The Russian Approach to Planning a Weightlifting Program [Paper]

Here is a quick read if you are interested in how the Russian’s designed their training back in the days.

The paper is called The Russian Approach to Planning a Weightlifting Program [Preview Below] and is from 1995. So what was considered new then is already 17 years old by now.

Still interesting to see how they did their exercise grouping based on the varying effects on the human body etc.

Download: Available on Google Docs (choose ‘File’ – ‘Make a copy’ or ‘Download as’)

Below are some excerpts from it.

Exercise Grouping

Yury Zakharevitch CleanThe model presented here (Tables 2 and 3 below) is that of the national weightlifting team of the former Soviet Union.

To reach their highest potential, Soviet weightlifters must also include supplemental exercises such as squats, power snatches, and power cleans.

We combine different types of snatch and clean and jerk exercises in order to obtain the optimum results in the competitive lifts.

These types of exercises are classified into five groups (although some coaches put squats and pulls in one group):

  1. Classic snatch; Power snatch; Classic snatches from different starting positions; Power snatches from different starting positions.
  2. Classic clean; Power clean; Classic cleans from different starting positions; Power cleans from different starting positions.
  3. Classic snatch pulls; Classic clean pulls; Classic snatch pulls from different starting positions; Classic clean pulls from different starting positions; Bend-overs (good mornings with a barbell behind the neck).
  4. Back squats; Front squats; Splits (lunges).
  5. Classic jerk; Push-jerk; Push-press; Arm and shoulder exercises (press behind head, military press, etc.).

The first four groups emphasize overload in the lower body while the fifth group emphasizes overload in the upper body.

To avoid overtraining, one should combine the first four groups with the last group. This training structure is based on just one group of exercises per workout, as seen in the following example:

  • Monday: 1st and 4th groups
  • Tuesday: 5th group
  • Wednesday: 2nd and 4th groups
  • Thursday: 5th group
  • Friday: 1st, 3rd, and 4th groups
  • Saturday: 2nd and 5th groups

Alternating high intensity workouts with medium and low intensity workouts will help the weightlifter to recover properly and will prepare him or her for the next workout. According to this distribution, we plan and predict our intermediate goals.

Table 2: Example of Macrocycle Training, 5 Phases: Hypertrophy, Transistion to Basic Strength, Basic strength, Strength & Power, Peaking


Table 3: Example of the Workouts in each Phase



  • Charis

    I liked this article when I found it years ago, but it is a little contradictory and confusing.

    In basic strength phase, on Tuesday, it says “5th group”. So I go in and do 7 different overhead exercises over the day and nothing else? Even if you put in benching, “arm exercises” then its still crazy looking. And on Monday I do 8 different snatch or squat exercises?

    • B

      Charis, you don’t all the exercises from the group. I think they are meant to be varied.

    • steven

      Yes trying not to get overtrained by doing 7+ exercises every training …

  • P Pitman

    The link isn’t working at the moment.

    • GregorATG

      Google Docs Link? Works for me.

  • Leon

    The document is very interesting to read, but it seems not very useful for most of us. The given parameters are only vague and the number of workouts for most of us not doable.

    • GregorATG

      It was never intended to be your new training program. Did you expect you can just use Yuri Zakharevich’s program? 😉 It was just meant to be an interesting read, which it was for me.

      • Leon

        Not a new training program, but it would be interesting to adapt certain principles. However, I anyway enjoy reading such material. So, please post it whenever you find something.

  • MichaelK

    Where it says classic clean in group 2 is that Clean and Jerk or just a clean on its own?