Barbell sports are generally scored in totals when in competition, as opposed to the amount of weight lifted for a single lift.
In the sport of Powerlifting, your score is the sum total of the amount lifted in your bench press + back squat + deadlift. This score then is referred to as your Powerlifting Total.
In the sport of Weightlifting (also referred to as Olympic Weightlifting), your score is the sum total of the amount lifted in your snatch + clean & jerk. This score then is referred to as your Weightlifting Total.
CrossFitters even have their own weight lifting total, which is the sum of your shoulder press + back squat + deadlift. They refer to this score as your CrossFit Total.
But few, if any, have heard of The Super Total.
The Super Total
The Super Total includes the “Big Five” lifts: snatch, clean & jerk, back squat, bench press, and deadlift.
Completing the super total in one day, especially in competition, is the greatest demonstration of fitness within the barbell sports. As with any weight lifting competition, you get three attempts to lift a max load for each lift; so in a super total meet, you have to do this 15 times! Not even athletes competing in the sport of Strongman perform 15 events. The CrossFit Games sometimes doesn’t even do 15 events. The Super Total is a legitimate test.
To me, the super total is the crown jewel of weight training. It tests your stamina, strength, power, speed, flexibility, coordination, and accuracy; seven of the ten components of fitness. Not only is it extremely punishing on the body, but also on the central nervous system. Your ability to recover between attempts and between lifts, to just max out another barbell, is a great display of one’s fitness.
The world’s best powerlifters can’t snatch to save a loved one’s life. And the world’s best weightlifters generally have a pathetic bench press.
But put a competition together that tests both powerlifting and weightlifting totals? That’s impressive.
Below is a brief description of each lift:
Snatch: The Snatch, also known as the “World’s Fastest Lift”, occurs when the athlete takes the barbell from the ground and goes directly overhead in one smooth motion. Without a doubt, the snatch is the most technical of all of the lifts. One small error will result in a failed attempt.
Clean & Jerk: The Clean & Jerk, also known as the “World’s Most Powerful Lift”, occurs when the athlete takes the barbell from the ground and brings it to their shoulders. After a brief pause with the barbell resting on the shoulders in the “front rack position”, the athlete will then press the barbell overhead. No other lift rivals the force generated, the distance the bar travels, and the short time it takes to do both of these as the clean & jerk.
Back Squat: The Back Squat is when the barbell rests on the upper-back of the trapezius muscles and the athlete squats down to parallel before standing back up. It is perhaps the most functional movement required for survival, yet so many of our peers can’t even squat to parallel without losing midline stability! The back squat is the building block to any athletic program, both for those using weights and not using weights.
Bench Press: The Bench Press is certainly the most popular of all of the lifts. It is performed while laying down on your back and brining a barbell down to your sternum before pressing it back over your body. When performed right, you use much more than just your pectorals, however. Your lats, core, and even legs play a tremendous part in the bench press.
Deadlift: The Deadlift, which used to be called the “Health Lift”, is the most foundational lift. It is performed by picking up the barbell in a bent-over position, then pulling it up to the hips while standing fully erect. Like the squat, most of our peers can’t even bend over to pick up the cap of the toothpaste without rounding our backs!
Totals in competitive barbell sports are the way to determine winners and losers. Powerlifting and olympic weightlifting totals are certainly more popular to the public, but don’t forget about the Super Total.
It is one of the greatest tests of fitness in the world of sports.
Additionally, lifting weights outside of competition is extremely valuable. There is utility to learning and regularly performing these five lifts for everyday functionality.