Training Lessons from Jon North

Note by Mehdi. This is a guestpost by Coach Glenn Pendlay MS USAW, whose Olympic Lifter Jon North relies on the 5×5 method to develop his leg strength.

Jon North, here right after Squatting 210kg for 5 reps

Jon North, here right after Squatting 210kg for 5 reps

Today Jon North snatched 160kg in the 94kg class. This is only 5kg under the American Record and is the best snatch of any American lifter in the last couple of years. Jon achieved this despite a relatively short time in the sport, and I have no doubt that the record is going down soon.

This is what it takes to mount an attack on an American Record.

Training must be your job, your full time job. John trains on average 12 times a week. He spends on average 4 hours per day training. He lifts to his limit every session. But this is a small part of it.

To recover and improve under this program requires that an athlete have little or no social life. Not even one night can go by where you do not get enough sleep. Just because you are “only” training 4 hours per day doesn’t mean that you have the rest of the day to do what you want. Other than those 4 hours of training, EVERY OTHER WAKING MINUTE must be spent recovering.

Jon gets up in the morning and goes immediately to the cold pool and hot tub, alternating back and forth. After breakfast he rests and prepares for his morning workout. He trains for 2 hours then at 11:30 he has very specific post workout nutrition that is designed for him by nerds with PhD’s (lol).

Then a nap, relaxation, then cold pool and hot tub again, then light swimming. Then training again, then the post workout nutrition, then nap, then cold pool/hot tub, then in the gym again for stretching and foam rolling. Then relaxation then bed.

Add in massage, sauna, several other forms of physiotherapy for recovery, specific use of compression clothing, mental training, eating enough to support all this training 8-9 hours of sleep every night in addition to 2 periods during the day of napping or at the least relaxation are mandatory.

So, you see that it is a 24 hour a day job to do what Jon is doing.

And it takes more than Jon and his efforts and dedication. Someone has to support Jon while he devotes himself to becoming the best he can be. He cannot work a regular job and do this. It takes a team. Someone has to provide his rent, a stipend for food, he must have massages, stim treatments, nutritional advice, coaching, chiropractic, and other physiotherapy.

It takes a team, a great and dedicated athlete, as well as a group of people to help him do what he needs to do.

One of the reasons I am writing this post is that though we in America are great fans of many sports which are basically games with great entertainment value, we do not appreciate the more pure performance events, things like weightlifting, track and field, etc.

I am hoping that a look at WHAT IT TAKES, what these athletes in sports like weightlifting do, the dedication, the work, etc, will raise the level of appreciation for events that although they might not be as entertaining as a last minute 3 pointer to win a basketball game, are still worthy of our attention and respect.

Author Info: Glenn Pendlay is a world famous Olympic Coach of 97 national champions and the “hidden genius” behind StrongLifts 5×5. Glenn has so far produced more than 20 medalists in international competitions and his athletes have broken over 13 American records. For more info check

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