Is Olympic Weightlifting Good for Hypertrophy? (Plus 3 Recommendations)
Updated: Jun 7
There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to add some muscle size alongside improving your snatch, clean and jerk. But are the weightlifting movements actually good for hypertrophy? This article will answer the question with an explanation, and then provide some recommendations to help you get jacked.
Let's jump straight in.
Is Olympic weightlifting good for hypertrophy?
Honestly, olympic weightlifting sort of sucks for hypertrophy and bodybuilding. Every time I deliver a weightlifting course there's always at least one person that asks:
"Can you get big from Olympic lifting?"
And every time I have to sort of break their heart by telling them that weightlifting is a poor choice for adding size for 3 reasons:
Sets of 1-3 reps don't provide enough volume
Snatches cleans and jerks have little to no eccentric (lengthening) component
Weightlifting movements don't even work muscle groups like the chest or arms
Think About The Best Lifts for Hypertrophy
The best lifts for hypertrophy allow you to:
Preferentially target specific muscle groups
Apply tension to that muscle, ideally in a deep stretched position
Create a pump and disruption in that muscle
Not create too much systemic (whole body) fatigue
For example, an incline lying dumbbell curl allows you to apply loads of tension in a deep stretch whilst getting a huge pump. It also causes very little systemic fatigue, as the work is focused on the targeted muscle.
Now Ask: Are power cleans good for hypertrophy?
Power cleans don't target any one specific muscle, you move so quickly that tension is only very briefly applied, you get no pump or disruption in a muscle, and the exercise creates a high amount of systemic (whole body) fatigue.
"So the power clean (and pretty much all olympic weightlifting movements) is essentially the exact opposite of what we want for hypertrophy."
The Solution? (3 Recommendations)
So if weightlifting alone won't get you jacked, what's your best plan of action? Here are my three recommendations, with links to articles to help you out.
Add in extra bodybuilding type exercises to your weightlifting training
Consider the 3 ways of combining weightlifting and bodybuilding
Learn more about hypertrophy sets and reps within your training
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.
1) Hopefully you've found the article useful, if you did, maybe take a moment to consider joining my mailing list for weekly programmes, workouts and weightlifting tips.
2) Feel free to share the article with anyone you think would benefit
'Til Next Time
Alex Parry, MSc, BA
Alex is the Head content writer and Coach at Character Strength & Conditioning, as well as an Assistant Lecturer and PhD Researcher at the University of Hull.
His experience includes 7+ years within professional strength and conditioning, as well as working as a tutor & educator for British Weightlifting.