What is Efficiency in CrossFit or Kettlebell Sport?

Often you’ll hear the word ‘efficiency’ in CrossFit and Kettlebell Sport. What exactly is efficiency and why would you care?

The definition of efficiency

The dictionary tells us the following:

  • the state or quality of being efficient.
    “greater energy efficiency”
  • the ratio of the useful work performed by a machine or in a process to the total energy expended or heat taken in.

This doesn’t exactly help us define it within the context of CrossFit or Kettlebell Sport, however, that last sentence does point us in the right direction. Being efficient during exercise or competitions means that you chose the best way of performing a movement at a particular moment in time to expand as little energy as possible… but.


Let’s look at the definition for Efficient, which gives us a way better description.


  • (of a system or machine) achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.
    “more efficient processing of information”
  • preventing the wasteful use of a particular resource.
    “an energy-efficient heating system”
  • (of a person) working in a well-organized and competent way.


First, let me start by saying, taking the above and current definition, efficiency isn’t what you’ll always want to achieve. Let me give you a very clear example using the kettlebell snatch. Let’s say you have 1 minute to pump out as many snatches as you can, you’ll be employing a different strategy than when you have 10 or 30 minutes of snatches to complete.


When you have 1 minute of kettlebell snatches to complete you do them fast, as fast as you can do them, you’ll be using the shortest path and probably employ the kettlebell hang snatch, you’ll also expand the most energy possible with that choice of snatch, but, you achieve maximum productivity for that task.

When you have 10 minutes or more of kettlebell snatches to complete, you’re not going to last at the same pace you would for 1 minute, and certainly not with a hang snatch. Thus, what you employ to be efficient depends on the task at hand, the time, the weight, technique, and so much more. Or… does it mean one does not always want to be efficient? FYI: A hang snatch requires the most energy expenditure but is the fastest.


Food for thought

Let’s redefine efficiency to suit what it is in the context of exercise/sport.

Efficiency during exercise is the ability to chose and implement different techniques at different times for achieving the best results possible, while working in a well-organized and competent way.

Or, perhaps we should just be happy with its current definition and accept the fact that we should not always work efficiently.


Efficiency isn’t always what you want in training, training is to improve, and to improve you need to work other areas as well. To give you an example, the clean and jerk. If you want to be efficient, you remove internal and external shoulder rotation, and you remove pronation and supination of the forearm. You perform your clean and jerk with the thumb always pointing up!

If you’re training, you want to get more rotation happening, you want thoracic rotation, shoulder rotation, etc. However, even when you’re not training you might want to employ what under the current definition is not efficient, you want to do all of what I said not to do, because thoracic and shoulder rotation gives you a deeper insert, a deeper insert might help get a heavier weight up, because the longer the path, the more momentum you can generate. I could go on, but hopefully, my point is across. It’s just some food for thought… your opinion below, or on Facebook, don’t be shy, a discussion is good.

Video demonstrates the rotation discussed.

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