7 Team USA Weightlifters Share Their Favorite Accessory Exercises

CJ Cummings, Pyrros Dimas, and other weightlifting stars give their advice.

While BarBend was down in Lima reporting on the IWF Grand Prix, we managed to find some time with six athletes and Team USA’s Technical Director, Mr. Pyrros Dimas, to ask them one of the most common questions we hear from our readers: what’s your favorite accessory exercise? Unsurprisingly, every single one of them had a different answer. 

Hayley Reichardt, -49kg

Hollow Body Rocks

“Just any kind of ab accessory work. I used to not quite realize how strong your core needs to be to do weightlifting. I do a lot of hollow body rocks and deadbugs, those are my favorites.”

[See Hayley’s Junior Pan American record-setting performance at the IWF Grand Prix]

Alyssa Ritchey, -49kg

Banded Hip Thrusts

“Any type of glute accessory, really, but as much as I hate setting it up I really love doing the hip thrust. If you actually get your butt to activate, I love it.

“I also love putting a band around my knees while I’m doing it, because I really feel the glute activation at the top and really feel my glute medius turn on. I have a lot of hip issues; if I don’t keep up with my glute accessories then my hips start getting tight, I start getting imbalances on each side, and I start shifting all the time in my cleans.”

[Related: 6 Things I Learned from 6 Months of Hip Thrusts]

Jenny Arthur, -87kg

No Contact Muscle Snatches

“I love no contact muscle snatches. It doesn’t require too much work, and I like that — it doesn’t require a lot of energy, but you can still work really important muscles for the snatch.” 

[This exercise is also called the Soviet muscle snatch]

Danielle Roberts, -64kg

Unbalanced Farmer’s Carries

“Farmer’s carries, but one in the front rack and one overhead. Or one overhead and one down by my side. It helps with overhead stability and body symmetry, and it helps my scoliosis too because your hip has to stabilize. Plus it’s unbalanced, so it helps with lateral stability. So you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck.”

[Related: 4 Benefits of Overhead Carries]


CJ Cummings, -73kg

Shoulder Trio

“I do what’s called a trio. That’s a shoulder mobility exercise I don’t see many people use. Most people just put their equipment on, they go up to the bar, and they start lifting. But I find the trio to be really helpful.”

This one’s rare and hard to describe, so here’s a video that CJ’s coach, Ray Jones, sent us:


CJ normally performs this exercise with 2.5-pound plates. Check out our full interview with CJ Cummings after he won silver in Peru.

Jason Bonnick, -96kg

Snatch Grip Push Press

“I don’t see people doing them a lot, and I get a big benefit from them. I feel that when I’m able to drive and stay tight overhead, it really transfers over to my receiving position.”

[Related: A Complete Guide to the Snatch Grip Push Press]

Pyrros Dimas: Technical Director, USA Weightlifting; 3-Time Olympic Gold medalist; 3-Time World Champion

A Bit of Everything

“In weightlifting, it’s not so much about accessory exercises. Weightlifting is weightlifting. It depends on what you’re trying to fix. If it’s your second pull, you have to fix your snatch, spend more time overhead, build your legs, do more pulls. If the problem is in your clean & jerk, you have to do a lot of work on the ass: push press, power press, muscle press. All these exercises were my favorites.

“But in the end, everything was my favorite. When I started weightlifting, my favorite was the squat, because I have strong legs. But when I learned the right way to snatch, my favorite exercise was the snatch. After I fixed my power jerk, my favorite accessory was the power jerk. For weightlifting it’s simple.”

Featured image via @cj__cummings, @alyssaritchey1, and @xendurance on Instagram.