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How Strong is the Female CrossFitter Becoming?

By boxlife

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February 23, 2016

CrossFit women are strong; the female CrossFit Games athletes in particular are something else. This past weekend, 2015 Games athlete Maddy Myers broke a Junior American Record at the 2016 Junior Nationals by clean and jerking 260lbs (at 136lb bodyweight). By the way, she’s only 19.

Brooke Wells, who’s only 20 (weighs 156lbs), recently PR’d her clean at 270lbs.

A video posted by Brooke Wells (@brookewellss) on

These are numbers that compete with and even surpass a lot of competitive male CrossFitters and are indicative of just how much stronger the female Games athlete has become over the years. To delve into this topic further let’s consider the numbers from event 6 at the 2009 CrossFit Games—a 1-rep max snatch.

The top three finishers for the women were:
1. Tamara Holmes: 145lbs
2. Tanya Wagner: 135lbs
3. Kristan Clever: 130lbs

Fast forward to event 5 at the 2015 CrossFit Regionals—a 1-rep max snatch. In fact, athletes had two 20-second windows to attempt the lift with 80 seconds rest between windows, and only had 1 minute 40 seconds after the conclusion of event 4 (a 250ft handstand walk for time) to attempt their first lift. Across all eight Regionals, these were the three highest snatch numbers:

1. Oxana Slivenko: 210lbs
2. Julianne Broadbent: 205lbs
3. Elisabeth Akinwale: 196lbs

Clearly, these numbers blow those from the 2009 Games out of the water. The 210lb snatch represents a 44.83% increase over the winning 145lbs, and a 61.5% jump from the third-place 130lbs.

Now, how do these percentages compare to how the men have improved over the years? In 2009, these were the three highest numbers in the snatch:

1. Jeff Leonard: 240lbs
2. Spencer Hendle: 225lbs
3. Jason Khalipa: 225lbs

And now the three highest snatches from the 2015 Regional event:

1. Arlen Castenada & Nick Urankar: 290lbs
2. Zach Carlin: 285lbs
3. Neal Maddox: 282lbs

The winning 290lb lift represents a 20.83% increase over the top snatch from the 2009 Games, and a 28.9% increase from the third-place 225lbs—well under the increases from the female athletes.

Now, this is just one lift executed at two different competitions six years apart, but it shows just how much the female CrossFit athlete has improved; and when compared to their male counterparts, it highlights how impressive this improvement truly is. Perhaps this reflects how many more women are getting into the sport and embracing the new ideal of strong, creating a deeper talent pool that’s resulted in such huge percentage jumps. Regardless, these women continue to amaze and in the process, break down barriers of what’s possible.

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