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AI Weightlifting Program Is Still In Its Infancy

Published: 2024-03-28
AI Weightlifting Program Is Still In Its Infancy
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It was inevitable. Artificial Intelligence has taken over our collective psyche as a new enhancement for all areas of endeavor. When the general public knows that your field of endeavor is AI-driven, it automatically grows in cachet.  

It’s not surprising, therefore, that the same would happen with the sport of weightlifting.  Ads for AI-generated programming are popping up all over the cybersphere.  Being a typical old-school coach who knows something about programming, I had to test it out and see what would come up.  


I provided the following query to Chat GPT 4.0:

 Can you write a competitive weightlifting training program?


ChatGPT replied:



Creating a competitive weightlifting training program involves several considerations, including the athlete's current strength levels, competition goals, and any areas that need improvement. Typically, such a program focuses on the two Olympic lifts, the snatch, and the clean and jerk, alongside accessory work to build strength, power, mobility, and stability. Recovery, nutrition, and psychological preparation are also crucial components.

Here's a simplified 8-week training program designed for an intermediate weightlifter aiming to improve their performance in competition. This program assumes the athlete has a solid foundation in both lifts and has been training consistently. It's also important to tailor the program to the individual's needs, taking into account their recovery, technique, and any previous injuries.


Weekly Structure:

  • Monday: Snatch Focus + Strength
    • Snatch: 5 sets of 2 reps at 80-85%
    • Back Squat: 5 sets of 5 reps at 75-80%
    • Snatch Pull: 4 sets of 3 reps at 90-95% of snatch
    • Core work
  • Tuesday: Clean and Jerk Focus + Power
    • Clean and Jerk: 5 sets of 2 reps at 80-85%
    • Front Squat: 5 sets of 5 reps at 75-80%
    • Clean Pull: 4 sets of 3 reps at 90-95% of clean
    • Plyometrics (box jumps, etc.)
  • Wednesday: Active Recovery
    • Light aerobic work (swimming, cycling, etc.)
    • Stretching and mobility work
    • Optional light technique work with very low weights
  • Thursday: Technique + Accessory Work
    • Technique drills for both snatch and clean and jerk at 50-60%
    • Push Press: 5 sets of 5 reps
    • Pull-ups: 3 sets to failure
    • Core work
  • Friday: Heavy Singles + Strength
    • Snatch: Work up to a heavy single (not max)
    • Clean and Jerk: Work up to a heavy single (not max)
    • Deadlift: 5 sets of 5 reps at 75-80%
    • Accessory leg work (lunges, step-ups)
  • Saturday: Volume + Accessory Work
    • Snatch: 6 sets of 3 reps at 70-75%
    • Clean and Jerk: 6 sets of 3 reps at 70-75%
    • Overhead Squat: 4 sets of 4 reps
    • Core and back accessory work
  • Sunday: Rest
    • Complete rest or active recovery focusing on stretching and mobility.


At least it knows what the term weightlifting means.  I assume that the preceding program is to be followed over and over for 8 weeks. 


I then got a little more specific and proposed the following prompt:


I would like it to be week 1 of a preparation mesocycle for a Master of Sport. Please include daily and weekly volumes for all reps in the 60% intensity zones and above.


To which ChatGPT responded:


For a Master of Sport embarking on Week 1 of a preparation mesocycle, the training must be meticulously structured to enhance performance while carefully managing fatigue. This level of athlete requires a program that balances intensity, volume, and recovery to optimize adaptations. The following program focuses on lifts at or above 60% intensity, as requested, with an emphasis on building a strong base for subsequent higher-intensity phases.


Training Program Overview - Week 1

Note: All percentages are based on the athlete's current 1 Rep Max (1RM) for the respective lifts. The volume is calculated as the total number of repetitions performed at or above 60% intensity.

Monday - Snatch Focus Day

  • Snatch
    • 3 sets x 3 reps at 70% (9 reps)
    • 3 sets x 2 reps at 75% (6 reps)
  • Back Squat
    • 4 sets x 5 reps at 70% (20 reps)
  • Snatch Pull
    • 3 sets x 3 reps at 80% (9 reps)
  • Total Volume: 44 reps

Tuesday - Clean and Jerk Focus Day

  • Clean and Jerk
    • 3 sets x 3 reps at 70% (Clean and Jerk counted as 1 rep together, 9 reps)
    • 3 sets x 2 reps at 75% (6 reps)
  • Front Squat
    • 4 sets x 5 reps at 70% (20 reps)
  • Clean Pull
    • 3 sets x 3 reps at 80% (9 reps)
  • Total Volume: 44 reps

Wednesday - Active Recovery

  • Emphasis on mobility and light technical work, staying below 60% intensity. No volume counted towards the total.

Thursday - Technique and Volume Day

  • Snatch Technique Work
    • 5 sets x 2 reps at 60% (10 reps)
  • Clean and Jerk Technique Work
    • 5 sets x 2 reps at 60% (10 reps)
  • Overhead Squat
    • 3 sets x 4 reps at 60% (12 reps)
  • Total Volume: 32 reps

Friday - Heavy Lifts Day

  • Snatch
    • Work up to a heavy single (90-95%) - not counted in volume at 60%.
  • Clean and Jerk
    • Work up to a heavy single (90-95%) - not counted in volume at 60%.
  • Deadlift
    • 4 sets x 3 reps at 70% of clean (12 reps)
  • No other volume counted as specified.

Saturday - Accessory Work and Volume

  • Snatch Deadlift
    • 4 sets x 4 reps at 70% of snatch (16 reps)
  • Push Press
    • 5 sets x 3 reps at 70% (15 reps)
  • Total Volume: 31 reps

Sunday - Rest

  • Full rest day to ensure recovery.

Weekly Volume Summary:

  • Total Weekly Volume at ≥60% Intensity: 151 reps

This program is designed to enhance the technical proficiency and strength of a Master of Sport during the initial week of a preparation mesocycle. It's important to adjust the load and volume based on the athlete's recovery and feedback. As the mesocycle progresses, volume and intensity should be carefully managed to avoid overtraining while maximizing performance improvements. Collaboration with a coach experienced in working with high-level athletes is crucial to tailor the program to the athlete's specific needs, monitor progress, and make necessary adjustments.




Coach Takano Weightlifting Program


This is the Week 1 program I wrote for a Master of Sport athlete.  It was tested on actual weightlifters, and it worked well.  The weekly volume is 577 compared to the AI weekly volume of 151. 





Limitations of AI

AI can only provide answers from the data available online.  Most of the classic programming texts have not been digitized and published online.  Therefore, the available program samples are limited.  Furthermore, AI never takes into consideration the talent of the athlete.

The fundamentals of classic programming, the principles of periodized programming, the functions of the fundamental exercises, and basic human physiology all need to be made available online before AI can assimilate them and make intelligent programming decisions.


The Posting Problem

Currently, there is a paucity of programming information and samples available online.  Furthermore, there is no vetting of what is being posted.   It is entirely possible that the majority of training programming posted may be mediocre at best.  I can easily envision dozens of poorly designed programs being posted online, and that will provide the basis upon which AI will make decisions.  The worst-case scenario is always a possibility. 


The Caveat

AI programming may be better than nothing, but novice weightlifters need to be cautious.  In all probability, it will be many years before AI can reliably write sound weightlifting programming, if at all.  The great apprehension on my part is that newcomers will not make the progress that they are capable of and fail to truly understand the benefits of the sport.  Consultation with an experienced coach is always recommended. 


If you're in need of a plan for learning weightlifting techniques or training programs for Beginners, Intermediates, and Advanced, you can sign up for a free 14-day trial of my latest membership site, Takano BarTech, at https://takanoweightliftingcoaching.net/vsl-order-form3qnol597