Why Crossfit is a Good Foundation for Olympic Lifting
People see the Olympic lifts and don't know where to start. We see quite a bit of people at Lift Lab that are interested in Olympic lifting and have never tried it. Some people are starting it from an extensive athletic background and some people no real experience lifting weights at all. While we will work with anybody and can get virtually anybody to improve at the sport there are certain backgrounds that make it much easier to get better at Olympic lifting. One, perhaps contrary to popular belief, is Crossfit.
We see a good amount of Crossfitters come through our doors that want to put the Crossift away for awhile and just focus on Olympic lifting. While Crossfit has got a bad reputation for installing bad technical habits (some of it is warranted), it has also done a great job at developing qualities that sort of go unnoticed when developing a beginner Weightlifter.
Weightlifting coaches have a tendency to only focus on things from a technical lens. This makes sense since they've spent a lot of time understanding the technique of the Olympic lifts and coaching it. However, to get a newer lifter better at the sport, you have to focus on qualities that come outside the technical scope. And this is one thing that Crossift has done a great job at.
Crossfit is built around doing a lot of work. Pretty much any Crossift workout will leave you feeling very gassed. I'm not one for making people feel like their throwing up just for the sake of it, but one thing Weightlifting centric programs don't have is a lot of things focused on work capacity. If you're a veteran lifter you most likely don't need to work on this and just need to keep doing snatch and clean and jerk. Newer lifters, especially ones that don't have an extensive training background need a good base of work capacity. If you are only focused on developing technique, you are not going to develop the work capacity and general strength necessary to improve someone's efficiency at the lifts.
I've worked with a ton of Crossfitters turned Weightlifters, and one thing they all had in common, technical issues aside, is they all were very strong and fit relative to their Olympic lifts. This is a good thing, because then all you need to focus on is technique and you know they can handle high volume training loads. This makes it fairly easy as a coach because you can just focus on the quality of technical development rather than technique AND strength and conditioning.
This is all a long winded way to say, if you are coaching new Weightlifters, it is important to make sure you increase general physical qualities and not jus the near-sighted on technical improvements. Because in the long run, this isn't going to be in the lifter's best interest.