On Saturday morning, I’ll have the pleasure of coaching Shannon at the 2017 Masters Pan American Championships, an international Olympic Weightlifting meet.
It’s no secret that we at CFG are in love with all things to do with weightlifting. We’ve hosted a USAW Level 1 Certification Course with Danny Camargo, we continually offer 6-week specialty courses for people to dial in their weightlifting technique, and we offer a non-stop weightlifting class with our USAW weightlifting club CFG Barbell.
I even wrote a post about how cool it is.
But where people get their first, and repeated, exposure to weightlifting is in the general CrossFit classes. This begs the question, why? Why do we program the snatch, clean & jerk, and its variants so often?
Glad you asked! I’m going to outline a few of them:
1. Time efficient – one exercise works multiple muscle groups. When folks are new, I often hear them ask “so are we working arms today?” on a day when we’re snatching. They quickly figure out that they need to use every muscle they can to do these lifts safe and effectively.
2. Full body development – We talked about specific areas of the body that are worked with olympic weightlifting, but don’t forget about the other physical attributes. You’re not just developing strength and power, but also kinesthetic awareness, coordination, balance, and agility.
3. Promotes full body flexibility – I think you all know this, but getting into a good bottom position in the snatch or clean requires a great deal of flexibility – not just in the hips, knees, and ankles, but also the thoracic spine, scapula, and shoulder joint. Its this reason that we say the overhead squat (a snatch variant/accessory movement) “makes the invisible, visible.”
4. Functional Movements
– moving large loads, long distances, and doing so quickly are characteristics of functional movements. The reason that matters is because its these characteristics that most closely resemble things you’ll do in real life. Bicep curls and leg extensions don’t offer that. Snatches and clean & jerks do. Furthermore, because these movements are ground based, you are also able to produce a massive amount of power. Remember why we care about power
– it is correlated to intensity, and intensity to results!