Jenny Arthur, Weightlifting, CrossFit

How Weightlifters Perform Repetitions Speed, Control, and Consistent Repetitions

Some of the greatest moments I have is when I’m able to teach a new lifter something that I don’t consciously think about often. There are things only a coach can teach you, and these tools of the trade aren’t necessarily expressed in most literature. You know, that little trade trick that you learned and you save it in the back of your brain until you have the perfect time to bust it out and impress everyone! Yup, that’s what I’m about to teach you!

Because we are all students of this Weightlifting craft, there are several things we need to learn, and improve upon. For example, when you perform multiple repetitions in one set, take the least amount of time possible between each repetition in a given set.

When Weightlifters hear the word “Volume” they shriek!

“Generally, volume is calculated by sets X reps X weight; it is called volume because it is three dimensional, like the volume of a jar being length X width X height. Volume is likely the most important training aspect, as it must be increased over an athlete’s career, too much will lead to injury and overtraining, and too little will lead to stagnation.”

Blaine Sumner, Juggernaut Strength Training

Depending on the volume (sets X reps X weight) and intensity (percentage of your one rep max), you can and may need to perform repetitions differently. For example, *75%/3rx10s and 75%/10rx3s are the exact same volume, but completely different repetition ranges, and the difference in these repetition ranges, and intensities will affect the organism (your body) differently.

With that said, lower intensities should not take you nearly as long to perform as higher intensities. For instance, 75%/3r should not take as long as 90%/3r, but that doesn’t mean you can’t perform 75% in about the same time as 90%. The higher the intensity, the more energy it will take you to produce the same results at the similar speeds.
*r = repetitions; s = sets

So, as with all great lessons, I’m going to start with a story.

I teach mostly beginners, and I love it. To me, nothing is more satisfying, as a coach, than to take a lifter who was as green as grass to at least a national qualifying lifter. The process takes time, and I enjoy every moment.

My lifter (we will call him Thomas), is fairly new (six months experience) to Weightlifting. He, like many new lifters, always wants to max out.

Thomas – “Coach, are we going heavy today?”
Coach – “Heavy is relative, we will focus on getting better.”
Thomas – “Yes, but I just know I can snatch 75kg today. I was so close last time!”
Coach – “You were, I’m sure the next time you attempt that lift you are going to nail it. Today, let’s make a goal to not miss a lift. We have some triples, nothing is above 85%. Are you ready?”

Thomas’ first prescribed set is a Snatch triple at 75%. He takes the first lift (good lift), puts the bar down, steps back, adjust his shoes, takes a deep breath, and then successfully attempts his second repetition. Then, just before his third attempt, Thomas lets the bar go, tightens the weights on each side, centers the barbell on the platform, gets set into his start position and after about ten seconds too many, I (Coach) yell “STOP! I need to show you how Weightlifters perform repetitions”

Luis Mosquera (Colombia, -69kg) performs three Snatch repetitions.

A video posted by Luis Mosquera (@luisjavierhd16) on

So How Do You Perform Repetitions?

How you perform repetitions is completely up to your coach and the goal(s) you two have for the given exercise.
Probably all Weightlifters would agree that anything above two repetitions is cardio. But, Weightlifters need to perform an infinite amount of repetitions over their career, and even though the goal is to lift as heavy as possible, some of most important principles to lifting big weights are: Speed, Control, Consistency.
Speed. Maye coach wants you to take three consecutive repetitions without resting much, so s/he can observe how quickly you can move.
Consistency. Maybe coach wants you to take a double, but reset every time so s/he can observe your start position or other positions throughout the movement.
Control. Maybe coach wants you to slow down the tempo a bit to show mastery from various positions.
Whatever the case may be, there are various ways to perform repetitions, but three main reasons should be to display mastery of: Speed, Consistency, and Control.

Snatch 130/2 💪 @earthfedmuscle #weightlifting #olympic #earthfed #sport

A video posted by Alex Younghwan Lee (@alee_weightlifting) on

How to Improve My Repetitions of Volume?

Start with light weights. Don’t try this with your max. Start with the bar, start with your warm ups, and keep working at it with weights below your max (ideally 50-75% until your coach approves you to go heavier).

Develop a rhythm that works for you. You don’t have to go as fast as these elite lifters do in the video references. These guys are freaks of nature and that’s why they are the best. You can develop your own rhythm and pace that helps you successfully improve your repetition execution, but you have to practice.

Work on the three main principles: Speed, Consistency, and Control.

Weightlifters Also Perform Repetitions Like This:

The Continuous Rep Set

The Half Second Reset

The Drop, Reset, Go

A video posted by Morghan King (@kingmorghan) on

The No Standing Catch

Other than the arbitrary names I gave to the different ways in which these lifters took multiple repetitions, you may have noticed that while these lifters are different, what they have in common is:

  • Speed
  • Control
  • Consistency

When doing multiple repetitions (Volume), unless your coach says otherwise, you should focus on moving the weight in a fast, controlled, and consistent manner.

You will barely see elite level lifters take big breaks during a set. This goes for multiple repetitions for cleans, jerks, snatches, and squats, etc. So, why are you taking so much time in between?

Here is an exception to the rule:

There are always exceptions to the rules, just as there are many ways to do many things. So don’t take what I’m saying as absolute. Use this trade trick as needed.

 So, remember…

Speed, control, consistency is key if you want to improve your repetitions in Weightlifting. The sport is monotonous, and you need many repetitions to master your lifting. Take your time. Do not rush the process, enjoy the journey.

Try out the above example and leave a comment in the section below.

Happy lifting!

Anton Jefferson
Anton lifts weights, coaches, and publishes OLIFT Magazine.

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