Olympic Lifting 3 Days a Week

What’s the best way to go about planning serious training for 3 days a week?

My schedule has changed and need to drop from 5 to 3.

I still want to be able to get some strength work (like OHP, Bench, Rows, etc.) in.

I don’t mind having 2 hr sessions 3x a week.

How would you guys go about doing this?

I was thinking:

-Back Squat
*Accessories 2-4

-Clean & Jerk
-Front Squat
*Accessories 2-4

-Clean & Jerk
-Front Squat/Back Squat (Alternate weekly)
*Accessories 2-4

how long have you been lifting? 3 days is probably good for most lifters. I see you haven’t listed any pulls.

I wouldn’t squat all 3 days every week unless 1 was very short, such as a 3 x 3 at 80%. You’ll be very taxed if you heavy back squat Friday, and repeat that Sunday.

You should bench on snatch day. Snatching pre bench ramps CNS and you can be at your working sets right out of the gate. Snatching a day after benching generally leaves a lot of tightness and poor rotation.

OHP on jerk day.

Speaking as a fan of dead lifts, I’d back squat on Friday, dead lift on Sunday, and front squat on Tuesday. I like to dead lift heavy to strain as many muscles as possible, but usually squat lighter for more reps to help keep trim.

I wouldn’t deadlift and I wouldn’t overdo the back work - the Olympic lifts involve the back a lot.

I’d just look at Glenn Pendlay 's beginner program and make some subtle adjustments.

Also be wearing of benching. We used to do bodybuilding stuff on a Friday and I started benching as part of that. Long story short. Some fatigue built up, I twinged my right shoulder and it took 3 months to bench more than an empty bar without pain and 6 to bench 135 again.

If all you care about is oly lifts and those numbers benching is going to do more harm than good. Don’t bench instead if you want to do something that actually help your oly lifts but id go with over head press and push presses.

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I only do 3 days a week of Oly lifting and so far it’s worked well for me as a 85kg masters lifter (38yrs old).

This is what I do:


Snatch max double, then 3-5x2 @ 90% of the days max double (10 total lifts above 90%)

Clean and Jerk max double (2 clns + 1 jerks) then 3-5x2 same as above.

Back Squat 321 x 3 I start at about 85% of max and once I can do 3 sets of 321 I add 5kg and repeat. Once I stall on this I’ll go to 1RM then back off sets.

Belt squats 5x10-12


Either Snatch from blocks or pause snatch + snatch. Work up to 2nd to last set of whatever I hit on Monday. No back offs.

Clean & Jerk - same as above, 2 clns + 1 jerk.

Front squat 1RM, then 3-5x2 @ 90% (10 total lifts)


Snatch 1RM, then maybe 1 double @ 85% of this max depending on how I feel.

Clean or C&J 1RM (currently only max clean as my jerk is not my weakness) same as above

Back Squat - same as Monday.

Belt squats 5x10-12

I sometimes will work in pulls or sn/cln dl’s at end for 3x3-5 on one of the three days - usually mon (cln) & wed (sn), if I do sn dl’s then I also do pauses off the floor and at the knee.

I do kettlebell circuits on tue/thur so that’s when I get my upper body work in - mainly kb presses, push ups, kb rows.

If I do end up doing upper body in the gym I keep it fairly easy and go more for the pump using mainly machines and Gironda style 6x6 or 8x8 …or I’ll do 5x12 with 45-60s rest., however if you’re new and need mass or more jerk work then I would probably throw in push presses and incline presses, push press + jerk, etc, rows, chins.

Can you explain the 321 part of your squats? I’m not sure I understand what that means.


It’s a ladder. So you would try to get 9 sets of 3 reps, rest, 2 reps, rest then 1 rep. Once you get all 321’s you up weight and repeat. I usually take 2 min rest between 3 reps & 2 reps set, then 1 min between 2 reps and 1 rep set and then 2 min-3 min before next 3 rep set.

So sometimes a workout will look like this:

120kg x 3, 2, 1, 3 , 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

Then next time you might only get

125kg x 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 1

At which point you stay with same weight until you can do all 321 reps 3 times (i.e. 3 reps, 2 reps, 1 rep, 3 reps, 2 reps, 1 rep, 3 reps, 2 reps, 1 rep = 9 sets or 321 3 times)

You could also probalby take smaller jumps of 2.5kg instead of 5kg as well and you could try it with slight higher rep range like 5, 3, 2 but then I’d probably only go for 2 ladders instead of 3 (depending on how you take volume…I’m old haha) and you’d probably start at lower percentage than 85%…

I’m also toying with the idea of trying it emom style (every minute on the minute - but starting around 70-75% for 3,2,1 to compensate for the smaller rest time roughly 30 sec between sets).

Hope that makes sense.

Interesting that this thread was bumped. I recently got a copy of Tommy Kono’s Weightlifting, Olympic Style" and he recommends training 3 days a week.

Each session is:

1 or 2 full competitive lifts 4-6x2-3
1 or 2 assistance lifts (SGHP, clean high pull, etc.) 3x3
Squat or front squat 3-5x3

Supposedly that’s along the lines of what he did even in his prime.


Chris, does that mean snatch and clean in the same session. I find the one takes away from the other. But then I guess that’s how people complete , so it makes sense.

I quite like the OP’s planned workout. I think you could train at a higher intensity, a higher weight, that way. It may not always be desirable though. But of course you can change to suit.

Yep. The sample routine he included is:

Snatch (4x3 warm-up sets), 4-6x3
Snatch-grip high pull 3x3
Clean and jerk (3x3 warm-up sets), 5-7x2
Clean-grip high pulls 3x3
Squat or front squat 3-5x3

He did say if you only wanted to train one main lift in a session, just drop the other but keep the same assistance work. For example: snatch, snatch-grip high pull, clean-grip high pull, squat.

Interestingly, on the clean and jerk, he specifically recommends doing the work sets as “2-rep cleans, 1 jerk”. So you’re not technically doing 2 “clean and jerks” in each set, it’d be 1 clean and 1 clean and jerk per set.

I’m still working my way through it, but it’s a great book (obviously, considering the source. Ha.)

Is Kono stressing developing great strength and pulling/squatting power? Like routinely lifting in excess of what a lifter could full clean and jerk?

He really seems to emphasize technique in the full lifts over pretty much all else. Still haven’t read it through cover to cover yet, but he does focus on what he calls quality training, making each rep perfect. So I wouldn’t imagine he’d be a fan of doing a ton of work supramaximal accessory work or power variations.