CrossFit Is For Weightlifters, Not For Runners?

Scrolling through posts on OPT’s site I came across the following tidbit regarding the perceived movement of the “sport” side of CrossFit away from being a generalist and towards a strength bias:

Media recently for the sport has put an emphasis on strength development in spite of promoting true “balance” in fitness and the general components of fitness. A sport where now the elite can qualify for the American open weightlifting championships but cannot qualify for a state-level high school cross country meet.

Do you even lift bro?

Do you even lift bro?

I have no idea whether this is technically accurate (anyone know what kind of times are required to qualify for a “a state-level high school cross country meet”?). I’d also suggest that in the U.S. the depth of the field in cross country is *far* greater than the depth of the field in weightlifting. That being said the point is fairly well taken. The handful of comments on the post agree with OPT’s sentiment. As one individual states:

The testing for “Worlds Fittest” has really become slanted to the best Oly Lifter, plus work capacity in the 6-8 minute range with heavy-ish weight.

There is actually some easily accessed stats to back at least a portion of this claim up. Anders Larson has done some great analysis of the Open, Regionals, and Games from the last two years. A quick review of his stats make it very clear where the emphasis is:

Movement Subcategories Competitions

It’s also worth pointing out that the “Olympic-Style Barbell Lifts” category contains seven movements while the next highest category, “Basic Gymnastics”, contains 15 movements.

Although, history is no guarantee of what to expect in the future, it’s clear the Olympic lifts have had a disproportionate roll in deciding the past two years CrossFit Games winners.


OPT’s and Ander’s posts are below:

The OPT Experience Blog for Dec 18, 2012

CFG Analysis: Does Our Training Look Like What We’re Training For? Should It?


p.s. In case Chris Spealler ever sees the picture and caption above: Don’t kill me! It was too funny not to post. You rock!



Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Wes says:

    Yes, this is definitely true. I linked to this blog post and added some thoughts in our CrossFit community on Google Plus “The Chalk Buket” ( But putting it briefly, to be a decent high school cross country runner (for males) you would need to have a sub 5 minute mile. To actually win some meets and be good at your regional level (your city and a few surrounding cities) you would need to be closer to 4:30… and to have a chance at the podium for your State’s meet you would need to be in the very low 4s. Which means that not a single male among the 47 “fittest men on Earth” who just competed in the games wouldn’t stand a chance at even a decent high schooler at any distance >=1600m. Whereas not just Froning and Akinwale, but nearly half of the field in this year’s games would have easily qualified for US nationals in Olympic Weightlifting.

  • Ryan Stewart says:

    Great article, Phil. I wasn’t actually looking for an article like this but upon reading your post, I thought that it’ll be good to read these stuff once in a while. Of course, CF is for everyone but it’s a different story when we’re talking about professional work out. I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts.

    • Phil says:

      Thanks Ryan. Although, the stats in the article are a bit dated I suspect they still hold true.

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