In Olympic Weightlifting competitions, the snatch is the first lift contested. Plain and simple, it’s described as one movement to move the bar from the floor to overhead. It’s a feat of power, strength, stability, and mobility. It takes time and dedication to enhance all of these qualities that allow you to perform this swift movement with flawless technique.

If you’re new to the sport of weightlifting, take a moment to check out The Ultimate Guide to the Olympic Weightlifting Lifts and keep reading to get started with this 8-week snatch starter program.

The 8-week snatch starter program is your guide to success. It comes packed with everything you need to embark on your Olympic Weightlifting journey. A mobility routine to improve flexibility in your shoulders, T-spine, wrists, hips, and ankles, along with easy-to-follow instructions. The starter program focuses on teaching you proper positions and progressions to build strength, with additional accessory exercises to keep your body strong and resilient during training.

Once you’ve mastered the snatch, why not push your limits further? Enter our 12-week Olympic Weightlifting Starter Program, crafted to enhance your performance in the snatch, clean, and jerk lifts. It’s your next step toward achieving new milestones in your weightlifting journey.

Snatch Starter Program Layout

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 Snatch or technical variations. These lifts always come first, driven by technique, 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 the preceding snatches is essential. However, you must maintain form throughout. Sloppy repetitions only reinforce improper positions, which we aim to avoid.

Accessory Lifts

Accessories are the foundation for building 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 in which excessive fatigue compromises your performance on subsequent training days.

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How To Run The Snatch Starter Program

Everything you need to know about the snatch starter program is here so read on to start your path towards progression!

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 sequences:

  • Snatch: 4 sets, 2 reps – 4 sets of Snatch-Snatch.
  • Hang Above the Knee Power Snatch + Overhead Squat: 4 sets, 2+1 reps – 4 sets of Hang Above the Knee Power Snatch-Hang Above the Knee Power Snatch-Overhead Squat.
  • Hang Mid-Thigh Snatch + Overhead Squat: 3 to 5 sets, (1+1)2 reps. – 3 to 5 sets of Hang Mid-Thigh Snatch-Hang Mid-Thigh Snatch-Overhead Squat.

How Much Should You Lift In This Program

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 Snatch triple (3 reps total) will be much lower than a Snatch single (1 total rep). 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 3-5% 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 Snatch, incorporating additional strength or bodybuilding exercises can be beneficial. Feel free to include them at the conclusion of your workouts after you have completed the accessory exercise circuits.

Barbell Snatch
Rob Hammer / Aurora Photos / Getty

Snatch Starter 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 Snatch 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 sequences:

  • Snatch: 4 sets, 2 reps – 4 sets of Snatch-Snatch.
  • Hang Above the Knee Power Snatch + Overhead Squat: 4 sets, 2+1 reps – 4 sets of Hang Above the Knee Power Snatch-Hang Above the Knee Power Snatch-Overhead Squat.
  • Hang Mid-Thigh Snatch + Overhead Squat: 3 to 5 sets, (1+1)2 reps. – 3 to 5 sets of Hang Mid-Thigh Snatch-Hang Mid-Thigh Snatch-Overhead Squat.

Rest Periods

Keep your rest periods from 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.



Mobility is a prerequisite for learning the snatch lift. Adequate shoulder, t-spine, wrist, hip, and ankle mobility is your best ally. Here are a few of my favorite mobility exercises to incorporate into your warmup and cooldowns.

  • Supine Pec Stretch – :30 (each side)
  • Cat/Cow – x10
  • Side Lying T-Spine Rotation – x10 (each side)
  • Samson Stretch – :30 (each side)
  • Supine Hamstring Holds – :30 (each side)
  • Banded Ankle Mobility – :30 (each side)

Bar Warm-Up

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.

Snatch Warmup Exercises (Perform 2-3 Rounds)

  • Snatch Grip Behind the Neck Press x3
  • Snatch Grip Behind the Neck Push Press x3
  • Tall Muscle Snatch x3
  • Overhead Squat x3
  • Snatch Balance x3
  • *Snatch Movement for the Day x3

* Perform 3 reps of the prescribed Snatch movement for the current day’s workout.

Fit Man performing a barbell snatch exercise as part of the 8 week snatch starters program
Oleksandr Zamuruiev

The 8-Week Snatch Starter Program For Olympic Size and Strength


Day 1 Snatch, Back Squat

A1. Hang Mid-Thigh Snatch + OHS: 3 to 5 sets, (1+1)2 reps.

B1. Snatch Grip Behind the Neck Press: 3 sets, 5 reps.

C1. Back Squat: 3 sets, 5 reps.

D1. Dumbbell Single-Arm Row: 3 sets, 8-12 reps.

D2. Pank Pull-Through: 3 sets, 10 reps ea.

Day 2 Snatch Technique, Overhead Squat Strength

A1. Snatch Grip Push Press: 4 sets, 2 reps.

B1. Overhead Squat: 3 sets, 3 reps.

C1. Snatch Pull, Pause (:02) Above Knee: 3 sets, 4 reps.

D1. Seated Arnold Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps.

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

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

Day 3 Snatch, Snatch Pull, Back Squat

A1. Snatch, Pause (:02) Above the Knee: 4 to 6 sets, 2 reps.

B1. Snatch Pull w. Lowering (:03): 3 to 4 sets, 3 reps.

C1. Back Squat: 4 sets, 4 reps.

D1. Chin-Ups: 3 sets, 5-8 reps.

D2. Seated Leg Extension: 3 sets, 8-12 reps.

D3. Weighted Straight Leg Sit-Up: 3 sets, 10-15 reps.

PHASE 2: Weeks 5-8

Day 1 Snatch, Snatch Strength, Back Squat

A1. Hang Snatch Below the Knee: 4-5 sets, 2 reps.

B1. Snatch Grip Behind the Neck Push Press: 3 sets, 3 reps.

C1. Back Squat: 5 sets, 3 reps.

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

D2. Chest Supported Incline Dumbbell Row: 3 sets, 8-12 reps.

D3. Farmers Carry: 3 sets, 30 seconds ea.

Day 2 Power Snatch, Snatch Strength, Snatch Pulls

A1. Hang Above the Knee Power Snatch + Overhead Squat: 4 sets, 2+1 reps.

B1. Snatch Balance: 4 sets, 2 reps.

C1. Snatch Pull, Pause (:02) Below the Knee: 3 sets, 3 reps.

D1. Barbell Glute Bridge: 3 sets, 6-8 reps.

D2. Single-Arm Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps ea.

D3. Band or Cable Pallof Press: 3 sets, 10-15 reps ea.

Day 3 Snatch, Snatch Pull, Back Squat

A1. Snatch: 4 sets, 2 reps

B1. Snatch Pull: 4 sets, 2 reps

C1. Back Squat: Work to a Top Set of 5 reps

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

D2. 2-Dumbbell Split Squat: 3 sets, 6-8 reps (each side)

D3. Weighted Side Plank: 3 sets, 30 seconds