I know you want to lift more! So....................

Efficiency, Speed and Lateral Foot Movement: The Big Debate

By Elysha Oliver

In recent days, I have heard a lot of chatter about foot movement during barbell cycling being “too slow” and inefficient. So I’m here to tell you, you do NOT need to move your feet when cycling the barbell…

I know – everyone is gasping. BUT, let me be VERY clear. There is a very big difference between lifting to ingrain technique and barbell cycling. At no point should cycling the barbell override learning and executing good technique.

For the majority of Crossfit Insight members, we are always striving to get better, and more efficient, in our lifts. So let’s look at two scenarios:

  1. I know the lifts, but I still catch forward, my elbows don’t move as fast as they could, I’m not stable in my catch position, etc.

This is 95% of the lifters in our gym, including me some days. We all have something in our lifts that can be improved – until you get to a point that those improvements never impact your ability to be consistent in your technique and make the majority of your lifts, you still fall into this category.

  1. I show consistent technique in every lift no matter the weight and I can make the majority of my lifts.

These are the lifters in our gym who can complete their lifts with good form and the technique they use is the same for each rep and each weight. These athletes are great at barbell cycling because they have the base technical skills.

For those who fall into scenario 1, I will always recommend that you continue to focus on building great technique, and the speed and efficiency will follow. Don’t put the cart before the horse and end up cycling crappy reps. So, in the case of lateral foot movement – learn to move your feet to catch the weight (even in power clean and snatches and no matter the weight!) so that you ingrain good pulling and receiving technique. Once your body understands the movement, you can advance to scenario 2.

In scenario 2, athletes are likely to be able to build muscle memory for both barbell cycling and single lifts, and have a slightly different approach. For Olympic lifting, these athletes are going to be very technical and ensure that they start with the proper pulling position, and end in the appropriate squat stance. For barbell cycling, however, they may be more inclined to start closer to, if not in, their squat stance for all of the reps, IF the weight is relatively light in comparison to their 1 RM. This can increase speed for cycling and help achieve the desired stimulus for that WOD.

BUT… there should not be a sacrifice in the remainder of your technique by removing the lateral foot movement.

Just remember – technique first, then efficiency, then speed.