The Top 4 “Big” Lifts to Build Your Strength Program Around

How providing your athletes with a smaller variety of “Big” movements will allow them to progress faster and build a wider base for long-term strength gains. 

When I design programs for any of my High School teams there is always one thing I keep in mind…

“How do I allow these athletes to attain MASTERY over their focus lifts”

Reaching a level of mastery is so important with young athletes because their volume of experience is very limited.  This causes their technique to slip and the overall benefit from the strength training to be diminished.  If you have the goal of teaching your athletes to Olympic lift or if you want them to put up impressive numbers with power movements then you better spend time building up their foundation.

The 4 “Big” lifts I believe are the foundational building blocks of any strength program are…

Front Squat


Push Press

Pull Up

Once an athlete has reached a level of mastery with these 4 lifts they can begin to progress into a truly advanced strength program.

If you overlook these 4 lifts and throw your athletes directly into a program that has compound movements such as the Hang Clean, Snatch, or Jerk you are doing your athletes a great disservice.  As the saying goes,” you can’t put the cart before the horse”.  Without the strength qualities required to perform the Front Squat, Deadlift, Push Press, and Pull Up your athletes will not reach the long-term strength potential they possibly could attain.

These 4 lifts are the foundation of all compound movements and should be the focal point of your programming for your developmental athletes and should be a common occurrence in year-round programming for your advanced athletes.

Remember, the quality of your strength program should be judged based on your athlete’s technical proficiency, the rate of injury occurrence, and their ability to handle a heavy load with mastery.  Not, how cool it looks on video or how much they can lift regardless of form.

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