How To Pick Your Openers and Competition Attempts

Wes Kitts 222kg Clean & Jerk | 2018 World Championships

Wes Kitts 222kg Clean & Jerk | 2018 World Championships

6 Minute Read

Picking your openers and competition attempts correctly is the first step in maximizing your performance at a weightlifting meet. Snatch what you can, Clean & Jerk what you must. We let this principle guide our selection process because no one has ever won a weightlifting competition with just the Snatch. You use the Snatch to set yourself up to be within striking distance of whatever you can Clean & Jerk. According to a recent report published on the Weightlifting Reddit forum (shoutout to author Mr. Flexappeal himself), California Strength athletes successfully made 62% of their competition attempts (Snatch and Clean & Jerk combined) between 2016 - 2018, significantly higher than the National average over the same period.

Several factors including intelligent programming and mental preparation contribute to this success rate but it all starts with the athlete : coach relationship. That is knowing your athlete and their true capabilities in the weeks leading up to the competition. Let reason guide your competition attempt selection process, not your ego.

Snatch Competition Attempts

The Snatch being the more technical lift and a longer movement pattern, we tend to open our lifters at a weight we know they are comfortable with and can execute under the added anxiety of competition. You should plan on opening around 92 – 93% of your One Rep Max (1RM) Snatch. That said, we condition our athletes at California Strength in training to be able to take big jumps when needed but when you’re competing for medals you cannot give away a lift in the Snatch.

  • Opener (First Attempt): 92 – 93% of your 1RM Snatch

  • Second Attempt: 95 – 96% of your 1RM Snatch

  • Third Attempt: 100% of your 1RM Snatch (or the weight you need to medal or keep yourself in the competition)

Clean & Jerk Competition Attempts

By the time you have reached the Clean & Jerk, you are a little fatigued but the body has warmed up and your mind is firmly entrenched on the task at hand. This becomes a strength contest with no time to make adjustments. At this point, we must rely on our training and grip and rip!

  • Opener (First Attempt): 94 – 95% of your 1RM Clean & Jerk

  • Second Attempt: 97 – 98% of your 1RM Clean & Jerk

  • Third Attempt: 100 – 101%* of your 1RM Clean & Jerk

*For your third Clean & Jerk attempt, you need to put on the bar what you need to win or secure a medal.

Peaking for a competition? Click here to get your Two-Week competition Taper Program!

Best of luck in your next competition!

Dave Spitz, CSCS, USAW Senior International Coach


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