Going Light…

CrossFit Meridian Olympic Lifting Blog

By Mike Baldwin


“Going Light”

In our inaugural Olympic lifting class on Saturday at CrossFit Meridian it was evident that in order to become proficient lifters we must first start with light weight and slowly progress up in weight as our technical ability increases. This is often hard for men to come to terms with because going light often means using weights that are far below what the lifter is capable of maneuvering into the finished position. Notice how I say “capable of maneuvering” rather than “lifting correctly,” meaning that the lifter can take the bar from the floor to the rack position, in a clean for instance, using pure muscle, while not paying much attention to good form and technique. The lifter gains little in these attempts in either gaining muscle or making strides to hit new personal records in any given lift. It’s important to start with light weight and maintain good form as the weight increases. Even when a lifter is able to get the weight into the finished position, in a workout performed Rx’d for example, it may be more beneficial for the athlete to use lighter weight and practice good form. Proficient lifting form is something that is gained over time and the athlete should have patience and exercise restraint, knowing that the end result will be higher PR’s and faster WOD times at Rx’d weight.  Olympic lifts involve many different muscle groups, tendons, ligaments, joints, and nerves, which must work in conjunction to be the most effective for lifting a given weight. It takes time and practice to train these complex systems to work together to be efficient at lifting weights. Imagine a novice ice skater attempting to perform a quadruple axle, a 1660 degree spin in the air; or a first time diver trying a triple back flip off the 10 meter platform. These athletes would not even attempt these complicated moves without years of training, yet many of us in CrossFit attempt the extremely complicated snatch or clean with very little training or repetitions on the bar at far too heavy weights. This can result a number of unwanted outcomes such as serious injury, lack of improvement, bad technical habits, low PR’s, nagging joint pain, and slow WOD times where these lifts are concerned. Keep the weight light; work the progressions for clean and snatch; focus on your foot work, hip action, and speed under the bar. We can only get better at these lifts if we learn to feel where the bar, the weight, and our bodies are best positioned to exert the most force on the bar, and we can only learn to feel these positions by using manageable weight and practicing impeccable form. So take some weight off fellas, explode with your hips, hit that triple extension, get like greased lightening under that bar, and you will see PR’s that you could never muscle before.


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