I know that the primary sport of Labrada readers is bodybuilding. However, I personally train as a weightlifter, meaning my sport is revolves around maximal lifts of the snatch and the clean and jerk. I thought I would share some movements that can be done at any gym with space and a barbell to help you feel like a weightlifter as well. I know sometimes you can feel burned out of doing the same movements over and over, well have no fear! I bring you variations of some foundational movements to try in your next training session!
These movements are no replacement for the explosive power and strength of the snatch and clean and jerk but they are great strengthening movements to incorporate. It requires a good amount of mobility to be able to perform these exercises properly so be sure to warm up properly and start with very light weight, you don’t have to “max out” here. These are simply accessory movements or variations to help you get strong and built like a weightlifter.
Variation of the Back Squat
Try: The Overhead Squat
The overhead squat is the receiving position of the snatch. Working this movement as a controlled exercise is foundational to a strong core, shoulder complex and balance. IT requires a great amount of mobility and stability so be sure to try it out with a PVC pipe or wooden dowel before adding any weight.
How To Do It:
• Take the bar off of the rack in the back rack position with a wide “snatch” grip
• Start by pressing the bar overhead until the arms are in the fully locked out position
• You want to think about “showing your arm pits forward” so that you shoulders are in an externally rotated position (this is proper shoulder mechanics in this position)
• Take a deep breath and brace your core keeping your torso as upright as possible
• While constantly pressing up on the barbell and stabilizing it overhead descend into the bottom of a squat position keeping the barbell in line with your heels
• Drive through your legs while maintaining stability on the barbell to return standing
Accessory to the Dead-lift
Try: Wide Leg Good Mornings
I will start by telling you that these are amazing for your hamstrings. By amazing I mean you will be amazingly sore the next day! Strong hamstrings are foundational to any well executed hip hinge, which is where we generate the most amount of power. I would start out by assessing where your range of motion is with hip• width stance good mornings before moving on to this wider stance version and above all never push your body past its current range of motion here. If you’re having a hard time activating your hamstrings, try these out in your next workout. If you have back problems, skip this one.
How To Do It:
• With the bar in the back rack position, move your feet into a very wide legged stance
• Toes should be forward to only slightly turned out
• Your legs will be fully locked out the entire movement
• Start by obtaining a neutral spine and an eye line that you can maintain throughout the movement
• Push your hips back as if you’re trying to touch the opposite wall until your torso is parallel to the floor (or wherever your mobility allows)
• Keeping a tight core and “head up” (as pictured) fire your glutes and hamstrings to help you stand all the way back up
Variation to Bent Over Barbell Rows
Try: Wide Grip Bent Over Barbell Rows
If you want to build a strong and solid back, rows are the way to go. There are many pulling variations to try but horizontally speaking, the barbell row is king. Incorporating horizontal rowing in conjunction with pressing movements will help create balance in the upper body. The wider grip variation should be pulled from the floor, drawing the elbows back and touching the barbell between the lower chest and upper abdominals. While the latissimus dorsi is being worked here, you will be incorporating more trapezoids, rear deltoids and rhomboids more so than the narrower grip row.
How To Do It:
• Approach the bar resting on the floor with your feet directly under your hips, barbell close to shins
• Keeping a neutral spine, softened knees and tight abs, hinge at your hips so that your shoulders are now over the bar
• Find a wide grip outside of shoulder width on the barbell
• Initiate the movement by engaging your back and pulling the barbell toward your upper abdominal and reaching the elbows back
• Return the barbell to the floor in a controlled manner
Variation of the Strict Press
Try: Behind the Neck Strict Press
Traditionally, the press is performed with the barbell starting in the front rack position and pressed directly overhead from there. This variation is still pressing the barbell overhead but now starts from the back rack position. Most people will find this variation much more challenging since the pectorals are now not going to be assisting the shoulders. With the bar behind your neck you’re not going to be able to rely on the your front deltoids and chest to press the barbell overhead in the front rack position. You now have to engage the middle delts and even more triceps to perform the behind the neck press. These muscles are often not hit in traditional pressing movements so this is a nice change up to try. Be smart about how you bring the barbell down onto your back between reps, use your legs to absorb the weight so it’s not slamming down on you.
How To Do It:
• Starting from the back rack position and shoulder width grip on the bar
• Brace yourself and bring your elbows under the bar
• Press the barbell overhead until the arms are in the full locked out position
• Return barbell behind the neck in a controlled manner
Variation of Dumbbell Lunges/Back Rack Lunges
Try: Front Rack Lunges
Lunges are one of my favorite single leg exercises to do. They are great at assessing where leg strength imbalances may be and correcting them as well. Holding the barbell in the front rack position will engage more of your core while also mimicking the upper body position that weightlifters receive their clean. You will also notice you won’t be able to do as much weight as you would in the back rack position for these reasons as well. These are no doubt much more challenging than the back rack position lunges but do a great job of changing up which muscles carry majority of the load.
How To Do It:
• Starting with the bar in the front rack position (bar resting on shoulders, elbows high and hands relaxed not squeezing the bar, as pictured)
• Brace your abs and keep your torso tall as you take a step forward
• Try to step so that your front leg is at a 90 degree angle and your back knee lightly touches the floor
• Keeping your torso upright, drive through the front leg and step the back leg forward to standing
• Repeat so that equal reps are done on each leg
About the Author:
Bree Figgins is a certified personal trainer through National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also a Correctional Exercise Specialist and CrossFit Level 2 trainer. She’s worked with hundreds of women to help them reach their goals and find peace with food.
Through experience Bree has had her fair share of troubles with food and exercise. She has overcome those struggles and feels passionate about sharing her knowledge with others of how to find balance while still reaching your goals. Bree is a competitive weightlifter, and personal trainer.