A Guide for Olympic Weightlifting Accessory Work
Written by Holden Rethwill
Everybody loves a little Oly in their life…they can be some of the most frustrating and exciting movements, but have no fear, I’m here to help you get a little better at it! We’re going to break down some different portions of the movements, discuss the importance behind them, and then go over some accessory work to help with that. For the purpose of this discussion, when breaking down specific aspects of the movement, assume they apply to both the clean & jerk and the snatch. Following that, we will discuss lift specific accessories to consider throwing in from time to time.
The Olympic Weightlifting Pull
This one is pretty straight forward…It’s hard to Olympic lift if you can’t pull things off the floor. The pull is what starts the movement – I know, the set-up comes first but this isn’t an Oly class, it’s a breakdown of movements to make you better when you go to class. A proper pull will accelerate the barbell in the proper position in order to propel it upwards to the intended destination. To have a strong pull you need a couple things – low back strength, hamstring strength, and lat strength.
Low Back Strength
First thing to round and look like someone is a dog taking a dump and pulling their chest out of it’s properly positioned alignment is a weak back. Strengthening it will keep your posture where it is supposed to be, your chest raising at the proper angel, and the barbell moving in the proper linear pattern.
Reverse HyperHip Extensions (banded and weighted)Romanian DeadliftsSeated Good Mornings
This is what keeps you back in that midfoot range. Weak hamstrings and the inability to keep your butt and chest rising at the same angle will result in the barbell being forward, you being up on your toes, you jumping forward to receive the bar, and your lift looking like poop.
Banded Hamstring CurlsGood Mornings – banded and weightedGlute Ham RaisesREVERSE HYPERPlyometric Kettlebell Swings – banded pull throughsSled Drags
Put your arm straight out in front of you. Now put your hand underneath it. Press your straight arm down while resisting with the other hand. Feel that muscle working? It’s on the upper portion of your back, on the side, kind of behind the armpit? Yeah we need that working when you Oly lift too. Lats are what keep the bar close to you. Inactive lats = inactive lifts. Active lats = PR’s.
Lat Pull-Downs, banded or weightedWide Grip Strict Pull-UpsChest Supported RowsSeated Upright Rows (guess what.. you can use the REVERSE HYPER for this…see the theme here?)Snatch Grip Bent Over Rows…woof
Extension in Olympic Weightlifting
Ok now we’re starting to get a little dynamic…this is the portion of the lift that you need to GO! You know, like “POW” from Emeril. You’ve probably heard it said, speed through the middle? This is the part where you want to try and hit your head on the ceiling. Well let’s work on doing that…
Med Ball Vertical TossesSingle-Leg BoundsBroad Jumps (do them with a band too, it’s fun)Box jumps (the 1 rep max kind not reps for time kind) – add some weight if you’re feeling funky just don’t jack up your shinsDepth DropsDepth Jumps (drop off an object then spring as high as you can)Uphill Jumps in soft sandBand ASSISTED Vertical Leaps (want to feel like you’re flying?)Basically anything and everything that will teach your body to fully extend and open up those hips
Squat JumpsPanda PullsHigh PullsPower RowsRussian Step-UpsAgain, anything that gets those hips movin and groovin the way we want them to!
The Squat in Olympic Weightlifting
Self explanatory here…we don’t need to go super into detail about this but bottom line, you gotta be able to squat what you’re trying to pull. But there are some fun ways to train these and make your squat stronger.
Tempo Squats1 1/4 SquatsWall Sits (with weight)Sandbag SquatsDeadstop Front Squats
The Lockout in Olympic Weightlifting
How many of you have been hitting a rep…basically perfect in the first three portions of the movement, only to let your glass shoulders fail you when the bar is over your head? I just raised my hand. A weak lockout is one of the most frustrating ways to end a lift so we’re going to work on some ways to make it stronger!
The Jerk Lockout
Jerk Dips (being strong with the bar on your chest makes it easier to properly propel it upwards when completing the lift… ain’t nobody got time for a soft ass core ruining your lift!)Jerk RecoveriesBanded Strict PressBamboo Press – both power position and split positionPause JerksJerks with a pause at the top – hold the world up over your head!See my post on the shoulders, lats, and triceps, because without those, your wet noodle of an arm isn’t holding sh*t overhead.
Snatch Receiving Position
Snatch BalanceSnatch Push PressSnatch Grip Bamboo PressSotts PressCheck your overhead position in the bottom of your overhead squat… if you look like poop here, maybe fix that before you try to snatch the world…Also see above with regards to shoulders, lats, and triceps…
NO WEAK LOCKOUTS!
So…now that we’ve got those down and you’ve got some positional specific accessory work to mix in, here’s some full movement specific accessories to add to your repertoire.
Accessory Lifts for the Clean
Clean PullsHalting Clean DeadliftsDeficit Clean PullsPOWER CLEANS…develop your POWER don’t just pull and pray at the bottomTall CleansCleans from Blocks
Accessory Lifts for the Snatch
First and foremost, fix your overhead position…then we’ll talk.
Snatch PullsSnatch Grip Deadlifts (romanian deadlifts too)Halting Satch DeadliftsSnatch BalancePOWER SNATCHES…POWERMuscle Snatches to work on hip extension, pull, and turnover
Accessory Lifts for the Jerk
Bodyweight Jerk Footwork Drills…hammer home consistencyTall JerksJerk DipsPause Jerks – If you don’t have perfect positioning, don’t go up in weightBanded Jerk DrivesJerk BalanceJerk RecoveriesJerk Rack Support
The list goes on and on and on, but again, these are just some of my favorite ideas you can incorporate into your training. By no means is this a comprehensive list of all the movements and positions that you can train, but it’s a starting point to get you on the road to some new PR’s!
Accessories = Successories.
If you have any drills that you don’t see here, hit me up and tell me what they are!
Also Check Out…
The Power Clean
Barbell Cycling Strategies – Ground to Overhead
The Invictus Olympic Weightlifting Program & Benefits