One Foot, Two Foot, Ready For Takeoff

Oct 18, 2019 by

Must jump over the barbell using a two-foot takeoff. Single-legged jumping or stepping over the bar is not permitted.

That is the explicit language in the movement standards for the bar-facing burpee in Open workout 20.1. The current debate amongst the community is whether or not a significant portion of athletes – top performers included – are actually adhering to that standard in their workout submissions. 

The move in question: Many athletes are choosing to either step or jump up from the burpee with one foot ahead of the other as they gather to jump over the bar. This creates a staggered stance in relation to the barbell and generally allows the athlete to start the process of turning around for the next rep prior to jumping, and continuing it as they cross over for the next rep.

  • It’s significantly faster in the long run, but often leads the athlete’s feet to leave the floor at slightly separate times despite gathering and beginning the process of the jump with two feet.
  • This isn’t a new issue either: This technique of the staggered jump, and as a result, a staggered take off has been present and in plain view for years now without anyone batting an eye. 

To be clear, we’re talking about fractions of a second in total. 

Case in Point: 2018 Regionals, and 2016 Games. These were the last two times bar-facing burpees showed up outside of the Open in the other stages of CrossFit competition. In both instances, the exact same “issue,” is rampant across the board, with top athletes being no exception. 

  • 2018 Central Regional, Men’s Event 4: Scroll through the various heats and you’ll see athletes, including ones that qualified for the Games, utilizing the same technique, under the watchful eye of judges, and no one bats an eye. 
  • 2016 CrossFit Games, The Separator: Same deal here, only this time it’s at the Games, on the highest stages, with the best judges around. Still, no complaints from anyone. 

What’s at stake: A lot actually. Last season, CrossFit HQ began issuing more severe penalties for not adhering to movement standards. 

Clearly there is a precedent for this being allowed in CrossFit competition at every level. That’s not to say that it shouldn’t or couldn’t be fixed, however it’s only been an issue in recent history. With that in mind there have been two primary schools of thought emerging regarding this issue. 

#1 – It Needs to Be Fixed

Regardless of past history or rules, this does not fit within the movement standards and something must be done about it. The spirit of the rule and standard is being broken, and generally speaking with higher stakes in the Open, the ruleset and standards should be tightened up a bit and athletes held to the highest standard.

  • The result: More than likely a change to the standard or explicit language next year. The reality is that an adjustment mid-season or a sudden change in regulation compared to years past would be so widespread, it would be near impossible to legislate completely or in an even remotely fair manner. Nearly every top athlete would take a hit for doing something that has been allowable in the past. A possible adjustment would be to bring back the perpendicular tape line to make sure feet are square to the bar before takeoff. 

#2 – Nothing Really to See Here

Essentially business as usual, or in the very least it’s a non-issue for this season given the above precedent and general allowance and usage across the board. Athletes are still going through the process of gathering and initialing with two feet, and the frame by frame investigation needed of the video to discover the infraction is evidence that it’s overblown. 

  • The result: Nothing. CrossFit Inc. doesn’t hand out penalties, and potentially doesn’t even address the issue to give it credibility. If this is the case, there’s still a possibility that a rule change or adjustment in language comes next time because you can bet that the powers that be are aware of the topic. 

Naysayers won’t be satisfied with either of these scenarios unless punishments start getting handed out like fun size Snickers on Halloween. Either way it’s an important discussion because ultimately the community can have influence over how the sport evolves going forward. 


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