Bodyweight exercises are beneficial for establishing foundational fitness, building muscle, and improving bodily control. While Olympic weightlifters must be well-versed with a barbell and the competition lifts (snatch, clean, and jerk), the below bodyweight exercises can be programmed to enhance overall fitness and aid in performance.
In this article we will discuss some of the most beneficial and foundational bodyweight exercises for weightlifters, and offer up some bodyweight workout finishers that can be done after the main technique and strength lifts.
4 Bodyweight Workout Finishers
The below bodyweight workout finishers can be done to increase lean muscle mass, build strength, and increase fitness. Coaches can have athletes perform these after main technique and strength work. Most of these finishers should take 10-15 minutes, maximum, and can be done in a variety of formats (as fast as possible, every minute on the minute, etc)
Upper Body Finisher 1 (Shoulders, Arms, and Back)
Perform the below exercises in circuit fashion. The below circuit can be done as fast as possible, or in an EMOM format (with each exercise being completed in 1- minute frames). Complete 4 total rounds as fast as possible, or make this a 12-minute EMOM.
- Wide Grip Pull Up x 10
- Close Grip Push Up x 20
- Handstand Hold x 30 seconds
Upper Body Finisher 2 (Chest, Arms, and Back)
Perform the below exercises in circuit fashion. The below circuit can be done as fast as possible, or in an EMOM format (with each exercise being completed in 1- minute frames). Complete 2-3 total rounds as fast as possible, or make this an 8 or 12-minute EMOM.
- Dips x 20
- Chin Up x 10
- Push Up x 20
- Inverted Row x 10
Lower Body Finisher (Quadriceps, Glutes, and Hamstrings)
The below exercise can be done in circuit format, with the athlete completing 2-3 rounds of the lineup below. Rest periods should be kept to a minimum, however not at the expense of proper technique.
- Tempo Pistol Squat x 10 (5 per leg)
- Jump (any variety; broad, tuck, split squat) x 5
Perform the below core finisher for 3 complete rounds, resting as little as possible as you can between exercises and between rounds.
- Side Plank x 1 minute (30 seconds per side)
- Back Extension x 15
- V-Up / Hanging Leg Raise x 20
Bodyweight Exercises for Weightlifters
Below are twelve (12) bodyweight exercise weightlifters can do to build muscle, improve overhead stability, and increase performance without weights. Note, that the below exercises will not specifically address technique issues with the snatch, clean, and jerk but rather asssit in fundamental fitness and movement. Coaches and athletes can use the below exercises and sample bodyweight workout finishers to increase general physical preparedness (GPP) and fitness.
The push up is a foundational bodyweight movement than can increase upper body pushing strength specifically targeting the chest, triceps, and anterior shoulder.
Handstand Push Up / Hold
Handstand push ups and holds are great ways to build overhead stability and strength, targeting the upper traps, deltoids, and triceps.
The dip can be done on parallel bars, rings, and even stable surfaces. This movement can be used to increase pressing strength and build upper body muscle in the chest, triceps, and anterior shoulder.
The pull up can be done in most training facilities and is used to increase back, bicep, and grip strength.
Similar to the pull up, the chin up can be used to increase back hypertrophy and strength, with an added emphasis on biceps and grip (due to the supination of the grip).
The inverted row can be done with rings, suspension straps, or a barbell within a power rack. This will target the back and arms, slightly at different angles than the standard pull/chin up.
The pistol squat is a challenging unilateral leg exercise that can be used to develop unilateral strength, muscle mass, and control. In addition, this exercise can help to improve movement integrity (when done correctly and under control) specific to the deep squat.
Bulgarian Split Squat Jump
Bulgarian split squats are an important unilateral exercise for weightlifters. The plyometric variation can be a great option for developing greater unilateral leg power output.
The tuck jump is a plyometric exercise that can be used to increase leg power and eccentric control and strength in the squat, both of which are key receiving cleans and snatches.
The broad jump is a horizontal jumping movement that can increase the power output of the posterior chain and develop the neurological pathways needed or maximal power output.
Plank variations (side, elbow, etc) can be done to increase core stability and isomeric core control.
Hanging Leg Raise
Hanging leg raises can help to increase strength of the rector abdominals and hip flexors, both highly active in weightlifting movements, overhead positions, and squatting.
Back extensions can increase lower back, glute, and hamstring endurance, muscle hypertrophy, and isometric control (when done with tempos and pauses), all of which are key for holding positions and back angles under load.
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