Racked reverse lunge and overhead reverse lunge
    Start with no weight, just the bar, add lightweight. 2 racked and 2 overhead reverse lunges on one side. Adequate rest. Don’t worry about the weight, focus on technique, work with just the bar or pipe if need be. Increase the weight after 4 sets if safe. 20 to 30-minute session. Include hip, thoracic and shoulder mobility.
  17. Day 17. Push press and squat under/dip
    Start with just the bar, add lightweight. 20 push press, adequate rest. 6 squat unders. Add weight, 15 push press. 6 squat unders. Rest. Add weight, 10 push press. 6 squat unders. Rest. Do not work towards failure, work at 60 to 70%. Second round stays at 40 to 50%. 20 to 30-minute session. Include hip, thoracic and shoulder mobility.
  18. Day 18. Squat jerk and split jerk
    Start with just the bar, add medium weight. 4 squat jerk. Rest. 2 splits jerks each side. Rest. Don’t worry about the weight, focus on technique, work with just the bar or pipe if need be. Increase the weight after 4 sets if safe. 45 to 60-minute session. Include hip, thoracic and shoulder mobility. Don’t forget, you’re still practicing all other work, program your session wisely.
  19. Day 19. Hang snatch and power snatch.
    Start with just the bar, add lightweight. 4 hang snatch and 4 power snatch. Short rest. Don’t worry about the weight, focus on technique, work with just the bar or pipe if need be. The hang snatch will return into rack (half), and the power snatch will be lowered with a full controlled drop. Increase the weight after 4 sets if safe. After 4 sets, adequate rest. 45 to 60-minute session.
  20. Day 20. Dead snatch and squat snatch.
    Start with just the bar, add lightweight. 4 dead snatch and 2 squat snatch. Short rest. Don’t worry about the weight, focus on technique, work with just the bar or pipe if need be. The dead snatch will be lowered with a full controlled drop and the squat snatch can now be dropped (you have shown control over the bar). Increase the weight after 4 sets if safe. After 4 sets, adequate rest. 45 to 60-minute session.
  21. Day 21. Sots press.
    Start with no weight, just the bar, add lightweight. 3 sots press. Short rest. Repeat 3 times. Adequate rest. Include your other work. Increase the weight after sets if safe. 45 to 60-minute session.

This 21-day progressional program is for an already conditioned athlete—not CrossFit—as areas like ankles, hips, thoracic, and shoulders will usually require a lot more time to be primed when it comes to flexibility and mobility for some of these complex movements. Beginners would also have to overcome strength, coordination, and proprioception issues.

 

 

Rest

If you keep the weight and reps low each day you could potentially complete the 21 days in a month, however, it’s more sensible to program rest days in between. I’m leaving the rest days out as each person is different when it comes to recovery, I have programmed in bodyweight days only, but use common sense and listen to your body. Safety first.

Rudimentary

The details provided here are basic and just the steps, you should join us in the group, get a trainer, or join a box to fully immerse yourself in CrossFit weightlifting. Each session should be preceded by a rigorous full-body warm-up and preceded by a cool down and stretching.

What’s up with some of the namings?

My focus with naming is it being self-explanatory to the beginner without confusion. I understand that might ruffle some feather or bust some balls, but feel free to call it what you want, I call a full range snatch a dead snatch, you can call it whatever else you’ve been taught. Full range as in the snatch movement is from the lowest point to the highest point possible, stuff all this ‘but full range is coming into a squat’, it’s not, because you’re cutting it short. I have some unusual naming conventions which I have my reasons for, don’t let them worry you, you can use whatever naming works for you and we don’t need to argue about it.

 

Great resources

 

More detailed
If there was a call for a more detailed weightlifting progression I would definitely put kettlebells in for the overhead work first. I’d also include a whole section on what muscles do what and how, how to avoid lifting with the back, accessory work for grip, thoracic, and overhead work, and most importantly, I’d include a long section on tendonitis.

 

Go through this whole progression over 21-days in our Facebook group CrossFit WOD and Programming.

Progression/program designed by Taco Fleur, owner of Cavemantraining™, e-course creator, author of 9 books on Amazon, the previous owner of 3 functional gyms, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, CrossFit Judges Certificate, CrossFit Programming Certificate, kettlebell pro, Kettlebell Coach Russian Girevoy Sport Institute, Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, and unconventional athlete.

Join the online snatch camps that Taco Fleur runs each month and learn to kettlebell snatch in 21 days, take the online kettlebell certification, or buy the book Snatch Physics.

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