Crossfit has done a lot of good for the sport of Olympic Weightlifting. Awareness of and participation in the sport has rocketed.
As an Olympic lifter and instructor I say ‘thanks Crossfit!’
I know that the demands of Crossfit are different from the demands of competitive weightlifting.
But Crossfitters can really benefit from learning the Olympic lifter’s way of weightlifting, and the best Crossfitters that I know have done just this.
Maximal olympic lifting is becoming more important in Crossfit
Samantha Briggs (pictured above) is a fan of olympic lifting as a sport. She is a force to be reckoned with on the UK weightlifting scene, being 2013 English Champion at 58kg – as well as being one of the world’s top Crossfitters.
It has become common in recent times for Crossfit competitions to include 1 rep max snatch and clean events, not just multiple rep workouts with light weights. All competitive Crossfitters therefore now need to be good at both!
We’ve all seen the video clips and heard the stories of terrible technique in some Crossfit gyms. I know that this isn’t representative of the community as a whole, but who wants to be a laughing stock or give the haters more ammunition?
I’m not gonna lie, I have an agenda here. I have an Olympic lifting beginners course that I am trying to promote.
But as well as myself, there is a growing number of decent Olympic lifting instructors in the UK with a competitive background in the sport, not just those who have done a two-day certification and never stepped on a competitive platform in their life.
If Crossfitters are embracing the challenge of Olympic lifting, they might as well benefit from the available expertise.
And if you have competitive ambitions, it helps to be coached by someone who understands the pressure and the unique demands of lifting in a competition.
So how can we help?
The common issues I see among Crossfitters performing the Olympic lifts are:
- Finding it difficult to go under the bar – always power snatching or power cleaning
- Technique limitations which mean they can perform multiple reps with light weights but have trouble pushing up 1 rep maxes
- Good levels of fitness but strength is lagging behind (this is very common in women, in my experience)
- Inexperience performing maximal lifts and the mental approach required
- Insufficient understanding of the double knee-bend mechanism, resulting in poor technique and a limit as to how much weight can be lifted.
Crossfitters can also benefit from the approach that Olympic lifters take to lifting, especially to heavy attempts. If you have been brought up on the AMRAP principle then approaching heavy single attempts can be intimidating or simply tricky; why can’t I just rip it up?
As competitive Crossfitters you want to be building an arsenal of skills and approaches, since this is demanded at all levels of the sport. The best Crossfitters can bring to bear the focus and mental routine needed to execute a heavy single attempt, as well as throwing themselves into a long endurance WOD with all-out effort.
All athletes need to work on their weaknesses, and a period with an olympic lifting coach can be an important part of your yearly preparation. With so many skills required for Crossfit, it can be difficult to fit the necessary practise into a typical Crossfit class.
There are a growing number of Crossfit coaches who are good Olympic lifting instructors themselves. They have participated in the sport for a number of years and understand it. But not every box has access to this expertise, so you may need to look elsewhere.
Your local weightlifting club (see britishweightlifting.org) is a great place to start, or you can take a course like mine, which is aimed at beginners and improvers. You can also hire one of the handful of elite British weightlifters such as Giles Greenwood to run a workshop.
So find a good Olympic lifting instructor and watch your Olympic lifts fly up!
Do you agree? Have you benefitted from a weightlifter’s approach? How important is this to you as a Crossfitter?
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