5 Fun Weightlifting Games

Weightlifting training can become . . . well, boring.  Months of devotion to the snatch, clean and jerk, pulls, and squats can transform committed athletes into zombies.  Shake things up with these five weightlifting games.

Moving Day

In competitive weightlifting, overhead stability is EVERYTHING.  An athlete can execute a textbook lift and not get credit for it if he cannot stabilize the barbell until the referee gives him the down signal.  Build overhead stability with Moving Day . . .

  • Select a variety of objects that your athletes can carry overhead–medicine balls, kettle bells, dumbbells, barbells, yoga balls, wooden beams, athletic mats, anything goes!
  • Challenge your athletes to move the objects–overhead–from point A to point B (about 50 meters apart) and then back to point A.  It is important that the athlete carries the objects to a point and then rotates with the object overhead and carries it back.  Stabilizing an object overhead while rotating will build the same kind of stability needed in competition.
  • When an athlete returns with his object, another athlete heads out with a different object.
  • Continue the relay until all of the objects have been moved.


ALL the Weights

Weightlifting requires a strong back, legs, and shoulders.  This exercise works all three.  Challenge your lifters to make a choice between more weight on the barbell and a higher step-up with this game:

  • Present your athletes with a couple of large stacks of weights.
  • Tell the athletes that they must set up two barbells: one for deadlift & one for overhead carry
  • The remaining weights must be stacked up to form a tower for dumbbell step-ups.
  • The more weight that is placed on the barbell, the lower the step-up platform and vice versa.

Each station is given the following parameters:

Overhead Carry: 100 meters

Deadlift: 5 Reps

Step-Ups: 12 reps holding a pair of dumbbells

  • Rotate through the stations 5 times.
  • This exercise can be done with 1-3 athletes at a time.  The athletes should have similar strength.

Throw the Dice

Timing is an essential element of competitive weightlifting.  A lifter may have less than 2 minutes–or more than 10–between attempts on the platform.  Replicate the randomness of competitive timing with a simple dice game and timer.

  • Set the timer for ten 1-minute intervals.
  • Load a barbell to a weight that the lifter can perform 6 consecutive deadlift reps.
  • Start the timer and throw the dice.
  • Each minute, the lifter must perform the number of deadlifts on the dice, resting the remaining part of the minute.
  • Depending on the number rolled, a lifter will have more or less time to rest in each interval, which trains an athlete mentally for the uncertain rest periods in a competition.

Slippery Pigs

A strong core is fundamental to weightlifting.  Without a strong back and abs, a weightlifter will crumple under a heavy weight.  This exercise–which is my kids’ favorite–builds a rock-solid core, while allowing them to eat jelly beans.

  • Buy a bag of jelly beans/Skittles and some furniture sliders.
  • Lay some paper towels on the floor as “feeding troughs” for your athletes.
  • Paper towels should be placed about 25 meters apart.
  • Direct the athletes to place their feet on the furniture sliders.

Perform 3 Rounds (A Total of 12 One-Minute Intervals)

Minute 1: Plank Walk Forward

Minute 2: Plank Walk Backward

Minute 3: Inchworms

Minute 4: Rest

  • For 1 minute, the athlete maintains a PLANK position, using the hands to walk from one set of paper towels to another.  At the paper towel, the athlete performs a push up and picks up one jelly bean.  The athlete then moves to the next paper towel.
  • On the second minute, the athlete maintains the plank position, now using the hands to walk BACKWARD toward the jelly beans.
  • On the third minute, the athlete performs INCHWORMS.
  • On the fourth minute, the athlete rests.
  • Repeat for a total of THREE rounds.
  • Alternative: If your floor is not slick enough for furniture sliders, you can perform this exercise with other movements, such as Wheelbarrows or Hand Stand Walking (swallow the jelly bean before kicking into another handstand!).

  Super Mario Bros.

In essence, weightlifting is “Jumping with a Barbell,” which makes jump training a beneficial weightlifting exercise.  Try this variation for fun:

  • Set up a 10 station circuit using stacks of weight plates, chairs with PVC pipes, mats, sturdy boxes, benches or other platforms.
  • The platforms should be at different heights.
  • Athletes move through the circuit, jumping on/over various platforms, with minimal rest between each platform.
  • Rest for 2 minutes at the end of the circuit and repeat for 3 rounds.


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