If you are new to CrossFit or even a CrossFit veteran you may wonder what the importance of weightlifting in CrossFit and why we perform the Olympic lifts such as the snatch and clean & jerk. After all, we are just trying to get stronger and fitter than yesterday, not go to the Olympics. The reason weightlifting, especially the Olympic lifts are such an important part of CrossFit is that the movements produce a high output of power. The CrossFit approach to weightlifting seeks to utilize the entire body, thus helping you become a stronger and more powerful athlete and human being. Weightlifting movements help to create a strong core in fact they have been shown to be more effective at strengthening an athlete’s core than sit-ups or crunches.
Research shows that in addition to improving your body composition, weightlifting can also improve your overall health. In an article that appeared in LIVESTRONG.COM the author Jody Braverman sites several benefits of weightlifting that most people do not know about such as:
Muscle fights fat – Research has shown that type II muscle fibers, the kind you build when lifting weights, improve whole-body metabolism. Remember muscle burns calories while at rest.
Reduces depression Symptoms – It has been shown through research that like aerobic exercising, anaerobic exercising such as weightlifting will help reduce depression symptoms by the body releasing certain endorphins.
Fight osteoporosis – As you age, you naturally lose muscle and bone mass. Weightlifting can improve bone density, just as muscles adapt to the stress of weightlifting by becoming bigger and stronger, your bones also adapt.
Be better at your sport – No matter the sport, weightlifting will translate into better performance. Weightlifting improves dexterity, endurance and hand-eye coordination, all of which will help you be at the top of your game.
Move with ease – Body awareness or being able to recruit the proper muscles in the right sequence, is key for moving in a way that is both efficient and safe in daily life. “When you get out of your car, there’s a pattern in which your muscles are recruited that is correct; you activate your midsection, rotate your trunk, bring your leg out of the car, fire your hamstrings the glutes, then stand up.” Doing a squat helps you to learn how to perform those movements correctly.
Better blood sugar control – Research indicates that weight training encourages the growth of white muscle, which aids in lowering blood glucose because it uses glucose for energy. Mammals have different color of muscle ranging from red to white. Red muscle, which uses fat oxidation to generate energy, is more prevalent in endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, while white muscle is abundant in weightlifters and sprinters.
Prevents back pain – Weightlifting may help strengthen the muscles of your core-those that support your spine-to lessen discomfort. Recommended exercises are those that focus on the extension of the hip like squatting.
Improved balance – Aside from your major muscle groups, your body has various smaller muscles called stabilizer muscles. These muscles do exactly what you would think: They help stabilize you. Each time you work out you’re indirectly targeting those little muscles that help keep you upright and take care of everyday tasks such as balancing on one foot to reach a high shelf or stopping yourself from falling on an icy surface.
It will make you mentally stronger – When you feel stronger physically, you usually feel stronger mentally. Weightlifting teaches you the skill of perseverance, the ability to overcome discomfort and challenge yourself.
You’ll look and feel better – Plain and simple, weightlifting is the best way to get lean, toned, fit – for both men and women. You can do all the cardio you want, but without some form of resistance training to challenge the muscles, you won’t get those toned muscles in all the right places, the ones that shape your body.
Overall it’s all about a better quality of life and weightlifting is the performance enhancer.
-Coach Antwane Nelson