As a workout enthusiast, I have come across diverse training and workout programs that have continued to gain massive popularity. Two of these workouts are CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting.
I sought to understand more about how to switch from CrossFit to Olympic lifting, and I realized that an effective shift requires one to have an in-depth understanding of Olympic weightlifting and be ready to make the necessary adjustments to fit into the program effectively. Both workouts have distinct elements that are important for their effectiveness and the achievement of individual goals.
Therefore, for you to be successful in transitioning from CrossFit to Olympic lifting, knowledge, the right knowledge, is paramount. Like they say that knowledge is power, it will make a greater impact if you know as much as you can about both programs for the shift to be effective.
You should be able to answer specific questions regarding both CrossFit and Olympic lifting for a better comprehension of both. What context makes CrossFit better that Olympic weightlifting?
What context makes Olympic weightlifting better than CrossFit? What can aspects from both workout programs be of benefit to the other? If you can answer these questions, you will be able to understand what each is all about and what is best in a particular context.
It’s worth pointing out that CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting are highly valuable workouts in their distinct programs. So, it’s up to you to know how to navigate through. In particular, it’s essential to know when and how to switch from CrossFit to Olympic weightlifting.
What is CrossFit?
First things first, let’s understand what CrossFit is. Probably you have heard about CrossFit from somewhere or a friend, but you don’t have a good idea of what it is.
Simply put, Claudino et al (2018) assert that this is a training program that consists of different elements of workouts including speed training, aerobic exercises, plyometrics, endurance exercises, bodyweight exercises, strength training, and weightlifting. Essentially, out of my experience with CrossFit, what gym instructors emphasize about it is its safe and efficient exercises as well as good nutrition.
Fisker et al (2016) argue that CrossFit coaches seek to help their clients accomplish wide-ranging goals including improving one’s health, reducing body weight, and optimizing one’s performance. In other words, the program works for anyone, whether you are a beginner or have been doing workouts for a longer time.
The experience I have with CrossFit is that it focuses on various elements of physical fitness, including muscle strength and endurance, speed, flexibility, cardiorespiratory fitness, coordination, agility, power, balance, and stamina.
Maté-Muñoz et al (2018) affirm that if you are to do CrossFit and do it effectively, you have to maintain a workout schedule of 3-5 days a week. It’s important to note that the workouts are highly intensive and short. They take around 5-15 minutes. As a CrossFitter, you should be ready to do highly intensive exercises in quick succession. What this means is that there is minimal rest in between the exercises.
There are different CrossFit exercises that coaches insist on including Power Cleans, Burpees, The Snatch, Thruster, Push-ups, Pull-ups, Sit-ups, among others. Of great importance still, you can choose to do CrossFit workouts alone or in a CrossFit affiliate facility. In such a CrossFit affiliate, you can do exercises in a group setting.
From my CrossFit experience, doing workouts in a group gives people the extra motivation they need to exercise, especially if they are not well versed in the training program. Of great importance still, it’s worth noting that workouts vary every day and they are tailor-made to help every athlete realize their personal fitness goals.
What is Olympic Weightlifting?
Experienced weightlifters and gym instructors acknowledge that Olympic weightlifting is quite popular among those to build stronger muscles. Additionally, those who would like to maintain a healthy body weight go for Olympic weighting because of its capacity to burn excessive calories in the body. Generally, strength and conditioning coaches describe it as a rich source of force and power.
Olympic weightlifting requires one to lift weights explosively from the floor to the position above the head. Usually, athletes lift a loaded barbell from the ground to an overhead position at an explosive speed. Two different lifts are involved in Olympic weightlifting. They are the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch. Speed is a major characteristic of Olympic lifts for it to be explosive.
That is why weightlifters are supposed to apply a massive amount of strength and speed as they do Olympic-style weightlifting. Having had experience with this type of workout, I can comfortably assert that it is a viable option for boosting athletic performance. If you happen to involve yourself in activities or sports that require high force and power output, then Olympic weightlifting is a reliable workout option you can consider.
This type of weightlifting exercise continues to gain popularity because of its capacity to help people lose weight. If you are an Olympic weightlifter, and a consistent one for that matter, you will end up building muscles and, as a result, lose body fat.
So, Olympic weightlifters benefit greatly from this workout by maintaining a physically fit body as well as reducing extra fat in the body. The heavy lifting characterized by the aforementioned workout distinguishes it from other exercises because lifting loads of weight is what defines it.
It is such a heavy workout that you have to take breaks between exercise sessions for you to recover. Since one has to lift heavy loads speedily, you have to use explosive strength for you to lift the weights. The movements and techniques involved in Olympic weightlifting are highly significant.
You have to develop the technical ability to move the loads as well as mastering the movements involved for you to be effective in doing Olympic lifts and get the positive outcomes you are seeking. If heavy lifting coupled with highly-technical movements is what you would like in a workout, then Olympic training is an option you can consider.
Differences between CrossFit and Weightlifting
From my experience in weightlifting and CrossFit, it’s evident that these workouts have notable differences that are worthy of a mention. Once you are aware of the differences between the two, you will know whether you are ready to switch from CrossFit to Olympic weightlifting and how you can make the switch.
To begin with, let’s delve into the amount of weights that each of the workouts requires. While CrossFit requires lighter loads for workouts, weightlifting is about lifting heavy loads.
Just like the name suggests, weightlifting is about lifting heavy weights to build muscle and lose weight. Since the time I got to know much about weightlifting, most of the people who go to the gym to lift weights want to either build more muscle strength, lose weight, or even both.
On the contrary, CrossFit emphasizes more on movement and endurance. The short and high-intensity workouts are modified to help each person at an individual level. The goals of a CrossFitter can be different from the other; thus, the movements and workouts seek to meet individual needs. In other words, while building muscle and losing weight are the major goals of weightlifting, the goals of CrossFit are normally generalized.
Another major difference is that CrossFit is a team effort compared to weightlifting. CrossFit has a culture of team-based exercise sessions. CrossFit motivates people to do workouts in groups. If you are not comfortable doing workouts on your own, this is the best training program for you.
Weightlifting is not like so. There is no sense of community in weightlifting. As an individual, you can do your workouts alone, maintaining the discipline expected of you to achieve your goals.
Moreover, workouts are diverse and tailor-made to fit into the goals of each person in a CrossFit exercise program. This is not the same for weightlifting. A weightlifting program does not involve different workouts for each day as it is in CrossFit. Rather, it can involve the same workout exercises as long as they are helping one to achieve his or her goals.
Olympic lifting vs. CrossFit
Both Olympic lifting and CrossFit have significant benefits. They are both essential in helping the body to remain fit and healthy. However, when it comes to the question of which one to choose or comparing between the two, it’s only best to say that it depends. The first factor to consider is the goal of the workout, whether it’s Olympic lifting or CrossFit.
For example, if you want to build more muscle strength, you should consider going for Olympic lifting. This is a better training program for you if you want to build more muscle. The heavy lifting in the Olympic lifting plays a vital role in muscle growth. Evidence shows that the more weights a person lifts, the more muscle they build.
On the other hand, if you have a generalized goal of joining a workout program, then CrossFit is better for you. For instance, if your goal is to improve your performance and stay fit, you can join a CrossFit program. It doesn’t involve the heavy, speedy, and explosive workouts characterized by Olympic weightlifting.
Also, you can consider the amount of time it takes to workout. Olympic lifting has longer workout sessions compared to CrossFit. While CrossFit takes 5-15 minutes for a workout, Olympic lifting can take more than 30 minutes. In this regard, if you want to join a workout program that takes a lesser amount of time, CrossFit is the better option. However, if you have the time to participate in an explosive workout for a longer period, then the Olympic lift is more ideal.
Furthermore, if you are new to workouts and you want to start intensive exercises as soon as possible, you will need a less complicated and less technical exercise program. This is where CrossFit comes in. Compared to Olympic weightlifting which is more technical and weight intensive, you don’t have to be experienced for you to start doing CrossFit workouts.
Thankfully, the group sessions in CrossFit come in handy for those who would like to get familiar with most of the workouts and movements. So, if you want to join a workout session that will be easier for you to blend in with ease, you can consider being part of a CrossFit program. So, whether you settle for CrossFit or Olympic weightlifting, it will depend on what you want and what meets your needs better.
Switching from CrossFit to Olympic lifting
Now that you have been doing CrossFit workouts and you are considering switching to Olympic lifting, what is it that you should know? What are some of the essential elements that you should be aware of? For someone who has never been to the gym for an Olympic lifting workout session, the question that might be lingering in your mind is how you would transit to speedy, explosive, and heavy workouts that you have not been used to.
Indeed, moving from a less challenging experience to a more challenging one is never easy, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, right? Out of my experience with both CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting, I can categorically affirm that it’s possible to switch to Olympic weightlifting. Though I must admit that some people find it a challenge to make the transition, gym instructors will tell you that it’s a great idea to start Olympic weightlifting.
As an athlete friend of mine used to tell me, “This is an experience that will catalyze your body to push to new limits and experience more.” The technical and motion aspects of Olympic lifts exposes one to a highly disciplined workout environment that is totally different from CrossFit. Here are some fundamentals of switching from CrossFit to Olympic weightlifting:
· Be Ready For A Complete Shift In Your Training Philosophy
From the onset, you should take note that the mentality of a CrossFit athlete is different from that of an Olympic weightlifter. The goals of the aforementioned workouts are entirely on different lanes; thus, it will be prudent for you to shift your focus to the world of Olympic lifts.
As a workout enthusiast in a totally new environment, adjusting accordingly is of great necessity. To begin with, you will be moving from the usual “workout of the day” characterized by short and intensive workouts to longer, quick, and explosive workouts involving heavy lifting. This might actually seem like a heavy mountain for the climb for new weightlifters, but it only requires a change of mentality.
You are moving to a different lane, so the way of doing things has to change for you to get quality, goal-oriented results. Unlike in CrossFit workouts where you are conscious of time, Olympic lifts require you to be ready for a long session that deems it necessary for you to take some good amount of rest between sets. Remember, you are doing some long heavy lifting here that is unlike your usual CrossFit workouts.
Therefore, you need to get ready for moments when you will feel extremely fatigued. In other words, building strong muscles does not come in a sudden shift; it takes discipline and deliberate action. Thus, transitioning from CrossFit to Olympic weightlifting will require you to adjust to heavy mental and physical demands.
· Consistency Takes A Leading Role
For you to see quality results in whatever you do, you have to maintain consistency. It’s never easy to remain consistent, especially in an area that demands a great deal of discipline.
As you already know by now, Olympic weightlifting can take a huge toll on you if you are not adjusting effectively to it as a new weightlifter. What will help you to switch with ease from CrossFit to Olympic lifting is being consistent with your workouts. The more you commit yourself to these workouts, the more you will get familiar with the technical aspects and movements involved.
An imperative point you have to take note of is that lifting weights requires a great amount of skill for you to do it right. You can be lifting weight but not doing it in the right way. So, your success as a new Olympic weightlifter will stem from how well you understand the basics involved and how consistent you are in executing them.
One thing that I have learned from weightlifting is that no matter how much weight you lift, the quality of your movements is highly important. New weightlifters can develop this through consistency. So, take note of this as you transit from CrossFit to Olympic weightlifting.
· Eating Enough and Quality
For you to begin doing Olympic lifting, one thing you can’t afford to ignore is what you eat and how you consume it. Given the nature of workouts that involve Olympic weightlifting, it’s significant for you to take a keen note of the food you take.
Having lifted weights before, I understand the importance of eating enough food to sustain a heavy workout. If you are to shift to Olympic lifting, then you have to prepare yourself to eat more. Dahab & McCambridge (2009) argue that failure to take enough calories will deprive you of the energy you need to lift different weights.
With the kind of strength training that you will be doing, you will need to take larger quantities of food than the one you have been taking before.
This is because of the need to fuel your body for Olympic lifts. Since weightlifting takes much of your energy, you will not be at your best if you fail to eat the right foods and the right quantities. While CrossFit demands that you take food so that you can exercise effectively, you need more food for you to do Olympic-style workouts as well.
Whether you are new to weightlifting or not, you don’t need any lessons for you to know when you should eat more. Your body will tell you because as it does the heavy workouts. Take note that the more workouts you do, the more you will need to eat to give your body the energy it needs. A highly balanced diet will be of great significance as you move from CrossFit to Olympic lifting.
· Develop a Spirit of Constant Improvement
Unlike in CrossFit programs where goals are generalized, there is a high specialization in Olympic weightlifting. Taking a deeper look at the workouts involved in Olympic lifting, you will notice that they are fewer than in CrossFit, and they are geared towards achieving particular goals.
Certainly, CrossFit has numerous skills and movements to work on and, for that reason, it might take time for one’s weaknesses to manifest. Additionally, the fact that it involves group exercise sessions implies that a person can hide in a group and fail to learn as much. However, as you transit to Olympic lifting, you have to be ready to develop and improve your skills because you will be more exposed.
As you work with your coach, you will notice that you will need to improve constantly, especially in the two main lifts-the snatch and the clean and jerk. A basic fundamental about weightlifting is that if you haven’t mastered a particular skill to the satisfaction of your instructor, you won’t be performing to your best and to the limits of your potential.
So, the bottom line is that you should have the attitude needed to learn more and improve every time you do a workout. You don’t have to worry about the weaknesses that develop along the way and the challenges that you are likely to face. Rather, focus on your ability to learn the technical skills and movements that will make you a high performing Olympic weightlifter.
Why CrossFit Athletes Do Olympic Lifts
Coaches will tell you that integrating Olympic lifts to CrossFit programs has a great deal of significance to athletes. In my experience, I can comfortably assert that Olympic lifts can improve CrossFit workouts. An athlete who does CrossFit workouts and some bit of Olympic weightlifting have a higher performance than one who doesn’t.
Therefore, the benefits of adding Olympic lifts to your program are immense. If you want to improve your performance significantly and increase the prospects of realizing quality outcomes from your CrossFit workouts, you can consider adding Olympic lifts to your programming.
CrossFit athletes and coaches have realized that the two workouts are highly imperative towards becoming high performers and maintaining healthy and fit bodies. For more information on this, here are some of the reasons why CrossFit athletes do Olympic lifts:
· Developing More Strength
There are exercises that CrossFit athletes do to boost their body strength, including deadlifts and squats. Normally, resistance training plays a great role in giving your body much-needed strength.
Yes, CrossFit workouts can increase the strength of your muscles, but the truth of the matter is that Olympic weightlifting has more capacity to boost the strength of your muscles to a large extent. Having done CrossFit workouts and lifted weights as well, I can actually affirm that Olympic lifts help athletes to become stronger. Are you a CrossFit athlete seeking to increase performance significantly and you are wondering how to do that?
Your solution is not far from your sight. Just start some Olympic lifting exercises and you will be amazed at how strong you will become after a period of consistent weightlifting workouts. The stronger CrossFit enthusiasts become after doing Olympic weightlifting, the more they want to add it into their workout programs.
· More Olympic Lifts Translate To More Power
Power is a highly paramount attribute to athletes. Virtually all athletes will tell you that they can do anything possible to display power. Power gives athletes the capability to display strength quickly. Athletes with more power have a higher performance quality that those less of the same. This is why you will find most CrossFit athletes doing Olympic lifts.
When you make the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk to be part of your workouts, you are simply giving yourself more power compared to other strength-boosting workouts. As a CrossFit athlete works more towards increasing power by doing Olympic lifts, he or she will realize that CrossFit workouts will not be a challenge at all. The more power you have, the more you can push yourself to higher limits of strength training.
· Flexibility Is Cardinal
Most athletes ignore or overlook the imperative nature of flexibility. CrossFit athletes who comprehend the importance of flexibility will invest considerably in it. The good news is that you can gain more flexibility through Olympic weightlifting. In my experience with Olympic weightlifting, I truly agree with coaches and instructors who attribute it to building flexibility.
Olympic lifting that puts much emphasis on developing the right technique acts as an important flexibility builder. Just to be more specific, CrossFit athletes invest more in Olympic lift workouts to enhance flexibility in the hip and shoulder regions. Thus, if you would like to be more flexible as a CrossFit athlete, you should consider doing Olympic weightlifting.
Lessons Olympic Lifters can learn from CrossFit
Both CrossFit and Olympic lifts are important to athletes and those seeking to build healthier and fit bodies. It takes a massive amount of investment for you to build the body you seek. It could be that you are looking forward to building stronger muscles or lose weight. You can realize these outcomes if you concentrate on your workouts.
Additionally, if you would like to improve your overall performance, these workouts are worth considering. Yes, CrossFit and Olympic lifts are indeed different in various significant ways. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that both are highly beneficial to the achievement of different goals and can be integrated into the program of either.
That is why you will find CrossFit coaches training Olympic lifts as well. Moreover, most of these coaches have been CrossFit athletes and integrated Olympic weightlifting into their training programs. What this means is that there is so much to learn from both workouts. Here are essential lessons that Olympic lifters can learn from CrossFit programs:
· Incorporating Some Cardio Sessions
While weightlifting does not include an emphasis on cardio sessions, they can do you a lot of favor. Olympic lifters are all about building more and more muscles. Anything that is not explosive rarely crosses the mind of a weightlifter. Running and rowing are usually not in an Olympic weightlifter’s program.
On the contrary, CrossFit workouts help improve the cardiovascular functioning of athletes. There is so much to learn from the cardio sessions that a CrossFit athlete does that can boost the performance and workout efficiency of Olympic weightlifters. One of the essential aspects of cardio sessions that can help weightlifters is the capacity to reduce body fat in times when you have an increased amount of the same.
Also, incorporating cardio sessions in the program of an Olympic weightlifter enhances work capacity. This is an important lesson that Olympic weightlifters can learn from CrossFit exercises. Indeed, one or two cardio sessions can’t do any harm to your Olympic lift workouts.
· Adding Varied Movements and Maintaining Balance
Being constantly varied is the motto of CrossFit programs. They have different and varied movements that meet the needs of individuals in a group session. In addition, the daily workouts help individuals to work on many aspects of their body. Since CrossFit movements and workouts are diverse, they help athletes to become more balanced.
On the other hand, Olympic weightlifting focus on a minimal scale of goals. The major goal of weightlifters is building stronger muscles, which leads to other benefits including losing weight and the development of a healthier and fit body. There is something significant that Olympic weightlifters can learn from CrossFit workouts to improve the output and efficiency of their exercise and training sessions.
When weightlifters add varied movements to their programming, they become more aware of their bodies, which is a really great thing. For example, if as an Olympic weightlifter, you incorporate varied movements and exercises in your usual program, you will make your joints more athletic.
Moreover, transitioning from CrossFit to Olympic lifts is better and easier if varied movements and balance can be part of the workout program. Thus, you can consider boosting the output of your exercises and workouts by creating time for more movement training in your weightlifting regimen.
· Consider Mobility and Stretching Exercises
Olympic weightlifters don’t focus much on mobility and stretching, as CrossFit programs do. Much of the emphasis is on lifting weights. However, there is a huge advantage that comes with doing mobility and stretching exercises.
From experience, I have discovered that mobility and stretching exercises have a big impact on a weightlifting program and the health of those involved in weightlifting sessions. For example, the more you do mobility and stretch exercises, the more you can improve the health of your joints.
If you can improve the functioning and health of different parts of your body, then you are on the right track. That is why it’s advisable to stretch and enhance the mobility of your muscles after building it through Olympic weightlifting. In this respect, it is much easier for a CrossFit athlete to switch to Olympic weightlifting.
Becoming a Better Olympic Weightlifter
It’s not easy to navigate through the road of Olympic weightlifting. Normally, it’s a complex and highly technical process for many people. But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t grasp the fundamentals of Olympic lifts.
For example, if you are shifting from CrossFit to Olympic weightlifting, you might find it difficult to enjoy your workouts during your initial sessions. All you need is to invest in best practices that will help you to become a better Olympic weightlifter with time. Of course, the services of a good coach come in handy in helping you to know all that you need to better your weightlifting skills.
Remember, as you continue to learn and implement the basic elements and practices required, you will be a step in the right direction towards becoming a skilled Olympic weightlifter. The following practices will go a long way in giving you the much-needed impetus to make you a better Olympic weightlifter:
· Get the Expert Advice of a Coach
They say that practice makes perfect. Whereas this is true to some extent, did you know that you can be doing the wrong practice? Let’s say, for instance; you have just shifted from CrossFit to Olympic weightlifting, you will need guidance for you to do workouts in the right way. Much of what you have known doing CrossFit workout programs is not what you will be doing in an Olympic lifts workout session.
It’s for this reason that we say “perfect practice makes perfect.” Find an experienced and highly proficient coach who can train you on the basic elements and techniques you should adhere to and you will be on your way to becoming a better Olympic weightlifter.
· Do more Squats
Doing more squats will actually help you greatly. Make sure that whenever you are lifting weights, you do more front squats. The benefits of this practice contribute to helping you to become good in Olympic weightlifting.
Some of the notable benefits are better body positioning under the bar, more leg strength, ability to get under the bar without fear, and the capacity to do heavier lifts that were difficult for you initially. Therefore, make sure that you do heavier squats several times in a week to make you stronger for different loads of weight.
· Be Consistent In Technique
Being consistent is very important if you will need to get better as an Olympic weightlifter. Some different techniques and movements are fundamental in weightlifting that you should learn to be good at it. However, if you don’t apply consistency in what you learn, then it will be difficult for you to make any considerable impact. Make sure that you are consistent in every technique you learn to improve the quality of your workouts.
· Practice the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk Often
The Snatch and the Clean and Jerk are the actual lifts that Olympic weightlifters lift at the gym. Whereas assistance lifts play a vital role in helping you to understand the basic elements of Olympic lifting, make sure that you don’t lose sight of the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk.
Once you develop an in-depth understanding of these lifts, you will grow in your knowledge and execution of the same, thus giving you higher prospects of better outcomes.
· Enjoy the Journey You Are Taking
Once you enter the world of Olympic weightlifting, you begin on a journey of discovering yourself and the potential inside of you. You will learn so many things in the course of your journey. Sometimes you will fail and others you will need to congratulate yourself on the progress you are making.
The important thing is to keep moving forward without giving up because it’s not an easy journey at all. The more you enjoy the journey, the more you will find yourself getting better and better.
The question of how to switch from CrossFit to Olympic weightlifting is an important one. Workout sessions are increasingly becoming significant and part of our lives. People will want to try different workouts and exercises to achieve particular goals.
Given that there are diverse goals that people strive for as they get into different workout programs, it’s imperative to develop a deeper understanding of these programs for you to know the one that fits best for you. For example, if you are doing CrossFit workouts, you should be able to identify the reasons and motivations for being in such a program.
Similarly, if you opt for Olympic weightlifting, you should be able to identify whether it will address your goals in the best way possible. It is out of this realization that you will be able to draw maximum benefit from your preferred workout program. In the same vein, shifting from CrossFit to Olympic weightlifting should not be a big problem. Of course, it’s not easy for many people, considering that Olympic weightlifting is not a walk in the park.
Nevertheless, if you understand the basics of each and you are determined to make the transition, it will be possible for you to shift with ease. Being conversant with both CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting is a major boost to the outcome of your workout programs. What you need to remember always is that a good plan and program are essential for you to have a successful workout regimen.
Why is CrossFit good for you?
CrossFit has significant benefits that are worthy of a detailed discussion. If you consider it, you will gain greatly in different ways.
How Is a Normal CrossFit Workout?
A normal CrossFit workout involves different exercises and movements that are tailored to meet individual workout needs.
Can You Combine CrossFit and Olympic Weightlifting?
It’s possible to combine CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting to achieve specific goals related to each workout session.
If you like this post? Don’t forget to share it on Pinterest!
Claudino, J. G., Gabbett, T. J., Bourgeois, F., Souza, H. S., Miranda, R. C., Mezêncio, B., Serrão, J. C. (2018). CrossFit Overview: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sports medicine
Dahab, K. S., & McCambridge, T. M. (2009). Strength training in children and adolescents: raising the bar for young athletes? Sports Health, 1(3), 223–226.
Fisker FY, Kildegaard S, Thygesen M, Grosen K, Pfeiffer-Jensen M. (2016). Acute tendon changes in intense CrossFit workout: an observational cohort study.
Maté-Muñoz, J. L., Lougedo, J. H., Barba, M., Cañuelo-Márquez, A. M., Guodemar-Pérez, J., García-Fernández, P., Garnacho-Castaño, M. V. (2018). Cardiometabolic and Muscular Fatigue Responses to Different CrossFit® Workouts. Journal of sports science & medicine, 17(4), 668–679.