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How Much Squatting Do You Need in Olympic Lifting?

A common question in Weightlifting circles is, "how much squatting do you need to get better at the snatch and clean and jerk?” This question can largely depend on the needs of each individual lifter, but I think it also has a largely general answer.

The goal of Weightlifting is to have the highest snatch and clean and jerk. These are literally the only two lifts that matter. You never get tested for your squat strength on meet day. The best lifters are the ones who are great at the snatch and clean and jerk—not necessarily the squat.

Yes, squatting can give you the increase in leg strength that might allow you to lift more weight on the bar in the snatch and clean and jerk, but I think this has largely been overestimated by coaches.

For a newer lifter I don’t think they need to squat very much at all. They may need to front squat to get the mobility and movement of the front rack down, but their limiting factor is largely going to be their technique. No amount of squatting and increasing their strength is going to get them more technically sound.

For intermediate and advanced lifters you can make the argument that they need more squatting because they aren’t as limited from a technical perspective. Especially advanced lifters.

It all comes down to how you want to spend most of your time in the gym. You only have so much time to train and only a few things you can really focus on getting better at. One thing that squatting a lot will do is increase fatigue, which will allow you to put less energy into the snatch and clean and jerk.

We all know the lifters who can barely front squat more than their best clean and jerk. This is because they are extremely technically competent and their is very little energy being lost in unwanted movement during the lifts. We also know the lifters who are insanely strong, but can’t snatch very much because their movement isn’t great.

I say this slightly tongue-in-cheek, but there is also a lot of truth in the statement: “the best way to get better at snatch and clean and jerk is to snatch and clean and jerk.” Everyone loves squatting and being able to increase their strength on the squat. I do just as much as anyone else, but don’t forget the only two lifts that matter in Weightlifting are the snatch and clean and jerk. And to truly get better at these lifts we likely need to spend the majority of our time mastering these movements at appropriate levels of difficulty.

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