2017 CrossFit Open Prep: Weightlifting Movements

Mike Tromello


Agoura Hills, California, United States

CrossFit, Children's Fitness, Olympic Weightlifting


In this installment, I’m going to cover the lifting movements of Competition CrossFit. There's a lot to cover, so let's just jump in and get started.


First, lets talk about cleans and snatches. Variations include power clean, squat clean (also known as the “full clean”), and hang clean. Of course, you’ve got to be proficient with each of these at high reps and a good 1RM.



However, to be successful in the Open, you’ve got to really be able to barbell cycle. For snatch, the basic parameters are pretty much the same. Strong 1RM and good volume with all the variations: squat, power, and hang.


But watch out. For both these movements, be sure that you are comfortable moving through both heavy and light weight quickly. And for both of these movements, it’s not always a barbell. You’ve got to prepare for doing them with kettlebells and dumbbells. Ideally, you’ll have been training all year long with these tools, and you’ll feel comfortable with heavy weights and high reps.


Now let’s move on to another foundational movement, and one you’re likely to see in the Open: the deadlift. Let’s face it: CrossFit loves deadlifts. Last year, we saw something new in that there were low-rep, heavy deadlifts in the Open. But, traditionally, competition CrossFit loves high-rep deadlifts.


Be sure you’ve established a strong posterior chain, maximized your 1RM, and worked to be comfortable with high rep sets. If you’re concerned about injury from high-rep deadlifts, think seriously about how you are working on your posterior chain in the time remaining before the Open.


Of course, we can’t talk about CrossFit at all without talking about squats, and in competition CrossFit, you’ve got to expect squats. High rep squats area staple at Regionals, and CrossFit loves to program overhead squats for every level of competition.


Back squats never come up, but you should be working on them all year to develop strength and sound fundamental movement patters. Variations to prepare for include air squats, of course, but also wall ball, weighted pistols.


Next, there’s no avoiding thrusters. CrossFit, and CrossFit’s signature workout, Fran, have turned the whole world on to thrusters, and it’s hard to imagine a CrossFit competition without them.


Although we have seen a 1RM for this movement at Regionals once and once at the Games in the Master’s Division, you should expect high reps. To be successful in the Open, men should be competent with high reps with weight ranging from 95-135 pounds, women with 65-115 pounds.


Shoulder-to-overhead is a CrossFit competition term that sometimes was referred to as “shoulder-to-overhead anyhow.” The standard for the movement is the range of motion, and the manner in which the lifting is executed is up to the competitor. Legitimate shoulder-to-overhead movements include jerk, press, push-jerk, push-press, and press. Again you need a high capacity for barbell cycling.



Ground-to-overhead, like shoulder-to-overhead, term that describes the range-of-motion requirements and not the manner of lifting (in the past, this was sometimes referred to as “ground-to-overhead anyhow”). Legitimate ground-to-overhead movements include both snatch and clean-and-jerk, plus what I can “clatching” – a clean grip, snatch-like movement.


competition lifting

Barbell cycling is a key ingredient in successful CrossFit competition.


Remember, whatever you may think of these “anyhow” movements, these are not traditional weightlifting movements, and they are not intended to be judged by Olympic standards.


These are competition CrossFit movements, they are clearly defined, and they are judged by simple, “functional” criteria – can you move the weight from position A to position B. And these movements are critical to success in competition and you’ve got to deal with them in high volume.


In this video, I am going to dig deeper into the topics and talk you through the salient points:



Another competition weight -lifting movement you will see is lunges. By itself, lunges are not a weigh lifting movement, but in CrossFit competitions, you’ll commonly see weight carried overhead, and sometimes in front rack or backpack position. Outside of competition, lunges are often regarded as a ”supplemental” movement, but CrossFit has made it a standard in competition. So, you’ve to to be able to lunge well, and do so with weight.


Last, there’s sumo deadlift high-pulls. This movement, infamous and passionately debated in the fitness community, is a standard CrossFit movement that you may see in competition.


This movement has been at Regionals and never in the Open, but it’s on the CrossFit main site, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t come up at any level of CrossFit competition. Love it or hate it, you have to be proficient with the movement if you want to be successful in competition.

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