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Weightlifter to CrossFit Athlete: What Advantages Do They Have?

October 4, 2022 by

weight·lift·ing: a two-lift sport for total load: snatch, clean & jerk

Reason #1: Excellent Positions are a Prerequisite.

Exhibiting great positions is an essential requirement for economical movement in CrossFit.

Having “good” positions to me means more than having the Range of Motion (ROM) required to execute a movement.  

It means the ability to maintain axial skeleton alignment in order to seamlessly move from one high-support position to another.  

In other words, if your joint freedom and motor control allow you to “stack” under a load (including your own body), then you’ll require less energy to do the same work.

Reason #2: Strength is the Foundation.

The process of developing strength is at the forefront of every CrossFit athlete’s mind.  And for good reason: CrossFit Games athletes generally have superior strength than their sub-elite counterparts.  

However, strength takes a very long time to develop.  

The old chiche, “It’s a marathon not a sprint” rings true.

And few athletes -if any- have spent more time developing their foundational strength than the Weightlifter.

This often means that a Weightlifter who comes onto the CrossFit scheme needs much less maximal strength development than the average competitive athlete.

The result is that Weightlifters…

(1) will excel in weightlifting style maximal strength tests (e.g. max squats, barbell complexes, etc.)

(2) will be at an advantage in any test where there is significant loading (e.g. heavy sandbags, dumbbells, kettlebells, sleds, etc.)

(3) can spend less training resources on developing strength and can focus instead on building sub-maximal strength qualities, muscular endurance, and stamina

Reason #3: Elasticity & Athleticism Matter.

Weightlifters are known for being athletic.  You see Weightlifters doing high box jumps and back flips on stage, where you don’t see that with strongman or powerlifting competitors.

A Weightlifter has the best of both worlds.

They can produce incredible tension rapidly, but they can also turn off that muscle and relax it fast too.  This is a critical component to being “athletic.”  

Additionally, a Weightlifter is what I call an “elastic athlete,” meaning their sport requires great joint resilience, change of direction, and acceleration, all of which are crucial for success in CrossFit.  

Finally, the average BMI of a Weightlifter is lower than a powerlifting in an equivalent weight class.

These are ALL reasons why a Weightlifter is more prepared than other strength sport athletes when it comes to the demands of the Sport of CrossFit.

Reason #4: Weightlifting is Key in CrossFit.

Although I haven’t explicitly stated this yet, you might have gathered it by now.

The snatch and clean & jerk come in so many forms and CrossFit, historically speaking, loves to test them all.

Additionally, variations of the snatch, clean, jerk, pulls, and squats are far and away the most tested maximal strength lifts in everything from the CrossFit Open to the Games.

For the Weightlifter, the challenge becomes building the other skills and capacities necessary to allow their strengths to shine.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Cycling Snatches

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