3 Things Every CrossFitter Can Do To Become A Better Weightlifter
by Sage Mertz
Most people are going to look at the title of this blog and think that I’m a lifting coach trying to convert CrossFitters into weightlifters. Although that would be amazing for the sport, I can assure you that is not my intention. 96.7% of the CrossFit community is already stronger than me at most things in life, and I’m not sure my emotional psyche can handle many more 12 year olds out lifting me in my own sport.
BUT! I’m a good person, so I do want to share a couple of tools that are guaranteed to make you a better weightlifter and possibly even a better person in general.
#1. Do the Burgener Warm Up EVERY day for the rest of your life
The amazing thing about CrossFit is that you can walk into the gym and get your (well-developed) butt handed to you in one hour!! Even though there is so much that we have to fit into that short amount of time, we often fiddle-fart around during our warm-up (given that there is not a specific warm up regime lead by a coach).
If you’re like me, your warm up generally consists of rolling out everything from your elbow to your ear lobe in an attempt to make it look like you’re actually doing something to prepare your body for the workout. It’s time for us to make some serious life changes. Next time you’re in the gym, pick up a PVC pipe and go through the Burgener Warm-Up:
1. Down and finish: Creates speed through the middle
2. Elbows high and outside: Keeps the bar close
3. Muscle Snatch: Develops strong turnover
4. Snatch lands at 2″, 4″ 6″: Footwork
5. Snatch drops: Footwork
The Burgener Warm-Up is great for breaking up the snatch and clean and jerk (movements that happen in .3 milliseconds) into smaller steps. This specific warm-up makes it easier for us to understand that it isn’t some weird voodoo magic that gets the bar up over our head, but instead, it is 5 very specific movements that our bodies go through in order to get that bar traveling up effortlessly.
Please note that the Burgener Warm-up does not need to be done with any significant amount of weight! A PVC pipe is all you need! You’ll be shocked at how warm you feel afterwards and how, after even a short period of time, your body seems to remember how to go through the motions on it’s own.
#2. Work your positions from the floor
Ok, so you’ve just rolled out your left ring finger and have completed the Burgener Warm-Up. Now, we need to add one more step to our warm-up… a step that allows us to gain a better understanding of what happens before that bar gets to our hips…aka what happens before we “jump”.
In other words, we need to master the proper pull off the floor.
Just like the Burgener Warm-Up, this drill does not need to be done with any significant amount of weight. Our goal when we work our positions is to move our bodies slow enough to be able to recognize how each position is supposed to feel. If we try and do position work with too much weight, we’re so focused on not dying that we’re not focused enough on achieving perfect mechanics.
Here is a video of me showing the three most important positions: the start position, the launch position, and the “finish” position. Notice how I slow down as the barbell moves up my leg and as I prepare to jump. I am really tuned into my hips, making sure they only travel through enough to be able to move vertically, as opposed to moving forward so much that they bang against the barbell and drive the weight away from my body.
Watch, memorize, and recreate…over and over again.
If you master these positions, you have a way better chance of being successful at lifting heavy weights. And lifting heavy weights is basically the most important step in achieving your biggest goals…like becoming the next Beyonce, for example.
#3. Watch videos of Olympic or national level athletes
Last, but definitely not least, just because you’re not in the gym, doesn’t mean that you can’t work on fine tuning your weightlifting technique.
There has been more and more research (and not even just on wikipedia!) proving the importance of visualization. What the mind sees and believes, the body can achieve. Go on youtube and research lifters like Natalie Burgener or Norik Vardanian or any of those cute, tiny Chinese female lifters that I want to carry around in my pocket.
Those are the lifters that have dedicated decades to fine tuning their technique and making it as efficient as possible for their specific body type and individual strengths and weaknesses. The more you study these lifters, the more you will start to pick up on tiny technical differences that set these lifters apart from the rest of the world.
Watching those beautiful lifts will make it easy to walk up to the barbell, close your eyes and see what your lift is SUPPOSED to look like. Will you be able to recreate it? I can’t say for sure… it really depends on how many homeless people you’ve fed over the past year. But, all you can do is try. If you are trying to replicate the speed, the efficiency, and the consistency that these lifters exude in each and every lift, you’re working in the right direction.