Specialty Cycle: Olympic Lifting + Strength and Conditioning

Say hello to the newest specialty cycle at Paragon: Olympic Weightlifting Lifting Strength & Conditioning  (samples days of training are listed below!)

As always, our programs start with a deload week (a week of reduced volume/reduced reps/ reduced intensity) as existing members just tied up their previous training cycle cycle and need to give their body time to rest, relax, and recharge so they can lift heavy during the next 15 weeks. Similarly, new members who came from other programs need to do the same. Deload week will begin 4/5 and then first official training week will begin 4/12.

This will be a 15-week cycle. 

Program Details:

  • 4x/week training 
  • This a program for advanced athletes who already have experience and a background in Olympic Lifting. This is *NOT* a program for new lifters who are interested in trying Olympic Lifting for the first time
  • Each day will begin with Olympic Lifting work (snatch, clean, jerk), followed by compound exercises (squat, deadlift, etc), and then each day has a “Choose Your Own Adventure” component: you’ll have the choice between ending your day with conditioning or with bodybuilding
  • This is definitely a program cycle that focuses on performance (aka getting stronger, being able to lift more weight, and hit PR’s). We would not suggest dieting/being in a caloric deficit while on this programming track
  • If aesthetics are your main priority and focus, the new Physique cycle (also begins 4/5) would likely be a better program fit for you (:

Equipment Required: 

  • Barbell
  • Bumper Plates
  • Bench
  • Dumbbells
  • Squat Rack
  • A way to do Pull-ups (rings, pull-up bar, etc)
  • Rower or Assault Bike (*Only necessary if choosing Conditioning at the end of each day. Cardio equipment not required if you plan to end your day with the Bodybuilding option)

Sample Day from Paragon Olympic Lifting Strength + Conditioning:
*In our app, there are video demos for every movement

Day #1 – Oly + Upper Body (Horizontal Push/Pull Focus)
Parts B and C Repeat week to week. Track metrics for progression.
Part A will be Snatch-based, but won’t necessarily repeat exactly week to week

A. Two parts:
1. As a warm-up (meaning don’t go too heavy), work up in weight to a comfortable set of:
Snatch Balance + 2 Overhead Squat (pause at bottom of squat, lock in positioning etc…)

2. Work to challenging weight for complex:
Snatch Lift-off + Snatch High Pull + Power Snatch + Hang Squat Snatch

B. Flat Barbell Bench Press
Warm-up Sets: Reps 10-6-2 (increasing weight – final set of 2 Reps should be 10% heavier than work sets)
Work Sets – 3 x 6-10 Reps

C. Snatch-Grip Floor Row
Warm-up Sets: Reps 12-8-4 (increasing weight – final set of 4 Reps should be 10% heavier than work sets)
Work Sets – 3 x 8-12 Reps

D. Select ONE of the TWO options for Part D

Option #1 – Conditioning
As Many Reps as Possible in 2 Minutes (Rest 2 Minutes) x 2 Sets:
Sprint 200m
10 Box Jumps (high, explosive, step down safely)
Max Push-ups in remaining time

Option #2 – Hypertrophy
Superset Movements x 3 Sets Each:
Push-ups x 10-20 Reps
Straight-Arm Banded Pulldowns x 12-20 Reps
Rest 1-2 minutes

E. Alternate Movements x 2 Sets Each:
Weighted Plank x 45-60 seconds (heavy)
Rest 1-2 minutes
Ring, TRX, or Banded Face Pulls x 12-20 Reps
Rest 1-2 minutes

Day #2 – Lower Body (Quad/Glute Focus)
Parts A, B and C Repeat week to week. Track metrics for progression.
Part A will alternate between Front Squat and Back Squat each week

A. Front Squats
Ramp-up sets – Reps 8-4-1 (increasing – final set of 1 rep should be 10% heavier than work sets)
Work sets – 3 x 4-6 Reps

B. Split Squat of Choice (Rear Foot Elevated with BB/DB, No Elevation, or Front-Foot Elevated)

12 Reps per leg (BW only)

9 Reps per leg (light weight)

6 Reps per leg (moderate weight; approx. 60-70% of work sets)

Work sets – 2 x 6-10 Reps

C. Barbell Hip Thrusts
1 x 12-15 (light, warm-up)
Then Reps 10-8-6 (increasing weight)

D. 3-4 Rounds:
For Conditioning focus – Complete each round quickly, then rest 2-3 minute BETWEEN rounds
For Hypertrophy focus – Rest 1-2 minutes between each movement and complete only 3 rounds

10-15 Reps Heels Elevated Goblet Squat
10-15 Reps Toes to Bar OR Hanging Knee Raises
10-15 Reps Dual Russian Kettlebell Swing
10-15 Decline/GHD Sit-ups

Further Program Details:

Hey Paragon Fam, Bryan Boorstein here – Welcome to the newest specialty cycle from Paragon! This is a unique cycle with four robust training days and three very important rest days. Adaptations cannot take place without adequate recovery, and we value our rest days (and deload weeks) at Paragon!

This is a 15-week program, consisting of:

Pre-cycle Intro/Deload week

4-week progressive building phase (mesocycle 1)

Mid-cycle Deload week

4-week progressive building phase (mesocycle 2)

End of cycle Deload week

4-week progressive building phase (ramp to testing) (mesocycle 3)


This program will utilize Olympic Lifting as the “Part A” movement on three of the training days. This will allow the most focus on execution. It will also prime the central nervous system to optimize performance in the remainder of the session. 

On each day, Parts A, B and sometimes C will repeat week to week. There will be slight alterations in the rep scheme over the course of the program, but ultimately, your job is to show up and progress these main exercises. See below for additional insights into progressing the repeating movements. 

After the main “repeating” portions of the day, you have a choice, and you will select either:

Bodybuilding style work 


Conditioning (circuits, timed intervals, etc…). 

Many of you will probably ask if you can do both. If you are crushing the food and feeding yourself for PERFORMANCE, then this is feasible. However, if you elect to do both portions, it is possible that it will have a mal effect on the repeating movements and make it more difficult to progress these over the course of the cycle. As always, more isn’t necessarily better and recovery is king.


1. Proximity to Failure (“How Hard Should I Be Working?”)

First let’s define failure: We should assume that taking a set to failure means that you can no longer perform a rep with the same technique.

This does NOT mean that you contort your body to achieve another rep. That is beyond failure, because the intended musculature is no longer the one moving the weight.

Your first rep should look the exact same as your last rep, just a slower grind through the concentric portion of the rep.

We like to begin each 4-week progressive building phase (mesocycle) with approximately. 2-3 reps “in reserve” (or 2-3 reps shy of failure). This allows you to confidently progress reps or load week to week with the intention that you will reach 0-1 reps from failure by the final week before deload. The cool thing about this model, is that you get a sense of assessment at the end of each 4-week period and you can know accurately whether the training, nutrition and lifestyle you are living is “working.”

We *know* through research that you get the same hypertrophy with 2-3 reps shy of failure as you do going to failure (and potentially better strength gains). As a result, we find it prudent to enjoy these earlier weeks, shy of failure, as we prepare for the progressively harder training ahead.

In Olympic lifting, it’s even more important to avoid failure. Bad practice creates bad habits. Perfect practice teaches your body success.

2. Ramp-up Sets (we will refer to these as “Warm-Up Sets” within the programming in our app)

The reps may differ, but this is a common way we will conduct our repeating movements:

Flat Barbell Bench Press

Ramp-up sets – Reps 10-6-2 (increasing – final set of 2 should be 10% heavier than work sets)

Work sets – 3 x 6-10 Reps

We will assume that this person is using 100 lbs for their work sets. Here is exactly how this would play out in real life application:

Warm-up Sets:

55 lbs x 10 Reps

85 lbs x 6 Reps

110 lbs x 2 Reps

And then 100 lbs x 10-9-8 as their working sets

It’s important to understand that the your ramp-up sets (warm-up sets) should be low-fatiguing. That set of 10 Reps is meant to be a super easy effort in which you are just beginning to prepare the muscles for the work ahead (approx. 50% of the weight you’ll use for your first working set).

3. Progressing Between Mesocycles

The progression model is based on the idea that once a given set “tops out” the rep range, that you increase weight. Since the rep range is 6-10 for this exercise, if you make 10 reps, you would increase weight the next week. Given that we start the 4-week progressive building phase (mesocycle) with reps shy of failure, it wouldn’t be a surprise if you can make progress relatively seamlessly throughout the first mesocycle.

The first mesocycle is all about setting yourself up for success in subsequent mesocycles. During Mesocycles 2 and 3, the goal is to match the same level of effort as the training week dictates (2-3 reps shy of failure after a deload week, and working close to failure before the next deload week, as described above). If adaptations have taken place as we expect (i.e. you got stronger and are lifting heavier weights), then you can use the “general” guidelines below to add some direction to your training. 

The amount that you can progress from one Meso to the next will depend on a few variables:

  1. How hard (close to failure) you pushed in prior meso
  2. Your training age (novice, intermediate, advanced)
  3. Your familiarity with the repeating movements

For the advanced trainee, a good guideline or goal when beginning each new Mesocycle would be to begin the new Mesocycle with the weight from Week 2 of the previous cycle. Then they would progress forward from there with the objective to exceed week 4 performance during the “week 4” of the new meso. This is called “Wave Progression.”

So for example, if during Mesocycle 1, you went:


During Mesocycle 2, the hope would be to go:


And then Mesocycle 3, it might look like:

110-115-120- 125+

However, an early intermediate may be able try to match the week 3 performance from the prior meso, and still be able to progress forward from there for the entire 4-week progression. There is no rule here. It’s just important to match the intended effort level and let that dictate how much weight and/or reps you achieve. This is the best way to manage the accumulation of fatigue and provide yourself with the best opportunity to exceed performance in the assessment weeks

We’re super excited for this specialty cycle and hope you are too! Since a fair bit of our members come from a CrossFit background, we’re super excited to offer a program that let’s members do some Olympic Lifting alongside our signature style of programming. As always, we love helping you all look and feel good (:

Remember: Deload week begins Monday 4/5/21, so that’s when we’ll be starting the party!

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