Weightlifting, also called Olympic Weightlifting, is a competitive sport that contests the "Clean and Jerk" and "The Snatch."

Dan John's Big 21Edit

The best overall program we ever used was the “Big 21,” but we also used lots of adaptations for other athletes, like Paul Northway and Taylor Arrigo-Jones.

The “Big 21” DEMANDS a lot of conservative weight selections the first week or so and rewards the athlete with new levels of strength and toughness. The downside? Near exhaustion for someone not “in shape!”

The Big “21”
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Three Lifts only!
Clean and Press
Power Snatch
Power Clean and Jerk

Now, the confusing part!
Each workout, add five pounds to the
Opening Weight. After three weeks,
Opening Weight will be 45 pounds more!

1. All reps must be successful!
2. Start each rep from the floor with heels together, feet pointing out to 45 degrees. (You can choose NOT to do this...editor)
3. Do each rep under control-start with hips down, and fully extend!

Note well: each of the three lifts is to be done each of the three days a week. In addition, one is expected to add five pounds to EACH lift all nine workouts...over the three weeks. I have laughed many times when people have “adapted” this program and told me in an email that it wasn’t very hard. One guy only did presses on Monday, snatches on Wednesday and jerks on Friday...and noted the 21 reps were a breeze.
Sure! That was only 1/3 of the workout each day. What always amazed the athletes is how fast this workout goes. Constant plate moving seems to speed the lifting up. Reps and Sets...for each of the three lifts!

Opening Weight x 5
Add five pounds x 5
Add five pounds x 5
Add five pounds x 1
Add five pounds x 1
Add five pounds x 1
Add five pounds x 1
Add five pounds x 1
Add five pounds x 1
Total Repetitions: 21
You see: the Big 21!

Record end weight Clean & Press Snatch Jerk
Session One ____ ___ __
Session Two ____ ___ __
Session Three ___ __ __
Session Four ____ ___ ___
Session Five ____ ___ ___
Session Six ____ ___ ___
Session Seven ____ ___ ___
Session Eight ____ ___ ___
Session Nine ____ ___ ___

One hint: you may wish to only do “threes” on the Clean and Jerks. At the end of three weeks, take a week off of heavy lifting, then go to the Transformation Program for a week or two before repeating.

Assuming a 45# start weight for the first lift (Clean and Press) would look like:
45x5, 50x5, 55x5, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85x1.


1. 45 x 5
2. 50 x 5
3. 55 x 5
4. 60 x 1
5. 65 x 1
6. 70 x 1
7. 75 x 1
8. 80 x 1
9. 85 x 1

Repeat for the other two lifts (Power Snatch and Power Clean & Jerk), with appropriate weights for each lift.

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