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Mastering the Snatch

Learn how to master the snatch to develop explosive power, strength and flexibility.


There is nothing quite as beautiful as a perfect snatch. The power, the grace, the quickness required to snatch is something not seen in many other exercises. A perfectly executed snatch looks effortless, almost as if the bar is weightless. It’s a difficult movement, but if you focus on the fundamentals and hitting correct positions, you, too, can enjoy the snatch.

Why Snatch?

A big buzzword in the strength-and-conditioning world is “functional.” It’s used to describe the amount of transfer an exercise has to a specific goal. But no movement in the weight room is 100% functional. The only true functional exercise is the one in which you complete.

However, this explosive, multi-joint, total-body, jumping movement is as close as one can get to a functional movement. Because of the distance the bar is moved and the speed at which it’s lifted, there is no better lift to create power (force x distance/time=power). You have to move the bar a long distance to get it over your head, and you have to do it quickly or you won’t make the lift. This power will transfer to almost any sport/activity that you’re training for, from martial arts to Ultimate Frisbee.

The snatch is a great exercise to improve your quickness. Once you reach full extension you have to pull yourself under the bar as fast as possible to be able to lock it out. This quickness you develop during the snatch will carry over to many other facets of your life. Ducking out of the way of a drunken haymaker? Countering with a double leg takedown? The quickness you have been training in the weight room will help you out.

An often-overlooked benefit of the snatch is the improved flexibility. When the weights start to increase, you’re going to have to start catching the bar lower and lower. On maximal effort, you’ll be in an ass-to-grass position, and doing that repeatedly will greatly improve your flexibility.

Adding the snatch to your repertoire will increase the acute hormonal responses seen after performing a snatch workout. Because you’re working large muscle groups (virtually the entire body) the anabolic hormonal response is going to be huge. To further make sure this happens; keep the reps in the 1–5 range with 80%–95% 1RM. And pick up your volume by performing more sets or variations of the lift (hang snatch, high hang snatch, etc.)

The snatch is not just for people looking to increase power output. With a different set/rep scheme, it can be used as a muscular endurance/ hypertrophy exercise. CrossFitters do much higher reps than someone training for power, but they’re lifting for muscular and even cardiovascular endurance. The snatch could be a part of someone’s regimen if they’re looking to add slabs of meat on their backs and traps. Take a look at world-class Snatchers; they have “drainage ditch” backs that look like the Grand Canyon and traps that belong on a Silverback.

How To Perform The Snatch

Even with benefits like these, a lot of people are afraid to give the snatch a try because of the complexity of the lift. Nothing worthwhile in life is easy, and the Snatch is no exception. If you stay focused on the fundamentals and keep the weight light in the beginning phases, you’ll soon be able to confidently say that you can snatch.

While you watch this video pay close attention to:

• Body posture throughout the lift

• The triple extension (ankles, knees, hips)

• The quickness of getting under the bar

• The catch position

A video is worth 10,000 words—check it out in action.