T Nation

5/3/1 with Olympic Lifts as Assistance


Hey guys i have using 5/3/1 for well over 2 years . I am very excited for this forum and to bounce ideas of off fellow wendler disciples. So here goes does anybody know how to program olympic lifts into the program as assistance? Kinda confused on what days to plug them in or maybe adding an extra day?


olifts dont really work that well as assistance its usually better to just do speed work in my opinion; but if you insist, power cleans are the simplest olift to do, so if you want, you can replace an upper back session with power cleans. just take note that a good power clean workout will leave your traps almost crippled, legs will be tired and youll be exhausted in general.

you might want to look into a power clean + push press movement.


Snatches or cleans before deadlifts and/or squats with the 5/3/1 programming. Simple.


I'm doing the Olifts prior to squats and deads. .


Lower days as suggested above, and jerk on press day as follows

Press 5/3/1
Back off set
Jerk 5/3/1
Back off set(s)

I tend to push the press sets and keep jerks at required reps. If you're starting with the 85%/90% training Max and you are sensible there shouldn't be any worries. I prefer pressing first almost as a warm up. Also found the jerk etc. lends themselves to using the joker sets and back off sets. I dislike assistance so this works for me. I've also had success with C+J on squat day. As long as it's kept away from deadlift day everything seems to work well. This isn't Wendler approved but it's working slowly but surely for me. Hope this helps.


They wouldn't be used as assistance work - they would be used prior to the main lift. So you would clean (or whatever) before you squat. Or snatch before you press. Whatever you decide. I wrote an article that details Oly lifts and different programming on the Jim Wendler Forum a couple months ago.


Guys/jim thanks for the response and the insight. Can't wait to get back at it on monday


Agree with what everyone else said. The Olympic lifts are primary lifts. If you want to do something ballistic as speed work/assistance work, I would recommend doing swings with a kettlebell, dumbbell, or Hungarian core blaster.

For what it's worth, the other day I did muscle snatches for 5/3/1, and this warmed up my shoulders nicely for overhead presses with 5/3/1. It felt like a good combination of movements.


Here are my thoughts;
I am going to use power snatch and power cleans in 3-5 sets x3 at low intensity,(65-70%) / speed -technique emphasis before my primary 5/3/1 lift. But use high snatch pulls variation using 5/3/1 program. May mean 4 days / week training but doubling up two primary lifts.
Going to try this for 3-4 cycles then re test my 3rm oly lift.
Been out of Olympic lifting for 4 years now so be interested to see how close to all time Pb's I'll achieve. Just wondering if it will have good carry over. Something along these lines;

Session 1;

Power clean 3-5 x 3 65-70%
Deadlift 5/3/1
Safety squat ,BBB
Pull ups weighted x50 reps

Session 2

Bench 5/3/1
Close grip BBB
Bent over row BBB
Curls /tris DC

Session 3

Snatch 3-5x 3 reps 65-70%

High Snatch Pull block 5/3/1

Shoulder press 5/3/1

Pull ups 3xAMRAP
Dumbell,press BBB

Session 4

Power clean Jerk 65% 3x 3

Squat 5/3/1
Snatch deadlift / lift off BBB


I use snatch-grip high pulls prior to overhead pressing as a means of charging the nervous system and it seems to be working well. At any rate they've packed some mass onto my traps and haven't hampered my main lift.

I personally found power cleans prior to deadlift training to be too draining (perhaps I was just working with too much weight).


Hey bro, I found snatches/hang snatches before deadlifts and cleans/hang cleans before back squat worked well. Just because snatch is usually around 15-20kg lighter than a clean so there's significantly less loading on the back before heavy deadlifts (but I don't go to failure on O lifts). But just ask yourself. WWJWD (what would Jim Wendler do).


I do power cleans first on deadlift day and have recently started doing power snatches on squat day. They serve as a good warmup.


I used to clean before deadlifting... but I found my performance suffered unless I was doing light or medium weight for the deads; heavy days (3's, or 5/3/1) saw me weaker than I should have been.


I have been doing this setup over the past 3 months with an increase in my press and Squat over the past 2 cycles.

Power Clean 6x3
5/3/1 Squat
Deficit Stiff Leg Dl 5 x 10
Prowler Pushing for Weight

5/3/1 Bench ss pull-ups
Flat Bench 5 x 10 ss pull-ups
JM Press 5 x 10 ss pull-up
Kroc rows 1 x failure


5/3/1 Deadlift
T-Bar Row
Farmer walks/Prowler medley

Snatch 6x3
5/3/1 Press
Log clean and Press 5x5
Barbell curl ss triceps movement

Alternate 55lbs ruck 10 miles/ 2 mile run for time

Sunday off

I have been doing this prepping for Special Forces assessment and selection and i have been destroying my Army physical fitness test, which consists of 2 mile run, 2 min of sit-ups and 2 mins of push-ups. I also have increased in my press and squat while maintaining my other lifts. I recommend 5/3/1 in whatever capacity to all of my soldiers. Great program man, has kept me bullet proof for many deployments oversees


I've found that doing Oly Lifts before upper body presses provides a nice kick to the CNS and helps people handle the weight better.



Another SM here. Just a quick question: Was the two mile run/ruck trade-off the only thing you did to improve your run? I'm experimenting with ways to include run training for the APFT with my 5/3/1 training. Right now, the only sensible thing seems to be doing the three day split with 5/3/1. Then on my two off-lifting days, I run 200m/400m intervals or run 3-4 miles. I like it and it seems to be working, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to get down to sub 13:00 on the two-mile.


I have been doing oly-lifts prior to my all workouts (p. snatches or p. cleans) just a couple of weeks, and have noticed the same thing. I really like them, and the way they awoke my upper back, shoulders and posterior chain is terrific.

Important factor for me is to keep the O-lifts relatively light. I'll normally do 3x3 with 65-85% (I'll go a little heavier in 5+ week, when the main movements are little easier).



Just got your message man, i've been downrange for bit. I ran twice a week, once after my leg day and again on Saturdays. I setup my training like this.

Mon-5/3/1 squat, 2.5 mile run for time
Tues 5/3/1 Bench
Wed Light squats, Ruck 5 miler for time
Thur 5/3/1 Press
Fri 5/3/1 Squat
Sun Run for time 2 mile apft for time

Thats it, i also pushed the prowler every fucking day and super setted all pushing movements with pull-ups/chin. Im talking like 100-200 every upper body session. I tried to squat at least two if not three times a week, some say this is counter productive or over training. To that i say fuck you and man the fuck up. My two mile run is in the low 13:00's and my three lift is around 1400 ish not bad for also doing army PT 5 times a week on top of this. basically man you have to ignore everything everyone is saying and just train your balls off. I also took recovery to a new level, i used hot/cold baths, wore a TENS unit around almost everyday and used the base chiropractor religiously. Im not gonna lie i ate like a horse and have been on and off pro-hormones (this helps).


I'm a little late to this party, but here goes: I'm an oly coach, so I need my athletes doing the o-lifts when they're fresh. I have them do the o-lifts first, twice a week, on lower body days. This way, the technique-intensive o-lifts aren't happening when they're already smoked from 5/3/1. I've also found that the o-lifts seem to help with muscle recruitment for the big lifts, so it's a win/win from my perspective.


[quote]thatguy031415 wrote:
I’m a little late to this party, but here goes: I’m an oly coach, so I need my athletes doing the o-lifts when they’re fresh. I have them do the o-lifts first, twice a week, on lower body days. This way, the technique-intensive o-lifts aren’t happening when they’re already smoked from 5/3/1. I’ve also found that the o-lifts seem to help with muscle recruitment for the big lifts, so it’s a win/win from my perspective.[/quote]

That guy,

Thanks for the insight, I can’t wait to lift.