3

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Olympic and Powerlifters, Hack "The CrossFit Total"

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 23, 2011 at 11:37 PM

While most people are at least superficially aware of the Powerlifting lifts (squat, bench press, and deadlift) and the Olympic Lifts (Snatch, clean & jerk) one measure of strength that I have recently come upon is "The Crossfit Total".

The CrossFit total attempts to provide an measurable accounting of an individuals raw strength by combining the best of three maximal attempts at the press (a standing military-style shoulder press), the deadlift (standard, not sumo-style), and the squat (full ROM). The CrossFit total also places restrictions on the use of assistive attire (special shirts, belts, etc.) and the appropriate use of spotters.

Mark Rippetoe (CSCS), the developer of The CrossFit total, wanted a more functional measure of strength than that provided by powerlifting (therefore swapping the bench press with a standing shoulder press) and one that was also more accessible and less demanding in terms of technical proficiency and equipment as the Olympic Lifts.

I've been spending a lot of time recently working on the lifts involved in The CrossFit Total and plan on running my own numbers in the next week or so, using a cage for the shoulder press and squat (this will stop the bar from smashing me in case of a miss).

For the Powerlifting and Olympiclifting PaleoHackers out there, what are the benefits/drawbacks that you see with this particular measure of strength?

Do you think that it could be done better or is it something that should be held in the same regard as the lifts we have all come to know and love?

(I wrote an extensive post about The CrossFit total with technique gifs and pictures on my blog that you can read if you would like)

3058079ae822f066c06e55071d74b634

(164)

on April 07, 2012
at 03:19 PM

Exactly! For me, my front squat is much more associated with my best CJ as well. I can pull a lot off the floor, but getting under it is more unforgiving.

D7c4a7e0450cca6129b8a2be2a5045f1

(0)

on December 23, 2011
at 11:10 PM

Not sure I'd consider arched back a cheat; it's almost necessary for structural support for heavy lifts, and most powerlifters do utilize an arch. A "better" cheat might be allowing the butt to come off the bench (that combines and extreme arch and foot pressure).

007c02eea7bdf63422562667aaf81f0f

(100)

on September 24, 2011
at 02:52 PM

@ben61820 I've never considered the deadlift to be a pulling movement. Will you explain why you think that it is?

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on September 24, 2011
at 02:31 AM

also these 3 lifts can be done safely without a spotter. Not the case for bench press

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on September 24, 2011
at 02:11 AM

The reason I'm against the chest press is that you don't stabilize yourself much. You rely on the bench to hold the weight and you just push. I haven't done bench press in over 3 years and I'm much stronger and more coordinated from oly lifts and my pecs aren't any less developed.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on September 24, 2011
at 02:06 AM

Pulling is indeed important. I believe Crossfit totals usually incorporate the deadlift for exactly this.

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6 Answers

3
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on September 24, 2011
at 12:35 AM

I think it's a great way to measure strength and progress. Those 3 lifts are THE 3 main lifts, and include your whole body. If a person did nothing else besides those 3 lifts they would be in amazing shape and super strong.

before any questions my comment about being in amazing shape, it is possible to do dynamic efforts with any of these lifts, which would be something like 6 sets of 2-3 reps starting on the minute, usually with around 65-75% of your max. This will give you some cardiovascular adaptations as well.

2
04f2eae4450112cdedce7235923c646d

(1112)

on September 24, 2011
at 04:26 AM

I find the CFT to be an OK measure for my strength, but it says nothing about my technique, my power nor my technical skills compared to what a snatch does. I like to compare more factors, like my max power clean, power snatch, full snatch, jerk as well, not just the CFT lifts.

The deadlift and squat are both important lifts, but I don't think they tell the truth about your ability to deliver high power. For me as an olympic weightlifter, the deadlift is not that relevant, because I most likely deadlift more than I squat/jerk anyway and the front squat/jerk will be the limiting factor.

3058079ae822f066c06e55071d74b634

(164)

on April 07, 2012
at 03:19 PM

Exactly! For me, my front squat is much more associated with my best CJ as well. I can pull a lot off the floor, but getting under it is more unforgiving.

1
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on September 24, 2011
at 12:24 AM

I just use the total as a one-a-year metric to see how strong I am. I do lots of strength training and Olympic lifting, so the total is just one of the ways I keep track of my progress. I never train the total or anything like that it's just yet another number.

0
25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on September 24, 2011
at 05:37 AM

Presumably, for general fitness/non-competitive bodybuilding, the goal is to increase strength (typically for the rep range one trains in, not 1RM) in all of the exercises one uses--not merely three--encompassing all major muscle groups...

And then once one reaches or approaches ones "personal best," to maintain that until the Grim Reaper comes along...

0
072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on September 24, 2011
at 02:37 AM

I am a fan of the CF Total. I'm not a powerlifter but have bench pressed plenty in my days as a former small college football player. Bench press is a good lift, but the bench provides stability and also allows a person to cheat (e.g. arched back, feet pressing into the floor). With the press, there's not much room to cheat and requires core strength and stability.

D7c4a7e0450cca6129b8a2be2a5045f1

(0)

on December 23, 2011
at 11:10 PM

Not sure I'd consider arched back a cheat; it's almost necessary for structural support for heavy lifts, and most powerlifters do utilize an arch. A "better" cheat might be allowing the butt to come off the bench (that combines and extreme arch and foot pressure).

0
324bf94d3d6f9322d6e4dba4becfaab1

on September 24, 2011
at 01:51 AM

Why not chest press too? Your pecs are a major muscle group, why would you want to not have an exercise that use them as its primary muscle group. I do think it is sad that powerlifters leave out the overhead press, but leaving out the chest press is just as silly IMO. And what about the row? Pulling strength is important too.

Deadlift: Primary-Back, Secondary-Legs
Squat: Primary-Legs, Secondary-Back
Overhead Press: Primary-Shoulders and Triceps, Secondary-Chest
Chest Press: Primary-Chest and Triceps, Secondary Shoulders
Row/Weighted Pull-ups: Primary-Lats, Secondary-Biceps

007c02eea7bdf63422562667aaf81f0f

(100)

on September 24, 2011
at 02:52 PM

@ben61820 I've never considered the deadlift to be a pulling movement. Will you explain why you think that it is?

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on September 24, 2011
at 02:06 AM

Pulling is indeed important. I believe Crossfit totals usually incorporate the deadlift for exactly this.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on September 24, 2011
at 02:31 AM

also these 3 lifts can be done safely without a spotter. Not the case for bench press

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on September 24, 2011
at 02:11 AM

The reason I'm against the chest press is that you don't stabilize yourself much. You rely on the bench to hold the weight and you just push. I haven't done bench press in over 3 years and I'm much stronger and more coordinated from oly lifts and my pecs aren't any less developed.

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