The popularity of CrossFit training is having and unintended consequence: a resurgence in interest of the sport of weightlifting. What many experts are calling the greatest American weightlifting team in history competed in the World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim, California from November 28 – December 7, 2017, and they represented the country in fine fashion.
Click here for the results of the World Weightlifting Championship.
Many of these weightlifting athletes are social media stars. Martha “Mattie” Rogers videos on Twitter and her Instagram site continue to rack up millions of downloads, and she’s not just a pretty face. According to recent news coverage “she owns all of the American records in her weight class and in a first for her sport, was included this year on the Sports Illustrated list of “Fittest 50 Females.”
Also in this contingent of lifters are Sarah Robles, who earned a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics, Colin Burns a gold medalist in the Pan Am Games this past summer and 16-year old C.J. Cummings who is the current reining youth world champion in his weight class. Cummings is the first American in more than 40 years to set a senior division world record. He weighs only 152 pounds and lifted more than 407 pounds over his head.
Understanding the Sport of Weightlifting
Traditionally, weight lifting has not been as popular in the United States as it is in such countries as Columbia, Iran and South Korea. This was due in part to the lack of understanding about the sport. Olympic weight lifting consists exclusively of two weightlifting events: the snatch and the clean-and-jerk. In both events, the competitor lifts a weighted barbell from the ground to overhead. It sounds simple, but it is far from it!
According to USA Weightlifting, the snatch is a single continuous movement. The athlete takes a wide grip on the bar and propels the weight upwards with his/her legs by standing violently. At the top of the bar’s trajectory (about chest high), the athlete quickly reverses direction, dropping under the bar to catch it in a full squat, with arms locked and then stands!
The clean-and-jerk involves two actions. For the “clean” the lifter takes a shoulder-wide grip on the barbell and stands, using his/her legs to drive the bar upwards to about chest height, at which juncture he/she drops under it, catching the bar on their shoulders before standing. In order to “jerk” the bar over the head, the athlete dips straight down and using his/her legs, pushes the bar up. The lifter then quickly splits their legs forward and back so as to catch the barbell at its apex. Arms are locked and the lifter stands with the weight over his/her head.
CrossFit Training is Driving Interest in Weightlifting
Most weightlifting coaches credit the popularity of CrossFit training for teaching many new people the proper technique for a move like the clean-and-jerk lift. In a Wall Street Journal article on this subject, it was noted that “Between the 2012 and the 2016 Olympic Games, membership in USA Weightlifting more than doubled from 11,000 to 26,000. Because of CrossFit, which incorporates the lifts, many hundreds of thousands of others are now engaged in weightlifting as a part of their exercise (WOD) routine.”
Even the glitzy “retail” workout facilities such as Life Time Fitness and Equinox have begun installing Olympic lifting equipment in their facilities because their customers are asking for it.
The fact that these lifts have been a part of the functional training of CrossFit since its beginning certainly enhances the “word-of-mouth” about weightlifting and has encouraged many parents to encourage their children to take up the sport. With proper instruction, the possibility of injury from concussions or other accidents from weightlifting are far less than football or soccer.
Weightlifting is also a great fitness regime for older athletes. Fitness experts note that weightlifting targets the parts of the body that tend to degrade with age. The sport improves strength, particularly in the legs, which is a good predictor of longevity, and core which is also critical to maintaining strength at any age. Weightlifting also improves flexibility, balance, stability and overall motor control.
Do you use weightlifting in your exercise program? If so, what has been your experience? Contact us and let us know.If you want more information about purchasing free weights for your gym, click here.