The importance of Olympic weightlifting for the “Sport of Fitness”

2) Science:

> Rate of force development
> Kinetic chain synchronization
> Neural recruitment

These are just a few of the benefits of Olympic weightlifting. They are buzzwords that are sometimes thrown around without definition, and they are all paramount to athletic performance. Athletes who compete in “the sport of fitness” are no different from athletes in any other sport. They must develop the ability to apply force, in a synchronized manner, and do it as quickly and efficiently as possible. The great difference is that our sport awards roughly 30 to 40 percent of its points based upon proficiency in the Olympic lifts, whereas athletes who compete in nonfitness-related sports use the Olympic lifts as strictly a training protocol to develop athletic potential.

All sports require different amounts of muscle synchronization, balance, flexibility, and coordination as well as strength, speed, power, and metabolic development. Olympic weightlifting provides development in all these areas. While training for maximal strength can have a positive effect on performance, it also can have a “negative effect on movement speed and the ability of a muscle to display explosive effort” (Wenzel & Perfetto 1992). However, this does not mean that strength gains do not happen through training at high speeds. Wenzel and Perfetto characterized strength gains from high-speed training as adaptations “due to an increase in the number of fibers recruited or a more synchronous firing of motor neurons” (Wenzel & Perfetto 1992).—Philip Sabatini, February 2011 interview with elitefts.net.

The single most important requirement for strength development is the ability to produce force. Force, in terms of strength training and athleticism, is the body’s ability to recruit and initiate muscular contraction. Greater ability to produce force means greater ability to act upon external load, greater ability to control/manipulate the body in space, and greater ability to maintain efficiency with higher-repetition sub-maximal endeavors. The single best tool to gain the ability to develop force is strength training. The strength training protocol used must involve movements performed at either maximal or near-maximal weight (90 percent plus), or lighter weight moved as quickly as possible (70 to 90 percent). The ability to produce force, sans coordination, is a quintessential component of athleticism.

The kinetic chain is simply defined as a “combination of several successively arranged joints constituting a complex motor unit” (Steindler). The greatest/safest open chain tools we have to develop the kinetic function of multiple motor units—in our sport and in our training—are the Olympic lifts. The wave of contraction that must be produced to perform a full barbell Snatch is unparalleled by any other gym-based movement. To get similar kinetic chain development, you would have to play an actual sport for some length of time, and it would have to be a sport requiring massive amounts of mobility and joint stabilization (such as gymnastics). In my years of coaching I have seen more than my share of athletes who simply cannot perform a full snatch or a comfortable jerk. This is a prime example of dysfunction, inhibition, or tightness at some point in the kinetic chain and is NOT indicative that the movement is too hard to master or not for certain people. To the contrary; diagnosing these issues, taking steps to correct them, and continued practice of the lifts will allow for a greater overall development of the athlete’s kinetic chain, which will lead to the correction of a multitude of basic movement issues.

Hold on to your hats, boys and girls… I’m going to quote Coach (that’s Greg Glassman for those of you who have only been around a year or two):

The missing link in so much mainstream fitness programming, from bodybuilding to monostructural endeavors, is the neuromuscular piece—in particular, the development of coordination, accuracy, agility, and balance. We can sum these elements up as “technique.” Omitting them from one’s training necessarily results in only partial fitness, partial expression of one’s genetic potential, and a decreased threshold of maximal capacity. To increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains (the goal of CrossFit), technique is the crucial connection—whether your goal is to win the game, protect your life, complete the mission, or just be fit for the demands of everyday life at any age.—Greg Glassman

Again, the snatch takes center stage for this discussion. As the most highly technical movement in our sport’s training lexicon, it takes the prize for greatest/easiest high-level neural developer. And yes, again, high-level gymnastics and other sports can elicit similar neural responses, but the length of learning curve for those sports is far greater and, honestly, in most instances their practice is harder to pull off. Weightlifting’s ability to manipulate neural recruitment and the central nervous system through myriad rep and load variations is essential to “the sport of fitness.” Sorry to use Rich again, but not only does he have a national-level snatch, his 1:20 Isabel at the 2012 Games may have been one of the most efficient and impressive performances I’ve seen in person. With a high level of neural development, the athlete can move through greater ranges of motion with less effort, therefore allowing for greater capacity and less central nervous system fatigue.

Monday – 3) Technique & Loading

This picture has nothing to do with the discussion, it’s just awesome.


WOD 130126:

With a 40 minute running clock…

1 minute ME Muscle-Ups

*Rest 1 minute.

7 minute AMRAP of:

75 Double-Unders
20 Lateral Burpees (over BB)
10 Hang Power Snatches 95/65#

*Rest 1 minute.

1 minute ME Muscle-Ups

*Rest 1 minute.

7 minutes to establish a 1RM Front Squat

*Rest 1 minute.

2 minutes ME Muscle-Ups

*Rest 1 minute.

3 rounds for time of:

Row 20 Calories
15 Lateral Burpees (over BB)
10 Hang Power Cleans 135/95#

Notes: 7 minute cap. If the work is completed in less than 7 minutes, rest the remainder of the 7 minutes.

2 minutes ME Muscle-Ups

*Rest 1 minute.

7 minutes to establish a 1RM Jerk (racks or blocks may be used)

Please post data from each evolution.

86 thoughts on “130126

  1. I’m loving these articles, really well thought out and informative but easy enough to understand with a basic level of knowledge! Great reading!

  2. Knowledgz

    1) 2 – urgh
    2) 196 reps
    3) 3
    4) 130kg (140Kg F)
    5) 4
    6) 91
    7) 5
    8) 110Kg (120Kg F x 2)

    I’m fairly sure that took 41 minutes. Just sayin’.

    • I think it takes 41 if you rested for a minute after the 3 rds for time (Row 20 Calories
      15 Lateral Burpees (over BB)
      10 Hang Power Cleans 135/95#) as it reads “Notes: 7 minute cap. If the work is completed in less than 7 minutes, rest the remainder of the 7 minutes.” But says nothing of an additional 1 minute break between it and the 2 min ME MU that follows.

  3. Rudy, this is great stuff man.
    I noted in an earlier post I was jacked up and had to do move away from all the dynamic overhead work (K-star RX), but I was wondering if you ever published/posted the data from that last cycle. I guess at the end of the day the only data that really matter are who goes to and wins the games, but I am sort of hoping that these lead up articles are simply the introduction to the data analysis section…

  4. I think I did this workout a little early for the tissues and tendons.

    1 5 reps
    2 180 reps
    3 7 reps
    4 275#
    5 8 reps
    6 2 rds
    7 5 reps
    8 225#

    No PRS and a lot of exhaustion. I need more than 12 hours of rest between these workouts.

  5. 11 MU
    2 rds + 6 du (216reps?)
    7 MU
    200 (f squat pr)
    13 MU
    2 rds (90reps?)
    10 MU (might have been 11)
    185 jerk (from the front)

  6. 1: 11
    2: 138
    3: 7
    4: 275
    5: 12
    6: 2
    7: 5
    8: Didn’t read correct and did off box Clean and Jerks (idiot) 225

  7. 10 MU

    1+ 14 burpees


    235# FS


    1+15 burpees



    I thank jebus we didn’t have to pull heavy from the floor today. It’s almost like it was planned that way…

  8. 1) 9

    2) 200 reps…disappointed in this

    3) 6

    4) 300…had more ran out of time

    5) 11

    6) 2 rounds + 2 cals

    7) 6

    8) 275

  9. 13
    2 rds
    315 (ran out of time)
    1 rd + 15 burpees
    Oops, missed this set of muscle ups

  10. 8 bar muscle ups (blue band)
    2 full rounds
    1 round 1 hand clean
    150 (got 155 after the 40min 5# PR)

  11. 7 mu’s
    1 round + 89. Slow on DU’s.
    5 mu’s
    270 # Front Squat
    8 MU’s
    2 rounds- scrambled to get all cleans in time
    5 mu’s
    255 jerk. Fail on 265- felt like I had moved up to 500 lbs.

  12. Fuck ya!



    335front squat


    2+5cal fuck the rower…


    325 rack jerk!!! 5 lb pr after all that so pumped!!!

  13. 1. 4 mus
    2. 2 rnds + 25 Dus
    3. 3 mus
    4. 155#
    5. 2 mus
    6. 1 Rnd + 7 hang cleans
    7. 3 mus
    8. 135#

  14. Obligatory excuses: Woke up straight ruined from yesterday, couldn’t name one part of my upper body that doesn’t hurt. Still don’t have proper set up for muscle ups so I have very low over head and have to tuck feet for every one.

    10 MU
    1 round + 103 reps (DUs killing me)
    6 MU
    285 FS (pr)
    2 rounds
    8 MU
    225 jerk (15 off pr)

  15. MU- 12
    1 round 5 snatches
    MU – 0
    FS 295. Failed 315
    MU – 15
    2 rounds
    MU – 12
    Jerk – 255

    Fuck today

  16. *(Bar MU – no rings high enough at gym)

    1.) 10*

    2.) 2 = 210 reps

    3.) 8*

    4.) 270~PR

    5.) 15*

    6.) 2+20cal row = 110 reps

    7.) 8*

    8.) 250

  17. (start whining excuses here)

    I was involuntarily signed up for a 5K to run this morning, (I hate running “for fun”) and since they challenge me I had to do it… that being said, I don’t run outside of when The Outlaw Way posts it, so the fact that I ran it in 23 min, I was extremely happy with that time because I didn’t run it as hard as I could have as I knew I had this workout to do still! Needless to say it was 18 degrees and snowing at 8 a.m. during the race.

    3 hour rest/stretch/eat/re-stretch session

    11 MU
    2 rds + 52 DU
    7 MU
    305# (PR)- surpised the shit out of me, my legs were shot by this point
    15 MU
    2 rds + 1 burpee
    13 MU
    245# (didn’t fail any attempts-ran out of time as 2 of us were sharing the jerk boxes- PR @265)

  18. 1) 9 MU
    2) 2 rnds= 210 reps
    3) 5
    4) 255(15lb pr)
    5) 10
    6) 2rnds+2cal AirDyne
    7) 6
    8) From the rack: 215(f)(f)(f)-had this locked out but lost it in recovery
    -Absolutely terrible clock management on my part, had a 40min timer set and got all confused with start times/rest. Also I guess I need to learn how to squat in nano’s, because changing into my Romaleos chewed up too much time for squats/jerks.


  19. Don’t have anywhere to MU… Chest to bar + ring dip for MU
    2)1 + 80
    6)1 + 30

  20. 10 muscle ups
    285 reps
    5 muscle ups
    275# fs
    12 muscle ups
    2 rounds +15 burpees( did 200 run instead for calories)
    11 muscle ups
    245 jerk

  21. muscle ups all done on a bar. they werent a lot, but today was the first day they felt fluid. double unders went a lot better than usual today too. PR’d on the jerk and was 5 pounds off my FS PR, pretty good considering how gassed I felt.
    also: fuck burpees

    MU’s 1+1fail
    1 round +92
    MU’s 2
    FS 315
    MU’s 2+2fails
    1 round +40
    MU’s 4
    Jerk 205 (PR)

  22. In regards to the post today, I want to say that I am more than content to follow a program written with this much thought, research, and passion to back why we do what we do. I know there are critiques out there but they must be chalked up to the uninformed and uninitiated as to what truly results in athletic progress.

    On that note, today was something…surprised myself with the MUs, can barely double under in my lifting shoes, subbed 2 pood KB for row which was a bad idea, and generally the burpees were awful.

    MUs – 14
    1 + 3 Snatch
    MUs – 9
    FS 335
    MUs – 14
    2 + 5 KBS (Subbed 20 KBS @ 32kg for row)
    MUs – 8
    Jerk – 295

  23. WOD 130126:

    With a 40 minute running clock…
    1 minute ME Muscle-Ups
    *Rest 1 minute.
    7 minute AMRAP of:
    75 Double-Unders
    20 Lateral Burpees (over BB)
    10 Hang Power Snatches 95/65#
    •2 Rounds
    *Rest 1 minute.
    1 minute ME Muscle-Ups
    *Rest 1 minute.
    7 minutes to establish a 1RM Front
    •275# (couldn’t go too heavy. Still battling injury)
    *Rest 1 minute.
    2 minutes ME Muscle-Ups
    *Rest 1 minute.
    3 rounds for time of:
    Row 20 Calories
    15 Lateral Burpees (over BB)
    10 Hang Power Cleans 135/95#
    •1Round+20 cal+15 lat burp+ 3HPC
    Notes: 7 minute cap. If the work is completed in less than 7 minutes, rest the remainder of the 7 minutes.
    2 minutes ME Muscle-Ups
    *Rest 1 minute.
    7 minutes to establish a 1RM Jerk (racks or blocks may be used)
    Please post data from each evolution.
    •Did the MU’s without false grip which is faster but I feel that with the false grip I can hold on to the rings longer and can rely more on my strength, instead of that big swing thats generated without the false. So with the false I feel I can get more UB. Next time ill start with false and then go without it and see how it goes.

  24. MUs – 5
    1+8 Lateral Burpees
    MUs- 3
    MUs- 5
    1+15 Lateral Burpees

    This was great stuff! Before today, I hadn’t done an Outlaw Saturday training regimen, following a Friday training session, in a very long time…around October, I think. So, it was great reading Rudy’s comment, yesterday, and learning about the potential benefits of training both days as they’re programmed. Got my ass handed to me, along with a smoked low back! That’s what’s up!

    On another note, it would be kinda cool if I didn’t have to worry about jamming my feet against the floor of the gym I train at or hittin’ my head against the pull-up bar overhead, while doing Muscle-Ups! :-/ #Sigh

  25. 3
    1+83 (1st round of DU were rough)
    210 (Last time I did 1RM FS was over 5 months ago at 155.. So, BIG PR!)
    160 (5lb PR, felt good, wish I had more time)

    That was awesome. Loved it.

  26. Muscle Ups: 11
    AMRAP: 2+60 Double Unders
    Muscle Ups: 7
    Front Squat: 405 (20 under PR)
    Muscle Ups: 12
    3 Rounds: Only made 1 Round + 7 cleans
    Muscle Ups: 6

  27. 1) 11 bar mu
    2) 2rounds 28reps
    3) 7 ring mu
    4) 120kg
    5) 12 bar mu
    6) 1round 42reps
    7) 3 ring mu
    8) 90kg

  28. Hey guys,

    I am traveling to atlanta tomorrow to take a medical school test on Tuesday and need a gym to go to on Monday. I have been following the Outlaw way and adding in even more oly lift stuff (from catalyst athletics) and was hoping to find a gym where I could do my workout on Monday in the Atlanta area. Anyone have any suggestions?

    Will also just attend the class if someone in the atlanta area thinks their gym is just awesome in general…really just trying to get a workout in while on the road.

    Thanks for the help.


  29. Had to sub bar MU’s as I didn’t have rings:

    13 MU
    240 reps
    11 MU
    140kg Front Squat (PR)
    18 MU
    110 reps
    10 MU
    125kg Jerk

  30. Olly:
    150kg front squat (pr)
    2 + 3
    135kg (pr)

    Disappointed with conditioning but happy with muscle ups and strength PRs

    My wife Anitra (subbed mu for pull ups):

  31. First… I need help with my MUs!!! I’ve done, like, 5, in the last few months, but when I do get up there, I always slip my left hand off the ring! Am I holding my false grip incorrecty? I need to spend an afternoon with Carl Paoli or the like… sigh…

    With a 40 minute running clock…

    4 attempts
    1 RD + 5 snatch (forgot to potty before workout.. TMI, I know, but it was a problem.)
    4 Banded MUs
    215 lbs (15 lb PR!!)
    4 attempts. 5 Banded
    1 RD + 7 snatches
    5 attempts
    155 lbs

  32. 1. 4 band assisted
    2. 204 total reps
    3. 4 band assisted
    4. 205 (2.5# PR)
    5. 4 band assisted (I lost a minute when the group class took over my station and I had to set up a new one.)
    6. 1 + 75 du’s, 15 burpees and 6 cleans. (Lost my erg in the second round to the group class so switched to du’s instead of waiting around).
    7. 6 band assisted
    8. 155 (PR)

  33. 1. 6 CTB
    2. 91 No DU
    3. 6 CTB
    4. 90kg PR
    5. 11 CTB
    6. 2 Rounds, out of time, No Rower
    7. 11CTB
    8. 75kg PR

  34. These comp prep wods are fun!
    1. 10
    2. 200
    4.325-355 F
    8.275 5lbs pr!

  35. Dynamic bench
    Snatched 265, caught 275 and 280
    ME BW (205) bench (15-10-10)
    3×8 strict weighted pull-up (#45-45-55)

    *then WOD.

    15 MU
    10 MU
    #385 FSQ (failed 405)
    15 MU
    10 MU
    #315 jerk (failed 335)

  36. 35/F/ 5’/114
    As Rx
    4 MU
    3 MU
    4 MU
    2 MU
    115# (125 fail)

    That was awesome. Time went by so fast. Was fun to coach to, and keep everyone on track. This wod obviously needed a manager.

  37. 1. 3
    2. 2 + 35 DU
    3. 3
    4. 320 (+5# PR)
    5. 3
    6. 12 + 20 cal
    7. 1
    8. 275 (ran out of time)

  38. 11 muscle ups
    7 muscle ups
    From squat 155kg (equal PB)
    10 muscle ups
    Jerk 120kg (10 of Max)

    Great fun, thanks for this one.

  39. subbed bar muscle ups. rings are outside and it was raining.

    11 mu
    9 mu
    fsqt 135kg
    11mu (1min only)
    2+40 subbed 50doulble unders for row
    5mu (1min only)
    split jerk 120kg

    felt like a bag of shit today. halfway into the first round of the first 7min amrap i thought to myslef “wtf am i doing this for… i am not enjoying myself” but i finished it off anyway. the deload couldn’t come at a better time next week for me.

  40. 11 M/Ups
    2 + 10 burpees
    9 M/Ups
    140kg FS
    11 M/Ups
    2 Rounds
    9 M/Ups
    120kg Split Jerk

  41. 11 MU – New max straight PR, missed a single 10 seconds later, fk.
    2 rds (feet cramping in oly shoes didn’t help matters)
    8 MU – Missed final 1,
    140kg Front Squat, heaviest since torn adductor & 2.5kg below all time PR.
    13 MU – 5/3/2-/3 a miss still managed to sneak in there.
    1+15 Burpees, Sharing rower had to fight with a females foot strap positioning for 30 seconds lost me the time to stand up and bang out HPC’s.
    8 MU – shithouse, hand straps got wet rowing in rain that had come across, felt dangerous & slippery to push the later reps. Missed 1.
    130kg Split Jerk, not the neatest but 5kg off max ever while breathing hard – will take it.

    A complete comedy of errors and insufficient warmup for the burpees and bar work. Only started to hit my straps late in the second conditioning piece, by then way too late. Great to feel strength coming back though, have felt busted for weeks (months if incl. adductor injury and squatting)

  42. With a 40 minute running clock…

    1 minute ME Muscle-Ups – 1 + 5 dips

    7 minute AMRAP of:

    75 Double-Unders
    20 Lateral Burpees (over BB)
    10 Hang Power Snatches 95/65#

    1 round + 50 double-unders

    1 minute ME Muscle-Ups – 13 dips

    7 minutes to establish a 1RM Front Squat – 155, 205, 215# (pr!)

    2 minutes ME Muscle-Ups – 15 dips

    3 rounds for time of:

    Row 20 Calories – sub 2min of double-unders
    15 Lateral Burpees (over BB)
    10 Hang Power Cleans 135/95#

    2 rounds

    37 minutes total

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