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Old 12-07-2013, 08:39 AM   #1
John C Blattner
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O-lifting: Too dangerous?

Here's a post from a non-CF forum, by a former CF-er who says he liked it but has since turned to other modes of training:

"A serious problem with Crossfit is that it advocates things like high rep Olympic lifts. O lifts are very technical. After about the 5th rep, form starts breaking down quickly. Hence, injury is way more likely. The only people who can do high rep O lifts are trained O lifters. Here's the irony: they would never do them anyway."

After two years at a box that heavily emphasized high-intensity O-lifting, and that regularly saw people get injured as a result, I find a lot of truth in this. The box I'm now at makes sparing use of O-lifts in WODs, and even then allows only people who have demonstrated sound technique to do them; everyone else is instructed to modify. (At the same time, they will work with you tirelessly on developing your technique if that's your desire.)

Thoughts?
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Old 12-07-2013, 08:53 AM   #2
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: O-lifting: Too dangerous?

Scaling weights is crucial in this besides becoming adept at the snatch, clean, and jerk.

tough to do when you only work on them 30 minutes a week.
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Old 12-07-2013, 10:06 AM   #3
Dakota Base
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Re: O-lifting: Too dangerous?

I'd be prone to agree with everything except the last part "here's the irony, they would never do them like that."

Making a generalization like that is foolish in any context. I had years of O-lift experience (properly instructed) before I ever started using it as part of high volume cross training.

Part of CF instruction NEEDS to be focused on the importance of O-lift form during WOD's, if an athlete starts sacrificing form for speed or weight, 1) they should know better and either slow down, or drop the weight to something they can manage, and 2) if they don't self correct, the coach at the box needs to redflag them and slow them down, or scale their weights. If the athlete doesn't KNOW the proper technique, then they should 1) know not to attempt it in a WOD, and 2) get proper instruction, either by asking for it, or better yet, the coach should impose it upon them.

I do, however, wholeheartedly agree that O-lifting, at ANY level, should only be attempted by properly instructed athletes, and instruction should ONLY come from experienced and properly trained coaches. Too many jackwagons run around instructing proper o-lift technique without knowing what they are doing, and it winds up getting people hurt. Beyond that, even MORE jackwagon's run around o-lifting without getting proper instruction, and get themselves hurt.

It does frustrate me when I hear that Boxes have mandatory 'on-ramp' classes or introductory classes that teach athletes how to O-lift. That tells me 2 things: First, that they probably aren't ready to get into O-lift techniques if they're just getting introduced to a barbell in general. Beyond that, it tells me that they very likely never get proper O-lift training again. No matter how good your coaching is, or how spot-on the technique is that gets taught, if you only work on it for 6wks, then lift for 2yrs, you aren't going to have good form anymore. O-lifting requires primers and refreshers, every box that uses O-lifting should have continuous weightless technical practices for O-lifts.

Prime example of poor technique coming from poor coaching: I watched a video on facebook recently of a high school kid, showing off his new Power Clean PR. He started with his legs at about 135degrees, back collapsed, then did ALL of what should have been his first pull with his lower back. Since he was already lifting with his low back, he didn't have 2 pulls, just one awful pull, putting his low back at serious risk. Then instead of dropping his hips to get under the clean, he again barely bent his knees and collapsed his back for the catch. If he hadn't jerked the bar in a long swooping arch backwards, he would have fallen over forwards catching in that position. As he drove out of the hole, his knees collapsed inward, his back was arched (forward), and the weight was 100% supported by his hands, elbows locked to the sides of his ribcage, and the bar touching his sternum an inch or two below the notch.

Absolutely NO part of his lift had proper, or even SAFE technique. The video ended with his COACH walking into the frame and patting him on the back for a successful lift. Congrats, you jerked 290lbs off of the ground with your lower back, and didn't kill yourself...
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Old 12-07-2013, 12:40 PM   #4
Andrew Bell
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Re: O-lifting: Too dangerous?

Youre correct that people who are considered "olympic lifters" do not do high reps. International USAW Coach Ursula Papandrea mentioned in a siminar I attended that she has NEVER programmed a set of more than 5 reps, and can not recall even a set of 4 of the full lifts. There is a various set of reasons for this. However I do like the idea of scaling weight down a considerable amount if you feel that you must do these types of workouts.

In my mind, the Olympic lifts should be used as an explosive, and strength training stimulus. Not a metabolic/aerobic/strength endurance effort as some CrossFit gyms program. Also in my mind, experienced Crossfit/Olympic weightlifting coaches will never program workouts that have these types of movement unless A) the weight is extreamly light, B) the reps are extreamly low, C) technique is advanced for the lifter.

At the end of the day, you have to realize that not everybody programming CrossFit workouts has the depth of understanding, or knowledge required to "get" this. In reality, a lot of gyms do program unsafely based off of this. I do believe that we have seen a large shift in the programming from main site away from some of the moves that people called in to question years ago. Mainly the sumo deadlift hi-pull, GHD situps, and things of that nature.

I think we will see less and less of the Isabell/Grace wods as programming progresses.
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Old 12-07-2013, 03:33 PM   #5
Harold Collins
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Re: O-lifting: Too dangerous?

As others have mentioned proper coaching , scaling , and programming is key to avoiding injury ... Regardless if it's olympic lifting or any other movement
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Old 12-07-2013, 05:53 PM   #6
Jason Denny
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Re: O-lifting: Too dangerous?

I follow Catalyst Athletics programming with metcons on occasion. Before that I was doing 5/3/1 with metcons. NONE of my metcons included bar work as I am working HARD to reverse bad habits taught to me in my on-ramp and L1 cert 3.5 years ago. I attended a CrossFit Oly Cert this year and it opened my eyes to the errors in my form. Constant practice on my snatch is C&J has allowed me to improve vastly but I still stay away from even low weight versions in Metcons as bad habits I am trying to break will creep back in.
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Old 12-07-2013, 06:00 PM   #7
David Allen Rogers
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Re: O-lifting: Too dangerous?

The problem with arguments like this is that they are confusing the sport with the movements. Olympic weightlifting as a sport tests the snatch and the clean and jerk but that does not mean that these lifts belong solely to that sport. Olympic lifters don't do high reps because their sport requires a single heaviest rep. It doesn't make sense to do 30 snatches for time with a light weight when your sport is judged based on single heaviest rep.

CrossFit uses the movements as an expression of power output via the acceleration of mass against gravity. As such, the weight and rep ranges are varied to match a particular energy system. In the context of CrossFit, the lifts aren't particularly technical because the weights are so light. CrossFit doesn't have you doing 350 lb clean and jerks for reps.

You see this same issue with people who complain about jump and shrug style power cleans which are popular in sports strength and conditioning programs. The goal of power cleans in these programs isn't to get the athletes into the Olympics as weightlifters so it's a pointless argument to complain that they aren't doing power cleans "correctly" by some arbitrary definition.
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Old 12-07-2013, 06:09 PM   #8
Steven Wingo
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Re: O-lifting: Too dangerous?

The problem I see with the argument is that it unfairly singles out Olympic Lifting when you could really put a lot of different activities in there and make it a true statement. If you do most any athletic activity at high intensity and without using good form, you can get hurt. It doesn't matter whether you are riding a bike, doing gymnastics or body weight movements, or olympic lifting.

What I would say is the critique should be of the particular box where that person worked out or, in the alternative, maybe even the athlete himself or herself if he did not listen to persistent coaching on proper scaling.
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Old 12-07-2013, 07:16 PM   #9
Dakota Base
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Re: O-lifting: Too dangerous?

I think the majority opinion of high intensity (low to moderate weight, high rep) clean and jerk, or snatch lifting is that you cannot do high volume/high intensity olympic lifts with proper form. It can't be done.

Now, that isn't necessarily true. It's probably equally fair to opine that you can't do maximal effort oly lifts safely. But people do them.

While it is exceedingly difficult to either high volume oly lift, or high weight oly lift without breaking form, it CAN be done. Whether all athletes are capable of keeping themselves disciplined to accomplish it is a different discussion.

The real crime is when coaches put members at risk by RX'ing oly lifts in a WOD when not all, or even any, of their members are trained for it. If someone wants to hurt themselves, go ahead. But it's not cool for someone to be trusting in a coach to keep them safe, not knowing any better, and get hurt because their coach put too much on their plate.
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Old 12-07-2013, 07:41 PM   #10
Jeff Enge
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Re: O-lifting: Too dangerous?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Allen Rogers View Post
The problem with arguments like this is that they are confusing the sport with the movements. Olympic weightlifting as a sport tests the snatch and the clean and jerk but that does not mean that these lifts belong solely to that sport. Olympic lifters don't do high reps because their sport requires a single heaviest rep. It doesn't make sense to do 30 snatches for time with a light weight when your sport is judged based on single heaviest rep.

CrossFit uses the movements as an expression of power output via the acceleration of mass against gravity. As such, the weight and rep ranges are varied to match a particular energy system. In the context of CrossFit, the lifts aren't particularly technical because the weights are so light. CrossFit doesn't have you doing 350 lb clean and jerks for reps.

You see this same issue with people who complain about jump and shrug style power cleans which are popular in sports strength and conditioning programs. The goal of power cleans in these programs isn't to get the athletes into the Olympics as weightlifters so it's a pointless argument to complain that they aren't doing power cleans "correctly" by some arbitrary definition.
I'm sorry, what? Yes, the Olympic lifts belong to Olympic weightlifting. That's the sport, and that's where the movements come from. "Correctness" isn't arbitrary, it is what has been proven over the years of the sport to be the more efficient way to perform the lifts. Are "jump and shrug" strength and conditioning power cleans "OK" in a not pure weightlifting setting? Sure, and I will repeat that over and over. Does that mean there shouldn't be an impetus to become more efficient at them? And guess what - this efficiency ends up looking more and more like the way actual weightlifters lift.

To me, this would be like somebody saying breaststroke doesn't belong solely to the sport of swimming, then going and thrashing out a 500m "breaststroke" with scissors kick and saying it's just a different but equally valid technique as somebody sprinting a crisp 50m.
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