John Mariotti trains hard for the CrossFit Games

CrossFit Weightlifting Flexibility and the Masters CrossFit Athlete

CrossFit trainers and Masters CrossFit: weightlifting flexibility strength

You’ve probably heard it. “pull yourself under the bar”, “you’re not going down enough” “full range of motion”.  Sometimes CrossFit trainers seem to get aggravated and may end up ignoring masters athletes who don’t “listen” to their advice. For many the situation is more complex than choosing not to respond.

Bob Takano coaches weightlifting

Coach Bob Takano and Masters Weightlifter Scott Miller work together in an attentive and thoughtful manner. Both would look better in WODMasters shirts

Coach Bob Takano (l) and Masters Athlete Scott Miller (r) at the 2011 SPLWC Championships

The two most important factors limiting weightlifting ability (here we mean simply ability to pull, push, and lift) are balance and joint strength (Fischer et al. 2012). There may be some truth to the “believe in yourself model”, but there are also psycho-neurological factors. If you feel off-balance you will be less comfortable taking risks that may put you further off balance and increase your odds of getting hurt. Your brain is looking out of you. For a lot of people, especially older guys, balancing in a squat is tough. They may not be able to balance steadily in squat position. Increasing flexibility in the hips, legs and back will help them improve form and increase weight loads. Some WODMasters swear that Active Release Technique, a form of Chiropractic, has helped them enormously. Only one paper, a pilot study, was found on this technique, but the authors felt it was promising.

The second point is that of joint strength. Your lifts will be limited by the weakest link. Improving strength in your weak spots will help you achieve greater loads on major lifts like squats, deadlifts, cleans etc. For some, especially for women, the weak link may be hand strength. Those annoying farmer carries may be a good bet.

Crossfit weightlifting and flexibility: getting one on one coaching

Lastly, and most importantly for injury prevention as well as just plain getting better at CrossFit, is get some specialized Olympic Lifting coaching. Someone with a Level 1 CrossFit Certification may know little about proper lifting technique, and even less about teaching. If you are in Southern California, look up Bob Takano. He is an excellent teacher.

Scott Miller has been lifting and working with Bob Takano for about two years.  Great form.

Fischer SL, Brenneman EC, Wells RP, & Dickerson CR (2012). Relationships between psychophysically acceptable and maximum voluntary hand force capacity in the context of underlying biomechanical limitations. Applied ergonomics, 43 (5), 813-20 PMID: 22245635

Robb A, & Pajaczkowski J (2011). Immediate effect on pain thresholds using active release technique on adductor strains: Pilot study. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies, 15 (1), 57-62 PMID: 21147419

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