Barbell Club Basics

Barbell club.

Over the years, Raleigh CrossFit’s Olympic weightlifting focus has evolved.

When the Box started, the CrossFit classes had a large part that focused on the weightlifting curriculum. However, Chennelle Miller, a co-owner of the Box in Raleigh, North Carolina, said many athletes voiced a genuine interest in spending more time learning weightlifting.

So, they started an 8-week course specifically geared toward improving an athlete’s Olympic lifting techniques. Those courses ran about three to four times a year, and were very limited in size. “That rolled over into creating platform time, because now the athletes want to be able to maybe do less typical CrossFit or conditioning,” said Miller.

Eventually, it involved into the Box’s current barbell club. There is separate programming for those involved in the club, and it meets various times during the week. Miller said the main benefit is the value of knowing how to do the lifts correctly. “(Members) just have a greater heightened sense of awareness of the lifts and a greater appreciation for how challenging they are,” she said.

There were four key aspects Miller mentioned that has helped her barbell club succeed:

  1. Make sure athletes know what they are doing. Since there’s not always a Coach there, it’s essential to determine if an athlete can properly perform movements and understand the lifting progressions before being allowed to join the club.
  2. Figure out if there is demand for a barbell club. Miller said setting aside time and investing in equipment won’t do you any good if no one shows up.
  3. Have a designated area for the barbell club to lift. This allows for less distractions and more focus.
  4. Determining pricing is necessary. Is the barbell club included in an unlimited membership? Do you have to pay for it separately?

Miller also said investing in the proper equipment is crucial. Raleigh CrossFit’s barbell club wasn’t initially created because it couldn’t afford the Olympic bars and plates. Overtime, and as the interest grew, Miller said they slowly bought more equipment and built more platforms. “Don’t buy outside your need,” she said. “People are used to sharing and frankly, when you’re doing Olympic lifts, you end up having to rest anyway. So, if you have two people to a platform, then it works out fine.”

Finally, she suggested if your athletes want to compete in a USA Weightlifting sanctioned meet, your club has to become a USA Weightlifting Club. That is a benefit in itself. “It gives [your athletes] goals for barbell training,” said Miller. “It’s not just, ‘I really like to do Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting,’ but also, ‘Wow, now I can train for something else.’”

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at