CrossFit Olympic Weightlifting Cert Review

Colin McNulty with Mike Burgener at the CrossFit Olympic Weightlifting certification at CrossFit Velocity in Swansea

Given my rotator cuff tear of the supraspinatus I very nearly cancelled going on this weekend’s CrossFit Olympic Weightlifting certification. Boy am I glad I didn’t! I of course had heard that Coach Mike Burgener was, apart from being quite a character, a great Olympic weight lifting coach, but that doesn’t do the man justice.

To be honest I’m rather struggling for the right words to describe him, without sounding like I’ve been caught in the cult of Burgener! That would be wrong though because Coach B certainly doesn’t have the ego for it. In fact one of the first things he said was that what he teaches isn’t the only way, it’s just his way. Frequently throughout the 2 days he reiterated that many things he was saying were not cast in stone (my words) but would be right for 90% of athletes. This was backed up with videos showing world class weightlifters using differing techniques. It’s all too easy for experts in any field to tout the line: “It’s my way, or the high way!” which is not something Mike Burgener does and you can only respect him more for it.

When the arms bend, the power ends.

One thing that surprised me was the amount of work that was done with just a PVC pipe. But this is a reflection of Mike Burgener’s focus on fundamentals approach. After all, what’s the point of practising the wrong thing? As he said: only perfect practice makes perfect. So the entirety of day 1 was spent on snatch drills with the PVC pipe. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this a bad thing however, it’s a very good thing, and there was plenty of opportunity for people to lift weights under Coach’s expert eye over lunch. Indeed many people pulled off impressive jumps in their personal best lifts, and yes, I’m very jealous I wasn’t able to be one of them!

Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

Day 2 saw a review of the snatch work from day 1, then clean and jerk drills, this time with an oly bar, though the most I saw being used was 50kg. Sadly I couldn’t participate in about half of the jerk drills due to my torn supraspinatus but that’s no bad thing either, as I was able to focus on my coaching skills, which was the main point of the cert after all. It is frustrating to know that there are so many mistakes in my own form now that I can not only identify, but know how to correct, and yet it may be a year or more before I can work on them. That’s life though.

I’m not going to go on too much, other than to say, if you have any interesting in Olympic weightlifting, as either a weightlifter yourself or as a coach, you can’t go wrong attending one of Coach Burgener’s CrossFit weightlifting certs. Well worth the cash. And of course you come away with a shiny certificate like this one, which is always nice! 😉

Yay Burpees!

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Michaela Breeze 5 July 2011, 12:22 pm

    Hey guys and girls of Cross Fit all over the country,
    A Cross Fit seems to be growing and growing, it is great to see so many of you getting in to Olympic Weightlifting exercises and more importantly wanting to do it correctly. I am currently a part time PE teacher in Devon and having recently retired from an 18 year Olympic Weightlifting career at the highest levels, i am looking to take on more coaching in weightlifting. Please google me for some of my achievements which include having competed at the last two Olympic Games and medalled at the last three Commonwealth Games. I have also coached numerous young athletes from scratch to Junior and Senior International level. If you are interested in me running a session or two, drop me an e-mail ( and i will get back to you. Please feel free to pass this message on to other cross fit gyms or contact you have.

    I wish you all the best in your training,
    Michaela Breeze

  • Colin McNulty 5 July 2011, 2:26 pm

    Hi Michaela, thanks for dropping by and commenting.

    If you checkout the map I maintain of every CrossFit gym in the country you’ll see that there are only 2 CrossFit boxes in Devon: CrossFit Plymouth, and CrossFit West Country in Totnes. I suggest you reach out to them as a start and see if they’re interested in running a seminar with you.

  • Clay Shane 5 October 2012, 7:32 pm

    I just signed up for this course. Appreciate the great review. It gets me just a little more excited to take the class.

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