Off-Season Lifting Program for Highland Games

To increase your performance in the heavy events the athlete needs to do two things. First the athlete needs to improve their technique in the throws.

Second the athlete needs to increase their physical power.

Power (speed-strength) as it applies to the athlete is defined as force x distance divided by time. In my opinion too many programs supposedly designed for athletes have nothing to do with improving athletic ability. In order to improve performance an off-season lifting program should incorporate three goals;

  1. Increase strength
  2. Increase power
  3. Decrease weak points

Required Exercises:

  1. Strength exercises should focus on multi-joint movements squats (Front and Back), deadlifts (conventional bent leg style), standing press, rows, pull-ups, bench press.
  2. Power exercises should also be multi-joint movements. Learn how to use your body as a unit because thatís what throwing is all about. The power exercises I am going to list can be done in any gym since everyone unfortunately does not have access to bumper plates. Power exercises are clean pulls, snatch pulls, push press, and power shrugs.
  3. Exercises for decreasing weak points will depend on the needs of the individual. If you have poor posterior chain flexibility (low back, hamstrings) incorporate more flexibility work. If you have a long torso relative to leg length you may need to focus on increasing your core strength (goodmornings, hyperextensions, heavy abdominal work especially the obliques).

Ok so how do you do pulls?

  1. First of all it is Ok to use straps on this exercise.
  2. Second foot position, ball of the foot is under the bar.
  3. Now squat down until shins touch the bar, grab the bar with either a clean or snatch grip.
  4. Make sure that your shoulders are slightly in front of the bar.
  5. Rotate elbow out (and keep them there) relax your arms and traps.
  6. Slowly pull the bar off the ground until the bar reaches the power position (just above the knees).
  7. When the bar hits the power position explode up (basically jump)
  8. Think jump then shrug.
  9. Since we usually base weights used in pulls off performance in the snatch or clean. However, if you have not done full snatch or cleans donít worry.
  10. We will use the height you can pull the bar as a performance measure.
  11. With lighter pulls the maximum bar height should reach approximately mid-chest.
  12. With heavy pulls the maximum bar height is approximately the height of your belly button.

Basic Program: Day #1-2 = strength days, Day #3-4 speed days

Day #1 (Monday)

Clean Pulls (Heavy)

Push Press

Back Squat


Day #2 (Wednesday)

Snatch Pull (Heavy)


Standing Press

Day #3 (Friday)

Clean Pull (Light)

Push Press

Front Squat

Day #4 (Saturday)

Snatch Pull (Light)

Rows or Pullups

Close Grip Bench Press


Anyone who wants more coaching on the pulls and push presses let me know.

Mike Gilpin

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