Weight a Second: Balance and the Bar

from CrossFit Journal April 2016

Mike Burgener of CrossFit Weightlifting has often said 90 percent of all missed lifts are attributed to the feet, but it’s something that’s easy to forget when athletes start moving and barbells and body parts distract the eye.


If athletes do not balance their weight properly in the setup, it’s very difficult to get the bar in the correct spot. If the weight is too far back toward the heel, it can be impossible to get the knees out of the way—a fact that sometimes sends very aggressive pullers limping to the first-aid kit with trickles of blood running down their shins.

If the weight is too far forward toward the ball of the foot, the hips often shoot upward during the first pull and pressure increases in the forefoot. At that point, it’s very inefficient and nearly impossible to get the weight back in the right spot, and the “lifter” is more accurately a passenger who’s going to have to employ brute strength and a bit of luck to find a way under a barbell that’s flung away from him or her. The bar is, in effect, pulling the athlete—not the other way around. “When they go to jump that barbell or explode that barbell, the bar goes way out in front and they have to go jump forward to get it,” Burgener said.

Kara Webb

Kara Webb

To fix the error, Burgener said he makes sure the athlete has the weight centered in the middle of the foot from the setup to the end of the first pull. When the bar is at the knees, the weight is balanced from the middle of the foot to slightly back of mid-foot. That balance would ensure that a coach could neither pull nor push an athlete forward or back at the hang position.

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