If you want to add more complex movements into your weightlifting routine, you must try the snatch. This is a great exercise to add when you are trying to challenge yourself to master a new move to increase your size and strength. The snatch offers you with serious benefits such as improved body composition, explosive strength, and increased muscle mass. Additionally, you will experience improve coordination and enhanced connective tissue strength.
You will get an efficient workout of every major muscle group with just one lift. You should try this lift at first under the supervision of someone highly experienced with the snatch such as a qualified Olympic lifting coach. However, if you can't afford that, make sure you continue reading to learn more about how to efficiently perform this awesome lift.
The Snatch Technique
The first thing you need to learn is that the movement when performing this lift should feel smooth and natural, not contrived, rigid or painful. Once you start lifting, you don't have the time to think about it, so allow it flow naturally because it all lasts less than a second. It's not easy to master though, so it will require a high level of training in order to become proficient. Your goal is to lift a heavy load over your head in one fluid, but explosive movement. With time, you'll develop your very own technique and strategy to perform the snatch, but a coach or study can help you head in the right direction. You need to first master the basics of this lift through repetition by possibly segmenting the full-lift into partials.
1. The High Hang
This is the easiest version of the snatch that has the most transferability to athletics. This is why it's perfect for beginners and it helps you build the power you need to quickly advance to the next level. You can learn this effective movement in just the first week of your strength training and you can gain a lot from it. It will help you with your other activities that require explosive strength and jumping as well.
This movement provides you with a proper hamstring tension to help you accelerate the barbell by explosively opening your hips. When you're ascending with your barbell, you'll get into the high hang position to explode upwards with all of your power.
- Begin with a snatch grip on your barbell in a high hang position.
- Extend your spine and hinge forward at the hips. Don't bend your knees!
- Feel the tension in your hamstrings and just slightly bend your knees.
- Return to the high hang and repeat 8-10 times.
2. Hips and Shoulders
Most lifters make the mistake of pulling the barbell off the floor with everything they've got which makes their hips and glutes to inevitably shoot up and keep their shoulders stationary. This excessive leverage through the upper body creates poor mechanics and results in a missed lift. Prevent this by making a couple of corrective efforts:
- Create tension in the hamstrings, glutes, and back by lightly pulling against the bar before you initiate your actual pull.
- Don't pull the bar with all of your force when you initially lift it. The first part of your pull should be slower and then accelerate it to keep your position in full alignment.
3. Go ahead and fail!
You will most definitely fail a few times before you master the technical aspects of this lift. You only learn from your missed lifts, so study what went wrong and correct that. The snatch is a 'controlled rage' exercise, so use that failure frustration to motivate you and challenge you to master the lift. This will fuel your explosive strength and you will end up lifting heavier than you did at first.
How To Perform
Implement this lift into your training regimen to suit your training schedule and individual goals. Once you've mastered the high hang, you can add this lift to your program to generate new stimulus and assess your body's ability to recover from it. Try to perform the snatch once or twice a week in the beginning and progress from there. If your goal is to build muscle mass and develop power and proficiency, consider using a density-style format. On the days you are planning to perform this lift, make sure you warm-up and perform the snatch as the first exercise, followed by a non-technical exercise. So, if you're going to use the snatch twice a week, here are a couple of examples of how you can perform it as advised:
- Power Snatch at 65% of 1RM - 10 sets x 8 reps, with 1-minute rest.
- Back Squat - 5 sets x 10 reps
- Muscle Snatch at 50% of 1RM - 10 sets x 8 reps, with 1-minute rest
- Bench Press, 5 sets x 10 reps
When you think of 'the snatch', this is what you think of. This exercise is executed with speed, in one coordinate and continuous movement. You should only perform the power snatch once you've mastered the high hang. This progression from the hang snatch will help you build and develop even more strength and power. This lift requires a lot of mobility and trains your posterior chain to significantly increase your strength. Make sure that your grip is wide enough to allow you to descend into a partial squat the bar at arm's length over your head. Remember to lift it steadily and then accelerate the lift over your head.
- Stand over your barbell with the balls of your feet under the bar at hip width or slightly wider.
- Squat down and grip the bar with a wide overhand grip.
- Position your shoulders over the bar with your back slightly arched.
- Make sure your arms are straight and your elbows are pointed along the bar.
- Pull the bar up off the floor by extending your hips and knees.
- Keep your back arched until the bar reaches your knees and maintain the same angle to the floor as in your starting position.
- Once the barbell is past the knees, vigorously raise your shoulders and keep the bar as close to your legs as possible.
- Allow the barbell to make contact with your thighs as soon as it passes your upper thighs.
- Shrug your shoulders and pull the bra upwards with your arms, allowing your elbows to pull up to your sides, but keep them over the bar as long as you can.
- Explosively pull your body under the bar and catch it at arm's length just before your knees bend to slightly lower than a 90-degree angle.
- Lock out your arms in the partial squat position and immediately stand up with the barbell over your head, so that your thighs don't ride lower than parallel to the floor.
- Slightly bend your knees and lower the barbell to mid-thigh position.
- Lower the bar slowly with a taut lower back and keep your trunk as close to a vertical position as you can.
- Once you gain some experience, you can simply unload (drop) the bar from the completed position.
Tip: Allow your elbows to go up, back and through at the completion of your snatch because your body slightly tilts backward when you complete the movement behind the bar. For more on this cool tip, watch Jared Enderton's quick Weightlifting Tip Video to learn more about the technical aspects of it.
This is the least explosive version of the snatch, but it's an excellent strength developer. It is an underused movement, but it is very helpful with lighter weights to help you learn the right upper body mechanics of the turnover of the snatch. You can build it up and add more weight as you go to significantly reinforce your turnover.
- Start in the snatch starting position and make sure that your elbows are oriented to your sides.
- Lift the bar as you would for a power snatch until you reach the top of the upward extension of your body.
- Keep your knees straight and your body extended, then pull your elbows as high as you possibly can, and keep the bar in close to your body.
- Allow the elbows to move out to the sides as they go up and once they reach maximal height, turn your arms over to bring the barbell all the way up into the overhead position.
- Make sure your legs remain straight and keep constant tension against the barbell during the movement.
- Make sure the barbell is continuously moving, without pausing or hesitation during the lift.
- Return and rest!
Tip: This exercise is not enough to generate enough power to replace the hang snatch, so make sure you stick to the high hang snatch alongside the muscle snatch. Use this movement only to assist your ability to perform the power snatch.
Use these tips and movements to facilitate your snatch performance and make sure that you master the hang snatch before you move on to the power snatch. Once you implement this exercise into your training program, you will achieve greater athletic skill and power. Remember that the snatch has a greater potential for injuries, so when you start, make sure that you begin with light loads to help you better focus on learning the form and technique of this exercise.
Do this until the lift feels natural and smooth, and then consider adding heavier weights to it, so that you can build even more power for a proper power snatch. Be patient and enjoy the process. Stick to this exercise and you'll master it in no time!