• Alex Parry

Bodybuilding and Accessory Exercises for Weightlifters

Updated: Jun 7

I get asked a lot about how bodybuilding and weightlifting fit together. So much so that I've put together full articles looking at the benefits of bodybuilding for weightlifters, and 3 different methods of integrating bodybuilding and weightlifting. In this article, we're going to dive into the specific exercises that you can use, why you might use them, plus some simple tips for implementation.

men bodybuilding for weightlifting

Upper Body Horizontal Push

  • Bench Press

  • Press Ups

  • DB Bench Press

Why You Might Use Them

  • Increased upper body strength and stability

  • Great looking chest

Upper Body Vertical Push

  • Overhead Press

  • Handstand or Pike Press Ups

  • DB overhead Press

Why You Might Use Them

  • Increased upper body strength and stability in overhead positions (jerk and snatch receive positions)

  • Great looking shoulders

Upper Body Horizontal Pull

  • Bent-over rows

  • Dumbbell rows

  • Seated Rows

  • Prone Rows

Why You Might Use Them

  • Increased lat and upper back strength for keeping the bar close to the body during the pull. Improved tightness in set-up.

  • Great looking back

Upper Body Vertical Pull

  • Pull-ups

  • Chin Ups

  • Lat Pull-downs

Why You Might Use Them

  • Increased lat and upper back strength for keeping the bar close to the body during the pull. Improved tightness in set-up.

  • Great looking back

Lower Body Push

  • Squats

  • Leg Press

  • Split Squats

  • Lunges

  • Leg extensions

Why You Might Use Them

  • Increased leg strength improves snatch and clean & jerk potential

  • Unilateral exercises like split squats and lunges help to address imbalances

  • Great looking quads

Lower Body Hinge and Pull

  • Deadlifts

  • RDL's

  • Glute Ham Raises and Back Extensions

  • Hamstring Curls

Why You Might Use Them

  • Increased hamstring strength improves snatch and clean & jerk potential

  • Since weightlifting are often very quad dominant, lower body hinge and pull movements can address imbalances

  • Great looking hamstrings, lower back and erectors


  • Planks, dead bugs (anti-extension)

  • side planks, one-sided carries (anti-lateral flexion)

  • Paloff presses (anti-rotation)

Why You Might Use Them

  • Increased core strength reduces injury likelihood (especially lower back)

  • Enhanced stability allows for better force transfer and potentially higher lifts

  • Great looking abs and obliques

Simple Tips for Implementation

1) Keep things in perspective

Are you a bodybuilder that likes to dabble in weightlifting, or are you weightlifter that likes to dabble in bodybuilding? Assuming you're the latter, try to keep in mind that bodybuilding work should only form a small percentage of your total workload.

2) Be cautious with lower body bodybuilding

High volume lower body bodybuilding work can absolutely wreck you, especially when you're doing in on top of snatches and cleans. With this in mind, aim to do lower body hypertrophy work far out from competition, at a time when you don't need to be hitting big numbers in your snatch or clean.

3) Use Full Range of Motion

Weightlifting requires large range of motion movements through your hips, knees, ankles and shoulders, so you can't go tightening them up with loads of partial range of motion work. Keep your bodybuilding work full range of motion for each movement.

4) Keep Concentrics Fast

Tempo work and slow eccentrics are great for bodybuilding, and fine for weightlifting too. However, we want our concentric movements to be fast and explosive. For example, it's fine to squat down slowly, but you should aim to come up as quickly as possible.

5) Sets and Reps

You can add muscle with anything from 5-30 reps. However, sets of 30 reps are going to change your muscle architecture in unfavourable ways. Put simply, we want to keep you fast-twitch. I recommend most bodybuilding exercises be done for 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps.


Weightlifting and Bodybuilding Programme

weightlifting and bodybuilding programme

If putting together your own olympic lifting and hypertrophy program sounds like a hassle, then I've got you covered.

I've put together a 12 Week Weightlifting & Bodybuilding Programme to get you jacked whilst also increasing your numbers in the snatch and clean and jerk.

I'll also throw in personal Q&A access, so if you've got any questions whilst running the programme, you can get them personally answered.


Next Steps

1) Get into the gym and try some of these exercises out, you'll likely find that you get a better feel for certain exercises over others.

2) If you enjoyed the article, consider popping your name on my mailing list for weekly training tips, programmes etc.

3) And if you want a 'done-for-you' bodybuilding and weightlifting template, why not check out this one right here. It's 12 weeks long, 4 days per week, and I've had a bunch of people use it with great success.

'Til Next Time


MSc Strength & Conditioning

Tutor/Educator for British Weightlifting

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