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Oly Lifting and Wendler 5/3/1

I’ll admit, I didn’t do a very thorough search before posting this, so apologies if this is a repeat. However I have a question and cannot seem to find an answer.

I follow the Wendler 531 Program, and am a Soldier. I subbed the program a bit for some more body weight movements over some of the weights because of a need to pass a PT Test. My last cycle looked like this:

Monday: Overhead Press, Dips, Chins
Tuesday: Dead Lift, RDL, Weighted Sit Ups
Thursday: Bench Press, Kroc Rows, Push Ups
Friday: Squat, Lunges, Step Ups

I was wondering where I would be able to fit in Power Cleans or other Olympic lifts. I want to tweak the program slightly next cycle by adding in weighted Pelvic raises instead of RDL on Tuesday. Would replacing Step Ups with Cleans be a good placement?

Jim Wendler actually has an article on this site showing how you can incorporate power cleans into your training. Just go to “Featured Authors”.

You could even look at writings from Chad Wesley Smith, he shows how to incorporate the lifts by using a “pull day” and a “speed day”. Granted, that is for the Juggernaut Method, but I’m sure you could make it work for 5/3/1.


I used to train 5/3/1 exclusively for about 2 years. At one point I tried to replace deads with cleans, using the 5/3/1 formulas. It was not very effective, mostly because its hard to get a “rep max” from a high technical lift like the clean. Instead, I did 5-10 singles of the Snatch before squats 5/3/1, and cleans before deads 5/3/1. I was using 75-80% for those singles.

I did singles until I got two “near-perfect” reps, and then moved on. This was much more like practicing a golf swing, working on rhythm and mechanics, than trying to train a muscle, if that makes sense. I tried for new PR’s on my deload weeks (week 4’s) by simple progression of singles. After 3 cycles my clean jumped 20kg and my snatch about 25kg.

You could also go to startingstrength.com and read some of Rippetoe’s articles on olympic lifting.

I ended up programming the next 4 weeks with Cleans in a 5/3/1 format before squats on Fridays. Which puts 2 days of rest until my next lift day. I have enough experience with Oly Lifts to know that it will be more like 15 singles, broken into 3 sections instead of 3x5, but I hope for good results.

The reasoning behind this, if it helps, is that I am a soldier in a combat unit. Wendler generally does the trick for me as long as I run a lot, but I think that adding some Snatches and Cleans in, even in an accessory slot, will help with producing power in a shorter period of time for things like rushes.

The Wendler article that mentions them was very helpful and I hope for good results in the next month.


I missed your mention of Rippetoe, I actually have read his books, and he is the reason I am adamant on adding the Olympic Lifts to my training.

i started 531 with the o lifts about 3 months ago. i do the full lifts before the main strength movement. i do day 1 sn, 2 cln, 3 cln, 4 sn. i do 5 signals at 70, 75, 80. if i feel good that day i’ll keep going up. after the strength lift i do another 1 or 2 exercises. its working well

I came up with this:

Monday: Over Head Press 5/3/1
Tuesday: Dead Lift 5/3/1
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Bench 5/3/1
Friday: Power Clean 5/3/1
Squat 5/3/1
Saturday/Sunday: Rest

We shall see how it goes.