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4 Underrated Accessory Exercises for Weightlifters

There’s no shortage of coaches who are convinced that weightlifters only ever need to perform a handful of exercises to become the best athlete possible, but what about the more unusual accessory movements that aren’t often seen in weightlifting gyms? We asked a few elite strength coaches what they consider to be the most underrated exercises for weightlifters.

The Belt Squat

Travis Mash – Head Coach, Mash Elite Performance

We love our belt squat machine. It’s great because you don’t always load the spine. If someone’s starting to get overtrained, they can do belt squats and not load the spine. We have over 60 exercises that we give to our athletes, so I love that machine for a million reasons.

Lately, I have discovered that the belt squat machine is going to save my hip. I was in the process of scheduling a hip replacement until I started using the belt squat even more. Now the surgery is on hold.

[Belt squats are one of our 5 favorite exercises for building a stronger, healthier squat!]

The Single Leg Box Jump

Eugene “Bo” Babenko – Doctor of Physical Therapy, Level 3 CrossFit Coach, USA Weightlifting Level 1 Sports Performance Coach

The single leg box jump is a phenomenal tool for many reasons.

For most people, it is a bit intimidating and even scary, which for a seasoned lifter can be a great way to help tap into new neuronal benefits.

The move itself helps promote tons of hip extension, which has huge carryover to most lifts. It also acts as a screen between sides looking for imbalances in power and accuracy.

[Learn more: How to Program Plyometric Jump Training Into Your Weightlifting Workouts.]


Sean Waxman – Head Coach, Waxman’s Gym

Bodybuilding exercises are very underrated. They should be done throughout the year. To strengthen the smaller muscles around the joints, balance out weaker muscle groups and improve fitness.

Also, very heavy partial exercises should be done during parts of the training year. These maintain and/or improve torso and overhead stiffness.

[Check out our full article, 6 reasons bodybuilding exercises can improve your weightlifting!]


Stephen Powell – Head Coach, Palmetto Weightlifting

My pick for the most underrated position to learn the snatch or clean is plinths. Plinths are a raised stable surface the feet are placed between before beginning to pull a snatch or clean.

When the lifter thrusts or extends the legs to full extension, they immediately snap the feet up and out on top of the plinths. For beginners, this is useful in helping a lifter (especially younger lifters) to understand how powerful the legs are in generating momentum into the bar.  Above you can see one of my beginner lifters doing cleans on plinths.

For intermediate and advanced lifters doing lifts on plinths fixes numerous technical errors. Most notably under pulling (not fully extending legs to generate sufficient vertical momentum) and over pulling (staying in full extension too long before going into a receiving position). One other important skill doing lifts on plinths develops is stability in the receiving position for snatches and cleans. It forces correct movement patterns and stable receiving positions.

Featured image via @tomahawk_d on Instagram.

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Nick English

Nick English

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of things.

After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.

No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?

Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.

At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

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