The Secret to Cycling Single Lifts

Mike Tromello


Agoura Hills, California, United States

CrossFit, Children's Fitness, Olympic Weightlifting


In this video, I’m going to give away one of the key takeaways from my recent experience at Wodapalooza in Miami.


We’ve already established that barbell cycling is one of the most fundamental skill needed to compete effectively in CrossFit competitions. In a previous video, I went over the importance of building not only the horsepower for high-rep barbell movements, but also the technique.



A Proven Technique

Wodapalooza is indisputably a Games-level competition, and it’s become both a proving ground for my programming and a good predictor of how my athletes will do with the Open and Regionals.


This year, I found that not only was it key that my athletes be able to string together continuous, high-rep sets of barbell movements, but it turned out that it was critical that they also cycle single lifts quickly.


So, in this video, I’ll show you what I learned about cycling single lifts efficiently. And, I can tell you from recent experience, this is the kind of thing that makes the difference between watching the awards from the stands or from the podium.


With continuous cycling, the secret is to do two lifts for each rep. But with singles, you drop the bar and have the opportunity to properly reposition yourself for each rep, so this two-lift technique does not apply. So the only thing that can make the difference with singles is shortening the time between each lift.


Of course, the athletes own horsepower and will power matter. But, again, when competition comes down to each second making a difference, anything you can do to shave seconds matters immensely. Just as triathletes with amazing athletic capacity often spend a lot of time working on transitions, so too do high-level CrossFit athletes have to try to shave seconds off of their transitions between lifts.




Again, this sin't about becoming an Olympic weighlifter. In these compeltitions, you won't be judged on, and you can't rely on, pristine weightlifting technique. You've got to be great at handling a variety of barbell lifts in a vareity of condidtions, and this is one tool that can be a game-changer becasue it can be applied to many different lifts.


So let’s break it down and go over the secret to success with cycling single lifts.



The Secret to Faster Singles

To cycle singles lifts efficiently, the trick is to not roll the bar around, but to go to the bar. When you are tired and need to go single lifts, there’s a tendency to roll the bar back to you, then look down, reach down, set up, and go.


But, with the technique I used so successfully with my athletes at Wodapalooza, you almost don’t even have to look down, plus you cut the cycle time dramatically. To do this, you have to move to the bar. Sounds simple, right? But, when you are tired and suffering, you’ve got to have a simple mental trick for executing this move. I tell my athletes, “Step, Step, Hands.”


As you can see in the video, stepping to the bar means you already know where the bar is. If you look down while stepping, you’ll be positioned in the middle of the bar and only need to reach down and grab the bar to go. With this technique, they dramatically reduce time between lifts and barely have to glance at the bar to be set up well.


You Need More Than Technique

Just like any skill, building up solid technique is key. But in this case, it’s extremely important that you also have a place to go, mentally, that will get you to execute this technique. Every fiber of your being will be looking for a rest, for any small increment of rest.


Without a mental game plan, you’re doomed. You’ll find yourself rolling the bar around and looking for where to place your hands. And the next athlete will be kicking your butt using this technique. In CrossFit competitions,


High-volume, high-rep barbell movements are a fact of life in CrossFit competitions. And no matter how bad-ass of an athlete you are, you’ll inevitably hit a point of extreme fatigue and start dropping the bar. When that happens, give this a try, because every second really does count.

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