It is a common practice for high level Olympic weightlifters to train nearly every day of the week, often training more than one time a day to accumulate enough training hours to become masters of the snatch and clean and jerk.
The most advanced Olympic weightlifters train anywhere from 6-10 workouts per week. These lifters will often train more than one time per day so that they can still have one full day of rest throughout the week. Beginner weightlifters do not train everyday, and will typically perform 3-5 workouts per week.
In this article, we will discuss the various training frequencies of Olympic weightlifters based on their training program goals, training age and experience, and overall expectations for performance.
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Do You Need to Train Everyday?
No. For most lifters, even some of the highest achievers, training every day will cause more harm than good.
First and foremost, training every day requires a skillful coach and athlete, who understands how to listen to the body, allow for adequate recovery, and control other stressors such as sleep, diet, and work/life stress.
Most intermediate and advanced weightlifters, who are still actively pursuing aggressive goals, will train 4-7 days a week, however that wide range of training frequency can depend on many factors, which we will discuss below.
It is important to remember that while training is key, recovery is as well. Many beginner and intermediate lifters will assume more workouts per week is better for progress, which may in fact be true, if and only if they can follow a program that allows for optimal recovery between sessions and does not place them in an overtrained state.
In other words, you can’t train hard every day of the week.
For most individuals, training 5 days a week will often produce similar if not better results than training every day mainly due to their ability to recover between training sessions.
4 Factors That Influence Training Frequency in Olympic Weightlifters
Below are four factors that influence one’s ability to train more frequently.
While these may vary person to person, the 4 factors are some of the most important ones to address when determining workout splits and training programs.
1. YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Your level of expectations for your training can determine the amount of work you put in.
The greater results you expect, the more time and training sessions you will need to complete to master technique, develop strength, timing, and allow the body to respond to training stress over a long term period.
While this may also depend on your current ability levels and injuries, it is important to remember that like anything, the more you want to succeed, the harder you must work.
Be sure to review the training frequency recommendations section below to get a more concrete understanding and answer on how many days per week you should train Olympic weightlifting.
2. CURRENT ABILITIES
For some lifters who are simply looking to maintain their current weight lifting skill, or are simply not highly concerned with competing, they can train less frequently.
Conversely, an advanced lifter who wants to pursue competing at higher levels will often have to train every day of the week (or at least 5-6 days with double sessions per day) to address strength limitations, fine tune techniques, and work to prevent injuries with accessories and corrective training.
For beginner and intermediate lifters, the emphasis on technique training is higher, which means that the more they can train (based on recovery and time restrictions), the better, as they will be able to accumulate more training time with the barbell to learn the months and address technical faults quicker.
3. ABILITY TO RECOVER
As with all training, recovery is a necessary process that allows the muscles, connective tissues, and nervous system to rest, recover, and adapt to training stimuli. Without ample recovery, the body will often be driven towards injury and diminished performance.
There are a slew of factors that can influence recovery, such as sleep, nutrition, hydration, work/life stress, training age, chronological age, weight amounts lifted, supplementation, and programming (the type of program and methods used).
While this is a very broad topic, it is important to remember that there are times in training where the coach/program is attempting to beat the lifter or body down, with the hopes that once recovery is applied they will be able to adapt and progress.
4. ABILITY TO TRAIN (TIME)
One of the more obvious factors that dictate your ability to train more frequently is the amount of time you can devote to training in a given week. Training daily requires not only time in the gym, but also meal prepping time, sleeping, stretching, and recovery.
Many individuals Will often think that 6-7 workouts a week is better than 4-5 workouts paired with good nutrition and rest. If you are not able to commit to eating right, sleeping, and allowing for recovery when you train 4 days a week, you most likely should focus on those before you step up your train to 5+ days per week.
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How Do You Know if You are Training Too Much?
Overtraining is not as common as many think, however it is something more advanced lifters must be concerned with. Beginners seldom create enough metabolic distress and neurological disruptions to produce significant amounts of chronic stress that leads to overtraining, however it is possible.
Common symptoms of overtraining are:
Excessive muscle soreness
Lack of motivation
Decreased performance in repeated bouts of training
Increase perceived level of difficult of sessions you have done before
Loss of appetite
Mood disturbances and swings
While these symptoms are not end-all’s, they do give us an outline so that we are better in tune with our body. It’s important to remember that we all have bad days, however if you have all other things in check (sleep, work stress, nutrition, hydration) and cannot explain what is going on reasonably, there could be a strong chance you are overtraining.
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How Many Days Per Week Should You Train Olympic Weightlifting
Below are five common types of goals people have when looking at improving in Olympic weightlifting. As the goals and expectations progress, so does the level of time commitment, as well as a deeper focus on Olympic weightlifting specific training, nturtion, recovery, and lifestyle modifications.
GOAL #1 – TO BE PROFICIENT AT THEM, BUT NOT EXCEPTIONAL
If you are new to Olympic weightlifting, or simply looking to increase your basic understanding of the lifts without taking up too much training time, you can use a 3-day per week training program that also incorporates strength work and accessories.
This is often a recommendation for beginners or individuals who cannot commit to a fuller training program. A 3-day program will often produce good results, however training 4-5 days a week will lead to great results as more technique, strength, and mobility work can be done.
GOAL #2 – TO INCREASE YOUR SNATCH, CLEAN, AND JERK, BUT ALSO DO OTHER FITNESS
If your goal is to improve your weightlifting technique, but not invest all your training hours into this specific style of training, a 3-day Olympic weightlifting focus training program will suffice.
In this program, you can incorporate weightlifting complexes to maximize training volume and technology work, but also save time to allow you to work other aspects of your fitness (such as strength, endurance training, bodybuilding, etc).
GOAL #3 – TO COMPETE IN OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING AT A LOCAL OR INTERMEDIATE LEVEL
If you are a weightlifter who wants to compete at a local or intermediate level, it is recommended that you train at least 4 days per week.
The additional training day will allow you to train the lifts more frequently, add in additional strength work, and begin to educate the body and mind on how to lift heavier loads more efficiently and consistently.
One of the biggest differences between competitive lifters and recreational lifters is the inability for many recreation lifters to be able to subject themselves to lifters above 70% loads for reps, day in and day out.
Lifting less than 70% in training often does not translate to effective training loads for Olympic weightlifting (other than specific skill and warm up drills). Therefore, greater time and dedication is needed to train lifts and their variations, often meaning training other aspects of fitness less.
GOAL #4 – TO COMPETE IN OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIFTING AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL AND ABOVE
At this stage, most elite weightlifters will train 5-6 days a week, with some performing muslute training sessions per day.
There comes a time when a lifter is on the cusp of breaking into the elite class of a weightlifter. This may mean qualifying for a national championship, winning a national event, and embarking on international competitions.
It is at this point that a lifter must make sacrifices within their day to day training and lifestyle to accommodate the more aggressive training and recovery demands. This often means sleeping more, eating more, and minimizing stress from other factors like work, family, and friends.
As competitions approach, weightlifters may adjust training frequency to allow for greater recovery, however generally speaking they will train most days, if not every day of the week except one (and training more than one time per day).
Olympic weightlifting training requires a great deal of time and effort to develop optimal technique, timing, power, mobility, and strength.
As a lifter progresses in their development and expectations, training frequency often increases, with elite level athletes training 7+ sessions per week (mostly in the form of double sessions… training more than one time per day). While elite Olympic weightlifters train many sessions a week, they typically do reserve at least one full day or rest and recovery per week.
If you are curious as to how often you should be working out to achieve the goals you are seeking, it is important to understand where you are starting from and the factors that influence your ability to train to best determine your optimal training frequencies.
About The Author
Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.
Mike has published over 500+ articles on premiere online media outlets like BarBend, BreakingMuscle, Men’s Health, and FitBob, covering his expertise of strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, fitness, and sports nutrition. In Mike’s spare time, he enjoys the outdoors, traveling the world, coaching, whiskey and craft beer, and spending time with his family and friends.