Just Added: 28 Olympic Progression Exercises

August 10, 2023

Person performing Olympic progression dumbbell lift

Bring a whole new dynamic to your strength training routine with 28 new Olympic weightlifting progressions, now available in the Fitbod app! 

Sure, the official Olympic weightlifting moves are difficult to master. But these progressions are a great entry point. Practicing them will help you build the patterns needed to perform the actual moves.  Plus, they’ll help you develop power and coordination along the way. 

Try them out as a way to add some of the benefits of Olympic-style lifts without the steep learning curve of doing the snatch or clean and jerk. Although Fitbod does have an “Olympic Weightlifting” profile setting, which we recommend for those who are ready to focus their training primarily on Olympic weightlifting exercises, these progressions can be a fun addition for any Fitbod training goal.

Please note: Take your time with these moves. You need to build up your abilities before lifting fast and heavy, especially with more complex movements. Check out our recommendations below for making safe progress. 

What is Olympic Weightlifting, Anyway?

The two Olympic weightlifting events are the snatch and the clean and jerk. You may have heard of them. You may have seen world-class athletes perform these moves at the Olympics. 

They are, without a doubt, the gold standard of training for power. Both moves train almost every major muscle group. And, because of that, you can do some of the heaviest possible lifts if you train right and get your form dialed in.

It’s also pretty awesome to put up a ton of weight while doing them. But that takes a lot of time and practice to do. Like anything great, you’ll have to work at it.

I’m Not Going to the Olympics. Why Should I Do These?

Fair enough. You might not be on your way to a gold medal, but that’s not the point! 

We added these Olympic weightlifting progressions to Fitbod because they build functional power. 

  • If you play any sport, you’ll boost your explosivity by leaps and bounds. 
  • If you’re a construction worker, you’ll toss cement bags like they’re pillows.
  • If your kid likes when you throw them up in the air, they’ll go higher.

These exercises aren’t only about moving the weight as fast as possible, either. Training with them is also a great way to mix up your training style. Use them to add variety to your workouts. 

They aren’t for everyone, though. If you’d rather develop functional power another way, try other dynamic moves like plyometrics or kettlebell swings. 

How to Start: Adding Olympic Weightlifting Progressions to Your Routines

1. Start with a PVC Pipe

  • Using a PVC pipe will help you feel out an Olympic progression, before adding weight or a barbell.
  • PVC pipes are like training wheels. They’ll help you get a sense of your body’s position throughout each movement and warm-up. 
  • They won’t give you a great workout, though. When you’ve got these moves down, we encourage you to move on. 

2. Start Progressions Using an Empty Barbell

  • This will feel like training with a weighted PVC pipe. 
  • Using a barbell also provides more stability than using smaller weights, like dumbbells.
  • If a barbell is too heavy, use a fixed bar. These bars might not be long enough to practice your snatch, but they will help with most movements. 

3. Perform the Full Movement with an Empty Barbell

  • When you’re comfortable with your progressions, give the full movement a shot.
  • If you’re struggling with any of the movements, return to your progressions.

4. Introduce Dumbbell Variations

  • When you’re ready, start introducing dumbbell variations into your training. 
  • These will usually be lighter than any barbell variations but weight isn’t the key here. Using dumbbells will help expose weak points in your form so you can address them early on.

Sample Olympic Progression Exercises for August ’23

1. Front Squat to Jerk

This exercise is great for practicing the transition from your catch during a clean to the jerk. Using a front squat lets you practice only one piece of that complex movement—instead of the whole thing. Use it even if you’re not trying to improve your clean and jerk. It trains a lot of muscle groups.an 

Pro tip: Focus on dropping underneath the bar during the jerk. The more you drop, the less you need to raise the bar to get it overhead.

2. Dumbbell Hang Snatch

This is a great exercise for beginners and advanced weightlifters alike. Beginners should use lower weights to learn this movement’s mechanics. More advanced lifters can focus on developing and maintaining stability.

Pro tip: Focus on using your hips—not your arms—to generate the force needed to raise the dumbbell.

3. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift to High Pull

This combination can help you generate force with your hips as you transition into a high pull. If you have never performed Olympic lifts, this move will help you work up to it. And if you have, this will help you move through them.

Pro tip:  If you notice your back rounding as you fold forward, pinch your shoulder blades together and keep your core engaged throughout the movement. This will help your back stay straight.

4. PVC Clean and Jerk

If you want to try the Olympic weightlifting moves, start with PVC pipes. The weight is minimal and the risk of injury is low. So, you can focus on getting the movement right, which you’ll need to lift heavy.

Pro tip: Transition away from these variations after you’ve got them down. Bad habits with light weights might become injury risks with heavy ones.

5. Elevated Platform Deadlift

This is a great exercise for advanced lifters or flexible people. Raising the platform gives you more range of motion.

Pro tip: If you struggle with mobility, use standard deadlifts instead of these. Increasing your range of motion is a good thing, but only if you can maintain proper form while doing it.

Ready to Give ‘Em a Try?

Our professional trainers built these workouts with this month’s new moves. Open them on your phone now, or save them in your Saved Workouts library for your next session.


Q: How can I add these exercises to my workout?

A: Tap the “+” above your workout (next to the number of exercises in your workout)

Hit the “Categories” tab 

Scroll down to “Recently Added to Fitbod”

Or tap here if you’re on your phone right now. We’ll direct you to the new exercises. 

Q: Can I just wait for the Fitbod algorithm to recommend these new exercises?

A: Yes. You can wait, but it may take a bit for these new exercises to pop into your workouts on their own. Our workout library is 1000+ exercises deep so Fitbod’s recommender might choose another exercise instead. 

If you know you want to add or avoid adding any of these exercises, tell the Fitbod recommender. Tap the three dots next to any of these exercises to pick your preference. Your options are “Recommend More,” “Recommend Less,” or “Exclude”. 

Q: Will the weights and reps for these new exercises match my ability?

A: They might not. This will be the first time you log these exercises with Fitbod. So, they might not fit your abilities exactly. If the weights and reps don’t match your ability, make adjustments. The sooner you do that, the faster Fitbod will make better recommendations. 

(Note: We’re always improving our workout recommendation algorithm. Over time, we intend to get these starting values to match your ability from lift one.)

Q: How do you decide which exercises to add each month?

A: We weigh several factors, but these are the most important questions we ask:

  • Do these exercises contribute to a well-rounded fitness program?
  • How many users have requested this sort of exercise?

The second bullet is the most important. Fitbod is for you. We want you to make progress with Fitbod, on your terms, with our help. 

Want to request an exercise? Drop us a line at [email protected].

Q: Why am I not seeing these exercises in the app when I search for them?

Double-check to make sure that you’re on the latest version of the app: Go to the App Store or Google Play and install the most recent update. Then be sure to follow the instructions above.