FLIGHT Olympic Weightlifting Training Part 1: The Keys to Becoming a Successful Weightlifter

Barbell Shrugged Flight Weightlifting Part 1

How do you become a better weightlifter?

Becoming great at the Olympic lifts is not easy, even for the best athletes.

In the end, the key to making progress is remaining consistent day to day. You have to fight through all of the brutal training sessions that leave you on the verge of breaking down, because the very next day you can smash a personal record and fall in love with the sport all over again.

That challenge is what I love most about this sport. You won’t ever make big lifts by coming to the gym just a few times a week for “practice.” Weightlifting is a constant learning process. It requires dedication and passion, both in and out of the gym.

In all honesty, you have to love it.

My lifting journey began several years ago when I first stepped in the door at Mike and Doug’s gym. At the time I was in the absolute the worst shape of my life, with very little strength or athleticism. But as soon as I got a taste of Weightlifting, I knew that it was something I wanted to master.

During my journey I’ve struggled a lot, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes that caused some setbacks, to say the least. But each of those mistakes came with a valuable lesson that has helped me make a lot of progress.

I wanted to share a few with you now to make your weightlifting journey a little easier, and improve your chances of success in the sport.


1. Focus on the Olympic lifts

If you want to become a better weightlifter you have to dedicate time to developing your craft.

As a new lifter, there’s no way you’re going to significantly improve your snatch, clean or jerk numbers by practicing just 1-2 times a week with super-light weights. Likewise, you can’t rush progress by attempting max-effort lifts all of the time, especially if your technique is sketchy.

Ultimately, you should be working on improving your Weightlifting skills by training progressively at least 3-5 days a week.

Thanks to the current fitness boom, there’s no shortage of gyms offering great training equipment and instruction. There’s also now great online programming that anyone can follow, so there’s really no reason why you can’t commit to the journey now and start making real progress.

Instead of trying to get better at everything, instead focus on drilling proper technique on the lifts and getting strong as strong as possible in all key weightlifting positions. Try scaling your conditioning way down for at least 6 months or avoiding any conditioning workouts with snatches, cleans or jerks. They’ll only reinforce bad habits and hinder your progress towards truly learning how to perform the lifts.

Don’t worry about losing your ability to WOD. If you’re following a dedicated Weightlifting program, the improved strength and proficiency with the barbell will only allow you to crush metcons records later down the road.

2. Don’t be in a rush.

Progress in Weightlifting takes time.

To my knowledge, there’s never been a lifter capable of picking up a barbell one day and winning national competitions the next. Despite the high expectations that many new athletes take into training, the journey takes years to complete. And the most valuable lessons come slowly, one by one.

It’s always true that athletically gifted folks will always pick up the lifts much faster than others, but I doubt many would say that training is always easy, or that they still didn’t have a very long way to go. That’s the very nature of craft  – When you love something and you’re great at it, there’s no such thing as good enough.

Slow down. You don’t have to make all the gains at once. You don’t have to fix every technique flaw, get stronger and cure all mobility woes right now. The rush only makes you lose sight of what’s best for your long-term development as a lifter, and it further delays any real improvement.

In my case, I made the mistake of not following my prescribed programming and not listening to my coach because I felt like I wasn’t progressing quickly enough. I saw other lifters making huge progress by maxing out their lifts every day and I believed that was the key to success. But in reality it was completely counterproductive to the development of my technique and strength, as well as overall health.

By being greedy and impatient for progress, I pushed too hard too soon and damaged my ability to make gains for months to come. In retrospect, it was a huge waste of valuable training time. There’s no question, you must push yourself and chase big goals over the long-term, but day to day you must focus on taking small progressive steps and winning small victories.

They add up much quicker than you think.



3. Find a good coach.

Every athlete needs a coach. Without one your journey will be more difficult, and it will take much longer.

A coach isn’t just someone that programs for you. They also teach you exactly how to perform the movements, pointing out flawed techniques that should be fixed. They should also share your level of enthusiasm and passion for the sport, and should work tirelessly to get better at their craft every single day, just like you.

Maybe most importantly, a great coach will genuinely care about your well-being and personal development, and they will fight everyday to help you reach your full potential as a weightlifter. You need that.

If you have any questions about what it takes to become a better weightlifter, just leave them in the comments below. We’d love to help you out. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our series where we discuss how to address some specific struggles people have with the snatch, clean and jerk.


See ya then!

14 Responses to “FLIGHT Olympic Weightlifting Training Part 1: The Keys to Becoming a Successful Weightlifter”

  1. Ryan Cammiade

    Hi barbell shurgged team!
    I go to my box and WOD 3-4 times a week. I am getting fitter, but I want to become a lot stronger in all my lifts. How can I incorporate more strength and focus on lifts rather than wods at my gym? Do I add more in the strength component and go less in my WOD?

    • Alex Maclin

      You just answered your own question :) If you want to get stronger and better at weightlifting, you’ll need to focus on it for a period of time. You can still do WODs but the majority of your training should be focused on getting stronger and the lifts.

      The best way to start would be to find a program designed and focused on getting stronger and practicing the snatch, clean and jerk movements (like Flight) and, most importantly, following it.

  2. Dom

    Hey guys,

    Love your podcast, website and resources. Really enjoy learning more and more about lifting. I’m slowly improving my performance, but the big problem I face is living in Cambodia, I am at least 6 hours away from the nearest coach. Is there anything you can reccommend I can do to continue to improve my technique without a coach?

    • Chris

      Dom, I think the great thing is that the internet now gives you options. Programs like ours, of course, but also social networks like Instagram. Post a video of a lift, tag some friends who lift. Share advice. You can tag us as well. Happy to take a peak. Overall, leverage your online resources, and maybe save up so you can travel to see a coach for some live one on one. Cheers,

    • Malachi

      Curious how you procured weightlifting Equiptment in Cambodia and where you are at outside of PP. Are you aware there is now a crossfit gym in PP, although I do not think they have an emphasis on Oly lifting.

  3. Mandy

    Do you have any advice for finding a running/weightlifting coach?

    I’m a runner and a lifter, and I’m having a hard time balancing both. I’m interested in finding a coach who can balance my training and help me achieve my goals (half marathon PR and increasing my lifts), but it’s been a huge challenge to find someone that understands both aspects.

  4. KillerCoder

    I’m 50 years old and have a new desire to be my best at Olympic lifts. But I’m concerned that a degenerative disk disease diagnosis, (L5/S1), from about 15 years ago is a potential limiting factor in my success.

    Would you please comment on my diagnosis as a possible roadblock or alternate means of achieving my goals with my diagnosis?


  5. Kettle Bell

    I have been following an oly program i had dug out online, for the past 10 months, 5-6 days a week.nothing has ever made me stronger, faster and more agile than the classic lifts, aaand i have cerebral palsy!trying to qualify for the special olympics in 2018 in seattle.for the first time in my life my confidence is almost indestructible ( apparently a girl who can snatch is considered badass.)


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