Olympic weightlifting is a god-damn awesome sport, the problem is, it doesn’t exactly get you super jacked. So when beach season rolls around, most weightlifters look like they don’t even lift, which sucks, because you literally live in the gym. This short guide is going to solve that by providing:

Let’s jump straight in…

Can you get ripped from Olympic lifting? – Probably Not

Alright, real talk, you’re not going to be getting ripped, jacked or yolked any time soon from snatches, cleans or jerks. There are 3 main reasons for this…

  1. Doing sets of 1-3 reps doesn’t provide enough volume
  2. Most lifts have little to no eccentric (muscle lengthening) component
  3. Snatches, cleans and jerks won’t work muscles like your arms or chest

You’ll probably get bigger legs, especially your quads, and you’ll probably get some big traps, but overall you won’t exactly have an impressive physique.

The Solution? Add Some Bodybuilding Exercises Into Your Training

Upper Body Push – Horizontal – A.k.a Chest Focus

  • Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Press-Ups or Hands Elevated (Extra ROM) Press-Ups

Upper Body Push – Vertical – A.k.a Shoulder Focus

  • Barbell Overhead Press
  • Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press

Upper Body Pull – Horizontal – A.k.a Mid Back Focus

  • Barbell Rows
  • Dumbbell Rows
  • Incline (lying) Dumbbell Rows
  • Incline (lying) Barbell Rows
  • Seal Rows
  • Machine seated rows

Upper body Pull – Vertical – A.k.a Lat Focus

  • Pull-ups (underhand, overhand, neutral)
  • Assisted pull-ups
  • Lat Pulldowns

Lower Body Push – A.k.a Quad Focus

  • High Bar Squats
  • Machine Hack Squats
  • Leg Press

Lower Body Pull – A.k.a Hamstring Focus

  • RDL’s or SLDL’s
  • Good Mornings
  • Seated Hamstring Curls
  • Lying Hamstring Curls

Arms Pull – A.k.a Bicep Focus

  • Barbell Curl
  • Narrow Grip Barbell Curl
  • EZ Bar Curl
  • Incline (Lying) Curl
  • Dumbbell Curl

Arms Push – A.k.a Tricep Focus

  • Barbell or Dumbbell Skullcrushers
  • Cable Tricep Pushdown
  • Dips

A Sample Week of Bodybuilding Work

This is designed as work that can be added to your weightlifting training. So you’d do your normal snatches, cleans, jerks etc and then tag these bodybuilding exercises on at the end.

3 Day Per Week

Day 1

  • Bench Press: 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Tricep Pushdowns: 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps

Day 2

  • Lat Pulldowns: 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Dumbbell Bicep Curls: 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps

Day 3

  • Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press: 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • RDLs: 2-4 sets of 6-10 reps

4 Day Per Week

Day 1

  • Bench Press: 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Tricep Pushdowns: 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps

Day 2

  • Hack Squats: 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Lat Pulldowns: 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps

Day 3

  • Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press: 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Dumbbell Rows: 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps each side

Day 4

  • RDLs: 2-4 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Dumbbell Bicep Curls: 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps

Olympic lifting and bodybuilding program

Olympic lifting and bodybuilding program

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.

Do Olympic weightlifters do hypertrophy?

A lot of high-level weightlifters add hypertrophy training into their yearly plan. Being the most muscular person in your weight class is a HUGE advantage over your competition. There are plenty of videos online of Chinese weightlifters performing bodybuilding work after their main session. (And yes, there are very likely some ‘special’ supplements being used too – but the point still stands)

Next Steps

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

3) If you want to find out more about my weightlifting coaching options, or pre-written weightlifting programmes, you can check out the links there.

‘Til Next Time


Strength coach

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.