High Rep Olympic Lifts

They annoy me. They annoy me like whoa. And this annoyance has come to the forefront for me as I work at two CrossFit gyms and the CrossFit Regionals with their high rep Olympic lifts are being shoved down my eye sockets.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the Olympic lifts, in their proper technique and their overall intention, are NOT about speed, but about get a shit tonne of weight overhead.

Here's the thing about doing the Olympic lifts for their intending purpose: The point of the technique is to create momentum on the bar so that it hangs out midair, giving you as the athlete time to get under the weight. The whole point is to buy time. You see top lifters being incredibly fast, because the less time you have to buy, the heavier the weights can be.

That's when you do the lifts with correct technique.

Now CrossFit has their athletes training the lifts for the explicit purpose of doing lots of reps at lower weight very fast. Suddenly you have these pretty strong people simply muscling the bars to their shoulders or over head. The bars never touch their bodies. There is no acceleration. No dynamics to the lift. It's just grip and rip.

Good weightlifters can manipulate how much hang time they put on the bar, so they can do light reps pretty quickly. But they trained from the get go to put that hang time on the bar.

It's much easier, in a technically sound way, to learn to do the lifts for their intended purpose FIRST. To get the technique right as it applies to getting heavy weights over head. Then the properly trained athlete can go back and take their technique and manipulate it for speed.


Jon North does "Grace" (30 clean and jerks at 135lbs/ 62kg)

Some CrossFitter doing "Grace", rounded back, never hits full extension

Thing is, CrossFitters lift heavy occasionally. Jon and his brethren NEVER do endurance stuff. It's going to be a lot harder to teach dude #2 to fully extend himself and get those top end numbers he's probably capable of because he's dug himself into the high reps for speed technique hole. Jon can step out of his wheel house and go bat shit on his lifts because good technique has been so drilled into him. It's how he breathes.

The point here isn't to bash on CrossFitters, it's to emphasis how important I think it is for anyone to solidify the technical aspects of the Olympic lifts, then focus on using them for their purpose (go heavy!), and only then start going batshit on the reps for time stuff. There are plenty of other  moves out there that aren't as technical a person can use to buff up their strength-endurance and anaerobic capacity.