Alternatives Exercises to Olympic Lifting

At Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training, we help our clients improve their athletic performance, and one of the best methods to achieve this is through Olympic weightlifting. However, since Olympic weightlifting is not always an option for certain clients, we will delve into alternative options at your disposal to allow you to gain benefits similar to those from Olympic lifting.

Firstly, let’s establish a definition for Olympic weightlifting. The Olympic weightlifting movements are the Clean and Jerk, and the Snatch. The Clean and Jerk and its variations are often used in high school sports, and the Snatch is often used in higher-level athletics and Crossfit-style workouts. Your body can benefit in a number of ways from these exercises, including the following:

  • Improved power output
  • Increased vertical jump
  • Hypertrophy (increased muscle size)
  • Better mobility and flexibility

While Olympic weightlifting can lead to great results, it takes a lot of time and hard work to learn these highly technical movements. If you want to master these lifts, we would strongly advise seeking out a professional USA Weightlifting Coach to ensure you learn to perform the exercises correctly and do not injure yourself.

If you don’t want to take on Olympic Weightlifting quite yet, here are some alternative exercises you can substitute to attain the previously mentioned benefits:

  • Medicine Ball Hang Clean (any level)
    1. Begin by holding a medicine ball at hip level, with your feet firmly planted on the ground at hip-width apart. Raise up onto your toes, making yourself as tall as possible, while shrugging your shoulders up to your ears. This is known as the triple extension phase and is a crucial step in both the Clean and Jerk and Snatch movements.
    2. Let go of the ball (your hands should just barely leave its surface).
    3. Split your feet outward and drop underneath the ball into a full squat as quickly as possible. Rotate your hands under the ball so you can catch it.
    4. After catching the ball, stand up with the ball in your hands at chest level. Reset feet back to hip width and return ball to hip level to set yourself up to repeat another repetition.

Alternatives to Olympic Lifiting | Medicine Ball Hang Clean

  • Explosive Tire Flips (Intermediate Level)
    1. This exercise requires a medium sized tire (Your nearest FAST location can help you with any kind of tire training!).
    2. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip width apart and toes slightly pointed out, so you can get very close to the tire. Lower your body into a full squat and grab the tire with straight arms and an underhand grip. Your arms should be inside the gap between your legs.
    3. Keeping a flat back, drive your feet into the ground and lift the tire explosively.
    4. You will finish in a slightly forward angle with your heels off the ground and your hips, knees, and ankles in extension, again in the tripe extension stance. When performing this exercise, you should think of it as if you are jumping off the ground with a tire in hand. Be sure not to bend your arms!
    5. Lower the tire to the ground and repeat.

Alternatives to Olympic Lifting | Explosive Tire Flips

  • Barbell Power Jumps (Advanced level)
    1. This exercise is for higher-level individuals with no injuries. Do not attempt it unless you know your body is ready.
    2. Begin the exercise by placing an empty barbell on your upper back, unlock knees and hips at the same time to descend into a quarter squat position.
    3. Explode upward, jumping off the ground!
    4. Upon contact with the ground when coming back down, absorb shock by catching oneself and returning to the quarter squat position. Try to achieve a smooth landing by thinking about not making any noise or loud thuds when you land.
    5. Reset to an upright, tall position and prepare to repeat.

Alternatives to Olympic Lifting | Barbell Power Jumpes

These alternatives can be used by athletes of all levels for a number of reasons, including:

  • Beginning to learn Olympic weightlifting without touching a barbell
  • If you have minor injury and want to still incorporate Olympic variations in training
  • You are scared/hesitant to begin Olympic lifting
  • You have limited mobility or flexibility
  • You want to improve your Olympic lifts through other techniques
  • They are fun and athletic exercises!

There are many certified professional USA Weightlifting specialists at our FAST Phoenix personal training facilities who can help you master different techniques and achieve peak athletic performance. If you are worried about pre-existing injuries, visit our therapy branch Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy to ensure that you are fully ready to begin these exercises.


Post Attributed to Greg Stein, BS, CSCS, CPT, USAW, TRX (North Scottsdale Facility Manager).

Greg Stein

BS, CSCS, CPT, USAW, TRX | North Scottsdale

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST) is empowered by Foothills Therapy Partners (FTP).