What is the Difference between Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, and Crossfit?

CROSSFIT? OLY LIFTING? POWER LIFTING? What the hell does oly stand for? What’s the difference? What should I do? Am I even doing this right?⁣

Crossfit, oly aka OLYmpic weight lifting and powerlifting are all major barbell based heavy lifting style modes of fitness. (Shout out to body building too which isn’t included here).⁣

But most simply:⁣

🏋🏼‍♀️ OLYmpic weight lifting is barbell based sport focused on maximizing your ability to do the snatch and clean and jerk. This is the lifting you see in the olympics. ⁣

💪🏻 Power lifting focused on maximizing the most you can lift in the bench, squat and deadlift. ⁣

🤸🏼‍♀️Crossfit is a mode of fitness that combines Olympic weight lifting, power lifting, gymnastics, body weight and endurance all together. It’s both a skill + power output based style of training. The goal in crossfit is to maximize your ability to do multiple things. And improve your work capacity / power output. Aka you can do more work in the same amount of time or similar.⁣

⁣I also included here the strength speed curve, classic in sports science literature. As you can see power lifting would fall at the very top— simply maximizing power but not caring about speed just “doing the work”. Where Olympic lifting requires more speed — so strength speed.⁣

Where crossfit skills individually can fall anywhere on this spectrum. The classic WOD is going to fall more towards speed strength or muscular endurance, or the second lower half of this figure. This isn’t to be confused absolute strength for speed isn’t required or helpful. It truly depends on your ultimate goals.⁣

⁣For most people who aren’t trying to be competitive, any mix of these can be helpful or fun to train towards. As we get more specific in our goals we may need to niche down or even steal training from one area to improve the other (hello 👋🏻 me doing Oly 1:1 2x/week = me being better at CrossFit).⁣

So I hoped this helped!⁣

If you do one of these, which one? I got started lifting in power/hypertrophy style lifting but I think oly/crossfit is truly where my heart sings 😍

Hey, I'm Lyss!

I’m Exercise Physiologist, sports nutritionist, weight lifter, and ultra runner. I am here to bring science to your training in a no-nonsense way. I have helped thousands of women crush big lifting goals, cross race finish lines, and even do both. I’m here to help you do the same!

Get the free macro calculator

Thank you for subscribing!

Train with me

Looking for running plans?

Related Posts

Meet Doc Lyss

Exercise Scientist, ultra runner, lifter, human.