CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program, we train for a broad and and a inclusive level of fitness, we are not a specialized training program; but rather aim to elicit a broad response in adaptation. This is achieved by optimizing physical competence in each of the ten fitness domains; Cardiovascular / Respiratory Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Agility, Coordination, Balance and Accuracy.
Our goal as coaches and athletes is to find the best method to train all ten domains. Olympic Weightlifting is unique because these movements train multiple domains in a effective and safe manner that delivers results. The primary domains are comprised of: strength, speed, flexibility, power, balance and coordination, however, all domains are trained to some degree with these lifts. As a training tool, Olympic Weightlifting is the total package!!
Greg Glassman said, “These lifts train athletes to effectively activate more muscle fibers more rapidly than through any other modality of training. The explosiveness that results from this training is of vital necessity to every sport.” (CrossFit Foundations). Not to mention these movement teach one to apply force to muscle groups, i.e. core to extremity ( from the center of the body to it’s extremities), which is a essential component required in the majority of life activities and sports.
“These lifts train athletes to effectively activate more muscle fibers more rapidly than through any other modality of training. The explosiveness that results from this training is of vital necessity to every sport.” – Greg Glassman
Olympic Weightlifting is an essential element of CrossFit’s constantly varied and functional movement prescription and is a predominant force in our daily WODs. With this in mind, I chose to attend the CrossFit Weightlifting Trainer Course to become more proficient as a coach and as a athlete within this modality of training.
CrossFit Weightlifting Trainer Course Review
This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the CrossFit Weightlifting Trainer Course, hosted at Maverick CrossFit in Melbourne, Florida. It was informative and contained great fundamental content pertaining to the realm of Olympic Lifting. The material was presented and taught by Coach Beau Burgener, Coach Samantha Ruehlman and Coach Matt Bruce, who all have impressive backgrounds with extensive experience, coupled with extraordinary passion for the sport of Weightlifting (Talk about an incredible weekend!!).
Big thanks to Maverick CrossFit for hosting this course. They have a great facility; it was clean and well organized with plenty of space. The facility also has an official Big Ass Fan™ , which was awesome!! For those of you who don’t know, the Big Ass Fan™ is a huge industrial sized ceiling fan that moves a LOT of air. I had seen advertisements, but this was my first opportunity to see one firsthand, and it is impressive. Also, I was fortunate enough to meet many amazing people during this course and hope to run across their paths again!!! So without further ado, let’s get into this amazing course!!
Day 1: Saturday
Saturday began with Coach Beau Burgener introducing himself along with his coaches as well as a basic course outline that entailed the schedule breakdown for the weekend. From the get go, you could tell Coach Burgener was extremely passionate and amped to coach this course, which fed directly into creating an exciting and dynamic learning environment that encompassed the entire weekend.
Our day continued with a fun, but purposeful and effective warm-up consisting of dynamic movements and agility drills to prime the body for an intense bout of Olympic lifting training. The drills not only prepared the body, but also allowed for the coaches to assess each individual athlete’s skill level regarding agility, coordination, flexibility, speed and overall athletic ability as related to Olympic weightlifting. This was also the opportunity for the coaches to spot any limitations each athlete may have had from previous injuries or mobility issues.
An effective warm-up protocol is an important element in training that is often forgotten, neglected, or under emphasized. Warm-ups are important and should always have a purpose that transfers into the skills and movements of that particular WOD; not only does it prime the body effectively for intense exertion, but it can also serve as a specific stimulus to solidify technique within the movement you are training that day. Warm-ups also play a significant role in injury prevention and rehabilitative maintenance. Blindly going through the motions with no rhyme, reason or goal is ineffective and often ingrains improper movement patterns. Also, an effective warm-up allows the coach to evaluate each of their athlete’s daily physical condition. If an athlete is nursing an injury or is extremely sore, an effective warm up will reveal those limitations to the coach prior to the WOD.
Olympic Lifts are a prime example of an effective preparation protocol being essential. These lifts are comprised of movements that require full range of motion exposing muscle tissues, tendons, and ligaments to various angles and degrees of resistance at high speeds. Olympic Lifts tap into your fast twitch muscle fibres, which are employed for speed, explosiveness and power.
Coach Burgener stressed the importance of an effective warm-up and gave us as coaches and athletes some fun warm-up drills to bring back to our boxes for our athletes to use and to incorporate into our own training. This was a great element in the course that I truly enjoyed and am glad to know they are teaching this important concept.
Driving Home Fundamentals of the Snatch
The morning consisted of the coaches teaching the fundamentals of the Snatch, including stance, grip and position. This was broken down and taught through the simple yet effective application of the Burgener Warm-Up. We also covered several skill transfer exercises: Snatch Push Press, Overhead Squat, Pressing Snatch Balance, Heaving Snatch Balance and Snatch Balance. These movements were drilled with the use of a PVC pipe. As light as the PVC pipe is, if used correctly, it will still kick your ass!
After each component was taught, we would have breakout sessions. In these sessions, we would partner up and coach each other in the techniques we had drilled as a group. These breakout sessions were invaluable because we were given an opportunity to coach multiple athletes and apply what we had learned and reviewed in a setting of practical application. This gave each of the coaches the the opportunity to watch other coaches’ and their unique, individual styles. Any coach who attends this course will definitely add more tools to their tool box in terms of different verbal and tactile cues for their athletes.
The evening consisted of performing the snatch from different positions with a PVC pipe to include the: high hang, mid thigh, below the knee and from the floor. After each position was taught, we would partner up with a different athlete than before, and coach them on that particular position, allowing for ample coaching repetitions.
Once all positions had been taught and drilled with the PVC pipe, it was time to bring out the barbells. We all had been anxiously waiting, ready to sling some weight around after drilling the fundamentals all day. The class broke up into groups of four with the objective of performing two and three position Snatches. One person in the group would lift while the other three group members would take turns identifying faults and coaching the athlete with corrections. This was an absolute blast and great experience and practice for myself and all coaches at this course. Not to mention, we were being coached one on one with some of the most talented weightlifting coaches in the world. You can’t beat that!!
At the end of the day, we gathered around the whiteboard for a Q&A session and the coaches also recapped and drove home the importance of basics and fundamentals. By the end of day, we had a solid, comprehensive understanding of the Burgener Warm-Up, Snatch (broken down by stance, grip and positions), and skill transfer exercises relative to the Snatch. This class provided all of the right tools to be successful in regards coaching and performing the Snatch!!
Day 2: Sunday
Sunday began with Coach Burgener recapping Saturday’s material and then outlining the day’s agenda, which would be less PVC work and more barbell based with actual lifting. Afterwards, we did a group warm-up that was creative, fun and definitely got the heart pumping!! However, I won’t spoil the surprise; you will have to see it when you attend the course.
We continued with a practical application of reviewing Saturday’s material regarding the Snatch, where we drilled the Burgener Warm-Up, Snatch Skill Transfer Exercises and then we performed the Snatch from the high hang, mid thigh, below the knee and from the floor. This was a great recap and reiterated the fundamentals of the movement before progressing to the Clean and Jerk.
Driving Home Fundamentals of the Clean and Jerk
The morning portion of the course began with learning the Clean, which was a simple transference after learning the Snatch progressions, due to the only difference in the Clean being the grip and receiving position.
We began with discussing and drilling the Front Squat, which is the receiving position of the Clean. The class broke up into groups of four and, with a barbell, drilled several Front Squat exercises that would assist with building strength in the bottom and receiving portion of the Clean.
From there we drilled stance, grip and position for the Clean with the PVC pipe before moving into a breakout session where we brought out the barbells to lift!! These were the exciting portions of the course for me personally; I really enjoyed lifting in a dynamic atmosphere with lots of great feedback and coaching. Several athletes scored PRs and there were quite a few “Ah Ha!” moments amongst the group, which was also inspiring to see!! As a coach, watching athletes grow and progress is priceless!!
The evening portion of the class consisted of breaking down the Split Jerk, which was drilled through a series of progressions that would assist coaches with teaching athletes, both individually or in a group setting.
After a strong comprehensive overview of the Clean and Jerk, we had one last breakout session to lift weight and had the opportunity to receive feedback from exceptional coaches, which was probably my favorite part of the whole class by far!!
The class ended with the group gathering around the whiteboard for another Q&A session, along with Coach Burgener’s closing thoughts on weightlifting and the importance of fundamentals within each lift. Throughout the course, Coach Burgener showed a tremendous amount of passion toward weightlifting. As a coach and student, you cannot help but be caught up in the excitement about what the future holds for your athletes!
The Level of Instruction and Coaches Teaching the Course
I have attended many coaching classes from a variety of sources, but I am constantly amazed at the level of instruction I receive each time I attend a CrossFit Trainer Course, The coaches are world class professionals and operate on a level that is heads and shoulders above the rest. Their passion for CrossFit and teaching others the concepts and methodologies is inspiring. Even after teaching the same course week after week, possibly for years, they show genuine passion and belief in their message and material. It is as if they were teaching the course for the first time.
The CrossFit Olympic Weightlifting Trainer Course was no exception. Coach Beau Burgener, Coach Samantha Ruehlman and Coach Matt Bruce demonstrated exceptional coaching and created an atmosphere conducive to training and learning at the highest levels. Their passion and conviction for the sport of weightlifting was exciting and displayed through their constant pursuit for perfection in the fundamentals, always striving for virtuosity.
For anyone looking to build upon their foundation as a CrossFit Coach or athlete in the area of Olympic Weightlifting, then I highly recommend this course. You will gain a solid fundamental understanding of the two Olympic Lifts: the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk, along with progressions, drills and breakdowns of each movement. Coaches will also be given the opportunity to practice coaching and even perform these lifts under the watchful eye of extremely talented and experienced CrossFit Coaches.
As coaches, our athletes are our #1 priority. Continually learning and improving your skills as a coach will directly affect the quality of training and guidance you can offer your athletes. The CrossFit Weightlifting Trainer’s Course is an excellent class and a great addition to any CrossFit coaches’ toolbox.
If you have any questions or would like to share your own experience, please feel free, I would love to hear the feedback!! If interested in attending a CrossFit Specialty Trainer Course, then click here.
Resources: CrossFit Foundations – By: Greg Glassman