Bodyweight exercises for powerlifters — almost oxymoronic, isn’t it?

Nobody would expect a short list of recommended bodyweight exercises for powerlifters, but here we are.

The global pandemic has many people stuck in lockdown, still.

And a lot of those people can’t afford luxurious gym equipment, yet have to make do with a pull-up bar and insultingly light dumbbells to hold onto their hard-earned gains.

Not to worry, there’s still a lot that you CAN do with your bodyweight alone — even if you’re a powerlifter.

Prison-style workouts and calisthenics have become very popular in recent years, but powerlifters are often left out of the fray.

More heavyset powerlifters might struggle with some bodyweight exercises, but that might, in fact, be a blessing in disguise in lowering working set rep ranges.

Whatever your bodyweight and relative strength; here are my five favorite bodyweight exercises for powerlifters.

5 Best Powerlifter Bodyweight Exercises

Powerlifter pullups
Well built gentleman performing pullups

1) Pull-ups

What kind of bodyweight exercise list wouldn’t contain pull-ups?

I mean, their rightfully earned popularity speaks for itself as the king of back exercises.

Even people in decent physical shape can struggle in cranking out a set of ten–but, not to worry, you can program lower rep ranges into your training.

The lats, if we had to choose, are probably one of the most important muscles for powerlifters.

Used isometrically in both the deadlift and squat to preserve tightness and prevent rounding, and for stability in the bench press; your lats are guaranteed a good workout from pull-ups.

The other thing about pull-ups are its versatility–there are several variations of the movement you can add into your program as well as rep-ranges and schemas.

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If pull-ups aren’t challenging enough: add a weight between your legs, do Archer pull-ups, pause at the top or in the middle, change up the tempo, cluster sets, pyramid sets; do anything to make the exercise more challenging.

2) Dips

Again, like pull-ups, how wouldn’t this exercise make a bodyweight list?

Now dips aren’t as versatile as pull-ups, but are one of the best bench press accessory movements around for powerlifters.

If done properly, and if you can teach yourself to retract your shoulder blades as you would in the bench press, you can activate your lats, rhomboids, and rear delts to add more power to your dips.

Not only that, but dips, with shoulder blade retraction, are an almost full upper body workout.

To challenge yourself properly, you can also dangle a weight between your legs, experiment with the tempo, try to do AMRAPS, partial dips, teach yourself a planche, etc.

The current situation, as we all know, is far from ideal, but most of us would be doing dips anyway.

3) Explosive Push Up

There are a few variations for this classic exercise.

You can do clap push ups onto the floor, a bench; onto a raised platform, two raised platforms; an extra clap can be thrown in; hand width and placement can be adjusted; likewise, feet can be raised.

There is a lot you can do in terms of experimenting with this exercise.

And will calisthenics might not translate directly into shifting massive weights on a barbell, I think very few people don’t come away impressed by the world best calisthenic athletes’ relative strength.

The explosive push up directly transfers over to your bench press and can be implemented into your makeshift programs as a speed day.

4) Box Jump

Or any vertical jump for that matter.

A lot of speed-style exercises are incorporated into this list — specifically for more advanced powerlifters. This is simply due to the fact that there are no barbells available.

See this hard time as a blessing in disguise: you can improve your relative strength, athleticism, and speed.

The box jump or vertical jump can carry over to your squat or deadlift–especially if you struggle with speed on the lift.

You can set a box or something to commence your lift at the start of your sticking point.

For example if you struggle with the middle portion of the squat, you can set a box or a chair to where you begin to struggle and jump explosively from there.

And with most of the other lifts, you can also add weight to your person to make the exercise more challenging.

Furthermore, there are several vertical jump variations that you can use, such as a pistol squat jump, alternating jumping lunges, single leg jump, bounding, pogo stick jumps, and many more.

5) Broad Jumps

powerlifter bodyweight exercise
powerlifter bodyweight exercise — source

This is simply a long jump forward, putting more focus on your posterior chain than a vertical jump.

Broad Jumps are often programmed as either an accessory movement or warm-up drill to the deadlift, but will help you improve your motor co-ordination and athleticism.

Following a hinge-pattern movement similar to the lockout portion of a deadlift, the broad jump will also assist with you kettlebell swings, powercleans, snatches, and sprinting.

Unfortunately, broad jumps are less versatile than vertical jumps. And it isn’t recommendable to add weight to make the lift more challenging as it requires a little more concentration to execute safely than a vertical jump.

Also, broad jumps are more taxing on the body, in my experience, and rep ranges above 5 are not recommendable.

Bodyweight exercises — not just for non-powerlifters

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