Crossfit preparation

Strength Training with Oly lifts

Strength with Olympic Weightlifting  

When it comes to understanding and appreciating Olympic lifting it’s not just a matter of just doing the snatch, clean and jerk and you are done.  For the committed individuals who solely pursue this dynamic sport as their choice in exercise, it about learning all the intricacies that go along with the improvement of these 3 technical lifts. The fun part goes with learning the semi competition lifts, related exercises and the always important Strength exercises, add in some remedial lifts and the associated stretches and you have plenty of scope when it comes to learning and improving your Weightlifting for performance for fun, Fitness and Strength.

For the crew at Claudefit Personal Training it’s a matter of implementing the exercise that go towards the overall results for my various clients. We sometime incorporate the semi- competition lifts and sometimes we are kept just as busy with the related strength exercises.  For others who are possibly working out for sports performance, training in their local Crossfit boxes or they require more of a technical understanding the approach is different but still technical in that we break down the lift a bit more ensuring awareness of current strength levels and possible limiting factors such as flexibility and range of motion, basically a swat analysis on your body.

The following is a sample of a direct process in working toward the snatch for beginners to the more experienced in getting some conditioning in within a learning process. It ensures that the individual is able to move through the exercises and establish where they are at. No point in putting someone under load when they can’t even press the weight above the head.  So there is no way they will be able to catch it when they “give it a go” without understanding it first.

The session takes a top down approach form the point of the catch and works down toward the bottom position.  Most recreational trainers who concentrate on the leg and hip thrust don’t pay attention to the overhead position as they will work it out later. This is often what happens with no coaching or in commercial gyms where it’s something cool to try. Unfortunately the shoulder structure is not sound enough, stable/ flexible to appropriately accept the catch.

I’m not keen to test out my flexibility when I don’t know whether I can hold it first!

Weightlifting – The Snatch progress

Barbell Standing Military press – Without a doubt the shoulder press will let the individual know exactly where their absolute strength lies and can from this exercise alone establish range and lockout strength. The ability to hold onto the weight above the head with the shoulder blades elevated should also provide feedback on stability. A classic lift as the first exercise in this progression. As a stand-alone the Military press is an excellent exercise for upper body (shoulder) development.

Barbell back squat – With most sports the ability to generate power from the hips and legs can only begin with one of the pillars of strength. The barbell squat will add muscle quicker than any of the other available movements that tries to replica this fundamental movement. When it comes to pure strength the squat reigns supreme. It is why we work on this movement. All others exercises will be supported by leg strength. Remember it starts from the floor/ground.

Overhead squat – The overhead squat has many benefits. For the Olympic lifts the ability to apply this movement is critical in both holding a weight above your head and be able to squat down to the floor. A typical gym squat to parallel doesn’t cut the mustard with Olympic lifting. You need to be able to get down low. The overhead squat will let you know where you are at. Performed with a barbell or PVC pipe alone is enough for the beginners and is a nice warmup for the more experienced. Work this one well.

Pressing Snatch balance – When we get to this exercise we are now starting to work on a more weightlifting specific movement. It basically requires you to hold the barbell behind you as in a back squat position (feet  wider) and then in one slow movement lower your body into a deep squat while the barbell is maintained at best as possible in the same position. Think pushing yourself away from the bar here. The end of the movement should be the same as the bottom position of the snatch. A great movement to get that flexibility happening and with a bit of weight, a great muscle builder.

Heave pressing snatch balance – The next progression is similar to the previous one in that you are now working on a much quicker execution of movement. That is to drop at speed. One for the more experienced that will clearly challenge you.

Snatch Balance – The last one with this simple progression (not easy) is performed with the feet beginning in the pulling position with the barbell in the back squat position. The next step is to take a slight dip and then explode into the snatch position in quickly dropping and landing in a wider leg position. Once you have worked through the previous progressions this one becomes a bit of fun.

It’s Playtime

Once you have had enough of the technical work and practiced the particular elements that you are not too comfortable with (and got better) it’s time to work through the more dynamic and powerful varieties the snatch provides. The first two exercises allow you to with limited technical application power through the movement. The Muscle snatch is a great start as it rewards the stronger guys and girls who don’t quite have the technical and movement down pat. Next is the popular Power snatch where you’re starting to drop under the bar and it’s where you begin to appreciate the overall movements of this great exercise (eg; positioning, leg drive and hip power). At this stage the return on investment for pure strength, conditioning and power output should be sufficient for most, particularly the athlete wishing to reap the benefits for their sport. The last and most technical of the three is the Snatch which is more dynamic and is the true end results of the traditional Olympic lifting style. When you are performing the classic Olympic Snatch properly you’re most likely, flexible, experienced, well-conditioned and clearly one strong individual.

Overall al of the movements have an enormous benefit, it’s up to you to work through in a safe and progressive manner in reaping the rewards. The importance is to first get the patterning done and correct any deficiencies before you go all out to grip and rip the bar off the floor in becoming, a fitter stronger and more conditioned practitioner.

Olympic Weightlifting for Crossfit

Olympic Weightlifting for Crossfit

The Olympic Weightlifting movements are made up of only two major lifts, however in the process of becoming as efficient as possible to allow you to lift the heaviest as possible you have an array of options in relation to breaking down these two unique and dynamic lifts.

The clean and jerk and Snatch are the two dominant lifts that you can perform for absolute power transfer that also have an enormous carry over effect in several of the power sports and are a staple of the Crossfit training practiced by many during their famous WOD’s. I myself at Claudefit Personal Training use the power version of these lifts in relation to building up a power base for my clients who practice martial arts, play AFL, Rugby and in the past taken on the rigours of American football we call gridiron. In addition my ladies group fitness class

The following plan ( in point form ) is just a sample of the work that goes into teaching the members at my local crossfit Craigieburn box in relation to the snatch and other specific lift and strength related exercise. Add in some mobility drills you are well on the way in getting a grip on how to perform the Snatch. Or at least be armed with a bit of knowledge in practicing these exercises with a safe and technical approach.

After a warm up that involved a series of total full body mobility drills we covered the following:

Bottom positioning cues                                                                                   

* Feet Hip width apart

* Chest is inflated

* Upright position (chest inflated)

* Hips Higher than Knees (80-100 degrees angle)

* Shoulders over and in front of the bar

* Arms straight and elbows out

It’s important to emphasise the set up and ensure that all participants are able to ask question if they are not sure. Given the various skill levels it allows for the less experienced and new members to get a solid understanding of the basics.

Progressive exercise for the snatch.                                                                                 

Full Snatch from Hang (knee Height)                                                                                                    

* Enhances the ability to accelerate the bar in the second pull

* Skill at receiving the bar

* Top of thigh /lower / explode up

Power Snatch                                                                                                   

* Emphasis on explosive phase

* Accelerate as much as possible

* Avoid pushing head forward (promotes hips going back)

* Lower than 90 degrees it’s not a power snatch

Snatch/High Pull

* High transfer into power production

* When comfortable (more experienced), done at maximum speed

* Start position of snatch (wide grip)

* Pulling straps can be used

Snatch Shrug                                                                                                     

* Start up on thighs

* Emphasis on the final explosive phase of the snatch pulls

* Heavier weights

* Power rack/Blocks required

* Shorter range

* Straps required

Drop Snatch                                                                                                      

* From chest

* Drop into snatch position

Once the class was able to be taught these progressions, given the time to practice, and allow for question time, we simply moved onto the strength exercises related to the question asked. Most of the lifts performed by participants related to their own needs.  At Crossfit Craigieburn we are proactive in a high level of client deliveries so question time is important in allowing member to find the exercises most suitable to them that will best help them out.

Strength Exercises                                                                                                         

* Overhead squat            * Lift offs

* Front squat                  * Romanian Deadlifts (second part of pull) snatch and clean

In finishing off the session we quickly went over the remedial drill that particular class participants needed. With the use of the Kettlebell the job of opening up the hips and working on the overhead extension finished off a productive and rewarding class


* KB – Goblet squat

* BB/KB Overhead shrugs

* KB – Overhead stretch

* Hanging knee raise (decompress spine/ core/ hips)

Claude Castro is owner of Claudefit Personal training located in Mill Park. Is a Level two Weightlifing coach with the Australian Weightlifting federation and currently taking the Crossfit Weighlifting class held at the newly establish Crossfit Cragieburn.

Gone Crossfit

Weightlifting for Crossfit

I have recently been offered and accepted a position as Weightlifting coach for one of the new and very exiting Crossfit premises out in Craigieburn. I’ll be looking after the members with technical and programing requirements in order to prepare them for their own competition within this new brand of fitness.

If you don’t know what crossfit is and are an active exercise participant, you might be mistaken for someone who has been in the dark ages. Crossfit has literally taken over the fitness world and is now a major player in the states and other parts of the world in relation to this style of training and let’s not forget to include their ever-growing participant base. Add some local and regional competition to establish who the best is an all of a sudden you have a juggernaut called Crossfit.

It so big now that we now have the crossfit games that have an enormous television viewing audience and Is now regularly been held in Australia for qualification into the overall championship held in the states.

My humble part will be simply to add value to the current members who are looking at brushing upon their Olympic lifting technique, look after the members who are looking at competing or simply want to learn how to properly and safely perform these dynamic lifts. I’m very much looking forward to the challenge of adding value to the crew at crossfit Craigieburn.

Olympic Weightlifting

In Olympic weight lifting the core exercises performed are the snatch and the clean and jerk. Both these exercises are very difficult to perform and require extensive adherence to detail when applying the techniques, assistant exercises and related stretches.  In relation to more sports related training both these lifts and their variations have been highly regarded as “the discipline” to incorporate with their explosive movements in adding clear benefits with both high end strength levels and power output. With sports such as AFL and the rugby codes it has obvious benefits.

Olympic lifts should be prescribed when the individual has progressively developed significant relative and absolute strength to capitalise on the speed and full body movements required to gain maximum returns. I look forward in preparing the member out in Craigieburn in relation to these lifts and other associated strength exercises.

The classes are held of Friday evenings and are from 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm and are suitable for all.

Hope to see you there ready to get strong and powerful.

Happy lifting.

Claudefit personal training is located in Mill Park in the outer northern suburbs of Melbourne. Contact detail can be located via the website


A few of my conditioning exercises.

As many experiences Personal trainers will tell you if you are after quick results it’s all about keeping to the basics and doing them well. A basic movement should not be confused with an easy movement!  I will say this, for the athletes, Crossfit enthusiasts that enjoy their sport and the committed individuals who make training part of their lifestyle, it’s the only way. It’s a must and is the most valuable component we need. They simply return more bang for your buck and are proven superior to the many fads that have come and gone.

Do them well and results are sure to follow. Neglect them and you will not progress.

A somewhat downbeat view to take on this is the fact that doing the basics over a long period of time is boring to some and in my opinion is not handled well by the 99% of the regular weekend fitness crowd either. The cries of “gimme another program because this is not working” is common in commercial gyms after giving it a try for only two weeks and maybe just 3 sessions.

In order to be able to grind out proper session after session sometimes the training can be changed to add a fresher approach and still be results based. The following are some of my got to movements in relation to my fitness and strength client. These are great for strength and conditioning, suitable to Crossfit type training or those who are already following a somewhat rigid and set plan catering to more specific needs can be used on lighter days and still cover the main body parts.

  • The first one is a variation on the old power move with the bench press and power clean. Basically I use a bench protocol of 5 x 10 with a reasonable weigh superseded with a set of 10 double cleans with pair of kettlebells. This gets the heart rate up and allows for a nice compact hit to the system. Give me a couple of these sets and you’ll soon have the lungs working overtime. Repeat for 5 sets
  • The next one is basic ally a set of barbell front squats superseded soon after with a set of 10 Swings with a pair of double Kettlebells.  Again the same response in reaching for the imaginary oxygen mask (that I never have around) and one you’ll soon find an appreciation for fresh air. The response from the front squat alone works your heart rate to the max. The kettlebell is these just to test your will. Go ahead challenge yourself.
  • One of my favourites for the shoulders is performing a set of ten double kettlebell push presses followed immediately by ten fast bodyweight push ups. Try these with a limited rest in between sets. Basic and brutal if you choose the correct set of bells.
  • The use of gymnastics rings are also a stapler here. For example try pushing out 10-20 chest presses  ( alter angel depending on strength ) on the rings followed immediately with  a set of 20 hard style swings with a single “ heavy” kettlebell that will allow you to get 20 solid swings done. You have to be honest here in choosing the right bell and angle used on the rings. Given the proper application you are sure to get that hear rate up and as they say in this industry -feel it. Great for the hips.
  • Just to add a bit of bodyweight mix to these conditioning movements the last one to try is one for the bodyweight tough guys. Perform a set of sprawls to a chin up (back) and repeat for a set of ten.  Try to ensure that the start and end position of the feet are the same than jump up and in one smooth flow perform a pull up. Repeat for ten. This one takes a bit of practice like most of them. Once you get it right it sits in these nicely as part of your conditioning arsenal.

At Claudefit my client base is generally people like you and me. We want to get fit, lose a little weight, have some muscles and look good. The above movements are part of what is introduces to incite a response in delivering results. Great for those who are interested in Crossfit preparation in a one on one environment.

For the more advanced types. Learn them and then hit them hard. With the correct application to protocol you are sure to get the desired effect.

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