An Eight-Week Clear & Jerk Program For Serving to Develop Explosive Energy

This is the Clean & Jerk Workout Program you’ve been eyeing—a straightforward, impactful plan to elevate your performance in this Olympic move. The Olympics are right around the corner, and you’ve got the itch. Whether you’re a newcomer to the sport, aiming to enhance your lifts for CrossFit, or simply seeking to invigorate your workouts, your search ends here.

This 8-week Clean & Jerk workout starter program is designed to establish a solid foundation in strength, power, and technique for the clean and jerk lifts. For beginners, it serves as a guide to mastering proper technique. It reinforces and strengthens essential positions through carefully selected variations while building fundamental strength. If you’re moderately experienced, this program refines your lifts and introduces fresh variations to bolster your workouts. Even seasoned lifters returning to the Clean & Jerk after a hiatus will find value in this program, as it facilitates a smooth transition back into training.

Once you wrap up the 8-Week Clean & Jerk starter program, hop on to the 12-Week Olympic Weightlifting Program for a new challenge and to keep those PRs flowing!

What’s In This 8-Week Clean & Jerk Workout Program?

Let’s quickly explore the program layout. As a coach, I strongly emphasize the importance of athletes understanding the program layout to commit and thrive fully. Once you’ve examined it, everything will come together more seamlessly like pieces of a puzzle.

Main Lifts

Each training day begins with the primary focus lift, whether cleans, jerks, or technical variations. These lifts always come first, driven by technical proficiency, power, and execution. Knocking these out first thing makes sure you’re practicing your skill with fresh legs (or as fresh as they can be).

Strength Lifts

In the starter program, squats and pulls are your primary strength lifts. Pulls enhance strength and refine bar path precision, while squats build your legs.

When it comes to pulls, handling heavier weights compared to preceding cleans is essential. However, you must maintain form throughout. Sloppy repetitions only reinforce improper positions, which we aim to avoid at all costs.

Accessory Lifts

Accessories are the foundation for fortifying your body’s armor. They use a variety of upper and lower-body lifts aimed at enhancing unilateral strength, stability, muscle mass, and injury prevention. While it’s important to challenge yourself with accessory lifts, it’s equally vital to avoid pushing to the extent where excessive fatigue compromises your performance on subsequent training days.

How To Run The Program

Everything you need to know is here!

Sets and Reps

Your working sets and reps will determine your daily, weekly, and monthly training volume. Since this is a beginner program, start with 3 to 4 rounds of general technique bar work, and move into your warm-up sets. I’d recommend starting each lift with 3-4 warm-up sets, slowly progressing in weight to your working sets.

Here are a few examples of how to read the program:

  • Front Squat: 4×3 (4 sets of 3 reps)
  • Clean + Jerk: 4×1+1 (4 sets of Clean-Jerk)
  • Clean + Jerk: 4×2+1 (4 sets of Clean-Clean-Jerk)
  • Clean + Jerk: 4x(1+1)2 (4 sets of Clean-Jerk-Clean-Jerk)

How Much Should You Lift?

The amount of weight you should lift will depend on your fitness level, how quickly you progress, and ultimately how you’re feeling daily.

For this program, we will rely on an RPE scale per exercise. “Per exercise” means how the exercise felt overall. For instance, an RPE 7/10 on a Clean + Jerk triple (6 reps total) will be much lower than a Clean + Jerk double (2 total reps). Ideally, the fewer reps per set will allow you to lift more weight resulting in progressive overload. Here’s a quick week-to-week breakdown to use for all phases:

  • Week 1 RPE 7/10 – Moderate Intensity
  • Week 2: RPE 8/10 – Moderate-Heavy Intensity
  • Week 3: RPE 5-6/10 (deload) – Low-Moderate Intensity
  • Week 4: RPE 9/10 – Heavy Intensity (not max effort!)

Progression Techniques and Methods

Even with an RPE guide to follow, it can be uncertain how much you should increase your weights weekly.

Typically, I recommend bumping the weight in 3 to 5% increments. This will allow you to push new goals by week 4 of each phase and improve your strength while keeping the increase in weights small enough to develop technique.

Can I Add Extra Lifts?

Absolutely! While this program covers the essentials for enhancing your performance in the Clean & Jerk, incorporating some additional bodybuilding exercises can be beneficial. Feel free to include them at the conclusion of your workouts after you have completed the accessory exercise circuits.

Per Bernal / M+F Magazine

The 8-Week Clean & Jerk Workout Program Guide

This is why you’re here – to get better at the clean and jerk! Here’s a program designed to master the clean, dial-in your jerk, gearing you up to smash personal records. It’s inherently progressive, packed with primary lifts, strength exercises, and supplementary accessories.

Pre-Program Guide

Before you explore the program, let’s clarify a few key points. This will help you understand the exercise order, decode sets, reps, supersets, and tri-sets, address optimal rest periods, and effectively organize your training week.

Once the pre-program guide wraps up, you’ll take your first look at the 8-week Clean & Jerk Starter Program.

Exercise Order

  • Each exercise is denoted alphabetically, with supersets or tri-sets noted by numbers.
  • Letters (i.e. D1., D2., D3) indicate a superset or triset. Perform one set of the first exercise, immediately followed by one set of the next. That equals one set. Repeat for three total sets.

Sets and Reps

Here are a few examples of how to read the program:

Here are a few examples of how to read the program:

  • Front Squat: 4×3 (4 sets of 3 reps)
  • Clean + Jerk: 4×1+1 (4 sets of Clean-Jerk)
  • Clean + Jerk: 4×2+1 (4 sets of Clean-Clean-Jerk)
  • Clean + Jerk: 4x(1+1)2 (4 sets of Clean-Jerk-Clean-Jerk)

Rest Periods

Keep your rest periods to 90 to 120 seconds. I always advise my athletes to use a timer, as time can quickly pass!

Weekly Training Schedule

This program will be performed as follows:

  • Day 1: Monday
  • Day 2: Wednesday
  • Day 3: Friday or Saturday

If this schedule doesn’t align with yours, prioritize what works best for you! Here are a few quick points to keep in mind regardless of your training schedule:

  • Make sure to have (1) rest day prior to starting Day 1 each week.
  • Try your best not to run all 3 days consecutively.
  • Your training week doesn’t always have to start on a Monday. For instance, this modification below works well if you can’t get to the gym until Tuesday.
    • Day 1: Tuesday
    • Day 2: Thursday
    • Day 3: Saturday

If you plan to incorporate this program with other workouts, aim to schedule a rest day before Day 3’s session. Otherwise, listen to your body and align your training with your body’s needs and your goals.

Group of fit people attending a group fitness class performing a light weight front squat4 PM production

The 8-Week Clean & Jerk Workout Program Warmup

Bar Warmups

Bar warm-ups kick things off. This is your opportunity to groove positions, work on your technique, and set the tone for your training session.

Complete each exercise for the prescribed reps in a circuit fashion, ideally never putting the bar down until the round is completed. Be precise, be strong, and don’t hesitate to use slow tempos to feel your movement.

The Clean Warmup (Perform 2-3 Rounds, 3 reps each)

  • Tall Clean High Pull
  • Tall Muscle Clean
  • Hang Above the Knee Power Clean
  • Front Squat
  • Hang Clean Above Knee
  • Clean

The Jerk Warmup (Perform 2-3 Rounds, 3 reps each)

  • Strict Press
  • Push Press
  • Press in Split
  • Tall Jerk
  • Jerk

Man performing a full body workout with the barbell overhead carry exercise and overhead press accessory exercisesPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

The 8-Week Clean & Jerk Workout Program For Explosive Power

PHASE 1: WEEKS 1 – 4

Day 1: Clean, Jerk Technique, Front Squats

A1. Hang Mid-Thigh Clean: 3 to 5 sets, 3 reps

B1. Behind the Neck Press in Split: 3 sets, 5 reps

C1. Front Squats: 3 sets, 5 reps

D1. Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows: 3 sets, 8-12 reps

D2. Cable or Band Pallof Hold: 3 sets, 30 seconds ea.

Day 2 Power Clean, Jerk, Clean Pull

A1. Hang Above the Knee Power Clean: 4 sets, 2 reps

B1. Push Press + Jerk, Pause (:02) in Split : 3 sets, 5+1 reps

C1. Clean Pull, Pause (:02) Below Knee: 4 sets, 3 reps

D1. Half-Kneeling Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps

D2. Dumbbell RDL: 3 sets, 8-12 reps

D3. Weighted Side Plank Hold: 3 sets, 30 seconds ea.

Day 3 Clean & Jerk, Front Squats, Pulls

A1. Clean, Pause (:02) Above the Knee + Jerk: 4 to 6 sets, 2+1

B1. Clean Pull with Lowering (:03): 3 to 4 sets, 3 reps

C1. Pause (:02) Front Squat: 4 sets, 3 reps

D1. Pullups: 3 sets, 5-8 reps.

D2. Dumbbell Walking Lunges: 3 sets, 6-8 reps ea.

D3. Plank with Shoulder Taps: 3 sets, 10-15 reps ea.

Powerlifter-Doing-Barbell-Overhead-PressAndy Gin / Shutterstock

PHASE 2: Weeks 5 – 8

Day 1 Clean & Jerk, Push Press, Front Squats

A1. Hang Clean Below the Knee + Jerk, Pause (:02) in Dip: 4 sets, 2(1+1)

B1. Push Press: 3 sets, 3 reps

C1. Front Squats: 4 sets, 3 reps

D1. 2-Dumbbell Lateral Lunge: 3 sets, 6-8 reps ea.

D2. Single Arm Dumbbell Row: 3 sets, 8-12 reps

D3. Dumbbell Deadbug: 3 sets, 6-8 reps ea.

Day 2 Clean Variation, Jerk Variation, Clean Pulls

A1. Power Clean + Clean: 4 sets, 1+1 reps

B1. Power Jerk + Jerk: 4 sets, 1+1

C1. Clean Pull:

D1. Barbell Stiff-leg Deadlift: 3 sets, 6-8 reps

D2. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps

D3. Side Plank with Leg Lifts: 3 sets, 10-15 reps ea.

Day 3 Clean & Jerk, Front Squats, Clean Pulls

A1. Clean & Jerk: 4 sets, 2(1+1) reps

B1. Clean Pull: 4 sets, 2 reps

C1. Front Squat: Work to a Top Set of 3 reps

D1. Dumbbell Incline Bench Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps

D2. 2-Db Box Step-up: 3 sets, 6-8 reps ea.

D3. Weighted Forearm Plank: 3 sets, 30 seconds

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