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What Is the CrossFit Total?

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
What Is the CrossFit Total?
A barbell and a weight rack are the only equipment you need. Photo Credit monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

CrossFit Total is the organization's answer to testing absolute strength. You perform the squat, the press and the deadlift three times. The sum of the best three attempts is your CrossFit Total.

These three exercises were chosen by CrossFit icon Mark Rippetoe because of their functionality. The equipment required for each is minimal, and they're performed while standing, rather than lying down as in a bench press.

Read More: The 10 Most Common CrossFit Mistakes

The Rules of the Lifts

Because the three lifts are used to measure and compare performance, certain rules apply. This makes them easy to judge and for anyone to execute. It also makes them comparable from person to person. The order in which the exercises are done is also important. Begin with the squat, proceed to the press and finish with the deadlift.

You're given no time limit for the lifts or the time between them; however, you must do them all in one session. You can't perform the squats, leave the gym and rest for an hour and come back and complete the other exercises. It's also required that you take three attempts only. You can't do five squats, for example, and claim the first two as warmup and that only the last three counted.

The Individual Moves

Rules for the performance of each of the three lifts are important to follow. Stick to these for an accurate measure of your strength. If you're at a competition, these are the rules followed.

The Squat

You're required to place the bar across the back of your shoulders and clear the rack or squat stand completely to perform the squat. Do not make contact again with the rack until you're done with the lift.

Start with your body upright, knees and hips straight and chest lifted. Bend your hips and knees to drop your thighs below your knees. You must stand up straight again before racking the weight for the squat to count. You are allowed two spotters only.

You must perform a full squat for the lift to count.
You must perform a full squat for the lift to count. Photo Credit shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

The Press

Unload the press from a barbell rack. Hold the bar in both hands in front of your neck as you lift it and walk away from the rack. Stand upright with extended, but unlocked, joints. Keep the bar in contact with the top of your shoulders or your chest, depending on your flexibility. Press the bar overhead to extend the elbows entirely and lower back to the start to complete your rep. You're not allowed to bend your knees or hips to thrust the bar up, nor are spotters permitted.

The Deadlift

You may unload the bar from a platform or the floor for the deadlift. You'll face the bar and grip it with both hands. You pull it up from the floor in one uninterrupted movement until you're standing straight up with your knees and hips extended. You pause at the top with the bar still and lower it back down with control to the ground.

Any time you lift the bar from the floor counts as an attempt.
Any time you lift the bar from the floor counts as an attempt. Photo Credit gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

If you fail to stand straight up, even if you only get a few inches off of the ground, it counts as an attempt. Belts, wrist wraps and knee wraps and sleeves are permitted, but must be used for all attempts. You cannot use lifting straps and must wear a snug shirt and shorts so your form may be observed. No pants, singlets or supportive clothing allowed.

Read More: CrossFit Training Exercises

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