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Athletes, Cleans and Baseball

Athletes, Cleans and Baseball - - articles

Jim Wendler Coaching - - blog

Question:  I love 5/3/1.Would you recommend it to a boxer trying to gain size and strength without taking away from his boxing training? Thank you.

Answer:  Yes.  Any strength training is GPP for athletes.  And efficient training that uses big exercises in a full range of motion is always a better option.  You don’t have to be sport specific in your strength training; that is an overused term and really plays to marketing.  Don’t believe it.  Every sport requires strong legs, hips, shoulders, arms and a durable midsection.  This is what you get when you do the 5/3/1 program and supplement it correctly with sport skill work.

When using a strength program for any sport it is important to not let the strength work overtake the skill work/practice.  So be sure that you properly program the strength training to coincide with the skill work; and don't do anything that isn't totally necessary in the weight room.  A general rule of thumb is to do as little as you need to do in the weight room to make progress.  This doesn't mean you don't work hard, it means you work SMART.


Question:  Ive been doing 531 full body training with two days of prowling and im about to start phase 3. Im putting two months into each phase. After phase 3 I planned to switch to lift two days per week with three days of prowling (Which conveniently lines up with a nice deathfest deload in between the shift). Squat and bench one day, and dead and press the other day. However, I wanted to incorporate cleans and snatches. I know you suggest doing movements such as those before squats or deads, but do 531 percentages and training maxes follow suit for olympic lifts? Also, would it matter which lift i do on on a certain day? For example is there any benefit to cleaning before deads versus snatching? i know youll be at deathfest this year, how awesome is it that electric wizard is playing?(not a serious question, of course its awesome).

Answer:  Yes, you can use the same percentages for cleans and snatches.  You can eliminate the “5” reps and just do sets of 3 reps (at the same percentages aka 5's PRO). Or you can do 3x5/3/1 (with the same idea as 5x5/3/1 but doing sets of 3 reps instead of 5) But like I always say, if you can clean 275 for 10 reps, you are going to be a strong SOB.  People are afraid of doing higher reps there; if your form sucks and you are weak in the middle, I would advise against this.  If you are strong, then it’s not a big deal.  You can do them on any day that suits you. 

For example:

Day One

  • Snatch - 3x5/3/1
  • Press - 5/3/1
  • Deadlift - 5/3/1
  • Assistance work

Day Two

  • Clean - 3x5/3/1
  • Squat - 5/3/1
  • Bench Press - 5/3/1
  • Assistance work


Question:  Just wanted to say that Matt Carlson, Matt Nealon, Patrick, and the rest of the guys from the Facebook group were badasses. If there are two types of men (swingers and tuckers), those guys are swingers. If its possible, hit them up with a thanks for me.

Answer:  Thanks – those guys did a great job.  And happy to call them friends.  These guys do a great job on the private forum and we have a huge group of people on there that are smart enough and experienced enough to help people regardless of their background, experience or limitations.


Question:  I have a quick question for you regarding physical preparation of football players.  I know, own, and possess two of your books which is not related to this question, but they're awesome. What would you recommend to an individual that tends to over think things? I understand that I deal with 14-18 year olds and have full autonomy over their preparation year in and out. I realize that their strength level will always fall in the novice, and progress to no higher then an intermediate phase if they stay with us. I guess my question lies not in implementing med ball throws, speed work, tempo runs, all the things that make up a calendar, it is more in progressing to a more general specific, specific training phase.  I have so many books recommended by so many people related to elite, not related to elite, sometimes it is information overload.  Russian v. Western v. Eastern Bloc v. Charlie Francis v. etc.....Even though it really is not a competition between all resources I find it difficult to pull ideas and assimilate them into what I am looking for.                      

Anyways, I realize there are different times during the year in which you can integrate everything and wave it in volumes, but besides creating the most physical nasty individuals you could from a physical aspect, am I concerning to much time with things that may not apply as much to high school athletes? I have coached with others and we currently have a LB at Missouri who is 2nd string redshirt sophmore and the guy I was with for the last 5 years only wanted to do what he thought was his version of what he knew about the "westside method".  I could not change his train of thinking, but we did no speed work, med ball, none of that shit all we did was max out, rotate exercises, clean and jerk, box squat, chains, bands, you name it we did it.  We had some pretty strong ass kids, won a decent amount of games but from the football development perspecitive many did not reach their potential.  So I guess to summarize would you spend more time leaning towards developing general specific/specific exercises or just basically do what is laid out in your manual? Thank you for you time reading this

Answer:  You are where many people are and eventually you will come full circle.  I would stick with the general exercises.  That is just what I believe in and what I have seen work for countless athletes.  But there are always other ways and they do work; it just depends on what you feel comfortable with and what you personally believe in.  Don’t do something because you feel that it satisfies others in your profession; do the program your heart and mind believe in.  And never overshoot your academic level.

I currently work with the London HS football team (and some other sports) and we concentrate on getting the kids stronger, bigger, faster/explosive, mobile and in great shape.  While this may seem like a lot of things to work on, I strive to keep things as basic as possible and don't ever try to "kill them" in one specific area.  Long term planning yields greater results; even in the short term.  In other words, we don't try to cram everything into a training day.


Question:  Jim, I am probably over thinking this, but do you still adhere to this (from "52 most common 5/3/1 questions) : Never do conditioning the day before lower body lifting I ask this because I set up my split in this regard so I don't do any conditioning before my deadlift and squats day. Also, does this still apply to the prowler even though it tends to be less ware and tear on the body?

Answer:  For most, hard conditioning before a big lower body day is not a good idea.  It can work once a lifter/athlete becomes better conditioned or when the goal of the cycle is not strength.  I also recommend each lifter work on developing a good aerobic base prior to using the Prowler or anything similar.


Question:  hey jim id like to get your opinion on this. i play baseball for my hs and im a pitcher and when it comes to training all i here is that i shouldnt train very heavy or try to get big with my upper body, no overhead pressing or heavy lifting on shoulder workouts. any idea on how i should train?

Answer:  Athletes are not made of glass and you aren’t either.  You can train your body in a full range of motion and train heavy (relative to your strength level).  If these things didn’t work then steroids wouldn’t have made such a difference in baseball.  The same people who whine about steroids are usually the first on the stability ball.  Doesn’t make any sense to me.


Question:  Big fan of yours. Do you recommend any good books to learn about steroids? Also do you do any personal or instructional training?

Answer:  William Llewellyn wrote a couple good books – you might want to check those out.  Moderation, my friend.  Moderation.


Question:  First thank you for such a "doable" program. 531 is incredibly flexible and makes it possible for me to train despite an inconsistent schedule. My question centers on slow and steady gains. Is there such a thing as taking it too slow and not challenging your body enough?

Answer:  Yes there is – you’ve got to stimulate your body enough to grow.  Having said that, if your schedule limits you, you are going to have to find ways around it.  Since your schedule won’t change you are going to have to.


Question:  I've heard a lot of guys say they like to use Chuck Taylor's for lifting shoes because they have a relatively thin, non-compressive sole. Any truth to it or are the true lifting shoes the way to go?. I want to get something because I hate squatting in my tennis shoes.

Answer:  I love squatting in weightlifting shoes.  However, in a pinch Chuck’s will work fine.


Question:  First, I want to thank you for your contributions to powerlifting and big upps to the 5/3/1 training plan. My question to you is I am 42 years old, Career military man, who has lifted since age 24 but the last two years I have been off and on to my training. I am 248 with about 20% BF so I want to lean out a bit as well. I am getting ready to begin your program but I have bad knees and was wondering can I substitute Squats and deadlifts with another strength training exercise. Thanks in advance for any suggestions you can give.

Answer:  All of the substitutions are going to strain your knees.  I would  highly recommend trying box squats – this could be a real life saver for you.  If you cannot handle these, you are going to have to find SOMETHING you can do; what that is, no one knows and you won't know until you experiment.  When dealing with injuries, it's best to concentrate on things you CAN do, not what you can't do.  This is the key to maintaining a great attitude towards training.

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