Damect Dominguez

July 9, 2024

5 Keys to PR Your Snatch & Clean + Jerk: Part 2, The Squat & Push Press

In part 1 of this 5-part series on developing the snatch and clean + jerk, we discussed the importance of incorporating pulls into your training. You can find that full post here.

In part 2, we’ll be discussing the importance of the squat and push press. 

Let’s get to it…

Key #2: Get Strong in the Squat and Push Press

Strength work is an essential component of any successful Olympic Weightlifting program. Technique is important, of course, and we’ll discuss that topic in another post. However, to consistently improve in the snatch and clean & jerk, an athlete should also focus on developing other complementary exercises. Specifically, we’ll be discussing two of the most important exercises: the squat and the push press.

The Squat

The squat is a fundamental part of the Olympic lifts for several reasons. The squat develops leg strength, trains depth and stability, core strength, and movement mechanics, and provides several psychological benefits. Let’s examine each of these a little further.

1 - Leg Strength

  • Power Generation: The squat develops the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, which are essential for the explosive power required to lift the barbell off the ground and to drive it overhead.
  • Lift Efficiency: Strong legs enable lifters to generate more force, allowing for more efficient and higher lifts.

2- Depth and Stability

  • Catch Position: In both the snatch and the clean, lifters catch the barbell in a deep squat position. Regular squat training helps athletes develop the flexibility and strength needed to achieve and stabilize this position.
  • Recovery: After catching the bar, lifters need the strength to stand up with the weight. A strong squat ensures that athletes can recover from the catch position more easily.

3- Core Stability

  • Balance and Control: Squats engage the core muscles significantly, enhancing overall stability and balance. This is crucial for maintaining control of the barbell during both the lift and the recovery phases.
  • Injury Prevention: A strong core reduces the risk of injury by providing better support and alignment of the spine and pelvis during lifts.

4- Movement Mechanics

  • Technique Reinforcement: Squats reinforce proper movement mechanics, such as maintaining an upright torso in the front squat or a stable overhead position in the overhead squat. These mechanics are directly transferable to Olympic lifts.

  • Improved Mobility: Squatting helps improve hip, ankle, and thoracic mobility, which are vital for achieving the correct positions in the snatch and clean & jerk.

5- Specific Variations

  • Front Squat: Directly correlates to the clean by mimicking the rack position and requiring a strong upright torso. It also emphasizes quadriceps strength.
  • Overhead Squat: Directly correlates to the snatch by requiring stability and strength in the overhead position. It helps improve shoulder mobility and stability.

6- Psychological Benefits

  • Confidence Under the Bar: Regularly training with heavy squats builds confidence in handling heavy weights, which can translate to improved performance during Olympic lifts.
  • Mental Toughness: Squatting builds mental toughness and resilience, as it requires significant effort and focus, qualities essential for competitive weightlifting.

The Push Press

The push press is one of the best exercises to develop the strength, power, and technique necessary for the jerk. Many athletes may see the push press primarily as an upper-body exercise–and while there’s a lot of contribution from the upper-body, the majority of the strength needed to perform the lift should come from the initial dip and drive of the legs. 

This is what separates the push press from other overhead pressing exercises like the barbell strict press. While the strict press has its place in training, its carryover to Olympic Weightlifting is minuscule when compared to the push press. 

Let’s examine the benefits of the push press a little further.

1- Upper Body Strength

  • Shoulder and Triceps Development: The push press effectively targets the shoulders and triceps, which are crucial for the overhead phase of the jerk.

  • Stability and Control: Strengthening the muscles involved in the push press improves stability and control when the barbell is overhead, which is essential for both the snatch and the jerk.

2- Power and Explosiveness

  • Leg Drive: The push press incorporates a leg drive, helping to develop the explosive power needed to propel the barbell overhead in the jerk.
  • Transference to Olympic Lifts: The explosive leg drive and upper body extension in the push press closely mimic the dynamics of the jerk, enhancing overall performance in this lift.

3- Core Stability

  • Core Engagement: The push press requires significant core engagement to stabilize the torso and maintain balance during the press, improving overall core strength and stability.

  • Transferable Stability: This stability is directly transferable to both the snatch and clean & jerk, helping lifters maintain proper form and balance throughout the lifts.

4- Technique Improvement

  • Bar Path and Timing: The push press helps lifters practice maintaining a proper bar path and improving the timing of the dip and drive, which are critical components of a successful jerk.

  • Overhead Position: Regularly practicing the push press helps lifters become more comfortable and proficient with the overhead position, improving their ability to lock out and stabilize the bar.

5- Confidence and Mental Toughness

  • Handling Heavy Weights: The push press allows lifters to handle weights close to their jerk, building confidence in their ability to manage heavy loads overhead.

  • Mental Resilience: The effort required to execute the push press builds mental toughness, which is crucial for performing under pressure in competition.


Most athletes working on developing their snatch and clean + jerk should be squatting at least twice per week. This should include variations of both the back and front squat. The push press should be incorporated at least once per week. 

If you’re looking for a program that puts all this together for you - give Oly Strong a try!

Every single one of the 25 athletes that tested this program set personal bests in at least one variation of the squat, and the clean + jerk and snatch (this included beginner and intermediate lifters who trained in functional fitness). Again, If you want to blast through your old personal bests, this is the program for you!

Oly Strong: 12-Week Olympic Weightlifting Program
Oly Strong: 12-Week Olympic Weightlifting Program

Oly Strong: 12-Week Olympic Weightlifting Program


The main goal of this 12-week program is to increase your snatch and clean + jerk. Throughout this period, our emphasis will extend to your squat, pulling, and pressing strength. If you want to blast through your best lifts, and set new PRs this is the program for you!

You can run this program as a stand-alone program or alongside your functional fitness training. However, for best results, this should be run as a stand-alone program.

  • For the majority of the 12 weeks, you'll be training 4-5x/week.
    • 4 Strength-focused Days
    • 1 Optional Conditioning-focused Day
  • On average you'll be:
    • Squatting 2x per week
    • Pulling 3x per week
    • Pressing 1-2x per week
    • Snatching 2x per week
    • Cleaning 2x per week
    • Pressing 2x per week

The 12 weeks in this program are broken up into three four-week cycles. Volume and intensity will steadily increase during the first three weeks before pulling back on week four. Weeks one and two will be the easiest weeks (but not easy), as the goal is to introduce you to the program gradually. By week three, you'll be fully immersed in the program - with volume and intensity hitting new highs. Week four will be your first mini-deload – this should allow you to recover from the previous three weeks of training while priming your body for the next eight weeks. 

We'll be lifting to a daily max 1-2x/week on different lifts. Due to this format, you'll find yourself consistently hitting personal bests throughout the 12 weeks. 

Every single one of the 25 athletes that tested this program set personal bests in at least one variation of the squat, and the clean+jerk and snatch (this included beginner and intermediate lifters who trained in functional fitness). Again, If you want to blast through your old personal bests, this is the program for you!

This is a digital download product.

View Details

Have Any Questions?

We are here to answer all of your queries

Follow Team Training Day On Instagram