Why Weightlifters Should Consider CrossFit

August 31, 2020
Written by 

Will strength be enough to endure CrossFit?

Woman lifting barbell

Weightlifting and CrossFit are probably two of the most loved sports by men and women alike across the globe. Weightlifting has been present in the Olympic Games since 1896, and it continues to evolve as a sport. During the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, around 260 athletes from 94 countries participated in 15 weightlifting events.  

Meanwhile, 13,000 CrossFit gyms were established in 2016, and it just keeps on growing since then.

Enthusiasts of these sports are united by their mutual love for a certain sports equipment—the barbell. That’s why it’s not surprising to know that there are people who can excel in both sports.

Perhaps the most famous in this field is Australian weightlifter and CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey. She represented Australia at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and also became the first three-time consecutive CrossFit women’s champion.  

Then there’s American athlete Mat Fraser, a junior national weightlifting champion and a four-time CrossFit Games champ. He is one of the two titleholders for having the most CrossFit Games victories. If he’s not a strong proof that weightlifters ought to give CrossFit a try, we don’t know who is.  

Toomey and Fraser prove one thing: There are benefits to CrossFit training, even for die-hard, long-time weightlifters.  

What Each Sport Requires

Woman lifting barbell, man using rope for cross fit

Before diving into the details on how weightlifters can become CrossFitters, it’s important to understand what weightlifting and CrossFit demand from their respective athletes. And work (out) from there.

Weightlifting or Olympic weightlifting is all about speed and power. It is the gold standard for all kinds of strength lifts. Olympic weightlifting consists of two classic lifts: Snatch and clean-and-jerk. These activities require maximal speed and maximal strength, as well as an intense amount of focus and dedication. It’s important to establish and continuously practice your technique in weightlifting to avoid any kind of injury. Weightlifters are specialists, so to speak.

On the other hand, CrossFitters are considered generalists. CrossFit workouts try to develop well-rounded fitness by including exercises that boost cardiorespiratory endurance, strength, stamina, power, flexibility, speed, agility, coordination, accuracy, and balance. CrossFit aims to increase your work capacity across all modes of human movements: jumping, rowing, squatting, running, deadlifting, climbing, carrying, throwing, pressing, pushing, and, get this, even clean-and-jerking.

As a sport of endurance, CrossFit doesn’t only want its athletes to lift heavy things, but to be able to do so repeatedly with little rest. Studies show that doing so helps build bigger muscles and allows the greatest amount of muscle recovery.

Taxing? Take heart. For weightlifters, CrossFit may not be as daunting as it seems.

Weightlifters have one clear advantage as they transition from the gym to the box: their lifting supremacy. Weightlifting is one of the common workouts in CrossFit, and competitive lifters, obviously, do not have to go through the frustrating and grueling phase of learning it as a novice CrossFitter would.

Another edge of weightlifters is having a solid core. CrossFit programs are no joke. Thus, having a strong core protects you from injuries and stabilizes your body during the exercises. Moreover, weightlifters acknowledge two essential elements in CrossFit programs: 1) the significance of strength and power, and 2) the necessity of establishing and keeping a good technique. It’s impossible to succeed in weightlifting and CrossFit without these elements.

If you’re a competitive weightlifter, there’s no doubt that you have already spent eons of time training for strength and speed. Now there’s only one important aspect you need to work hard on: endurance.

“What Is It for Me?”

Woman holding cellphone

Okay, we can hear you scream. “Do we really need that? We’re already strong, you know?”

We do. But we also know that while it’s cool to be big and strong, developing an overall fitness can be beneficial for weightlifters, too.

Since CrossFit is a type of high-intensity power fitness (HIPT), it helps develop muscle strength and stamina. The basic conditioning practices in CrossFit can also enhance your cardiovascular health, improve your muscle blood flow, and increase your work capacity. As such, CrossFit workouts can be your ally for optimal recovery.

One of the distinct features of CrossFit is being “constantly varied,” and it proves to deliver favorable results to a weightlifter’s long-term performance as well. Mike Dewar, a weightlifter, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and New York University’s Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, shares, “When I decided to integrate basic varied training back into my regimen, like lateral jumps, running, stone carries/throws/holds, and ring work, I found myself with an enhanced awareness of my body in space.”

He further explains, “When I finally comprehended that basic static stretching and mobility days can do wonders for my lifts and joint health, I found myself able to squat lower, stay healthier, and train harder. CrossFit has helped make it cool to do a daily stretching and/or full-blown “mobility/active recovery workouts” every couple of days.”

Sure enough, CrossFit can be of great help to weightlifters. However, it is still advisable to observe proper training and post-training practices to fully enjoy its benefits. Here are some tips for weightlifters who want to take CrossFit seriously:

  • Find the right coach. Your coach will serve as your guide in this new journey, so it is highly recommended to have someone who knows how to correct your form, values your safety, and gives constructive feedback. Ideally, your coach is someone who also has had experience and training outside of CrossFit. As mentioned earlier, weightlifting and CrossFit have different training programs, so having a coach who is both knowledgeable and compassionate can help you appreciate CrossFit more.
  • Be versatile. CrossFit offers a variety of programs that can help in your cardiovascular health and endurance. Challenge your muscles and participate in their workout of the day (WOD). These workouts may be a far cry from what you’re used to, but opening yourself to new conditioning programs and fitness workouts could give you a better shape.
  • Chill and try again. We get it. You are as competitive as competitive gets, but shifting from weightlifting to CrossFit demands a lot of adjustment, patience, and uhm, well, adjustment and patience. So don’t be so hard on yourself if you feel that you’re not doing things well enough during the first week. Just run, row, squat, lift, and bike again, and soon you’ll feel the improvement on your stamina, muscle strength, and agility, among others.
  • Be wary of overtraining. Overtraining is painfully common among athletes who are so into high-intensity workouts and love to train harder than anyone else. (Sounds familiar?) But like anything else, too much physical activity can be dangerous. The usual signs of overtraining are:
  • Loss of enthusiasm
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Decreased performance
  • Recurrent illness (even as ordinary as cough and colds)
  • Lack of progress
  • Recover properly. Yup, it’s a must! Rest and recovery is the best solution for overtraining. What you do after training is almost as important as what you do during training. Be it in weightlifting, CrossFit, and any other sport, solid recovery is a necessity. The sooner you recover, the quicker you can go back on track and progress in your sport. It allows you to enjoy the maximum benefit from every workout session and prevents injury.

What’s more, research shows that lack of rest and recovery can cause neurological changes, hormonal disturbances, deficient immune function, and depression.

woman sitting in gym floor

Good nutrition, ample rest, massage therapy—they’re imperative to your physical rehabilitation. And with all the technological advancements in muscle repair therapy, it’s encouraging to know that there are other available ways to spur your recovery.

But you have to discern well on the medium that you will choose. A wrong tool may bring more harm than good, and we don’t want that. Thankfully, there are safe and effectual methods that you can turn to for relief. One of which is the emerging sports recovery device.

How Massage Guns Can Help in Your Post-Workout Recovery

Black Hydragun Recovery Tool against red background

Sports discovery devices are among the latest innovations for muscular treatment, and one type of which is a massage gun. We’ve listed how it can be beneficial to your much-needed recovery:

  • It helps soothe sore muscles faster. Sore muscles are often due to too much physical stress or overtraining, which both weightlifters and CrossFitters tend to do. Massage gun targets your sore area and releases powerful pulses to ease the muscle tension. It allows you to lift, run, squat, and complete your workout of the day sooner than you’re used to.
  • It reaches deeper layers of muscles than a foam roller or human hands. As such, massage guns can remove muscle knots and relieve pain caused by hardened muscles.
  • It shortens recovery time by increasing the blood flow in the targeted area. Shortened recovery period? Oh, it’s every athlete’s dream!

Identifying the most effective sports recovery tool or the best percussion therapy device may be subjective to one’s preferences and needs, but one thing is for sure: massage guns are the next big thing in the world of muscle therapy. It may be just what you need to recover after an exacting workout so you can become the weightlifter and CrossFitter that you aim to be.


man wearing balck shirt holding orange towel inside a gym

So should a competitive weightlifter explore the dynamic CrossFit world? Well, it depends on your ultimate #fitnessgoals. Weightlifting and CrossFit have different programs that bring different results. The decision lies with what you are striving to improve in the long run. Is it strength? Endurance? Or both?

Regardless of your choice, remember three things: 1) Enjoy. Doing sport is supposed to be fun; 2) Rest. Recovery is king, and 3) Press on. Difficult is not impossible.

Any weightlifters or Crossfitters out there who want to give their thoughts? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below! You may also follow us on our social media accounts for more related posts.

//Facebook Comments