Let the Girls Play with The Heavy Barbells (OPINION)

Nov 8, 2019 by

Was the women’s weight too light in 20.4? I’m honestly not sure what the right answer is here. For years, the guys at my gym have been telling me that the prescribed girls’ weights for workouts have historically been “too light,” and I’ve always just chalked it up to the thought that, well, I’m just strong. Now, I’m not so sure.

I’m not gonna lie, I always wish for heavier weights in workouts, just because that is a true strength of mine. But this most recent Open workout, 20.4, was the first time I really noticed how big the difference was between the men’s and women’s prescribed weights. A 315 pound clean and jerk is no joke, for even the strongest guys in CrossFit.

But I’m not sure it’s the same conversation at 205 pounds for most of the top women.  

Personally, I didn’t think twice about clean and jerking 205 pounds at the end of that workout. But when I considered what would I have felt like if I had to lift… say 220 pounds or 225 pounds at the end of that workout — I realized it would have been a totally different game. I would have been a little scared approaching the bar for that lift and that’s how I think a lot of the men felt staring down 315.

It’s worth noting that traditionally in benchmark barbell workouts, women’s weights are programmed at right around 70% of the men’s’ prescribed weight.

Diane is 225 pound deadlifts for men and 155 pound deadlifts for women. Grace is 135 pound clean and jerks and 95 pounds for women.

Even previous Open workouts like 13.4, 16.4, and 17.3 kept the same 70% weight ratio. Specifically in the case of 17.3 — an ascending ladder of snatches from 95/65 to 265/185 — the ratio remained the same throughout. While men snatched 225 women were prescribed 155.

Having heavier weights in these events would mean we can continue to push our physical limits and exceed the expectations put on women by society…adding a little more weight to the women’s bars, in comparison to the men’s, will only push every one of us to be better. Isn’t that why we all do Crossfit in the first place? To push our limits? To see how good we can really be?

For 20.4 however, things were different.

Take a look: 85 pounds is 63% of 135, 115 pounds is 62% of 185, 145 pounds is 64% of 225, 175 pounds is 64% of 275, and 205 pounds is 65% of 315. The only barbell that held the 70% ratio was the first barbell at 95/65.

So why is there such a big weight difference? Honestly, I don’t know. I am sure it has been programmed based on certain percentages for many years now. And the women of CrossFit just continue to get stronger every year. We are continuing to show the world that women can be strong and that STRONG is BEAUTIFUL.

Having heavier weights in these events would mean we can continue to push our physical limits and exceed the expectations put on women by society. There is so much more to CrossFit than just lifting heavy. Really it’s just one small part of a huge world of fitness. But adding a little more weight to the women’s bars, in comparison to the men’s, will only push every one of us to be better. Isn’t that why we all do Crossfit in the first place? To push our limits? To see how good we can really be? No matter what the weight is — I know every CrossFitter has experienced a moment when they lifted a weight that they never thought would be possible. THAT feeling is what this is about. Pushing the limits every year as we continue to grow into the best versions of ourselves.

Truthfully, I don’t know what the right answer is here. And I realize my opinion is biased because I am more of a strength-based athlete. (I’m sure that the smaller athletes would most likely disagree with me.) Of course, I also want to consider that the Open is for the entire community, so maybe the lighter weights are what’s best for everyone. But we all have our strengths and weaknesses in this sport, and sometimes I think it would be fun to let us ladies play with some big weights too!!


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