One of the folks attending the Program Planning Webinar in January was Warren Djemal who was kind enough to write in with some questions that might be of interest to the group as a whole.  I did one blog post on one set of questions from another attendee and was fulling planning on getting to Warren’s when I got deluged with the set-up for our local league season, and then some re-vamps to our webinar and seminar schedule that necessitated lots of revisions of the Powerpoints. 

Warren recently re-emailed me and reminded me that I hadn’t gotten to this questions so here’s my replies to Warren’s questions (which are in italics).


1. Kind of long winded, but after several revisions I couldn't find a way to ask this more succinctly.

When writing progressions and working out the average intensities for the classic lifts in your microcycles, how do you track and achieve the annual average relative intensity?

Slightly unrealistic example:

Preparation cycle

Snatch (80%/2)8

Clean & jerks (80%/2)8

Competition cycle

Snatch (85%/1)10

Clean & jerks (90%/1)6


Even with the warmups taken into account, these cycles will bump up the annual intensity quite a bit. In order to bring the annual intensity back down, you would need to adjust some other cycles in the year.

Are you parcelling out the number of bars at any given range at a macro level? Is the answer to this just math? If so, are there any methods you use to track and manage annual relative intensity across the macrocycle?

What you have to keep in mind are the power snatches, power cleans, push presses and power jerks.  They are all calculated off the 100% figures for the snatch and clean & jerk.  Because of this, the vast majority of repetitions in these exercises will lie in the 60-65% and 70-75% intensities ranges.  When these figures are calculated into the annual relative intensity loads, the average relative intensity will fall into the reasonable ranges.  If you are only thinking in terms of the intensities of the classic lifts, you are not directing enough attention to the development of speed (which comes from repetitions in the 60 and 70% intensity zones.  Speed and strength must both be trained in order to achieve optimal results and steady progress. 

2. For an unbalanced class 2 or 3 lifter whose power snatch/clean is very close (95%-100%) to their snatch/clean, have you found any particular exercise selection to be effective in improving the amount of weight they can receive below parallel?


For those athletes whose problem is what you stated there are several points that must be taken into consideration.  Some or all of them may apply.

·         They are lacking in strength.

·         They are too light in bodyweight for their height

·         Their technique on the classic lifts is not perfected

·         The average training intensity is too low

·         Not enough classic lifts are being programmed

Attempting to solve these issues through appropriate programming should find them moving in the direction of balanced development.


3. Probably the most intricate question: I have a small club with limited space and resources. (two men's bars, one women's bar, a couple of crappy bars, two pairs of stands and three platforms). I'm thankful for what I have compared to some clubs, but I struggle to manage when the gym packs out.

The lifters are either training for the sport of weightlifting and are at various development stages, with others training for general strength. Some of the non-competitive lifters have surgeries that prevent them performing certain exercises such as jerks. With all the variety in goals and exercise selection, the gym is often strained for space. Sometimes there is a clash where lifters will want to share stands for jerks and squats and the height differences are large.

Right now I set a hard cap on each session based on the gender and training goal. Currently I block out:

one platform and good men's bar for male weightlifters,

one platform and good women's bar for female weightlifters,

and one platform for general strength trainees using one of the crappier bars.

Weightlifters train for two hours at a time, general trainees for one.

I note from your website that you conduct weightlifting classes and barbell strength classes using an hourly format. Do you have any advice for arranging the flow of training, given the limited space?

Unfortunately I haven’t found any great solutions for this process which I’ve dubbed platform management.  I think you’ve probably figured out the solution that works best for you at this time.  Everyone is faced with some aspect of this at some point in their coaching careers. 

One thing that helps is to let athletes know that they can’t just camp out on a platform while they are doing non-platform related warm-ups and taping thumbs.  Platform space and time should be reserved for actually lifting weights.  Some individuals are just rather slow moving in between sets and sometimes it helps to pair them with faster training athletes. 

Right now I’m in a pretty much favorable situation with 10 platforms and additional stations available with power racks for the Barbell Strength class.  The scheduling was originally done by my partner who came from a Crossfit background and wasn’t familiar with the training modes of weightlifters and strength and conditioning athletes.  We set up established times for the classes to begin, but they quickly became the training session norms.  We occasionally encounter some traffic problems in which case my athletes will have to adapt to more platform and station sharing, but I think that this can actually be a benefit as far as maintaining pace goes. 

Here's wishing the best to Warren and any others that might find the information in my blogs helpful in your coaching and training.