Originally published at andrewhopf.com

Wait....do you hear that?

That's the entire Crossfit community losing their minds on me!

Well before I go any further, this post is by no means a bash on Crossfit. Crossfit, in my opinion, has done so much good for the world in terms of encouraging people to be a better version of themselves through fitness, nutrition and community. Although my personal and NLPT's programming philosophy differs significantly (and I could go into great detail on the rationalization for that) I do believe many of us high level strength and conditioning folks can learn from the business perspective about building tribes, community and culture in your training centre.

Back to the point of this article, why I/we don't utilize Olympic Weightlifting with our adult client base.

In general, I love the Olympic lifts (Clean & Jerk and Snatch). In terms of their abilities to produce adaptations for power, rate of force development and force absorption, it is hard to argue the evidence in terms of their effectiveness. With that begin said, I haven't came across many 30 something year old corporate office folk that need to improve their 20 yard sprint time or 5-10-5 pro agility test by 15 milliseconds as a way to make $250000 on their next contracts.

Heck, do I think the O lifts are cool, your damn right! I love doing them. However, they are a high risk, high reward choice of movements that I cannot and will not gamble with our adult population. Simply put there is 3 main reasons I wouldn't put O lifts into our adults programming:

Movement Limitations

Yes, of course we could spend countless hours working on range of motion and grooving patterns, but unless someones goal is to specifically work on their snatch or C&J for competitive reasons, most adults (I've worked with) lack the ROM necessary to execute the lifts with the technique and further more just don't have the time needed to groove patterning (see below)

Risk vs. Reward

Overall the risk is just to high for employ these exercises with our adults. If we had a very high level athlete who's ability to acquire a 15% improvement in power output would dictate their chances of getting a contract or scholarship, that's a different conversation. With our adults, the "end game" rewards are usually to look good, feel good and play good (define play however you want) and I'm not willing to risk ones health when there is other movements I could choose to get similar adaptations.

Training Frequency and Skill Acquisition

Most adults I work with are busy as hell. Full time jobs, kids playing all over the place and families to take care of. Most don't have the time or mental capacity to be able to PRACTICE the SKILL of Olympic lifting at the frequency needed to truly allow the movement to become instinctual. For most adults, if they are training 3-4x a week, that is a massive success. Within those 3-4x a week, they need to have a balance of movement quality tasks, cardiovascular and strength work and maybe even a little fun thrown in there as well. If one were to full embrace themselves in the Olympic lifting culture, they truly should be prepared to make it a daily practice.

Our job as coaches is to design a program that produces those outcomes with the least exposure to risk of injury possible. Here is a list of my favourite exercises that if coached appropriately will get similar style adaptations as the Olympic Lifts without the exposure to the risks.

  • Kettlebell Swings (and all their variations)
  • Bilateral Lower Body Lifts (Squats and Deadlifts) & Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats
  • Concentric Sled Work (Drags, Pushes, Pulls)
  • Push Ups (Proper)
  • Chin, Neutral Grip Chin and Pull Ups (Not Muscle Ups)
  • Assault/Airdyne Bike work

That's all for today folks...but something tells me there is going to be some nice dialogue online from my colleagues around the province. Let the debates begin....

Coach Hopf