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A program for the supertotal

Powerlifting + Weightlifting = The Supertotal!

by Alec Enkiri | 12/20/19

Introduction

The Supertotal is the term for the unofficial combined total of an individual's powerlifting total and Olympic weightlifting total. So the 1RM for the squat, bench press, deadlift, snatch, and clean & jerk all added together comprise the Supertotal. There is no official Supertotal event that I'm aware of. If there was it would probably have to be spaced out over 2 days because doing all 5 lifts in a single day would be beyond exhausting. However, even though it's not an officially contested event there are still guys who want to maximize theirs simply for the motherfucking bragging rights. It takes a bad dude to put up a respectable number on all 5 of these lifts. Not to mention, being proficient at all of them would indicate a moderate degree of well-roundedness: lower body strength, upper body strength, lower body power, some semblance of speed, and mobility throughout the hips, ankles, shoulders, wrists, lats, thoracic extensors, etc.

In light of that, today I want to present a program that is designed to maximize the Supertotal. This is actually a program that I wrote several years ago after multiple requests to do so (here's the OG post if you're interested), but I still receive these requests pretty frequently today so I figured I'd revisit that program once again and make a few small amendments to it now that I like to think I know a little bit more than I used to. Before we jump into the meat of it though I think it's important to note a couple little disclaimers.

For one, this is not a program for beginners in either endeavor. The Olympic lifts tend to thrive with high frequency and generally a whole hell of a lot of submaximal practice, especially the more inexperienced you are with them. This program involves neither of those things because, quite frankly, it can't. If it did there would be no room left to train the powerlifts. And vice versa as well. If you were to incorporate all of the submaximal volume and secondary and accessory movements to the program that help to build mastery and maximize the powerlifting total there would be no room or energy left to train the Olympic lifts. So, by necessity, things will be left by the wayside here in both endeavors and corners will be cut. That's just the game you're playing. This is not a teaching program though; it's not going to promote technical mastery. If you're not already adequately skilled at both endeavors going into this program then I can promise you that you will get absolutely nothing out of it so please don't bother wasting your time.

Two, this is not a program for the faint of heart. It involves frequent, hard fought efforts; it's a lot of work for the legs; and the recovery between sessions is often going to feel incomplete due to the unavoidable overlap that is present when attempting to maximize both endeavors simultaneously.

I taught myself the Olympic lifts and spent about a year practicing them. My best lifts were a 245lbs snatch @ 152lbs (shown here) and a 310lbs clean & jerk @ 160lbs. I'm a lot stronger now than I was when I did these lifts, but I don't practice the full Olympic lifts anymore myself, just the hang power versions. I learned a heck of a lot during that year though and I'm very glad I spent that time working on them. Still, I'm not trying to hide anything so you should take my credentials for what they are with these lifts.

But if you are at least an intermediate trainee, already have a decent base of strength and muscle built up, possess at least a moderate degree of technical proficiency in the 5 applicable lifts, and you aren't afraid of a little bit of good old fashioned hard work then give it a go and crush some big weights along the way. Depending on your current experience level, you may or may not hit lifetime PR's on the individual lifts, but you will undoubtedly be able to concurrently build up all 5 lifts to a high enough degree that you will hit big PR's in the actual, cumulative Supertotal, while also building up your overall strength, muscularity, and raw power in the process. With that out of the way let's take a look at the program and then we'll discuss some of the finer details afterwards.

The Supertotal Program!

Weeks 1-3

Session 1 - Sunday

A. Squat

      • Ramp up to heavy set of 5 reps

B. Clean & Jerk

      • Ramp up to heavy double

      • Drop 30-50lbs and perform 3-5 doubles


Session 2 - Monday

A. Snatch

      • Ramp up to heavy double

      • Drop 30-50lbs and perform 4-6 doubles

B1. Bench Press

      • Ramp up to heavy set of 5 reps

      • Drop 20-30lbs and perform 2-3 sets of 5 reps

B2. Rear Delt/Upper Back

      • 3-5 sets of 15-20 reps


Session 3 - Wednesday

A. Squat

      • Use 85% of best set of 5 from Session 1

      • Perform 5 sets of 5 reps

B. Deadlift

      • Use 75% of current max

      • Perform 6-8 sets of 3 reps


Session 4 - Friday

A. Power Snatch

      • Ramp up to heavy triple

      • Drop 20-40lbs and perform 3-5 triples

B. Power Clean

      • Ramp up to heavy triple

      • Drop 20-40lbs and perform 3-5 triples

C1. Bench Press

      • Use 87.5% of best set of 5 from Session 2

      • Perform 5 sets of 5 reps

C2. Rear Delt/Upper Back

      • 3-5 sets of 15-20 reps

Weeks 4-6

Session 1 - Sunday

A. Squat

      • Ramp up to heavy set of 3 reps

B. Clean & Jerk

      • Ramp up to heavy single

      • Drop 30-50lbs and perform 4-6 singles


Session 2 - Monday

A. Snatch

      • Ramp up to heavy single

      • Drop 30-50lbs and perform 6-8 singles

B1. Bench Press

      • Ramp up to heavy set of 3 reps

      • Drop 20-30lbs and perform 3-5 sets of 3 reps

B2. Rear Delt/Upper Back

      • 3-5 sets of 15-20 reps


Session 3 - Wednesday

A. Squat

      • Use 85% of best set of 3 from Session 1

      • Perform 5 sets of 3 reps

B. Deadlift

      • Use 75% of current max

      • Perform 6-8 sets of 3 reps


Session 4 - Friday

A. Power Snatch

      • Ramp up to heavy double

      • Drop 20-40lbs and perform 3-5 doubles

B. Power Clean

      • Ramp up to heavy double

      • Drop 20-40lbs and perform 3-5 doubles

C1. Bench Press

      • Use 87.5% of best set of 3 from Session 2

      • Perform 5 sets of 3 reps

C2. Rear Delt/Upper Back

      • 3-5 sets of 15-20 reps

Notes & Explanations

Progressions

One thing to note on this program is that your legs are going to be doing a lot of work, probably more work than they're used to. They will feel tired at first, but eventually, if you pay proper heed to how your body is feeling and responding, they will adapt to the workload. Part of the beauty of the program is that all of the progressions (except for the deadlift) are auto-regulated. The heavy squat and bench work is done at the beginning of the week in the first 2 training sessions and is regulated by only working up to the best set of 3 or 5 reps that the body is capable of on that day. Later in the week, the sub-maximal work is done by taking a percentage of what was done on the heavy days. The same goes for the Olympic lifts. You only go as high as you are capable of on that particular day and your rep work is based on a percentage of this number.

The remainder of my personal Supertotal consists of a 530lbs squat (no wraps), a 315lbs bench press, and a 585lbs deadlift. All 3 of the powerlifts were done at a body weight between 155-160lbs.

This type of progression accounts for daily fluctuations in strength, technical proficiency, aggression, etc. and so you should concern yourself less with the actual weight on the bar each session, and more with getting in quality work and eliciting a training effect. The important thing is that there is a general upward trend over time, but not necessarily from session to session.

315lbs Bench Press @ 160

You'll also notice that the program is broken up into two distinct, alternating 3 week waves. The first wave has you working primarily with slightly lighter weights and the second wave has you working with slightly heavier weights. Either way, both waves still use the auto-regulated progression scheme. It would be prudent to compare one "light" wave only to another "light" wave, and one "heavy" wave only to another "wave." You can stack as many of these alternating waves on top of one another as you see fit. If you are still recovering well, enjoying yourself, and making progress from wave to wave, you could run the program indefinitely in this alternating fashion (12 weeks, 18 weeks, 24 weeks, etc.). Once you decide you are done with the program you could run a quick "peaking" block (I'll provide a sample protocol at the end of the article) and then test your lifts and move on to something else, or just stop whenever you feel like it and move on without peaking or testing.

Ultimately, the duration with which you are able to successfully run the program and continue making slow and steady gains is going to be dictated not just by the usual culprits, such as nutritional status, sleep quantity/quality, etc., but also by your level of patience. Since the progression is auto-regulated, one could (remember: Just Because You CAN Doesn't Mean You SHOULD) blast right out of the gates with an absolute max set of 5 reps on the squat and bench right from week 1 of the program and then claw and and grind for whatever scraps they could muster after that point. I probably wouldn't recommend going this route, but it is an option.

On the other hand, the prudent lifter will use the first week of a given wave to feel things out a little bit - work up to something challenging but not overly difficult; in the second week they'll push it a little bit harder, still leaving 2 or maybe even 3 reps in the tank on their heaviest sets of the day; and in the final week they'll push it near to the limit, but still probably not right away. After feeling things out in this fashion for a couple waves they will have not only built both momentum and confidence, but also their body will have had ample opportunity to adapt to the high workload. At that point they could play with the fire a little bit more and see how their body responds to it. This will give you the opportunity to stack multiple high quality efforts on top of one another over the course of several months. This is how massive strength and muscle are built in the long run.

585lbs Deadlift @ 155

Lastly, as for the deadlift, I recommend moving up slowly. Start at 75% of your 1 rep max (your real 1 rep max not your dream one) and add 10lbs after every 3 week wave. The main point here is that all reps should be smooth with the focus being on good bar speed and perfect form. If either of these is lost, you attempted too much weight. There should never be any real strain while deadlifting on this program as doing so would make it impossible to recover for the next session.

Exercise order

The heaviest work is performed at the beginning of the week in Sessions 1 & 2. Sessions 3 & 4 are either more volume based/use lower intensities, or use exercises that necessitate a lower load by their very nature.

In Session 1, squats are done before clean & jerks because we care more about making progress in the squat and we want to maximize this work by doing it while we're at our freshest. In Session 2, it is necessary to snatch first because the snatch is the most technical lift we'll be doing and we cannot be fatigued while we do it. The bench press will likely suffer as a result of slightly tired shoulders, but again, that's just the cost of doing business here.

I tried to place exercises that would create overlap as far from each other as possible, but there's only so much that can be done when one needs to squat, deadlift, bench, snatch, and clean multiple times in a week. Some soreness and fatigue will have to be worked through.

Rest periods

Take as much time as is necessary between sets - anywhere from 3-5 minutes is acceptable. The main goal is to build strength and that requires putting in the work in a quality fashion, not doing sets rapid fire to crank the heart rate up. The strength days may require more rest than the volume days; the C&J may require more rest than the snatch. Use your best judgment. Some of it is trial and error and some of it personal preference, but never lose sight of the main goal. These workouts are not exactly designed to be quick and will probably take anywhere from about 90 minutes to 2 hours to complete, depending on a myriad of factors. But such is the reality of chasing dual goals.

Rest days

The rest days are placed where they are for a reason. When the legs adapt, one can easily snatch the day after squatting and cleaning, however, it is prudent to take a day off after these two back to back heavy sessions. After taking a day off, one should feel somewhat refreshed for Session 3, but the combination of squatting and deadlifting in this session requires a rest day after it.

On the surface, Session 4 seems like a tough session due to 3 different exercises all being performed at a moderate volume, however none of the exercises are that tough to recover from. The power snatch/power clean are generally considered to be "easier" on the body, both mentally and physically, than are the full versions of the lifts so they won't create too much of a recovery deficit, nor will the bench press as it is far and away the least stressful of the 3 powerlifts. Thus, a single rest day after this session ensures that we start the next week off fresh and ready to wreck shit.

320lbs jerk @ 160. Double body weight overhead! Jerks were always my favorite part of Olympic weightlifting.

Possible Amendments

Here are just a few quick suggestions for some minor to moderate changes to the base of the program that some of you may find helpful. They're in no particular order or anything like that. These are just a few amendments that I would consider implementing depending on an individual's primary goals, circumstances, current vs past strength levels on certain lifts, etc.

  1. Cut out the deadlift work altogether.

    • If you're primarily a powerlifter or you just have a particularly strong deadlift and your deadlift motor pattern is very stable (or you simply find the deadlift work to be hard to recover from and detrimental to the rest of the program) you could simply cut it out of the program altogether. Chances are it won't get any weaker anyway as that is kind of the nature of the deadlift once it has been built. It probably won't get stronger, but it certainly won't get weaker and this will give you the opportunity to spend a little bit more time working on one of your weaknesses on the Olympic lifts, should you have one. If you have a weak jerk then practice jerks off the blocks. If you have a weak snatch or clean then do a few more doubles there using the weight you used as back-off weight earlier in the week.

  2. Switch the order of the exercises to better suit your personal needs.

    • I don't mean change how the sessions are organized during the week, but rather alter the order of the exercises within the training sessions if you find that better for your goals or needs. For example, if you have a weak clean then do the power clean before the power snatch in Session 4 . If you're clean & jerk is way behind your squat then put the clean & jerk before the squat in Session 1. You probably don't want to mess with the order of Session 2, but everything else is fair game. Flip things around to suit your needs.

  3. Swap the bench press work in Session 4 for a different horizontal pressing variation.

    • If you've been running the program for a little while or you're just bored of bench pressing twice a week then switch out the bench work later in the week for a secondary horizontal press variation. Options here would include the Larsen press, which is my personal favorite, close grip bench press, incline bench press, floor press, or even potentially weighted dips. The set/rep ranges listed in the program are still fine, but you'll need to figure out the proper loading for the new exercise.

  4. Swap the squat work in Session 3 for a different squat variation.

    • Same idea as with the bench press: just pick a different variation of the squat mostly just to give yourself some variety and keep motivation high. Options here would include the front squat, the zombie front squat, the SSB squat, pause squats, or even low bar squats. Make sure to adjust the load accordingly.

A Sample Peaking Protocol

For the peak I think things should be changed up a little bit. In powerlifting all 3 competitive lifts are tested on the same day and in weightlifting the 2 competitive lifts are obviously tested on the same day as well. However, for the purposes of regular training, I don't necessarily think it's ideal to perform all the powerlifts on the same day or all the Olympic lifts on the same day and this notion is represented in the actual program, but testing is different than training. Training is higher volume and actually builds more cumulative fatigue, meaning everything that comes after the initial lift and sequentially after that suffers more dramatically. This doesn't have to be the case with peaking or testing, however, because the per lift volume is much lower and therefore the overall fatigue ends up being lower as well.

So, for the peaking protocol the exercises are shifted around a little bit, pairing the powerlifts together with only the other powerlifts and the Olympic lifts together only with the other Olympic lifts, since fatigue is no longer as much of a factor and this gives you the opportunity to get used to performing these lifts sequentially as that is how it's done in competition.

Feel free to add in a little bit of assistance work after the main lifts during Session 1 or Session 2 here. One or two assistance movements for the upper body would be acceptable, as would something ancillary for the upper back or hamstrings. Just be sure to cut out all assistance movements during weeks 4 & 5 of the peak.

Lastly, the percentages for the snatch and clean & jerk during Session 2 are based off the top ramp-up set from Session 4 of the previous week. So for example, if you snatch 200lbs for a double during Week 2, Session 4 then for Week 3, Session 2 you will perform 5 sets of 2 reps using 170lbs during the snatch portion of the workout.

Drawbacks

Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting are both their own sports where men and women who focus solely on each endeavor lift insane amounts of weight in the respective competitive lifts. To attempt to train both at the same time is essentially attempting to ride 2 horses with your 1 ass and will, frankly, lead to sub-optimal results in both. There are simply too many demands from each one to be able to couple the two without leaving out some key aspects for progress in each.

This is how I do the Olympic lifts now. This is a PR triple on the hang power snatch with 205lbs.

Olympic Weightlifting is especially benefited by high frequency. Since the lifts are so technique dependent, the more often you can perform them, ultimately the better off you will likely be. In this instance, we only really have enough time/energy to perform the full lifts once each week and the power versions once each week. This is not going to lead to optimal progress.

The powerlifts on the other hand are probably best done at a moderate frequency, but coupled with several accessory exercises for the individual muscle groups involved. While also performing the O-lifts, however, we don't have the time or the energy for this secondary/accessory work and as a result our progress on the squat/bench/deadlift will ultimately, eventually suffer to at least a degree.

Final Considerations

Make no mistake, I'm not bashing the program. I wrote it and, given the challenges present with facing this dual goal, I think it's a damn solid program or I honestly wouldn't have published it. Now, as I stated earlier, it's not for everybody. It's certainly not for beginners in either endeavor and it's not for people who have limited time or recovery resources available to them, or who may just live an all around high stress life outside of the gym. It requires dedicated focus, patience (with regards to the training), consistency (with regards to the training, nutrition, and recovery), a lot of hard work, and ample amounts of desire to become better at both endeavors.

This sort of program seems to be something that a lot of people are interested in, but not a lot of people are confident about how to set up a protocol for it. So here you go. If you fit the bill here and you've got a few months you can commit to it, then give it an earnest go and let me know what you think of it. I'm always looking for feedback on my training programs! Just don't try to run it forever. Eventually, weaknesses are going to start to flare up and you'll want to address them as they do. Technical inefficiencies in the Olympic lifts will begin to rear their heads, specific weak points in the powerlifts that are better addressed through accessory and secondary movements rather than just more volume or intensity, that kind of thing. One thing you could do to help rectify this issue and get in more of this focused sort of work for each individual endeavor, would be, for example, to train exclusively for Olympic lifting for one block of training, then train exclusively for powerlifting in the block of training after that, and then run this program to maximize the Supertotal in the block of training after that. That's a long game, but if the Supertotal is what you're after, well that's how I would go after it myself.

Anyway, good luck guys!

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