Are We Testing 1 Rep Max Olympic Lifting Too Often?

November 27, 202315 min read

Image Credit: CrossFit LLC

With the recent announcement from the Dubai Fitness Championship of Event 2, which they are calling “Dubai Elite Lifters Clash” (but is really just the Olympic lifting total- one rep max Snatch plus one rep Clean and Jerk), a few friends who I have tremendous respect for as both programmers and evaluators of programming have suggested that programming is getting repetitive with regards to the heavy lifts, and that high level competitions should not be testing the Olympic lifting totals in isolation, or at least are suggesting that some more creativity could be implored in doing so.

In particular, one of them mentioned that the “Olympic Total” was just tested at the CrossFit Games this year. Another mentioned that Dubai has tested a one-rep max snatch once before and a one-rep max clean and jerk twice previously. 

Rather than just accept their frustrations as objectively correct, I thought it would be worth diving into the question of whether or not the max snatch and max clean and jerk are being programmed too often. 

Questions we’re after: 

  • How often have the Olympic Lifts been tested as 1-rep maxes in individual competition?
  • How many athletes competing in Dubai just did this at the Games?
  • Which athletes have competed in the most competitions as individuals that have tested 1-rep max Olympic Lifts?

One-Rep Max Snatch Testing History

Since 2009, a One-Rep Max Snatch has been programmed 25 times that we have record of in the B.Friendly Stats database: 

*Note that 3 of those 25 are as part of the “Olympic Total”

CompetitionYearEvent TitleEvent
CrossFit Games2009Snatch1RM Snatch
CrossFit Games2011Skills 21RM Weighted Chest to Bar Pull Up for load1RM SnatchJug Carry for distance in 60 seconds
Regionals2012Regionals 12.5EMOM until Failure20 Double Unders1RM Snatch
Regionals2015Regionals 15.51RM Snatch
CrossFit Games20171RM Snatch2 x 20 sec window to lift1RM SnatchTop 10 will get 2 additional attempts
Sanctionals: Dubai CrossFit Championship2018Max Snatch5 min to establish a 1RM Snatch
Sanctionals: MACC2019Milo (Snatch)6 min to establish a 1RM Snatch
Sanctionals: Reykjavik CrossFit Championship2019Last Man Standing1RM Snatch LadderA Snatch ladder culminating in the last 5 standing going head to head on 3 attempts for 1RM
Sanctionals: MACC2019Milo (Total)Total Weight from 1RM Snatch and 1RM Clean and Jerk
Sanctionals: CrossFit French Throwdown2019Event 8Every 75 seconds with increasing barbell weight8 cal Ski1RM Snatch
Sanctionals: Filthy 1502019Snatch1RM Snatch
Sanctionals: SouthFit CrossFit Challenge2019WOD 4B1RM Snatch
Semifinals: Granite Games20212018’s Flashback Snatch1RM Snatch
Semifinals: MACC20218 Mile1RM Snatch
CrossFit Games2021Event 121RM Snatch
Madrid Challenger Series2021Eleiko1RM Snatch1RM Clean and Jerk
French Throwdown2022Snatch+OHS1RM Snatch + Overhead Squat Ladder 
Zelos Games2022Ace of SpadesEvery 1:30 until failureRound 1: 30 Double Unders + 3 Snatch (185)Round 2: 30 Double Unders + 3 Snatch (205)Round 3: 30 Double Unders + 3 Snatch (225)Round 4: 30 Double Unders + 2 Snatch (235)Round 5: 30 Double Unders + 2 Snatch (245)Round 6: 30 Double Unders + 1 Snatch (255)Round 7: 30 Double Unders + 1 Snatch (265)Round 8: 3 min to find a 1RM Snatch
Metcon Rush2022Lift Off1RM Snatch
Black Challenge2022Max Lift1RM Snatch
Malaga Throwdown2022WOD 23 attempts at 1RM Snatch every 2 min
Turun Tuomiopäivä2022Max Track and a Couple of Bishops1RM Snatch
Semifinals2023Test 4800m Assault AirRunner1RM Snatch
Rest 2 minutes, then Test 5
CrossFit Games2023Olympic Total1RM Snatch1RM Clean and Jerk
2 x 20 second windows per lift
NorCal Classic2023Big Snatch Energy6 min to establish a 1RM Snatch50 Double Unders at 0:00 and 3:00

One-Rep Max Clean and Jerk Testing History

The Clean and Jerk was first programmed as a 1-rep max four years later in 2013, it has been programmed much less often (60% of the time) as compared to the 1-rep max snatch. Here are the 15 times a 1-rep max clean and jerk has been programmed since 2013: 

*Note that 3 of those 15 are as part of the Olympic Total

CompetitionYearEvent TitleEvent
CrossFit Games2013Clean & Jerk Ladder1RM Clean and Jerk every 90 seconds 4 Starting weight options – 225, 255, 285, 315
Open2015Open 15.1A1RM Clean and Jerk
CrossFit Games2015Clean and Jerk1RM Clean and Jerk
Sanctionals: MACC2019Milo (Total)Total Weight from 1RM Snatch and 1RM Clean and Jerk
Sanctionals: Down Under CrossFit Championship2019Clean and Jerk3 x 1 min attempts for 1RM Clean and Jerk
Sanctionals: MACC2019Milo (Clean and Jerk)Then,6 min to find 1RM Clean and Jerk
Sanctionals: Dubai CrossFit Championship2019Event 41RM Clean and Jerk
Sanctionals: The Rogue Invitational2020Event 4Tiebreak:7 Clean and Jerks Rest 5:00Then, EMOM until Failure1RM Clean and Jerk 
Madrid Challenger Series2021Eleiko1RM Snatch1RM Clean and Jerk
Semifinals: Torian Pro2021Clean & Jerk Ladder1RM Clean and Jerk
Dubai CrossFit Championship2021Event 21RM Clean and Jerk2 lifts per athlete, Athletes pick their weight
NorCal Classic2022Clean & Jerk Ladder1RM Clean and Jerk
CrossFit Games2023Olympic Total1RM Snatch1RM Clean and Jerk
2 x 20 second windows per lift
Wodapalooza2023We Have Lift Off (A)1RM Clean and Jerk
1 min Transition to Part B
Madrid CrossFit Championship2023Lifting Test3 Rounds (90s On, 90s Off)50 Jump Bar Double Unders1RM Clean and Jerk

Olympic Total Testing History

And finally the Olympic Lifting total, which is what is being programmed at the Dubai Fitness Championship this year has only shown up three times that we have record of in our database, beginning in 2019:

CompetitionYearEvent TitleEvent
Sanctionals: MACC2019Milo (Total)Total Weight from 1RM Snatch and 1RM Clean and Jerk
Madrid Challenger Series2021Eleiko1RM Snatch1RM Clean and Jerk
CrossFit Games2023Olympic Total1RM Snatch1RM Clean and Jerk
2 x 20 second windows per lift

Breaking Down the Charts

Let’s take a simpler look at where these lifts have been programmed: 

GamesRegionals/SemisSanctionalsOut of Season
Clean and Jerk20/154
Olympic Total10/011

For those who have the feeling that it’s getting programmed too frequently, it’s probably because of the density within the last few years. Sanctionals and the years in which we had a variety of Semifinals doing their own programming account for 16 of 38, or just under half, of the times any of these three things have been programmed. 

Additionally, all 12 of the out of season competitions which have programmed these lifts started doing so with Dubai in 2018. 

What it seems is that since the Open-Regional-Games format of the season was shut down, many more competitions started being followed through the Sanctional model. Many of those competitions, and others, have seized opportunity in the new landscape of the sport to provide competitive opportunities for top athletes in their parts of the world. 

For the people who follow the sport the most closely, they will therefore see one-rep max testing of Olympic lifts showing up at a frequency which could be unsettling. 

However, considering that in this sport most of the athletes only compete a couple times per year, they aren’t each being tested individually on these lifts anywhere near the frequency at which they’re being programmed. 

From a data point of view, it’s great that they’ve been programmed this often within the last several years as it allows us to gather a wider range of athlete’s performance when it comes to the Olympic lifts. 

2023 CrossFit Games Athletes in Dubai

Considering all of that, the “Olympic Lifting Total” was just programmed at the CrossFit Games this past July. LaPerf and B.Friendly Stats recently put out an Instagram post offering some insight into some of the patterns observed in the two-lift format there. We don’t know the format for Dubai yet, but if they give them a third lift, it will be cool to do a side-by-side style comparison evaluating how two lifts, as compared to three, would potentially affect athlete performance. 

We don’t quite have the full list for athletes competing in Dubai yet, but from what we do know there are 8 women and 8 men from the 2023 CrossFit Games who are also competing in Dubai, though a few of them were CUT before the “Olympic Total” event at the Games: 

AthleteSnatchClean & JerkTotal
Karin Frey206240446 lbs
Emma Tall186236422 lbs
Alexia Williams175235410 lbs
Seher Kaya175210385 lbs
Emily Rolfe165200365 lbs
Manon AngoneseCUTCUTCUT
Matilde GarnesCUTCUTCUT
Shahad BudebsCUTCUTCUT
AthleteSnatchClean & JerkTotal
Bronislaw Olenkowicz315365680 lbs
Moritz Fiebig285357642 lbs
Fabian Beneito281356637 lbs
Chandler Smith293335628 lbs
Roman Khrennikov276341617 lbs
Lazar Dukic277330607 lbs
David Shorunke255320575 lbs
Ant Haynes245285530 lbs

Who Has Done the Most 1RM Olympic Lifts in Their Career?

Here are a list of all athletes who have EVER done 5 or more of any Olympic lift in one of the competitions from our database: 

Men: Snatch

Athlete (17)Snatch
Will Moorad8
Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson7
Samuel Kwant7
Noah Ohlsen6
Jonne Koski6
Tim Paulson6
Roman Khrennikov6
Ben Smith5
Rob Forte5
Jason Smith5
Scott Panchik5
Travis Mayer5
Brent Fikowski5
Norman Woodring5
Richard Paul Castillo5
Justin Medeiros5
Adrian Mundwiler5

Men: Clean and Jerk

Athlete (5)Clean and Jerk
Jonne Koski6
Will Moorad5
Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson5
Patrick Vellner5
Spencer Panchik5

Women: Snatch

Athlete (14)Snatch
Annie Thorisdottir8
Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir6
Thuridur Erla Helgadottir6
Emma McQuaid6
Emma Mcquaid6
Samantha Briggs5
Lauren Fisher5
Sara Sigmundsdottir5
Brooke Wells5
Paige Henry5
Arielle Loewen5
Mikaela Norman5
Bethany Flores5
Elena Carratala Sanahuja5

Women: Clean and Jerk

Athlete (6)Snatch
Samantha Briggs6
Sara Sigmundsdottir6
Kara Saunders5
Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir5
Thuridur Erla Helgadottir5
Jamie Simmonds5

Seventeen men and fourteen women have seen a one rep max snatch occur five or more times in a competition throughout their career. Annie Thorisdottir and Will Moorad tally the most max snatch events with eight apiece. 

The numbers are considerably lower for the clean and jerk with only six women and five men having seen at least five competitions. Jonne Koski, Sam Briggs, and Sara Sigmundsdottir lead the way with six competitive one rep max clean and jerk events each. 

Total Number of Athletes Compared to The Elite

All told*, 1,460 men and 1186 women have seen a one-rep max snatch in competition; 80% of the men and 76% of the women on that list have only done it once. 

A total of 1257 men and 1217 women have had a one-rep max clean and jerk in competition; 88% of the men and 89% of the women have only had one chance to do it. 

*In the Open we only count the top 1000 (plus anyone from outside the top 1000 with a top-10 worldwide finish in any singular Open workout, when it applies), each year.


It doesn’t seem to be the frequency with which the lifts show up historically that’s the issue at all. In this case, the density of these lifts being tested between 2019 and the present is much higher than it was prior to that. However, the entire season structure began changing at that point in the sports career, which in turn has caused changes to the frequency of high level competitions occurring, and therefore increasing the number of opportunities for them to show up as well. 

As far as the athletes are concerned, many of them have faced these lifts at least once, far fewer have seen them twice or more, and only the elite athletes in the sport (which almost the entirety of those lists are) have seen them five times or more in competition. Most of the athletes who have seen them five or more times have been competing for a long time, in some cases a decade or more; seeing the Olympic Lifts come up once a year per athlete is probably okay, and much like it will be in Dubai, if it’s against a changed enough field and/or with a different format, there is likely a decent chance for a different result. 

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Brian Friend

Brian stumbled upon CrossFit in the Fall of 2013. He has been a writer, data analyst, content creator, commentator, and broadcast coordinator. He's worked at a majority of the largest CrossFit competitions over the last three seasons, is a regular guest on the Sevan Podcast, and has been amongst the leading sports analysts in the sport in recent years. He has a passion for advancing the sport of CrossFit, and spreading the CrossFit methodology, by living it out in both his personal and professional life.


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