Olympic Weightlifting Programs
Workouts Menu

Training Programs

View by Date

5-Week Front Squat Emphasis Cycle
5 weeks

This is a preparatory cycle that emphasizes front squat strength and tests for a max front squat on the last Saturday.

"My snatch went from a lucky 240 to a solid 250 (I hit it two weeks in a row and just barely missed 260); a 300 clean and jerk to a 320 clean and jerk; my back squat went from 380 to 405; and my most dramatic increase was my front squat. At te beginning of the cycle it was at 320 I prd once at 335 3 weeks into the cycle, then today I hit a solid 380! 45 pound PR in two weeks and 60 pound in 5. Thanks a lot for the programming."

"Front squat went from 305lbs to 350lbs! Clean went from a lucky (3rd attempt) 275 to solid (1st attempt) 285 and Snatch from 185 to 210! I also went from never jerking to a 247lb Jerk."

"My front squat went up from an iffy 300 lbs with questionable depth to a smooth, deep 325 lbs. My Snatch made a similar improvement of 20 lbs, and my clean and jerk improved by 20 lbs. I feel much more explosive, my box jump has improved by 3 inches and my speed under the bar has increased dramatically."

"This program restored my previous numbers (plus a kilo on FS) after dropping a weight class and losing strength, and gave me my first 300# front squat!"

"97kg to 120kg front squat! Thanks CA."

"FS went from 138 to 147. Snatch from 105 to 107. Clean from 129 to 134. And jerk from 127 to 129 Kg."

"Front squat went from 305lbs to 350lbs! Clean went from a lucky (3rd attempt) 275 to solid (1st attempt) 285 and Snatch from 185 to 210!"

Volume: Moderate
Intensity: Moderate

Good For:
  • Leg strength (especially front squat specifically)
  • This program is intended to improve and test the squat. It does NOT finish with a snatch and clean & jerk peak, although you will still get plenty of snatch and CJ work and many people do improve significantly in these lifts as well as the squat.

Please Log in

Please login to access this training program in web, spreadsheet, text and Kindle formats.

Registration is FREE!

Or purchase the app version of this program Buy for App

(30) Comments
Please login to comment!
Adrian 2015-08-01
Loving this program. My snatch is up 5kg in just 2 weeks. But that's why I come on, I missed the 3rd weeks front squat&heavy singles day (the gym was closed). What should I do? Continue onwards or perform it on Day 1 of week 4?
Just continue with the program as written. In the future if you know you're going to miss a heavy day, reschedule to get it if possible.
Greg Everett
Kendra 2015-08-23
Hey Greg! I am excited to start this cycle tomorrow but have a few question. Nothing about the programming, but as someone that also does crossfit. Is it still okay to do a WOD with the strength? Or would that not help?
We recommend against combining programs as they will interfere with one another. I recommend reading here before beginning.

Steve Pan
Shelby 2015-08-24
Hey Greg!:) I'm curious if you think this program is a good fit for me to try? I just finished my last powerlifting meet in July and I want to do something else for awhile. I peaked for meets 3 times in the last year and a half and I I was considering doing a front squat smolov to kinda do something different and bring back the fun in training. I love the oly lifts so this looks like so much fun. I realize a lot of programs are designed with a preferred benchmark weight to start with basically dividing the beginners from intermediates. I'm definitely a beginner with the oly lifts, what are your thoughts? I'm just trying to find something like this that has a little more speed, and power work. I'm a little burnt out from straight grind sets all day long.
It could be fine - you just may need to adjust the weights a bit by feel day to day if you don't have accurate 1RMs for the lifts.

Greg Everett
Kendra 2015-08-25
Me again! Are the pullups in the conditioning sessions strict or kipping? :)
Strict unless otherwise specified.

Steve Pan
Josh 2015-09-16
Hey Greg! I just started this program. I was just curious about how much time I need to allot for each training session. I have a full time job and I coach crossfit after work as well. I need to start planning my training and coaching to accommodate for the limited time during the week. I appreciate any input. Thanks!
These workouts should take about 1.5 - 2 hours including warmup and accessory work.

Steve Pan
Aaron McNew 2015-09-21
Jerk @ 75%. 3 sets of 5 reps? Is that correct?
That is not correct. If the prescription is 75%x3x5 it will be 5 sets of 3 reps at 75% of your best jerk. I recommend reading the Help & Info section here.

Steve Pan
Colin Tuohy 2015-09-22
Hi Greg, Started this programme a week ago and really enjoying it. My question is this: What would you recommend I do if I can only train Monday to Friday? I'm just trying to figure out how to get my rest days before and after the heavy days without modifying the programme too much. Thanks in advance
This is not ideal and you will have to temper your expectations of the effectiveness of the program. The best suggestion would be to take it much easier on Thursdays workout and then move Saturday's workout to Friday and do the best you can on that workout.

Steve Pan
Colin Tuohy 2015-09-23
Thanks Steve, much appreciated. Just looking for your thoughts on moving the Tuesday and Thursday conditioning pieces to Monday and Wednesday? Also, could you recommend some percentages if I was to keep the Thursday sessions light?
I would recommend taking out the conditioning pieces and just working on back and ab exercises each day. As far as taking the Thursdays lighter I would recommend making a judgement call each workout and either taking it down a bit (5-10%) or taking a set or two off and seeing if that helps you recover to have a better "Saturday" workout on Friday.

Steve Pan
Varun 2015-09-24
For the weight for jerk behind the neck, will this be the same as the regular split jerk? thanks!
The weight will be off of your best jerk from the front.

Steve Pan
Varun 2015-09-24
Hey guys, I'm back for another question. As part of the conditioning workout j saw 'jump rope'. Just confirming if that means double unders. As if now I'm unable to string about 13-15 alternate DUs. So for a 3-min jump rope set, do I just keep going for max reps even if I can't do more than say 15 in one go? Thanks once again!
It just regular jump rope for those. Double unders will be specified when called for in a workout.

Steve Pan
Zach Adams 2015-10-06
what are the major differences between this cycle and the 5-week squat bump cycle? they both seem to emphasis similar strengths, but there are differences in the actual day to day exercises
Only significant differences are that the squat bump cycle uses some pause squats and halting/floating DLs and so will be a little better for reinforcing postural strength in the pull and squat.

Greg Everett
Karina Urbini 2015-07-09
Hey Greg, I would like to do this cycle and also incorporate higher volume front squats on one day as well as pull ups and higher volume pressing. I was thinking of putting in the pull ups on tuesday and the squats/presses on thursday. This would be the two days i keep my conditioning for Crossfit. I really don't like to alter someone else's program though. Any suggestions? Thanks.
Add the pressing and pull-ups, but don't mess with the squats - the entire purpose of this cycle is to improve the FS and it's built specifically to that end.
Greg Everett
Josh Narlesky 2015-04-26
This was my first weigjtlifting program i followed. As a 77 at the end of my 1st year doing the sport my front squat went from 340 to 355 my snatch from 250 to 265 and my c and j went from a ruff 280 to a solid 290 and a solid 300 clean but missed the jerk. Im gonna run it again and hopefor similair results as i got a meet in june where iplan on qualifying for nationals.thanks catalyst for making this accessible
Diogo Lanna 2015-02-05
Hi ! For some reasons i cant' training on thursdays. Is possible to change friday for thursday ? (rest on thursday and training on friday)
Do Saturday's workout on Friday and Thursday's workout on Saturday
Greg Everett
Parker Jay Ewing 2015-01-25
The first program that I followed 'to the T' on catalyst athletics and I am so glad I did. Front squat went from 305lbs to 350lbs! Clean went from a lucky (3rd attempt) 275 to solid (1st attempt) 285 and Snatch from 185 to 210! I also went from never jerking to a 247lb Jerk.
Colton Boleyn 2015-01-11
This is an amazing program! My front squat went up from an iffy 300 lbs with questionable depth to a smooth, deep 325 lbs. My Snatch made a similar improvement of 20 lbs, and my clean and jerk improved by 20 lbs. I feel much more explosive, my box jump has improved by 3 inches and my speed under the bar has increased dramatically. Thanks Greg!
Dale Turuwhenua 2015-12-22
Awesome 5 week program, every single lift went up a good 5- 10 kgs (I think that is 10 -20 pounds)im a lot more confident on lifts that used to put me off, my first pulls are a lot sharper then before and my conditioning/gymnastics and mobility was enhanced because of the strength gained in those areas. Thank you from all the way down in New Zealand.
Jason Palmer 2014-06-04
97kg to 120kg front squat! Thanks CA.
Mark Stubbs 2014-05-05
Thank you Greg and Catalyst Athletics. Just finished this cycle. Solid improvement in Snatch, from a lucky 99-100 to a very solid 101-102 and a lucky 105 training PB. C&J from around 125 to 130kg. Achieved a 10kg improvement in my back squat from 165 to 175kg! Really stoked. Start of cycle competition totals FEB-14 SN: 95 (missed 100) and C&J: 127 [grinding out the clean]. End of cycle competition totals APR-14 SN: 101 and C&J: 127 [easy clean] (six out of six). Previous PB front squat was 140kg double. Post cycle 1RM front squat 155kg. Thanks Greg.
Brett Andrus 2014-04-21
Chose this cycle to improve my front squat for the last 5 weeks. FS went from 138 to 147. Snatch from 105 to 107. Clean from 129 to 134. And jerk from 127 to 129 Kg.
Sam Cordetti 2015-10-24
I noticed there is no posterior chain work or core work programmed in this. Should the program be left as is or do you recommend doing the core work from say the 5 week squat bump program or what? and what about RDLs and Good mornings etc? Unnecessary for this cycle or should be added in? Thanks!
You may add in back and ab work if you would like for this cycle. Don't go overboard on SLDLs or RDLs but you may add those in once or twice a week for maintenence.

Steve Pan
Sam Cordetti 2015-10-26
Steve, is there a good rep and set scheme with percents that you recommend for maintenance and not going overboard for the RDLs and SLDLs? Thank you so much!
3x5 for SLDLs should be good. You can feel out a good weight but about 50% of your back squat may be a good place to start.

Steve Pan
Tyler Borja 2015-11-02
I love this program. Just started it up again today for the 4th time. I think I found an error in the new spreadsheet. Wednesday of Week 1 seems to be using my back squat max to calculate the % for the Clean Pulls instead of my Clean max.
Right you are. Fixed spreadsheet has been uploaded. Thanks.

Greg Everett
Tyler Borja 2015-11-06
Sorry but I found two more places where the spreadsheet does not match up with the written program. In Tuesday and Thursday of Week 2 the percentages and number of sets is off for the second complex. Tuesday should be PC+PJ at 75% and 80% for 4 sets. Thursday should be SPP+SB at 70% for 3 sets and 80% for 2 sets. Thanks!
Actually those are errors on the site program (fixed).

Greg Everett
Tyler Borja 2015-11-06
If there is a discrepancy between the spreadsheet and the online program which one should I go with?
Go with the ones from the site. Let us know if there are problems and we will get them corrected.

Steve Pan
Tyler Borja 2015-11-11
Thursday of Week 2 has Snatch Pulls in the Excel file but Clean Pulls on the website.

Greg Everett
Tyler Borja 2015-11-12
Tuesday of Week 3 the reps are off for the first complex in the Excel. If everything on the website is correct I'd be happy to go through the Excel and fix any errors. Then I could just email you the file.
Fixed. Thanks.

Greg Everett
Garrett Andrews 2015-11-15
Hey, looking to start this program tomorrow, but the last training day of the cycle falls on a meet. Should i adjust the last week to accomodate the meet, or just leave it as is?
Probably not a good cycle to use then! This program is intended to improve your squat, not snatch and CJ. I would use something else to get ready for the meet and then come back to this.

Greg Everett
Andrew Vessey 2015-11-16
There's also an error on Monday of week 5 of the spreadsheet, it's taking the max from the back squat cell instead of the FS cell.

Greg Everett
Anthony Blais 2015-11-26
I've found that I do better on heavy singles on Saturday if I follow a 3 on 1 off 2 on 1 off rotation, will this be detrimental to the effectiveness of this cycle or any catalyst cycle? Looking to start Monday
Stick with the schedule that is listed if possible.

Steve Pan

Get Our Newsletter
Sign up free to get training tips, news, sale notifications and more!

Get the App!
Catalyst Athletics programs are available through our exercise.com app. Unlimited access to all programs for only $10/month, or purchase programs individually for only $10 each!

Join the Group Buy Programs

Tag Us!
Tag us on social media when you post videos and photos of your workouts!

Instagram: @catalystathletics
Twitter: @cathletics
Facebook: @catalystpm

Workouts Menu

Workouts Home
Read This First!
Workouts Help & Info
Exercise Library
Training Programs
Starter Program
Tomorrow's Workout
Text Only
Custom Program Design
Get the App

Training Programs

View by Date

Advertise With Us
Subscribe to the Performance Menu Magazine