Olympic Weightlifting Movements for Muscle Building

Olympic Weightlifting Movements for Muscle Building

Olympic weightlifting might not have as many impressive physiques as its counterpart powerlifting, but there are still some exercises which have their origin in Olympic lifting that can help you build muscle.

The classic lifts (snatch; clean and jerk) are the bread and butter of the sport. Certain variations of these lifts and related accessory lifts can be incorporated into a program for maximum hypertrophy.

Olympic Lifts and Hypertrophy

1. Muscle Variations

Even the name says it. "Muscle." But what does that mean?

Muscle variations of the snatch and clean are very specific. The athlete doesn't need to rebend the knee after fully extending it in the explosive triple extension.

By completely eliminating pulling under the bar we force the upper body to work harder; you'll have to use your arms and upper back to pull the bar up to your shoulders and into the front rack or above the head.

To make muscle variations even more of a muscle-builder we can do them without contact. All rules of the standard muscle variations apply. The twist is that there is no contact of the bar and the body during the triple extension.

The contact is used to transfer power into the bar and accelerate it up. You can imagine it as uppercutting the bar. Uppercut is also used as a cue when teaching the lifts.

By eliminating this part the bar has less speed and the upper body has to work even harder to keep it moving and get it into the end position. A further modification is possible. As an example, you cna perform them while sitting.

Muscle snatch demo:

Muscle clean demo:

2. Floating Pulls

Olympic lifting Pulls are similar to standard deadlifts. As the mechanics change the pull becomes more quad-dominant. The main concern here is keeping the back angle consistent throughout the pull while remaining explosive.

Think of a deadlift. Lower your butt and get into more of a squat position. Now you're "pulling."

The difference is even more pronounced when comparing a powerlifter's deadlift pull to a weightlifter's pull. It's a matter of sheer force versus position and speed.

Adding a float element to the pull means that the weights won't touch the ground after the first rep.

Floating reps make sure the posterior chain doesn't get any breaks. Combine this with the shrugging motion at the top of the movement, which is a characteristic of pulls, and you have yourself a posterior chain destroyer and a quality trap developer.

Floating snatch pull:

Floating clean pull:

3. Snatch Grip High Pull

This is another variation of the standard pull.

The high pull picks up where we left off with the pull. Instead of finishing with a shrug the athlete will continue the movement by pulling up with the arms.

While doing this the goal is to keep the generation of speed strong throughout the lift; with the triple extension and shrug make sure to lead with the elbow.

Compared to a clean grip, the snatch grip will allow the traps to get more engagement. The movement is versatile and can be done from the floor, from the hang position, or the hip.

The hip variation can be done more strictly almost like an upright row. The option to include "no contact" can also be considered.

4. Push Press

Even though it isn't derived from the classic Olympic lifts the push press is often used in weightlifting training. Chances are you saw this movement for the first time being performed by a weightlifter.

Basically, the push press is an overhead press variation in which we use some leg drive. This obviously makes it easier to press the bar up into a lockout position.

It bypasses the hardest part of the movement, which is getting the bar off the shoulders.

By using leg drive and engaging the arms just at the right moment, an athlete is working on timing, coordination, and effectively overloading the top part of the movement.

Sure, the same effect can be partially achieved by using a pin press. With that said, feeling the weight on your shoulders is definitely a plus. It will help you get used to the load making sure you don't slouch. 

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