Breaking Down Olympic Lifting For New CrossFitters

As mentioned in our article "A CrossFit Coach's Guide to Working With New or Troubled Movers," new athletes are often working semi-autonomously during group class, which requires coaches to triage them while still not ignoring the rest of the class. A quick trick that we sometimes use during our lifting segments for working with people brand new out of Foundations is to breakdown the Olympic lifts into more manageable complexes.

One of the challenges for new people working with Olympic lifts is not only putting the movement together, but also remembering the names of everything. By breaking down the lift and writing it down on a little white board, the athlete begins to internalize the names of all the movements he or she is working on. They can then work on a series of compartmentalized tasks, with visual reminders of everything they're doing. For beginners, performing standardized technique complexes is infinitely more doable than just telling them to "snatch"perhaps the most technically complicated movement we perform in CrossFit.

Keep in mind that having this strategy is also extremely useful for your coaches. They don't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to new movers, which helps them preserve valuable time in group classes to help everyone present.

Our typical complex for the Snatch is:

Snatch Grip Deadlift
Hang Power Snatch
Overhead Squat

Our typical complex for the Clean and Jerk is:

Mid Hang Power Clean
Front Squat
Push Press or Push Jerk

Breaking the lift down like this prevents many of the typical errors you see when new folks attempt to put the lift together. It also reinforces good positions and imprints the names of each movement. I would suggest having new athletes perform these complexes their first few times in group classes, until they're ready to move forward with your normal programming.

New athletes usually really appreciate the modified programming and "cheat sheet" on the white board. Let's not forget that CrossFit can often be a little overwhelming for people new to our gyms.

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