344 Olympic Weightlifting Training Exercises Used by Chinese Weightlifters

Want to know what kind of bodybuilding, strength training, and assistance exercises Chinese Olympic weightlifting teams use to train gold medal athletes year-after-year? Then you will LOVE this guide.

Weightlifting centers throughout China use a combination of these 344 movements at various stages of development to take athletes from newbie lifters to Olympic contenders.

  • Some are for developing technique and power.
  • Some are for strength and conditioning.
  • Some are for muscular development.
  • And some are to reduce the risk of injury.

You can also find detailed explanations for some of these movements in our Chinese Weightlifting Technique Foundation Program!

We’ll update these Olympic weightlifting training exercises as we exchange more ideas during our Ma Strength Camp.

For now, you can filter through the list to find the best exercise for your weightlifting, sports-specific weight training, or CrossFit training.

And if you want to read this list in a handy PDF, then leave your email below:

Now, let’s dive right in!

List of Olympic Weightlifting Exercises

If you want to skip to a section in this list of Olympic weightlifting exercises, click on the following links:

Olympic Weightlifting Snatch

Snatch

  • Snatch – from Floor: aka the full snatch, is one of the main competition lifts for weightlifting. Usually performed at least once a week in Chinese weightlifting programs to test the results from training.
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  • Snatch – from Risers (Barbell Touches the Ground): great snatch movement for athletes who do not use their legs long enough during the snatch pull or who have a weak deadlift from the floor—usually performed with weightlifting straps to emphasize leg drive.

Hang Snatch

  • Snatch – from Risers (No Touch): first deadlift the bar, then lower it to “hang” snatch from the snatch start position. The purpose of this snatch movement is to build balance awareness in your feet and time under tension for leg strength. All hang snatches almost always require weightlifting straps to avoid arm bend.
  • Hang Snatch – Below the Knee: after a snatch deadlift, you lower the bar to load the legs, back, and glutes and then jump upward. This movement trains the transition around the knee and develops power.
  • Hang Snatch – at the Knee: deadlift the bar and then lower it to the patella tendon while pushing out the knees, then deadlift the bar smoothly along the inner side of your thigh. This hang snatch is great for athletes who tend to rush and hit their knees during the deadlift.
  • Hang Snatch – Above the Knee: after a deadlift, lower the bar to the belly of the VMO (teardrop muscle) and perform a snatch. Chinese coaches use this snatch assistance exercise to correct athletes who tend to pull away from the bar early or need power training with heavier weights.
  • Hang Snatch – from the Hip: perform a snatch deadlift but then bend over while maintaining the bar in the hip crease to snatch. This snatch movement teaches you to perform a vertical jump for the extension rather than hyperextend the lower back. It also develops power more than other hang snatches due to the short range of motion.

Snatch from Blocks

  • Snatch from Blocks – Below the Knee: this snatch movement allows you to work on dragging the bar inside the knee. Great for fixing any gap with the bar after the first pull.
  • Snatch from Blocks – at the Knee: this block height is rarely used but useful to emphasize moving the bar over the knees properly. Incorporate this movement into your program if you hesitate or slow down before the second pull.
  • Snatch from Blocks – Above the Knee: this is the most common block position. Since the bar naturally accelerates above the knee, this position is great for developing the rate of force development and power.

Power Snatch

  • Power Snatch – from Floor: part of the snatch learning progression, one of the most frequently-used Olympic weightlifting exercises for the snatch. Use this exercise to build confidence and familiarity with catching the bar; intermediates use the power snatch to produce maximal force without taxing the legs by catching deep. “Power” is defined as catching the barbell above 90˚ of knee flexion.
  • Power Snatch – from Risers (Barbell Touches the Ground): perform a power snatch from a position lower than your usual start position. This longer range of motion and high catch position emphasizes your concentric strength.
  • Power Snatch – Paused Below the Knee: this movement builds your snatch weightlifting technique by ensuring you reach the right position and balance from the floor. Pause for 2 seconds, then continue to perform a power snatch. Weightlifting straps are essential in this movement.
  • Power Snatch – Pause at the Knee: use this snatch movement to make sure you move your knees out of the way correctly while maximizing your vertical force. Pause at the patella tendon, then continue to perform a power snatch.

Hang Power Snatch

  • Hang Power Snatch – Below the Knee: perform a snatch deadlift, then lower the bar below the knee, then immediately perform a power snatch. This movement should feel like bending over to jump vertically and smoothly.
  • Hang Power Snatch – at the Knee: deadlift the bar to stand up straight, then lower the bar to the patella tendon before power snatching. This variation doesn’t tax the legs as much as lower positions and trains you to push the knees out.
  • Hang Power Snatch – Above the Knee: after a snatch deadlift, lower the bar along your inner to the belly of the VMO, then reverse the movement to perform a power snatch. This snatch movement is almost like a vertical jump and emphasizes actively pulling the bar overhead due to the short range of motion.
  • Hang Power Snatch – from Risers (No Touch): this is a hang snatch from the start position height. It’s great for building ankle mobility and leg endurance, as well as feeling your balance and muscle activation in the start position.

Block Power Snatch

  • Power Snatch from Blocks – Below the Knee: this movement develops your snatch weightlifting technique if you lose your foot balance and position immediately after the first pull and have trouble catching the bar in a deep position.
  • Power Snatch from Blocks – at the Knee: a great snatch movement if you lose contact with the bar around the knee or scrape the knee because you can get in proper position before the lift. The power version lets you focus on upward force.
  • Power Snatch from Blocks – Above the Knee: this snatch movement builds your concentric speed and rate of force development because the range of motion is short, the catch is high, and the muscles are not preloaded.

Power Snatch without Split:

  • Power Snatch without Split – from the Floor: part of the snatch teaching progression. After the extension, bring your heels down immediately while maintaining your stance width. Teaches you how to stay connected with the ground while moving up and down.

 

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  • Hang Power Snatch without Split – Below the Knee: after a deadlift, lower the bar to the knee and perform a power snatch without split. Use this variation if you tend to catch your power snatches in a wider stance than your full snatch.
  • Hang Power Snatch without Split – at the Knee: use this snatch movement to emphasize keeping your balance forward, knees out, and hips close to the bar. Drag the bar smoothly along your inner thigh until you reach your hip crease, then extend.
  • Hang Power Snatch without Split – Above the Knee: after a snatch deadlift, lean forward and push your knees out until the bar reaches the belly of the VMO, then reverse the movement to snatch. This variation builds power and reversal speed.
  • Power Snatch without Split – Blocks Below the Knee: use this block height if you tend to lose your position after the first pull and either jump off the ground or catch excessively wide.
  • Power Snatch without Split – Blocks at the Knee: this variation builds your snatch weightlifting technique if you hit your patella and have trouble finding/maintaining your snatch balance during the catch. Use weightlifting knee sleeves to protect your skin and prevent hesitation as you move past the knee.
  • Power Snatch without Split – Blocks Above the Knee: this movement teaches you to jump forcefully while staying connected with the ground. Incorporate this lift in your weightlifting program if you tend to jump off the ground when you catch and do not pull actively overhead.

Muscle Snatch

  • Muscle Snatch – from Floor: part of the snatch learning progression. Because you catch the bar with straight legs, this movement teaches you to pull overhead actively. Usually performed from the floor or above the knee so that the bar has enough speed for you to pull the bar overhead.

 

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  • Hang Muscle Snatch Above the Knee: use this muscle snatch variation if your legs are fatigued or you have slow acceleration above the knee.

Other Snatch Variations:

  • 3-level Snatch: a teaching progression that helps build consistent snatch weightlifting technique at gradually deeper catch positions. You can catch at quarter squat, half squat, and full squat positions.

 

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  • Half Snatch: athletes catch the bar around 90 degrees of knee flexion. This movement is part of the teaching progression for the snatch and acclimates beginners to catching lower. Experienced athletes use this variation to avoid riding the bar down as the weight increases during power snatch.
  • Clean Grip Snatch: this variation increases the range of motion of the upper body pull to teach athletes to pull vertically and actively. Use the same grip as your clean, then once you reach your contact point for the clean, pull overhead.
  • Seated Snatch: pull the bar overhead from a seated position. Use this if you have a lower-body injury, need to emphasize the turnover with the upper body, or overuse your lower back. Women can use this if they have serious symptoms during their menstrual period.
  • Slow Motion Snatch: you perform the full snatch or power snatch in slow motion to keep the bar close, build strength in supportive muscles, and maintain balance. Use it at the beginning or end of a weightlifting program.

 

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  • Snatch Turnover: place the bar around navel or sternum height to focus on pulling under the bar and dropping straight down. This movement is useful if you need help pulling after the extension.

 

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  • Split Snatch: old school movement used for helping athletes who have trouble extending and splitting for the jerk. After the extension, you catch the bar in a split position.

Snatch High Pull

  • Snatch Pull – from Floor: part of the snatch learning progression, one of the most popular Olympic weightlifting exercises. You pull the bar to your lower chest while maintaining your balance on the ball of the foot. Because the loading for snatch pull variations is heavier than in snatches, athletes almost always use weightlifting straps.
  • Snatch Pull – from Risers (Bar Touches the Ground): the start position is lower than normal to build leg strength and make the normal start position feel easier once you revert.
  • Snatch Pull – from Risers (No Touch): aka floating snatch pull. This variation keeps tension on the body through the entire set, building strength endurance and forcing you to lower the bar under control. Use this if you tend to drop the bar after each rep or lose position during the eccentric portion.
  • Snatch Pull – Paused at Chest: this snatch movement helps you find their balance and develop coordination during the snatch pull because deviations from vertical will make you fall. One of the most useful Olympic weightlifting exercises for learning the snatch.

 

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  • Standing Snatch: teaches you to slide your feet outward rather than jump. Stand up straight, then extend to the ball of your feet and pull overhead simultaneously. As you catch, slide laterally into the same width as your weightlifting squat.

 

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Hang Snatch High Pull

  • Hang Snatch Pull – Below the Knee: deadlift the bar, then lower it below the knee before performing a high pull. The purpose of this movement is to move the same way up and down to build consistency in your snatch weightlifting technique. You can use weightlifting straps and add a pause to develop body awareness further.
  • Hang Snatch Pull – at the Knee: after a snatch deadlift, lower the bar to the patella tendon before performing a snatch high pull. This trains you to stay over the bar and avoid scraping the knee.
  • Hang Snatch Pull – Above the Knee: trains you to focus on accelerating the bar along the thighs while hitting the hip crease on the way up and down. This movement focuses on controlling your power and directing it appropriately.

Snatch Pull from Blocks

  • Snatch Pull from Blocks – Below the Knee: this block height strengthens your position after the first pull and builds confidence to catch the bar. Since block pull variations are heavier than snatch, athletes frequently use weightlifting straps to prevent grip fatigue.
  • Snatch Pull from Blocks – at the Knee: at this height, you can focus on moving the bar inside the thigh and achieving enough height. Incorporate this lift if you lose position at the knee and have trouble achieving height to get under the bar.
  • Snatch Pull from Blocks – Above the Knee: this variation focuses on force production due to the short range of motion. You can focus on waiting for the hip contact before extending vertically and pulling the bar to the lower chest.

Snatch Pull to the Neck

  • Snatch Pull to the Neck – from Floor: this is a more advanced snatch pull that focuses on maximum speed and pulling as high as possible. Beginners often over-pull, so only athletes with good technique and muscle memory should use this movement. Use weightlifting straps due to the longer range of motion.
  • Snatch Pull to the Neck – from Risers (Bar Touches Ground): this pulling variation puts maximal emphasis on concentric strength and power due to the greater range of motion and time to accelerate the bar
  • Snatch Pull to the Neck – Hang Above Knee: after a snatch deadlift, you lower the bar to the belly of the VMO and then focus on maximal acceleration to pull the bar to the neck.
  • Snatch Pull to the Neck – Blocks Above Knee: at this block height, the small range of motion forces the athlete to accelerate as quickly as possible; reserved for athletes building maximum speed and power.

Snatch Speed Pull (Panda Pull)

  • Snatch Speed Pull – from Floor: one of the most frequently-used Olympic weightlifting exercises in China. It’s only used from a few heights to train speed and coordination to pull under the bar. After the extension, pull the bar and simultaneously bring the feet down into a quarter squat. Due to the violent change in direction, always use weightlifting straps with all speed pull variations.

 

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  • Snatch Speed Pull – from Risers (Bar Touches Ground): this snatch movement elongates the pull to help athletes who extend too early.
  • Snatch Speed Pull – Hang Above Knee: after a deadlift, then lower the bar and use the stretch reflex to help lift the bar, then squat down after extension. Very effective for building jumping ability and rhythm.
  • Snatch Speed Pull – Blocks Above Knee: at this height, you can go very heavy and work on the rate of force development. This Chinese snatch pull builds confidence for pulling under heavy weights.

 

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Snatch Speed Pull (Panda Pull) with Split

  • Snatch Speed Pull with Split – from Floor: develops speed for pulling under the bar even more than the standard speed pull. Pull the bar to your clavicle while simultaneously sliding your feet down into the stance as your weightlifting squat.
  • Snatch Speed Pull with Split – Hang Above Knee: after a deadlift, you lower the bar and use the stretch reflex to help you extend, then you slide laterally into your weightlifting squat after extension. Very effective for building jumping ability while staying connected to the ground.
  • Snatch Speed Pull with Split – Blocks Above Knee: at this block height, you can pull heavier weights than other variations, which builds power, reversal speed, and confidence for pulling under heavy weights.

 

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Olympic Weightlifting Clean

Clean

  • Clean – from Floor: aka the full clean, usually performed at least once a week in combination with the power jerk, squat jerk, or split jerk in a typical Chinese weightlifting program to test the results from training.

 

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  • Clean – from Risers (Barbell Touches the Ground): great clean assistance movement if you don’t use your legs long enough during the clean deadlift or are weak from the floor.

Hang Clean

  • Clean – from Risers (No Touch): first, deadlift the bar and then lowers it to “hang” clean from the clean start position. The purpose is to help you feel the tension you should have in the start position. Most athletes use weightlifting straps with hang clean variations.
  • Hang Clean – Below the Knee: after a clean deadlift, bend your torso and squat simultaneously to preload the leg, back, and glutes. Then focus on contacting around the knee before you extend.
  • Hang Clean – at the Knee: deadlift the bar then lower it to the patella tendon while pushing your knees out. This hang clean teaches you how to move the bar past your knee.
  • Hang Clean – Above the Knee: lower the bar to the belly of the VMO and reverse direction to perform a clean. Use this clean assistance exercise if you tend to pull away from the bar early.
  • Hang Clean – from the “Hip”: perform a clean deadlift but then bend over while maintaining the bar about 5 – 10 cm below the hip crease to clean. This variation teaches you to perform a vertical jump for the extension rather than hyperextend the lower back.

Clean from Blocks

  • Clean from Blocks – Below the Knee: this clean variation allows you to keep the hips low and work on dragging the bar inside the knee. Incorporate this movement if you have a gap with the bar after the first pull or raise the hips too high.
  • Clean from Blocks – at the Knee: this block height for the clean is effective if you lose position, feel weak, or intentionally slow down before the second pull. Use weightlifting knee sleeves to feel more comfortable moving the bar over the inner edge of your knee.
  • Clean from Blocks – Above the Knee: this is the most common block height for cleans. Since the bar naturally accelerates above the knee, this position is great for developing the rate of force development and making contact 5 – 10 cm below the hip crease.

Power Clean

  • Power Clean – from Floor: part of the clean learning progression, and one of the most popular Olympic weightlifting exercises. Use this movement if you’re not yet confident or comfortable catching low; intermediates use the power clean to exert maximal force without taxing the legs by catching deep. You can also use this to prepare for overhead movements.
  • Power Clean – from Risers (Barbell Touches the Ground): perform a clean from a position lower than your usual start position. This longer range of motion allows for greater concentric strength when reverting to the start position
  • Power Clean – Paused Below the Knee: start from the floor and pause below the knee before performing a power clean. This clean variation makes you focus on reaching the right position midway through the lift. Use weightlifting straps in this movement.
  • Power Clean – Pause at the Knee: start from the floor and pause at the patella tendon before continuing to perform a power clean. This clean variation makes you focus on moving the knees out and contacting properly. Use weightlifting straps in this movement.

Hang Power Clean

  • Hang Power Clean – Below the Knee: perform a clean deadlift, then lower the bar below the knee and immediately perform a power clean. Because of the stretch reflex in hang variations, use weightlifting straps for hang variations to focus on jumping smoothly and vertically to accelerate the bar.
  • Hang Power Clean – at the Knee: stand up straight by deadlifting the bar, then lower the bar to the patella tendon before power cleaning. This variation doesn’t tax your legs as much as lower positions and trains you to keep your knees out.
  • Hang Power Clean – Above the Knee: one of the most popular Olympic weightlifting exercises used in sports. Perform a clean deadlift, then lower the bar to the belly of the VMO before power cleaning. 1. This clean variation emphasizes power, footwork, and pulling the elbows vertically to rack the bar due to the short range of motion.
  • Hang Power Clean – from Risers (No Touch): this is a hang clean from the start position height. It builds leg endurance due to the long-range of motion and helps you feel what muscles should be active from the start position.

Power Clean from Blocks

  • Power Clean from Blocks – Below the Knee: it is less fatiguing than the hang version since the bar rests on blocks. Use this movement if you have trouble catching the clean in a deep squat and lose your position after the first pull.
  • Power Clean from Blocks – at the Knee: this block height is a great assistance exercise for beginners who lose contact with the bar around the knee or scrape the knee and can’t catch in a deep position.
  • Power Clean from Blocks – Above the Knee: very effective for training concentric speed and rate of force development because the range of motion is short, and the muscles are not preloaded.

Power Clean without Split

  • Power Clean without Split – from the Floor: this is a part of the Clean teaching progression and mainly used from the floor. It can help you if you tend to jump back.

 

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  • Hang Power Clean without Split – Below the Knee: after a deadlift, you lower the bar to the knee and perform a power clean without split. Athletes use weightlifting straps in hang versions to focus only on accelerating and jumping vertically while staying connected to the ground.
  • Hang Power Clean without Split – at the Knee: use this variation if you pull away from the bar and raise your heels off the ground at knee height or have a very low contact point. You should deadlift the same way up as they lower the bar.
  • Hang Power Clean without Split – Above the Knee: after a clean deadlift, you lower the bar to the belly of the VMO to snatch. Use this movement if you tend to lean away from the bar or are too slow to rack the bar.
  • Power Clean without Split – Blocks Below the Knee: use this height if you lose position after the first pull and either jump off the ground, catch the bar in a wide stance, or have slow reversal speed.
  • Power Clean without Split – Blocks at the Knee: use this movement if you tend to hit your patella during a power clean or have a gap with the bar. It also eliminates compensating with a wide catch or jumping off the ground.
  • Power Clean without Split – Blocks Above the Knee: emphasizes reversal speed by focusing on accelerating upward and pulling your heels down forcefully. Good clean variation if you jump off the ground during extension or experience bar crash when you rack the bar.

 

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Other Clean Variations

  • Half Clean: This can be used as a teaching progression for the clean to acclimate beginners to catching lower, but experienced athletes will use this as the weight increases during the power clean.
  • 3-level Clean: a teaching progression that helps beginners build consistent weightlifting squat technique and familiarity with deeper catch positions. Athletes catch at quarter squat, half squat, and full squat positions, extending and catching with the same rhythm.

 

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  • Split Clean: old school movement used for helping athletes who have trouble extending and splitting for the jerk. After the extension, you catch the bar in a split position. Sometimes it’s combined with a split jerk to build a consistent split.

 

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Clean Pull

  • Clean Pull – from Floor: part of the clean learning progression. After the extension, you pull the bar to the navel and maintain a straight torso balanced on the ball of the foot. Because the loading for clean pull variations is heavier than the clean, athletes almost always use weightlifting straps.

  • Clean Pull – from Risers (Barbell Touches the Ground): the start position is lower than normal, which elongates the range of motion and builds leg strength for the first pull. Use this lift if you lose position off the floor with heavy weights.
  • Clean Pull – from Risers (No Touch): aka floating clean pull. Use this variation if your eccentric and concentric movements differ, or you lack the endurance to maintain tension in the start position.
  • Clean Pull Paused at Navel: this clean variation helps you find your balance, pull their elbows up, and develop coordination during the clean pull because deviations from vertical will make you fall.

 

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Hang Clean Pull

  • Hang Clean Pull – Below the Knee: deadlift the bar, then lower it below the knee before performing a high pull. This lift emphasizes moving the bar over the knee and maintaining balance to extend vertically.
  • Hang Clean Pull – at the Knee: after a clean deadlift, you lower the bar to the patella tendon before performing a clean high pull. This trains you to stay over the bar and avoid scraping the knee.
  • Hang Clean Pull – Above the Knee: athletes focus on accelerating the bar along the thighs while hitting 5 – 10 cm below the hip crease on the way up and down. This movement builds muscle memory for more complex clean movements.

Clean Pull from Blocks

  • Clean Pull from Blocks – Below the Knee: this block height lets you focus on keeping your balance forward and staying close to the bar after the first pull. Since block pull variations are heavier than snatch, athletes frequently use weightlifting straps to prevent grip fatigue.
  • Clean Pull from Blocks – at the Knee: at this height, you can focus on moving the bar inside the thigh and ensuring you pull high enough.

 

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  • Clean Pull from Blocks – Above the Knee: a very powerful position due to the short range of motion. You can focus on waiting for the hip contact before extending vertically and pulling the bar to the navel.

Clean Speed Pull (Panda Pull)

  • Clean Speed Pull – from Floor: this is another advanced pull variation, which is why it’s used from only a few locations. Like the snatch version, you pull and quarter squat simultaneously after extension, but the bar should reach the bottom of the chest.

 

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  • Clean Speed Pull – from Risers (Bar Touches Ground): this clean pull variation is great for building strength off the floor and testing your reversal speed.
  • Clean Speed Pull – Hang Above Knee: after a deadlift, you lower the bar and use the stretch reflex to extend, then pull the bar and squat simultaneously after extension. Very effective for building power and rhythm.
  • Clean Speed Pull – Blocks Above Knee: at this height, you can go very heavy while working on the rate of force development and reversal speed. This Chinese clean pull builds confidence for pulling under heavy weights.

 

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Clean Speed Pull (Panda Pull) with Split

  • Clean Speed Pull with Split – from Floor: develops coordination, speed, and confidence for pulling under the bar. Simultaneously pull the bar to your lower chest while sliding your feet down and out into your weightlifting squat stance. This pull is advanced, so it’s used from only a few locations
  • Clean Speed Pull with Split – Hang Above Knee: after a deadlift, you lower the bar and use the stretch reflex to pull the bar and then slide into your weightlifting squat. Very effective for building jumping ability while staying connected to the ground.
  • Clean Speed Pull with Split – Blocks Above Knee: at this block height, you can focus on pulling heavier than other variations to build power and confidence for pulling under the bar.

Olympic Weightlifting Deadlift

Snatch Deadlift

  • Snatch Deadlift – from Floor: the foundation for all snatch movements. Usually, Chinese athletes perform deadlifts with weightlifting straps due to heavy loading. Athletes push from the ball of the foot through the entire range of motion until the lockout.
  • Snatch Deadlift – Pause Below Knee: this deadlift builds position strength below the knee and allows you to assess if your first pull was accurate. It can also remind you to maintain your balance as you enter the second pull.

  • Snatch Deadlift – Pause at the Knee: this deadlift builds position strength and coordination to help you stay forward while keeping the knees out. Use weightlifting knee sleeves to shift your focus away from hitting your knee and toward moving the bar along the inner edge of your knee.
  • Snatch Deadlift – Pause Above Knee: this snatch deadlift variation is great if you have a weak chest during the snatch and have trouble keeping the bar close, or if you pull your body away above the knee.
  • Snatch Deadlift from Blocks – Below the Knee: an effective variation for overloading this position. In a weightlifting program, it’s best to use this deadlift after squats or when it’s difficult to perform a full range of motion.
  • Snatch Deadlift from Blocks – at the Knee: another effective variation that builds postural strength and keeping the bar close with heavy weights.
  • Snatch Deadlift from Blocks – Above the Knee: due to the short range of motion, this position has the strongest potential for loading for most athletes. This lift trains you to maintain your balance on the ball of the foot until the lockout.

  • Snatch Deadlift with Extension – from Risers (Bar Touches Ground): this snatch deadlift emphasizes leg drive and glute strength off the floor. Use this variation if you have trouble keeping your torso upright during the deadlift.
  • Snatch Deadlift with Extension – from Floor: as the barbell reaches the hip crease, push your legs through the ground as you pull with your traps, shoulders, and biceps. Use this deadlift in your weightlifting program to overload your extension.

 

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  • Snatch Deadlift with Extension – Pause Below Knee: this deadlift tests the coordination of your first pull. It also builds postural strength to stay forward and patient for the extension.
  • Snatch Deadlift with Extension – Pause at the Knee: this deadlift helps you maintain your position, contact with the bar, and balance after the first pull. It also builds strength for the extension.
  • Snatch Deadlift with Extension – Pause Above Knee: this deadlift variation helps you stay forward and close to the bar through the entire extension. It’s a great assistance exercise if you tend to lean away from the bar above the knee.
  • Snatch Deadlift with Extension – from Risers (No Touch): this snatch deadlift builds your leg endurance and teaches you how to push off the floor due to the pre-tension in the legs and glutes when the bar reaches the risers.
  • Snatch Deadlift with Extension – from Blocks Below the Knee: due to the heavy loading, the bar moves slowly and will reach navel height for most athletes. This variation helps you focus on maintaining your balance forward more easily than in a snatch pull, while also strengthening your pulling ability during extension.
  • Snatch Deadlift with Extension – from Blocks at the Knee: this variation strengthens your ability to keep your knees out and hips close to the bar after the first pull. Use weightlifting knee sleeves to feel more comfortable moving the bar past the inner side of your knee.
  • Snatch Deadlift with Extension – from Blocks Above the Knee: this block height overloads the extension. The slower bar speed is useful if you have inconsistent timing and coordination issues during the extension.
  • Snatch Romanian Deadlift (RDL): in this variation, you hinge at the hips while keeping your legs bent slightly and fixed throughout the entire range of motion. This movement provides strength training for the lower back, hamstrings, and glutes.
  • Snatch RDL – from Risers (No Touch): this Romanian deadlift variation lengthens the range of motion and places more tension on your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. It’s also a good alternative if your legs are short and your hamstrings are very flexible.
  • Stiff-Legged Snatch Deadlift: bend at the hips with a flat back and knees straight until the bar reaches the ground, or you maximize your flexibility. This movement provides a lot of tension for the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back due to the stretched position.
  • Rounded Back Snatch Deadlift: like the stiff legged deadlift but performed with a rounded back by contracting the abs and bending at the hips. This movement helps offset the high degree of extension work inherent in weightlifting.
  • Rounded Back Snatch Deadlift – from Risers (Barbell Touches the Ground): this version extends the range of motion for very flexible athletes or if you have relatively long arms and short legs.
  • Rounded Back Snatch Deadlift – from Risers (No Touch): this deadlift variation extends the range of motion but maintains tension throughout the movement.

Clean Deadlift

  • Clean Deadlift – from Floor: aka the Olympic weightlifting deadlift. It is the foundation for all clean movements. The balance is the same as the snatch deadlift, but the grip is one fist-width from the shoulder.

 

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  • Clean Deadlift – Pause Below Knee: this Olympic weightlifting deadlift variation builds position strength below the knee and allows you to assess your balance before continuing the lift. Use this exercise in your weightlifting program if you are weak off the floor.
  • Clean Deadlift – Pause at the Knee: this Olympic weightlifting deadlift builds position strength and coordination to help you avoid hitting the knees during the clean. Focus on staying forward and close while keeping the knees out. Use weightlifting knee sleeves to familiarize yourself with dragging the bar along the inner edge of your knee.
  • Clean Deadlift – Pause Above Knee: this Olympic weightlifting deadlift variation is great if you have a weak chest during the clean and have trouble keeping the bar close. It is also useful if you tend to pull your body away above the knee.
  • Clean Deadlift from Blocks – Below the Knee: an effective Olympic weightlifting deadlift variation for overloading the midrange. It is best to use this deadlift after squats or when it is difficult to perform an Olympic weightlifting deadlift with a full range of motion.
  • Clean Deadlift from Blocks – at the Knee: another effective variation of the Olympic weightlifting deadlift. Great for building postural strength and keeping the bar close as it passes your knees.
  • Clean Deadlift from Blocks – Above the Knee: due to the short range of motion, this position has the strongest potential for loading the Olympic weightlifting deadlift. This variation helps you maintain your balance on the ball of the foot until the lockout. Use this lift if you tend to pull away from the bar as it gets heavy.

 

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  • Clean Deadlift with Extension – from Floor: as the barbell reaches the contact point for the Olympic weightlifting deadlift (5 – 10 cm below hip crease), extend your legs and then pull with c, and biceps. Great for building timing for the extension.

 

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  • Clean Deadlift with Extension – Pause Below Knee: this deadlift tests the strength and coordination of the first pull. It allows you to adjust and be patient for the extension.
  • Clean Deadlift with Extension – Pause Above Knee: this deadlift variation reminds you to stay close to the bar by pushing your chest forward and rotating your knees out.
  • Clean Deadlift with Extension – from Risers (Bar Touches Ground): this clean deadlift elongates the range of motion, strengthening the leg drive and glute strength from the floor. Use this variation if you feel weak off the floor.
  • Clean Deadlift with Extension – from Risers (No Touch): this clean deadlift builds leg endurance and trains your ability to maintain the pressure on the ball of the foot through the extension.
  • Clean Deadlift with Extension – from Blocks Below the Knee: this variation strengthens your ability to push forcefully and stay close to the bar. Use this lift if you tend to hesitate or lose position at this height. The bar will reach the height of the pelvis during the extension for most athletes. Use weightlifting straps to keep your arms relaxed.
  • Clean Deadlift with Extension – from Blocks at the Knee: this variation builds postural strength and trains you to stay forward as you pass the knee and extend. Use this variation if you tend to pull away from the bar and hit your knees.
  • Clean Deadlift with Extension – from Blocks Above the Knee: this block height overloads the extension, which slows the bar speed but trains you to push hard, maintain position, and wait for the contact point.
  • Clean Romanian Deadlift (RDL): this deadlift differs from an Olympic weightlifting deadlift because you hinge at the hips while keeping the legs bent slightly and fixed. This movement is heavier and has a shorter range of motion compared to the snatch version.
  • Clean RDL – from Risers (No Touch): this Romanian deadlift variation lengthens the range of motion and places more tension on your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. It’s also a good alternative if you have long limbs.

  • Stiff-legged Clean Deadlift: you bend at the hips with a flat back and knees straight until the bar reaches the ground or the athlete maximizes their flexibility. This movement is heavier and has a shorter range of motion to the snatch version. It’s used less frequently in a weightlifting program, but still provides strength training for the torso and glutes.
  • Clean Grip Rounded Back Deadlift: like the stiff legged deadlift but performed with a rounded back by contracting the abs and bending at the hips. This movement helps offset the high degree of extension work inherent in weightlifting and focuses on the middle/top range of the pull.

Other Deadlifts

  • Sumo Clean Deadlift: you use the same stance as the Olympic weightlifting deadlift but grip with the arms within the legs. This exercise is great for keeping your chest up and engaging the glutes during the pull due to the more upright posture relative to an Olympic weightlifting deadlift.

 

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  • Sumo Clean Deadlift with Extension: since the chest is pushed out more in this variation and it is hard to bend the arms early with a narrow grip, this is a great exercise for your weightlifting program if you need to work on leading with the torso during the extension.
  • Sumo Clean Deadlift – from Risers (Barbell Touches the Ground): this variation has the same benefits as the sumo clean deadlift, but it forces you to crouch down lower, which transfers more to the snatch.
  • Sumo Clean Deadlift – from Risers (No Touch): this sumo deadlift increases the time under tension for your hips and glutes. This tension can build strength and muscle memory for the snatch or clean start position.

  • Sumo RDL: in this deadlift variation, you hinge at the hips while keeping the legs bent slightly and fixed. This movement is heavier and has a shorter range of motion to the snatch or clean version, so it trains your torso through the top range of the pull.
  • Trap Bar Deadlift: this movement requires a trap bar. It trains you to keep the hips low, torso upright, and drive with the legs rather than pull away with the lower back. It can also be part of a weightlifting program for athletes recovering from back injuries.

Olympic Weightlifting Jerk

  • Half Jerk: another part of the jerk teaching progression to acclimate you to catching lower, around 90 degrees of knee flexion. Experienced athletes use this variation naturally as the weight increases during power jerks.
  • Half Jerk – behind the Neck: this assistance exercise trains you to ascend and descend vertically. It also develops strength and stability for your weightlifting squat technique by forcing you to stop in the midrange of the squat jerk.
  • Jerk Dip: one of the most popular Olympic weightlifting exercises in China to assist the power jerk, split jerk, and squat jerk. In the standard version, you dip smoothly and then stand up immediately once you reach the bottom of the dip.

 

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  • Jerk Dip – Continuous: in this variation, you stand up immediately after the jerk dip and then dip again. This movement teaches you to work with the barbell’s oscillation while maintaining your balance. In a Chinese weightlifting program, it usually is performed after heavy squats.
  • Jerk Dip – Paused: this jerk dip variation builds core stability and emphasizes your balance at the bottom of the jerk dip. You can pause between reps, pause at the end of a set, or do a single set with a long pause.

 

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  • Jerk Drive: this is like a “high pull” for the power jerk, split jerk, and squat jerk. It allows you to test your balance and height of your extension. First, perform a jerk dip, and then drive the bar to full extension without sliding into the catch.
  • Jerk Extension: this is a jerk drive without using your arms to push the barbell off your shoulders. It helps focus on your lower body coordination for the jerk.
  • Jerk Recovery – Power: place the bar in the squat rack at your catching height, then position yourself under it and stand up. It trains you to drop straight for the power jerk and squat jerk while maintaining the bar over the midfoot. Because of the heavy load potential, it is common to wear wrist wraps during this movement.

 

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  • Jerk Recovery – Half Power: this variation helps build support and position strength for athletes who power jerk at a half squat position. Set the bar at an overhead squat height where your thighs are between quarter squat height and parallel. Align your midfoot with the barbell, then stand.
  • Jerk Recovery – Split: this movement trains you to move the bar straight during the split jerk recovery. Place the bar in a squat rack at a height equal to your lockout in the split jerk position. Then get into your split position and recover before dropping the bar.

 

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  • Jerk Recovery – Bottom-up Overhead Squat: this movement trains strength and balance for the squat jerk. It also builds general weightlifting squat technique by improving confidence and familiarity with the bottom position.
  • Power Jerk: this is part of the jerk teaching progression and a competition movement. This movement teaches you to move vertically and slide while receiving weights overhead. Catch the bar at quarter squat height and in the same stance as your normal weightlifting squat.
  • Power Jerk – Behind the Neck: this is an assistance movement for athletes who power jerk or squat jerk. It trains you to drive the bar straight and high, which is useful if you cut your extension short.
  • Power Jerk – without Split: another step in the jerk teaching progression. This movement teaches you how to extend and pull the ankles down while receiving weights overhead. Some athletes power jerk like this if their weightlifting squat and deadlift stance are the same.
  • Split Jerk: one of the competition movements in weightlifting. The key to this movement is a smooth jerk dip, a powerful jerk drive, full extension, then sliding to maintain your balance in the middle of your split. Athletes often tape their wrist or use wrist wraps for extra stability.
  • Split Jerk – Paused: this assistance exercise pauses at the bottom of the jerk dip before extending and splitting. The purpose is to make sure your balance and depth are correct before extending.
  • Split Jerk – with Hanging Weights: perform this variation from the rack with weights tied at the ends of the bar. This assistance exercise helps force you maintain balance while building your core and shoulder stability.

 

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  • Split Jerk Lunge – Elevated: this variation focuses on activating the back leg. You assume the split jerk position on top of blocks, hang a weight off the back leg, and then perform the lunge as in the static version.
  • Split Jerk Lunge – Static: this movement trains you to activate your leg muscles in the split jerk to push against the bar overhead. Place the bar on your back and get in your split jerk position, then push the legs until they straighten and return to your split position.
  • Squat Jerk: this is part of the jerk teaching progression but also a competition movement. It teaches you to catch deeply with weight overhead, which has carryover for the snatch, jerk, and weightlifting squat technique.

 

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  • Squat Jerk – behind the Neck: this jerk variation allows you to perform a jerk drive and squat vertically without worrying about the rack position or moving the bar behind the head.

Olympic Weightlifting Squat

Back Squats

  • Back squat: a standard accessory movement for leg strength. A weightlifting squat has a high bar placement and comfortable stance to lower your body as deep and upright as possible. The bar must balance over the midfoot throughout the movement. Since the knees perform a lot of work, athletes will often use weightlifting knee sleeves to keep the joint warm.

 

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  • Back Squat – Hold: this squat has a short range of motion; you simply relax the knees while supporting the bar. This movement builds supporting strength and trains the nervous system to get used to heavy weights but does not overstress the muscles. Beginners can use this movement to improve their weightlifting squat technique and coordination.

 

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  • Back Squat – Narrow Stance: this squat assistance movement trains the anterior tibialis, which can help you sit more upright in your usual weightlifting squat. Usually, the feet are together or pointed out slightly depending on hip comfort. Contrary to popular belief, Nuckols (2017) reviews scientific evidence showing this movement is not quad-dominant relative to other squats.

  • Back Squat – 1 ¼: this squat assistance movement improves weightlifting squat technique by building rebound strength and coordination out of the bottom position. You relax the lower body into a deep weightlifting squat and then tense up to bounce out of the bottom about a quarter of the way, then descend again to bounce up. Use weightlifting knee sleeves to keep your knees warm and mobile in deep positions.
  • Back Squat – Off Box: this movement builds your weightlifting squat technique by training you to fire your nervous system quickly, especially at weak ranges of motion. Simply squat down onto a box to break the momentum and then stand up forcefully.
  • Back Squat Off Pins: this squat accessory exercise builds positional strength and speed to overcome the weakest point in your squat, which preserves your weightlifting squat technique at maximal weights. Place the pins slightly below your sticking point in a squat rack and stand up as forcefully as possible.
  • Back Squat – Paused: this squat assistance movement builds strength and coordination from the bottom position, which builds your weightlifting squat technique at heavy weights and strengthens your recovery from a snatch or clean. You can hold a pause for 2 – 5 seconds.

 

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  • Back Squat – Quarter: this squat variation overloads the top end of the weightlifting squat and lockout. This movement has a general carryover to the extension for a clean or snatch.
  • Back Squat – without Lockout: this squat variation builds legs endurance and provides training if athletes experience knee discomfort in the lockout. Use weightlifting knee sleeves to warm your knees and achieve a deeper position.
  • Back Squat – Wide Stance: aka sumo squat. “Wide” is any stance that is wider than your standard weightlifting squat technique. This squat variation teaches you to activate your glutes and push the knees out, which transfers to the snatch and clean pulls. Try this exercise if you tend to push your knees back during the pull or if they cave in during a squat.
  • Back Squat – Wide Stance Quarter Bottom Up: this sumo squat variation helps strengthen the glutes and adductors without taxing the knees and quads. It also trains your muscles to contract quickly under heavy load.

 

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  • Jump Squat – Continuous: descend smoothly into a quarter squat and then try to jump as high as possible by pushing through the ball of the feet. Repeat this sequence until you finish all reps. This jump squat teaches you to change direction quickly and extend.
  • Jump Squat – Paused: in this jump squat variation, you descend to about half squat position, pause 3 – 5 seconds, then jump through the ball of the feet as explosively as possible. This movement removes the rebound to focus on explosive starting strength, which is useful for pulls.
  • Jump Squat – Reset: this squat variation is identical to the continuous version, but after landing, you stand up to reset before doing another rep. This change lets you use heavier weight and focus on your extension.
  • Jump Squat – Deep: this jump squat variation teaches you to descend quickly and rebound, which is useful for building eccentric squat speed and rebound ability. First, relax and descend into the squat, quickly tense the body as you reach the bottom, and use the stretch reflex to help you jump up. Use weightlifting knee sleeves to keep your knees warm.

Front Squats

  • Front Squat: a standard accessory movement to develop leg and back strength for the clean. The goal is to squat as upright as possible with a straight back while keeping the bar balanced over the midfoot.

  • Front Squat – Holds: this squat has a very short range of motion; you simply relax the knees while supporting the bar. This movement builds supporting strength and trains the nervous system to get used to heavy weights but does not overstress the muscles.

 

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  • Front Squat – Narrow Stance: this front squat assistance movement emphasizes dorsiflexion, strengthening your anterior tibialis. This lift can help you sit more upright in a front squat and bring your shins to the bar in the start position. Usually, the feet are together or pointed out slightly depending on hip comfort. Contrary to popular belief, Nuckols (2017) shows a narrow stance is not more quad dominant relative to other squats.

 

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  • Front Squat – No Hands: this is a great exercise if your back rounds during the front squat or you lean forward too much. You perform a front squat with your arms straight out, which requires more balance and upright posture.

 

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  • Front Squat – 1 ¼: this squat assistance movement is used in a weightlifting program to build rebound strength and coordination after receiving the clean. You relax the lower body into a squat, tense your legs and glutes as you reach your deepest position, rebound to about a quarter of the way, then descend again to bounce up. Use a weightlifting belt to keep your core tight and maintain position during the bounce.
  • Front Squat – Off Box: you squat down onto a box to break the momentum and train your nervous system to fire quickly to stand up. It also overloads a weak range of motion in the front squat. You can also use this movement if your legs are too fatigued for full squats.
  • Front Squat Off Pins: this squat accessory exercise builds front rack strength, core strength, and speed to overcome the weakest point in your squat to maintain your weightlifting squat technique at maximal weights. Place the pins slightly below your sticking point in a squat rack and stand up as forcefully as possible.
  • Front Squat – Paused: this variation helps with position strength out of the bottom. It’s useful if you round your back or lean forward on the way up. Simply squat down while maintaining tension at the bottom and pause for 3 – 5s before standing.

 

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  • Front Squat – Walks: this assistance movement helps build core strength and endurance if your clean recovery is not perfect. This movement usually requires two racks: one to unrack the bar, then another to walk towards and rack the bar.
  • Front Squat – Wide Stance, Quarter, Paused: this squat variation loads your hips and glutes for the jerk dip. Use this lift in your weightlifting program if your knees cave in as you descend in a jerk dip or squat.

Other Squats

  • Kettlebell Squat: you can use this movement as part of a weightlifting program that focuses on keeping the chest up and maintaining balance in the bottom position. Hold a heavy kettlebell and stand on blocks to avoid touching the floor with the kettlebell, then squat. You can hold the bottom position for several seconds between reps or sit there for at least a minute.
  • Overhead Half Squat – Snatch Grip Bottom Up: this variation builds leg strength and posture in the middle portion of the catch. It builds muscle memory and strength to maximize your power snatch.

 

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  • Overhead Squat – Snatch Grip: this is a required movement for snatching. It trains your balance and posture in the bottom of the snatch position. Unrack the bar on your back like a back squat but with a snatch grip, then push press overhead and perform the overhead squat.
  • Overhead Squat – Snatch Grip Bottom Up: this squat variation trains you to feel stable and comfortable in the catch position for the snatch. Place the bar on blocks at a height equal to your catch position for a full snatch, then stand up, then lower the bar back to the blocks. Use weightlifting knee sleeves to keep your knees warm and mobile to get into deep positions.
  • Overhead Squat – Clean Grip: this overhead squat builds mobility and stability due to its narrow grip. It helps build the receiving position for the squat jerk. Unrack the bar on your back like a back squat but with a jerk grip, then push press overhead and perform the overhead squat.
  • Overhead Squat – Clean Grip Bottom Up: this squat variation trains you to feel stable and comfortable in the catch position for the squat jerk. Like the snatch version, place the bar on blocks at a height equal to your deep squat position, then stand up, then lower the bar back to the blocks.

 

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Olympic Weightlifting Press

Overhead Presses

  • Behind the Neck Press – from Split: this accessory movement will help you know the feeling of aligning the bar, arms, and torso to understand how to finish your split jerk, power jerk, or squat jerk. Place the bar on your back, split so that your balance is on the ball of both feet, then press straight up while maintaining the torso. Use the same grip as your jerk.
  • Behind the Neck Press – Seated Snatch Grip: you can do this pressing movement sitting between jerk blocks to focus on pushing straight and locking out. It doesn’t put a lot of stress on the lower body or core, so it is good for women who experience heavy menstrual symptoms.
  • Behind the Neck Press – Standing: this press builds familiarity with placing the bar behind your head and keeping your core tight. Use this movement if you tend to hyperextend your back or look up during a split jerk or standard push press.

  • Drop Snatch – Quarter Squat: This assistance movement helps build confidence, support strength, timing, and drop speed for the snatch. You place the bar on your back with a snatch grip, then dip and drive to full extension, then slide into your quarter squat stance. The goal is to catch and finish your squat as close together as possible.
  • Drop Snatch – Half Squat: this is a deeper variation of the drop snatch for building muscle memory, reversal speed, and strength in the mid-range of the squat. Use this movement if you can power snatch and full snatch but have difficulty catching in between these positions.
  • Drop Snatch – Full Squat: this is the most frequently used drop snatch movement. It teaches you to drop straight down into the deepest catch position and build confidence. It also keeps you connected with the barbell through the entire squat motion. Use weightlifting knee sleeves to keep your knees warm and achieve a deep squat position more easily.

 

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  • Dumbbell Press – Unilateral: position your elbow at 30 degrees to your side and then press but finish the overhead so that the face of the dumbbell faces your body. This movement teaches you to press and produce an internally rotated force necessary for the power jerk, squat jerk, and split jerk.
  • Kettlebell Press – Unilateral: this pressing exercise helps build shoulder stability. Point the bottom of the kettlebell towards the ceiling, position your elbow about 30 degrees to your side, and then press.
  • Push Press: this is part of the jerk learning progression and one of the most popular Olympic weightlifting exercises. It is used frequently in China to measure the height of your jerk drive. You should perform a jerk drive to reach a height where your elbows form 90 degrees. Then bring the heels down quickly while locking out. Many athletes wear weightlifting wrist wraps to reduce wrist stress and increase stability overhead.

 

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  • Push Press – Narrow Grip, Behind the Neck: place the bar on your back and use the same grip as your jerk. Start with a jerk dip and jerk drive, then bring the heels down quickly, attempting to land and lockout at the same time. Use this variation if you tend to push the bar in front of you during a jerk.
  • Push Press – Wide Grip, Behind the Neck: place the bar on your back and use a snatch grip. Start with a jerk dip and jerk drive, then bring the heels down quickly, attempting to land and lockout at the same time. Use this variation to build support strength for the snatch.
  • Overhead Press: this is a basic strength training exercise for training the overhead position. From the rack position, the key is to push the bar up and back until the wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle bone all align.
  • Overhead Press – from Pins: this is a great assistance exercise for building lockout strength overhead. Set the bar inside a power rack at a height where your elbows form 90 degrees. Stand as close as possible to the bar and then lockout overhead.
  • Overhead Press – Seated: this variation is useful if you have lower body injuries. It can also help you stabilize your core, especially if you tend to lean forward as you press overhead. You can sit on a bench or box and press from blocks, rack, pins, etc.
  • Overhead Press – Split Jerk Position: this accessory exercise teaches you to move the bar while maintaining the split jerk position. This movement is useful if you tend to lean back or lean forward during the split jerk.
  • Snatch Press – Full Squat: this movement helps build your stability in a deep weightlifting squat position by maintaining an upright posture and a straight press. Perform a back squat with a snatch grip (or you can perform a drop snatch), then press straight from the bottom position while maintaining an upright posture. Use weightlifting knee sleeves to keep your knees warm and mobile to get into deep positions.
  • Snatch Press – Half Squat: this movement helps you maintain an upright position for the overhead squat and half snatch. Simply squat down to a depth where you feel unstable or do not feel confident, then perform snatch-grip presses while maintaining tension in your squat position. Intermediate athletes can perform a drop snatch to the desired depth. Use weightlifting wrist wraps to provide extra support and focus on pressing straight.

 

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  • Snatch Press – Quarter Squat: this movement helps you maintain an upright position for the power snatch. Squat down (or drop snatch) to quarter squat height, balance the barbell over your midfoot, align your elbows under the barbell, then press vertically over the midfoot.
  • Sotts Press – Full Squat: builds thoracic strength by prolonging the isometric and assists for the squat jerk. Perform a front squat, then stay at the bottom and perform a set of overhead presses before standing.
  • Sotts Press – Half Squat: builds thoracic strength and leg strength to maximize your power clean. Perform a front squat to half depth or whichever depth feels weakest to you, then stay there and perform overhead presses.
  • Sotts Press – Quarter Squat: reinforces your power clean and power jerk positions. Perform a quarter front squat and perform a set of presses.

Other Presses

  • Bench Press: this is a basic general strengthening exercise for beginners and women who need extra upper body mass. It is usually performed with a barbell and not used frequently in a weightlifting program because it can negatively affect overhead positioning and rack flexibility.
  • Bench Press – Feet Elevated: with this variation, you can raise your feet onto the bench or in the air. Both versions reduce the size of your base and your contact with the ground, which forces the upper body to stabilize more.

  • Bench Press – Narrow Grip: this variation is less stressful on your shoulders while emphasizing your triceps. It is not used frequently beyond general strength training for beginners.
  • Pushups: this pressing movement is used more often in a Chinese weightlifting program than bench pressing since it allows the scapula to move freely and train the core, hips, and legs to stay rigid.
  • Pushups – Diamond: this variation is a close-grip pushup that loads the triceps more than a standard pushup, which carries over to your lockout strength. Your upper and lower body must remain rigid as you push up.
  • Pushups – Handstand: this is the hardest pushup variation because you are pushing directly against gravity with most of your bodyweight. The purpose is to train your body to press overhead while maintaining rigidity throughout the body. Usually, a partner can assist by holding your legs as you press off blocks.

 

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  • Pushups – Incline: this variation is easier than a standard push up because you are not pushing directly against gravity, and less of your bodyweight provides resistance. You position your upper body onto a bench or box so that your arms are perpendicular to your body. The emphasis is on the lower chest with this lift, which stabilizes the torso during the pull.
  • Pushups – Decline: this variation is more difficult because your legs are elevated onto a bench or box, so your upper body must support more bodyweight. However, this change shifts the emphasis to your upper chest and anterior deltoid, which is good for your rack position.

Arm Weightlifting Exercises

Biceps/Forearms

  • Barbell Curl – Standard Grip: this biceps exercise helps maintain elbow health because it counters the elbow extension demands prevalent in a weightlifting program. Stand up with an underhand grip on the barbell, arms touching the side of your body, then keep your upper arm fixed as you curl.
  • Barbell Curl – Wide Grip: this variation is performed the same way as the standard barbell curl, but the grip is at least one fist-width outside of your shoulder. The purpose is to train your flexion in the same position as your rack position, reinforcing the elbows during the clean & jerk.
  • Dumbbell Curl – Neutral Grip: an efficient curl variation because the neutral grip builds muscle mass in the biceps and brachioradialis together. Simply hold the dumbbells to your side and maintain your upper arm fixed as you curl.
  • Forearm Curls: a professional weightlifting program contains a lot of forearm extension, so this popular bodybuilding movement maintains strength balance and avoids overuse injury. Take an overhand grip on a barbell and squat down, hang your wrists off your knees, and curl the bar.

  • Forearm Extensions: this is a good movement to include in your strength training programs if your wrists are stiff to turn the bar overhead. Perform the same way as forearm curls but with an underhand grip.

  • Reverse Curls: this bodybuilding exercise helps you achieve and maintain a strong rack position for the clean and jerk. Stand up, take a prone grip on a barbell, and then keep your elbows fixed as you curl the bar.
  • Plate Pinch: this is a general grip exercise for training the flexors of the thumb, index, and middle fingers. You can pinch a smooth bumper plate or small metal plates.
  • Shot Put Grabs: general grip strength training exercise where you attempt to palm a shot and alternate hands. This movement is popular among young athletes.
  • Standing Wrist Rolls: a very efficient movement to train wrist flexion and extension. Tie a weight to a straight handle and stand with elbows flexed at 90 degrees, then extend their wrist backward until the plate reaches the handle. Then reverse this motion by flexing the wrists forward.

Triceps

  • Bench Dips: this is an alternative triceps and deltoids exercise when you have limited equipment and/or your strength is insufficient to perform standard dips. Sit on a bench and place your hands on the edge, shoulders down and back, then slide off and place your legs away from the bench, then lower your body by bending your arms.

  • Triceps Extension – Decline: an intermediate variation of the lying triceps extension. The decline angle increases your triceps loading at the early stage and allows for greater contraction at the lockout.
  • Triceps Extension – Lying: a standard bodybuilding exercise for strengthening the triceps lockout. Lie supine on a bench and use a barbell with an overhand grip, or dumbbells with a neutral grip, to bend the elbows and flex the shoulder to clear the forehead before reversing the movement.
  • Triceps Extension – 30 Degree: an advanced variation of the lying triceps extension where your arm straightens while angled at 30 degrees instead of 90 degrees. The angle places constant tension on the triceps, making an effective part of your strength training program.
  • Triceps Extension – Overhead Prone Grip: another advanced triceps bodybuilding movement that loads the triceps heavily at the early phase. Start with a barbell overhead, then bend your elbows through the entire range of motion, then reverse the motion.
  • Triceps Extension – Overhead Supine Grip: an even more advanced triceps bodybuilding exercise. The grip prevents your elbows from flaring, which results in more triceps isolation.

 

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  • Triceps Extension – Overhead with Plate: loads the triceps at the early stage but to a lower extent due to the neutral grip and possibility of elbow flaring. Use this if the barbell version is too difficult or uncomfortable.
  • Overhead Triceps Extension – Single Arm Dumbbell: allows for unilateral triceps strengthening and hypertrophy, which is useful for restoring balance between your left and right arms.
  • Triceps Pushdown – Cable/Banded: a popular bodybuilding exercise for general strength and mass. The cable is usually at your chest height with a handle that allows for an overhand or neutral grip. You should stand away from the cable to allow for greater triceps loading, then push down to straighten your arms.
  • Triceps Kickback: a convenient bodybuilding arm exercise that emphasizes the long head of the triceps. Support one side of your body on a bench, then grab a dumbbell and lift your weighted arm so that the elbow is above your torso. Then they maintain this height as you extend your arm.

Back Exercises Bodybuilding

  • Bent Over Row – Overhand: bend over about 60 – 90 degrees from vertical with a flat back and knees out. Then pull the bar to the sternum. This variation emphasizes your rear deltoids and mid back muscles.
  • Bent Over Row – Underhand: this variation follows the same positioning as the overhand version, but the change in grip results in pulling the bar towards your hip crease. This variation emphasizes more lats and biceps and is a staple for building a bodybuilder back.

  • Chest Supported Row on Bench – Prone Grip: use this in your back workout when you want to emphasize the mid-back or minimize stress on your lower back. Place the bar under the bench and lie face down on the bench. Then use a clean grip and row towards your diaphragm.
  • Chest Supported Row on Bench – Wide Grip: the grip is still prone, but a wide grip results in pulling the bar to the middle of your chest, emphasizing your upper back and rear deltoids without taxing your lower back. Women often use this exercise in their Olympic weightlifting program if they feel heavy cramps during their menstrual period.
  • Chin-up – Neutral Grip: this requires a specialized grip setting on a rack so you can pull your body upward with a neutral grip. This movement emphasizes your biceps and brachioradialis compared to other chin-up variations, making it very efficient to develop your arms and achieve a bodybuilder back.
  • Chin-up – Supine Grip: this back exercise uses a supine grip to pull your body upward. It incorporates more biceps and chest activation than the pull-up (which incorporates more rotator cuff). You can use a weightlifting belt to tie external weight behind you to build strength in all chin-up variations.
  • Explosive Dumbbell Row: lean over one leg, use a neutral grip, and pull a heavy dumbbell while rotating your torso until the dumbbell reaches the side of the ribs. This motion trains your mid-back, lats, and upper back to contract explosively. Because of the speed and load potential, use weightlifting straps to spare your grip.

 

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  • Lat Pull: an easier variation to the pull-up where you pull a bar down towards your chin. Use this variation in your back workout if you lack the strength to pull your body upward but still want to build strength to control heavy weights to your rack position. Some athletes use weightlifting straps during lat pull variations to relax the arms and initiate with the back muscles.
  • Lat Pull – Behind the Neck: an easier variation to the behind the neck pull-up. You pull the bar down towards the base of your neck. Good for beginners who are not strong enough to pull their bodyweight, and to build strength to lower barbells behind your head. It is also more conducive to other techniques such as pauses, partial range of motion, etc.
  • Pull-up: use a prone grip overhead to pull your chin towards a bar; strengthens the lats for the front squat and rack positions. You can use a weightlifting belt to tie external weight behind you to build strength in all pull-up variations.
  • Pull-up – Behind the Neck: in this pull-up variation, use a prone grip to pull the base of your neck towards the pull-up bar. This back exercise builds supportive strength for behind the neck pressing movements.
  • Seated Row: this popular bodybuilding back exercise requires a cable machine or band. Sit slightly forward with shoulders protracted and feet supported on a vertical plate. Then pull the cable to the diaphragm while retracting and extending your back.

Chest Exercises Bodybuilding

  • Cable Pulldown: assume the same torso and leg position as a hang snatch above the knee. Adjust the cables so that your shoulder flexes about 30 degrees. Then push your chest out to bring the cables towards you until they touch your thigh. Great for learning how to use your chest during the deadlift and still develops a bodybuilder chest
  • Chest Dip: get a bodybuilder chest without bench pressing! Dips require parallel bars, jerk blocks, or a dedicated machine. Bend your arms to lower the body until your chest feels stretched, then push down while leading with the chest to push it out and up. You can use a weightlifting belt to tie an external weight to build strength and mass.

 

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  • Dumbbell Pullover: lie supine on a bench, arms extended towards the ceiling, with both hands grabbing the inner plate of a dumbbell. Then maintain your elbow angle and lower the dumbbell until it aligns with the torso. Then contract your chest and lats to bring the dumbbell over your body.
  • Flyes – Dumbbell: lay supine on a bench with your arms slightly flexed and dumbbells pointed toward the ceiling. Maintain a fixed elbow position and lower the dumbbells until you feel a stretch in your pecs. This lift is a staple in a typical bodybuilding chest workout, but it also builds tension and strength in the chest, which is useful during the deadlift.
  • Flyes – Standing Cable: a variation of the popular bodybuilding exercise. During a typical bodybuilding chest workout, the cables are pulled inward at a decline angle to stimulate the largest amount of fibers.

Core Accessory Work for Olympic Lifting

  • Ab Rollouts – Kneeling: an introductory ab exercise to train you to maintain your core while moving, which carries over to weightlifting. Get on your knees and grab a barbell with plates or a dedicated implement to roll out straight ahead and then return.
  • Ab Rollouts – Diagonal: this ab exercise trains your obliques. Most core accessory work for Olympic lifting consists of trunk flexion, extension, and isometric, but this variation is useful for athletes who twist on jerks. Set up like a standard rollout but roll the bar diagonally.
  • Ab Rollouts – Straight Legged: this variation is more challenging due to a longer range of motion and a smaller base of support. Approach a weighted barbell, bend over while keeping your back flat, and keep your legs straight or slightly relaxed. Then roll out straight ahead.
  • Ab Rotation – Standing: set up a cable/band at shoulder height, stand with your side facing the cable, then twist your abs to reach for the cable and contract to twist away. Alternatively, grab a plate, keep your elbows bent and fixed, then use your abs to rotate your torso. This movement is part of general athletic preparation.

  • Ab Rotation – GHD: this variation combines core stabilization with knee and hip extension. Lay back as close to parallel with the ground as possible and perform ab rotations with an implement such as a plate, dumbbell, barbell held in front, etc.
  • Crunches: a general ab preparation exercise performed on the floor, usually performed during the offseason. You can perform it to varying degrees of trunk flexion based on comfort, and you can hold a weight for extra resistance.
  • Crunches – Decline: a more advanced crunch variation on a decline bench. The angle uses gravity to increase the difficulty.
  • Knee Raise – Hanging: this is a general ab and hip strengthening exercise, but you can use this if you tend to overextend when preparing to jerk or squat. Use weightlifting straps to hang from a bar and flex their abs to raise the knees to the chest.
  • Knee Raises – Lying Single Legged or Double Legged: aka deadbug. This ab exercise is a very effective movement for stabilizing your abs under hip flexion. You can hold onto a rack or some bands tied around a rack.
  • Leg Raise – Hanging: this is a more advanced ab exercise where you flex your abs to raise straight or slightly relaxed legs to the chest. This modification creates more loading for your abs and hip flexors.
  • Leg Raises – Lying: this movement is a less intensive version than the hanging leg raise but is useful for training core and pelvic stability. You can hold onto a rack or some bands tied around a rack.
  • Plank – Prone: use this exercise for general static strengthening of your core, which is necessary for weightlifting. Lie prone on the floor, elbows under your shoulders, legs straight and together, balanced on the ball of your feet. You can achieve greater activation if you tuck your pelvis or move your elbows out further. Have a partner add weights for greater resistance.
  • Plank – Supine: a more advanced plank variation that isometrically strengthens and activates the core in extension, which has more carryover to weightlifting. Place your shoulders across the edge of a bench and your heels on another bench, then maintain your body straight using your glutes and abs. Have a partner add weights for greater resistance.
  • Plank – Side: this ab exercise isometrically strengthens and activates your obliques so you can use your core fully during heavy lifts. Lay on your side, keep your body straight, and support your bodyweight using the side of your bottom foot and elbow. Keep your shoulder aligned with your elbow for balance.
  • Side Bend – Single Arm: use dumbbells, kettlebells, the end of a barbell, cables (most effective due to constant tension) to create a weight offset and target the opposite-side obliques for general core strengthening.

  • Side Bend – Barbell/Double Arm: this is an alternative when you lack equipment. It is not as effective as single-arm versions since the weights balance each other. Place the bar on your back as in a squat, then contract your obliques side to side.

  • Single Arm Weighted Carry: hold onto a heavy dumbbell and maintain your standing position while walking. The offset in weight forces you to train your QL and deep core muscles.

Leg Exercises Bodybuilding

  • Calf Raise – Seated: not just for developing bodybuilder legs! You can use a dedicated machine or a bench with the ball of the foot placed on some plates to target and stretch the soleus. Place a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell on your thigh (in line with the tibia) and begin extending the ankles. In both cases, pause at the starting and end ranges for maximum stretch and muscle recruitment.
  • Calf Raise – Seated Single-Legged: in this variation, one leg is unloaded and flat while the other leg performs the seated calf raise. Use this version to reduce strength asymmetries in plantarflexion or to stretch a tighter side.
  • Calf Raise – Standard: you can use a dedicated machine for this bodybuilding leg exercise. Alternatively, place a bar on your back and stand with your heels off the edge of plates or risers to allow ample room for stretching the calves. In both cases, plantarflex and pause at the top and bottom between reps to reduce reliance on elastic energy.
  • Calf Raise – Standing Continuous: this movement follows the same setup and execution as the standard version except you don’t pause at the starting and end ranges. This modification strengthens your tendons and teaches you how to move your feet up and down rhythmically.

 

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  • Calf Raise – Standing Single-Legged: in this variation, one leg is bent and flat to provide balance while the other leg performs the calf raise. Use this to reduce asymmetries in plantarflexion or to stretch a tighter side. Hold onto a dumbbell or kettlebell for extra resistance.
  • Lateral Squat: aka lateral lunge. Use this squat assistance movement in your weightlifting program to strengthen your ascent for the squat, to prevent your knees cave in, or if you want to build some serious bodybuilder legs. Place a barbell on your back and step sideways. Keep the heel of your stepping leg planted on the floor as in a squat. Then press off this leg to stand up towards the center.
  • Leg Curl: this is one of the most popular bodybuilding leg exercises, usually performed seated or lying on a dedicated machine, but you also lay on a bench and have a partner tie a band to provide resistance. This bodybuilding exercise isolates the hamstrings through knee flexion, which is useful if you tend to overload your quads or lack eccentric control.
  • Leg Curl – Single legged: performed on a dedicated machine to fix right-left asymmetries in knee flexion strength or quad-hamstring asymmetries. Also, an effective way to add tension without using heavy loads. This movement is good to use after a long layoff or for women who feel uncomfortable squatting deep during their period.
  • Leg Extension: another one of the most popular bodybuilding leg exercises, performed on a dedicated machine to isolate and strengthen the quads. The execution depends on the machine’s design, but the basic motion is knee extension from a flexed position.
  • Leg Extension – Single legged: performed on a dedicated machine and is part of a weightlifting program designed to fix right-left asymmetries in knee extension strength. Also, an effective way to add tension without using heavy loads, which is useful for athletes coming back from a long layoff or for women who want to train their legs without taxing their core (during their menstrual period).
  • Leg Press – Machine: the main purpose of this exercise is to strengthen the quads without fatiguing the back (although it helps create serious bodybuilder legs). Use this lift in a weightlifting program if your lower back is injured or recovers slowly. Women who cannot load their core or squat deep during their menstrual period also use this exercise.
  • Leg Press – Barbell: aka vertical leg press. If you want bodybuilder legs without a dedicated machine, then try this variation. It also helps treat hamstrings stiffness by training you to contract your quads while stretching your hamstrings. This variation helps build lockout strength for the deadlift, extension, and squat. Set up the bar in a squat cage, lay on your back, align your midfoot with the bar, then press.
  • Lunge – Front Squat Grip: this version helps prevent leaning forward during the lunge, which shifts the loading onto the back leg.

 

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  • Lunge – Overhead: hold the barbell overhead as in your jerk, then lunge to a depth that can maintain an upright torso. This variation loads the back leg and helps increase hip mobility for the split jerk.
  • Lunge – Upright Torso: you can perform these with dumbbells, plates, or a barbell to build joint stability and control in the ankle, knee, and hip. They add volume, which can help you develop bodybuilder legs, but they also help counter imbalances from performing the split jerk.
  • Lunge – Torso Forward: this is lunge variation, your torso flexes until your shoulders are over the front knee. This movement is helpful if you tend to hyperextend your back in your overhead position or during your squats.
  • Lying Leg Abduction: this movement emphasizes your TFL, glute medius, and glute minimus to prevent your knee collapsing during squats or your start position. Lay on your side with your legs straight. Maintain your toes pointing forward and hips stable, then lift the top leg. You can perform this with an ankle weight or use a partner to press slightly against your leg.
  • Reverse Lunge – Upright Torso: this lunge variation loads the back leg by stepping backward rather than forward, which is useful if you tend to split with your back leg straight. It also loads the glutes more than a normal lunge.
  • Reverse Lunge – Torso Forward: in this reverse lunge variation, you step backward but allow your torso to flex so that your shoulders are over the front knee. This movement is helpful if you hyperextend your back during the split jerk or have back pain.
  • Single Legged Deadlift: stand and bend one knee until your shin is parallel to the ground. Then bend over and flex your weighted leg until your unsupported shin touches the ground, or you maximize your control and mobility. This movement addresses asymmetries in foot balance and strength in your anterior tibialis.

 

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  • Single Legged RDL: this movement trains the hamstrings and lateral hip muscles, which helps stabilize the hip and prevent knee collapsing in your squats. Simply use a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell, extend one leg behind your body and bend over while keeping the lifted leg in line with your torso. Your supporting leg remains flexed and fixed.
  • Single Legged Squat: you can do this movement solo off a box or stack of plates, or with the assistance of a friend or rack. Straighten your unsupported leg in front of you while squatting on your weighted leg. The depth depends on your mobility and control, but your knee should stay aligned with your toes throughout the movement.

  • Split Squat – Dumbbell: this bodybuilding leg exercise trains your quads, lateral hip muscles, and glutes without loading your spine. Use this movement if you need to deload your back or have an injury. Simply prop your talus onto the edge of a bench while you stand straight on your supporting leg. Then squat down, allowing your knee to travel over the toes and your torso to lean forward slightly.
  • Step-ups: this leg exercise is good for reducing strength imbalances between each leg, which can occur for athletes who split jerk. It also teaches you how to push through the foot and activate the glute. Simply step onto a box with one leg and stand up, then control yourself down before stepping again. You can use a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell for this movement.
  • Reverse Calf Raise: in this variation, the ball of your foot is off the edge of a riser or plate to emphasize ankle dorsiflexion and strengthen the tibialis anterior. This strengthening helps your shin move forward during a squat or start position for snatch and clean.
  • Reverse Calf Raise – Single Legged: in this variation, one leg is bent and flat to provide balance while the other leg performs the reverse calf raise. Use this if you have one side that is more difficult to push forward during the start position of the snatch or clean, or if you notice a difference in your squats.

Lower Back and Glute Exercises Bodybuilding

  • Back Extension – on 45 Degree Incline Bench: this is a popular strength training exercise for the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings because there is tension throughout the movement. It is less stressful mentally and physically than a deadlift, so that you can use it more frequently for strength and mass building. Set the bench at your hip crease, then bend at the hips while maintaining a straight back, then extend until your torso and legs align.
  • Back Extension – Single-Legged on 45 Degree Incline Bench: an easy way to overload the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings without external weight. Great for addressing strength asymmetries in the legs, glutes, or lower back. Make sure to extend until your torso aligns with your legs.
  • Back Extension – 90 Degrees on Bench or GHD: another popular strength training exercise in a Chinese Olympic weightlifting program. It can be an alternative to the 45-degree version, providing more tension on your glutes. You can use a barbell, plate, dumbbell, or other weighted implements for resistance.

 

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  • Back Extension – Static 90 Degree on Bench or GHD: this is a great variation for building postural strength by teaching athletes to use their legs, glutes, and lower back together. You only need to extend until your torso is in line with the legs. Push the ball of your feet into the support base to mimic your extension.

  • Good Morning: the barbell rests on your shoulders as in a back squat, then maintain a rigid torso and bend over until your torso is parallel to the floor; meanwhile, keep your knees slightly bent and fixed. Very effective for loading the hamstrings.
  • Good Morning – Olympic Style: in this variation, you bend your torso and knees simultaneously until you reach the same position and balance as your hang position above the knee. This movement emphasizes torso rigidity and endurance for the hang position.
  • Good Morning – from Jerk Blocks: emphasizes concentric strength; good for athletes whose torso tips over during the pull. Set the block height to the same level as your flexed position during a good morning, then stand up straight.
  • Good Morning – Rounded Back and Seated: this variation trains the lower back dynamically rather than isometrically. You contract your abs as you bend over, and then extend as you sit up.
  • Good Morning – Seated: keep your back straight, then bend over until your belly touches the bench. This variation is good for emphasizing your lower back and reducing the load on the hamstrings. It can also help stretch your hamstrings dynamically, which trains you to stay over the bar during the snatch or clean pulls.

  • Good Morning – Wide: most good morning variations use the same stance as your deadlift. This variation uses the same stance as your weightlifting squat or wider. This modification targets your adductors and glutes more than other variations and is useful if your hamstrings inhibit your range of motion with a narrower stance.
  • Hip Thrust – Barbell: place your upper back across a bench with both feet on the floor and turn out like a squat. Then place the barbell on your hip crease with a pad for comfort. Maintain rigidity in your torso while pushing your feet through the floor and squeeze the glutes to extend the hips until they straighten. You can read more about technique and training by Contreras et al. (2011).

 

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  • Hip Thrust – Staggered: used to treat imbalances in hip extension between your right and left sides. Your non-working leg can stay on the floor and balanced on your heel, or it can stay suspended.
  • Reverse Hyperextension: lay on a bench, box, or dedicated machine with your torso flat or supported by the elbows, and then extend your hips by raising the legs with toes pointed until they are in line with the torso. Mike Dewar (2018) shows various ways to set up this movement, but in all cases, this is a great exercise for developing hip extension strength.
  • Reverse Hyperextension – Static: this variation allows you to focus on hip extension when the body is straight. Use this exercise if you have trouble straightening the body or feeling the extension during a snatch, clean, or jerk.
  • Reverse Hyperextension – Single-Legged: this unilateral variation can help reduce imbalances in hip extension strength or activation between the right and left legs.
  • Sumo Deadlift High Pull: use a kettlebell since the center of gravity of the kettlebell is closer to the body, making it easier to drive vertically rather than pull with the lower back. Keep your balance on the ball of the foot and pull the kettlebell to the clavicle in one motion. Use this movement if you tend to swing the bar outward during a snatch or clean extension.

 

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Weightlifting Exercises for Shoulders

Rear Deltoid

  • Face Pulls: stand with your shoulders slightly protracted and grab a rope attachment to a cable machine or a band attached to a rail above head height. Use a neutral grip, retract your shoulders, and pull the rope towards your forehead. This movement builds shoulder external rotation strength, muscle memory to keep your elbows out, and rear deltoid strength, all of which assist your rack position.
  • Reverse Fly – Bent Over 45 Degrees: one of the most common weightlifting exercises for shoulders. Use the same position as your hang position above the knee to build positional strength. Fix your elbow angle and raise the arms until the upper arm aligns with the torso. You can use plates or dumbbells for this movement.

 

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  • Reverse Fly – Bent Over 90 Degrees: this variation builds rear deltoid strength and mass to carryover over to the first pull for the snatch and clean. It’s more difficult at the end range due to gravity but has carryover to the start position.
  • Reverse Fly – Seated: this version uses a dedicated machine, but the purpose is to isolate your rear deltoids. This variation is a good variation when you don’t want to tax your core or lower back.
  • Standing Cable/Banded Crossover: extend your arms in front at sternum height with cables aligned in an X-position, then pull back and diagonally until they are in line with the torso. This is one of the most useful weightlifting exercises for shoulders because it teaches you how to lockout for a deadlift and loads the rear deltoid at its strongest position and provides constant tension throughout.

Lateral Deltoid

  • Lateral Raise – Cable: stand with your resting side toward the cable, then place the handle on your other side and raise it until it reaches shoulder height. This variation maintains tension through the entire range of motion and loads your deltoid at its strongest position for greater strength and mass gains.
  • Lateral Raise – Lying: this is an easy and effective shoulder movement that loads your deltoid at its strongest position and gradually decreases loading at the weakest position. Simply lay on your side, keep your elbow slightly bent and fixed, then raise a dumbbell until it points towards the ceiling.
  • Lateral Raise – Standing: this is a standard bodybuilding movement where you hold dumbbells in front of your thighs and raise your arms until you reach shoulder height. Use this movement if you tend to only shrug during extension.
  • Lateral Raise – Static: this strength training exercise coordinates the shoulders and traps, great for athletes who tend to over shrug during the extension. Place plates on the elbows and hold your arms out to the side for 30 seconds.

  • Lateral Raise – Bumper Flyes: popularized by Lu Xiaojun, one of the more unique weightlifting exercises for shoulders. This movement is a lateral raise that finishes overhead while internally rotating the arms with bumper plates. This movement transfers to the overhead positions for the snatch and jerk.

 

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  • Upright Row: a standard bodybuilding movement for building traps and shoulders. Stand up and grab the bar with a narrow, overhand grip and pull it to your clavicle.
  • Upright Row – Clean Grip: a more shoulder-friendly alternative to the standard upright row. Use the same starting position as an upright row but pull it to the bottom of your chest.

 

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  • Upright Row – Explosive: start in the same position as an upright row, then sit back and then extend onto the ball of the foot to pull the bar to your neck. Do NOT use this movement if you have a habit of swinging the bar during the snatch or clean.

Anterior Deltoid

  • Front Raise: a rarely used shoulder exercise performed with a plate, dumbbell, or light barbell and usually reserved if you lack upper body mass and feel discomfort in the rack position.

Conclusion

This is quite the list of Olympic weightlifting exercises!

If you want to read this in a handy PDF, then leave your email below:

Now, there are more exercises, such as rehab and prehab exercises, but they are outside this article’s scope.

Also, we feel that the lack of equipment influences the results.

For example, we have never seen safety squat bars in China, but this can be a useful variation for athletes with elbow injuries, shoulder pain, etc. since they build power and strength almost equally to back squats (Meldrum & DeBeLiso 2018).

They also increase lower trap activation and help maintain a more upright torso (Hecker et al. 2018).

So, you don’t have to use every exercise for every athlete.

Just use the ones that don’t hurt, provide progressive overload, and get the athlete to achieve standard professional weightlifting technique.

Additionally, you can combine these movements to emphasize a certain portion of the lift (i.e., snatch pull + power snatch without split).

Now we’d like to hear what you have to say:

  • Which of these movements have you used in your weightlifting program or CrossFit training?
  • What were your results?
  • Or maybe you have a question about performing or using an exercise?
  • Or is there an exercise missing?

Either way, go ahead and leave a quick comment below right now.

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