Training Log

Starting Strength in the Real World


SSOC Case Study: Weightlifting: Nik Aston

by Andrew Jackson, SSC | July 26, 2018

nick aston bottom of the snatch during practice

Nik Aston reached out to me earlier this year about joining Starting Strength Online Coaching to prepare for a weightlifting competition. After four years of competing as a javelin thrower at The University of New Mexico, he had recently completed his Novice Linear Progression and a few months of additional work on his own. While he had some experience with the Olympic lifts, he had never consistently practiced them. The goal: get as strong as possible and prepare for the platform in less than four months.

Preparation for any sport requires both training the physiological adaptations that form the basis of athletic performance and practice of the skills that display that athleticism to the best effect in the context of the sport. Weightlifting is a strength-dependent sport with predictable, repeating motor pathways that must be practiced. Therefore, Nik needed to get as strong as possible in the time we had prior to the meet as well as dedicate some of his training time to practicing the Olympic lifts.

Since getting Nik as strong as possible prior to the meet was the first objective; the squat, press, and deadlift were prioritized early in the initial weekly schedule. He completed weekly progress of heavy 5x5 for squat and press along with a set heavy of five for the deadlift. To provide opportunities to practice the skill of weightlifting, Wednesday was a “light” day focused on snatch along with front squats. Friday was a “medium” day focused on clean & jerk along with jerk drills and more front squats. Nik’s background in athletics and prior conditioning enabled additional general physical preparedness days on Tuesday and Thursday that included benching.

nik aston squatting

After several of weeks of progressively adding 5 lbs to each lift, we started dropping sets to reduce volume on the squat and press and enable intensity to continue moving up. Heavy pulls stayed on Monday, but he cycled doubles, triples, and multiple singles as intensity continued to increase. This enabled several weekly PRs for over a month. The less predictable snatch and clean & jerk were programmed to allow for more day to day and week to week variation with an overall upward progression. Nik was able to maintain weekly progress on his squat, press, and deadlift until about a month away from his competition at which point the program shifted the priority to more emphasis on the snatch and clean & jerk.

Over the last four weeks leading up to the meet, volume for the main lifts was gradually reduced while the snatch and clean & jerk were done more frequently at higher intensity and prioritized to the beginning of each work out. Weight on the bar was moderated through the week with a mix of “no miss” work, multiple singles, and heavy singles. Power snatch and power cleans were also added to the program to increase lighter work volume and additional skill practice. Nik continued to squat, front squat, press, and deadlift heavy right up to the week prior to the meet. During the meet week he trained at significantly reduced volume and intensity near his opener and last warm up weights.

Nik never fully tested the squat and deadlift before the weightlifting competition, but he did complete some fast singles for decent PRs at the end of a session leading up to the meet as we pulled volume back and pushed all lifts towards increasingly higher intensity. His consistent training paid off and resulted in PRs on every lift including the snatch, clean & jerk, and total on the platform during the meet.

Lift

Before

After

Improvement

Snatch

200

242

+42

Clean & Jerk

286

321

+35

Squat

370x5x3
435x1

400x5x3,
405x5,5,4
452x1

+30

Press

205x1

210x2x2
215x1x5

+10

Deadlift

425x5
500x1

445x5
530x1

+25,
+30


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