Following the Saturday Night Showdown, the Barbell class is returning to Saturday mornings at 8:15 a.m. This class is the perfect time to practice your barbell skills including the Olympic lifts. The Olympic lifts include the Clean & Jerk and the Snatch. Both lifts require timing, coordination, agility, power and speed involving the full body. Putting in the time to practice these lifts and the progressions will benefit your regular CrossFit workouts. Also, practicing at the lighter weights and developing your skills will transfer to the heavier lifts. Many times, we are eager to try and go heavy instead of taking the time to master the foundation. During a typical CrossFit class, we will spend maybe 20 minutes on lifting (one common pattern is a set of a lift every two minutes for 12 minutes), and it takes a few minutes to set up and review technique. There isn’t much time here to develop and master skills. The Barbell class will spend more time on progressions and lifts, with one main lift during the class. For example, this week is the clean and jerk, you will be able to practice the progressions without the pressure of the clock beeping and with the class dedicated to working on the lift.

Whenever you are in a class (barbells or regular), don’t be afraid to go “light” and really try to perfect the technique. If you are new to lifting, it can be intimidating to go overhead. No one wants to drop the barbell on their head! Some of the biggest PRs come after spending some time going lighter and working on the technique. The clean and jerk is a good example of this, especially the split jerk, spend a few weeks at a light weight, something you can strict press or almost strict press (just because the whiteboard might say “build up” doesn’t mean you have to if you want to practice the technique). During the jerks, you really focus on placement of the feet and dropping under the bar. Get comfortable in the bottom position. Get comfortable getting there fast. Do it over and over. When you return to the heavier weights, you will have additional muscle memory and confidence to drop under the bar and then stand it up. You might be surprised when your jerk increases by 20 or 25 pounds.

The same can apply to the squat snatch (or any other lift). Spend time with just a PVC and get comfortable at the bottom. Get confident in knowing how to move your feet from the jumping position to the landing position. Do it over and over. Don’t worry that it seems light – entire Olympic lifting seminars are dedicated to working with the PVC.

Just a few of the benefits from practicing and focusing on the Olympic lifts:

  • Develop power. A powerful hip extension is used in the most successful lifts and this is where a lot of the power comes from. Knowing how to open the hips and use the core power will apply to many other movements.
  • Build speed and coordination. The max lift is done in a matter of seconds. It uses the whole body, and it looks really cool.
  • Increase strength.
  • Mental workout. The Olympic lifts take a lot of mental focus and concentration. If you go out for a run, you can let your mind wander – this is a different type of workout. You need focus and concentration to successfully lift heavy.
  • Confidence with the barbell. Especially if you walked into the gym without prior experience with a barbell, it is difficult. It is new. It can be frustrating. But, practice, practice, practice. And know that even the best practice with a PVC and light weights.

Until next time,


~Coach Lindsey Johnson