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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 09-02-2009, 09:31 AM   #1
Ross Hunt
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Squat Clean, Snatch for metcon--what's the benefit over power variations?

I have a question about full oly movements and metcon for anyone who wants to take a stab at it: Why does CrossFit include full squat variations lof the olympic lifts in metcon workouts, despite the technical difficulty of these lifts?

As someone who has focused pretty intently on improving his oly lifts (competing at an amateur level for a couple years) I have observed that pull technique necessarily deteriorates when you hit high reps. The deterioration is even more pronounced when you're under metabolic stress. This seems to be especially true of the full squat versions of the lifts. Many people have difficulty properly executing the second and third pulls even under ideal conditions, never mind in the middle of a hard workout.

The worst part of using squat variations in metcon workouts, IMHO, is that it trains the lifter to accelerate the load using back extension and detrains the third pull, because this is simply the most efficient way to lift during a metcon. And in my experience, that detraining carries over into heavy lifts, resulting in a drop in subsequent performance.

I understand that load is king, and that at low repetition ranges, without metabolic stress, that squat snatch packs much more of a hip extension training effect than does the power snatch. But at higher reps, even the best lifter loses the intense, fast third pull that characterizes the superiority of the full lift to the power variation. What is more, the full squat lift usually cannot be performed for reps with significantly more load than the power variation because of its technical difficulty. Finally, because the squat variation takes more time to perform, it would seem that the total power output of a power variation metcon workout would necessarily be lower than the total power output of a squat variation workout. Any additional loading of the leg muscles that would be provided by a squat variation could be made up for by incorporating more rep weighted squats into the metcon workouts.

I don't have a bone to pick here--I just notice that CF seems to be pretty strict about requiring squat-variation form in many metcon workouts, so I assume there must be a reason, but I don't see it.
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Old 09-05-2009, 03:15 PM   #2
Oliver Gould
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Re: Squat Clean, Snatch for metcon--what's the benefit over power variations?

Some Crossfitters would say that they aren't trying to get competitive numbers on the Oly Lifts, they are trying to increase their work capacity, and since snatches and cleans have a higher power output they are better. Without all the fancy language, snatches and cleans are harder than power snatches and power cleans, so some CFers think they are a good tool for metcon. This culminates in the OLY form on display at the CF games. Obviously, if you want a big OLY total, you should avoid 20 rep snatch metcons. There are ways to get a big metcon effect without destroying your OLY form. A great variation is to use kettlebells or sandbags. These implements use very different form but they still require you to move a large load a long distance, explosively.
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Old 09-12-2009, 06:31 PM   #3
Ross Hunt
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Re: Squat Clean, Snatch for metcon--what's the benefit over power variations?

Oliver,

Yes, that seems mostly right.

But I don't think squat variations actually do have higher power than power variations in the context of a metcon workout. They do have higher power output with a limit weight, but in a metcon you end up

a) losing the third pull
b) not using significantly more weight than you could with a power variation
c) Not pulling the weight as high
d) taking longer to perform a rep of the exercise
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Old 09-12-2009, 06:42 PM   #4
Blair Robert Lowe
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Re: Squat Clean, Snatch for metcon--what's the benefit over power variations?

Because squat versions and harder is CF is about being hard.
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Old 09-12-2009, 07:23 PM   #5
Oliver Gould
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Re: Squat Clean, Snatch for metcon--what's the benefit over power variations?

Ross, I absolutely agree (that's why I phrased it "some Crossfitters would say..."). OLY lifts are great, but they aren't good for metcons- they take too much time to perform correctly, and most of their benefits are lost when they're performed incorrectly. Even power variations are pushing it honestly. Personally I stick with sandbags or kettlebells for metcons lifts, and keep the the barbell OLY work in the 1-4 rep range where it belongs.
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Old 09-12-2009, 07:34 PM   #6
Steven Webster
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Re: Squat Clean, Snatch for metcon--what's the benefit over power variations?

You could define quality as the absence of choice. You don't get to choose which muscles fatigue first. In an ideal world muscles would fail in complete syncronization, and the nervous system would maintain complete focus.

I guess that's why people swap exercises or emphasise shifting the load.

As you say, the quantity has some unseen benefit. I could imagine doing thirty body weight front squats in a very short time, although I have never tried pulling the weight from the floor at the same time. Wish I had the coaching.
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Old 09-12-2009, 10:28 PM   #7
Robert D Taylor Jr
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Re: Squat Clean, Snatch for metcon--what's the benefit over power variations?

I remember reading that it had to do with full range of motion. Asquat clean or snatch is just a longer ROM. Full ROM=bigger MetCon hit.
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Old 09-13-2009, 07:37 AM   #8
Jake Oleander
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Re: Squat Clean, Snatch for metcon--what's the benefit over power variations?

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Originally Posted by Robert D Taylor Jr View Post
I remember reading that it had to do with full range of motion. Asquat clean or snatch is just a longer ROM. Full ROM=bigger MetCon hit.
same work, same distance travelled by the bar (floor to overhead)
when im o-lifting i always make it a point to catch the bar strong. i never power clean into a full squat, but to each his own. i do o-lifting for the gains in power, not the metabolic workout.

Last edited by Jake Oleander; 09-13-2009 at 07:39 AM..
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Old 09-13-2009, 07:00 PM   #9
Andrew H. Meador
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Re: Squat Clean, Snatch for metcon--what's the benefit over power variations?

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Originally Posted by Jake Oleander View Post
same work, same distance travelled by the bar (floor to overhead)
Not true, it goes up and then down and then up again. AND HOW ABOUT THE BODY!?!?!

Look, I'm not a zealous CFer - I mostly stick to the olympic lifts and rings and then do the occasional metcon because I know that it helps. But you are definitely working harder on each rep of the squat version than the power version. The bar is moving up, then down a little bit, then back up after being decelerated then accelerated once more. So is the body. And it is significantly harder to coordinate it. If coordination, accuracy, etc. weren't important in a metcon, we would only ever row and would never do HSPUs or other more complicated movements. BTW most CFers also have egregious rowing form and as a former rower it is almost physically painful to watch. For that matter, HSPUs are a big ROM issue. Basically, there's still a lot of form-technical slop in the CF community.
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