One of the first things a beginner weightlifter will want to perfect is their snatch technique, but it’s actually easier said than done!
I still see seasoned lifters struggle with this particular move, as long as you start in the squat position and manage to fling the bar overhead you’re fine, right? Well, no actually!
It’s important to frequently practise your motions, mechanics, and postures with both light and heavy weights since the snatch is a master at revealing any of your errors, no matter how tiny, and punishing you with a failed rep. A snatch, when done flawlessly, is a thing of beauty.
Here are my top tips to improve your snatch technique.
What is the snatch in weightlifting?
Weightlifting, often known as Olympic weightlifting, has two lifts that are competed in: the snatch and the clean & jerk. In the snatch, the lifter moves the barbell swiftly from the ground to overhead in one smooth movement.
The snatch is also a competitive lift in Crossfit and other similar hybrid training methods.
As one of the two competitive lifts in weightlifting, the aim for weightlifters is to be able to snatch the most weight for one rep. Weightlifters must train it to develop their technique, strength, speed, and other necessary traits to perform this lift accurately and at a heavy weight.
The snatch can also be utilised by other athletes to increase their strength, speed, power and agility. There are some variations to the snatch, the most popular being the power snatch, hang snatch and the muscle snatch. These variations are often used by athletes in other sports, as they are not quite as complex as the full snatch but achieve a similar training outcome.
3 tips to improve your snatch training
One of the most common problems I see in the snatch is the lifter having too much space between themselves and the bar. You must keep the bar close to you as you go through the lift, otherwise your weight will be pulled forward and you will lose the bar out in front. Here are some snatch drills to help improve your technique for Olympic weightlifting!
This drill is great for those who tend to swing the bar out in front, as the bar comes off the hip. This movement happens so fast, that it can be hard to fix the issue when doing a snatch. The key is to slow it down and practise at a moderate speed first, and you can do this with the snatch curl.
How to do it
- Hold the barbell in your snatch grip. Start with the bar in the hang position: at arm’s length, resting against the top of the thighs.
- Curl the bar upwards, keeping it close to the body. Bend the elbows and squeeze the shoulder blades together to keep the bar close.
- When the bar reaches your stomach, turn your elbows over so that you are now pressing up on the bar instead of pulling it up. Keep the bar close to the body.
- As the bar reaches your chin, press overhead and extend your arms all the way up.
- Do not use your legs or hips to drive the bar up. This drill is only for the upper body.
The snatch curl is great as a warm up activity, a movement drill for keeping the bar close, and a strength exercise. It is best done with the empty bar or a small amount of weight.
Snatch pull to curl
The snatch pull is a great technical drill for those who don’t fully extend before going under the bar. Including snatch pulls in your workouts will improve the execution of your snatches whether you are an experienced lifter or a beginner.
The clean and snatch pulls aid in the strengthening of the musculature used in the execution of the weightlifting movements, particularly the legs and the back.
The snatch pull to curl takes the basic snatch pull and adds a curl to it, to really emphasise the extension and turnover phases of the snatch. This is useful for beginners who don’t ‘finish the pull’ and tend to go under the bar too soon.
How to do it
- Start by placing a barbell on the floor close to your shins, bending forward at the hips while maintaining a straight back, and holding it with a wide snatch grip.
- Firmly drive through your heels and pull up while extending your knees.
- Once the bar has passed the knees, drive your hips towards the bar while keeping your heels flat on the floor.
- Extend through your hips as the bar approaches the top of the thigh until your legs are completely straight and you are up on your toes
- Allow the bar to rise up to your belly button by driving your elbows to the ceiling and remaining as tall as possible.
- At the last moment, reverse curl the bar while continuing to extend the legs as much as possible.
- Return back to the starting position and repeat for as many reps and sets as desired.
In the snatch, the start position is crucial.
If you make a mistake on the floor, it will have a ripple effect that requires correction through the first pull, second pull, turnover, and catch until it stabilises.
How to do it
- With your feet hip-width apart, stand with the barbell positioned above your shoelace knot. This is over the mid-foot.
- Grip the bar in a wide overhand grip (snatch grip).
- Keep your shoulders back and pulled together while looking straight ahead. Your back should be flat, shoulders above hips, and your arms should be straight.
- In order to maintain the ideal bar path, ensure that your armpits are directly over the bar in the start position (imagine looking at yourself from the side). Finding the ideal balance between keeping the hips high enough to keep your armpits over the bar and low enough to allow you to push with your legs is important.
- Lastly, ensure that your knuckles are pointed towards the floor, not pointed in front of you. This eliminates any bend in the wrist, which may cause the bar to swing out in front of you.
Benefits of improving your snatch
Vertical force and power
Weightlifters exhibit amazing levels of strength and power, which is no secret. Vertical jump height, which is an indication of power, is often used as a test to discover whether a young athlete has the potential to be an elite weightlifter.
For instance, elite Weightlifters, as opposed to sprinters and elite Powerlifters, produce the highest power while jumping with loads up to 90% of squat 1RM. In other words, weightlifters produce high amounts of force with high velocities.
Weightlifting is therefore a great way to build the strength, speed, and power needed for athletic performance demands.
You must have complete control over your body in order to execute a snatch with good form. Snatches improve balance and coordination.
Looking for Olympic lifting classes in London?
There you have it—some simple tips and drills to improve your snatch technique! The snatch requires a lot of mobility, but it’s a lot of fun to learn.
At Strength Ambassadors, we provide strength training classes, one-on-one coaching in powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and more. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced lifter, our team of knowledgeable instructors can help you achieve your strength objectives.
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Improve snatch technique FAQs
What is the most difficult Olympic lift?
The snatch is an Olympic lift which can be challenging to learn. However, once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for what your body is capable of!
Does Olympic lifting make you more explosive?
Olympic lifting is a high-intensity, explosive workout that can help increase explosive power and quickness. Strength, flexibility, core strength, balance, and coordination are also improved. Olympic weightlifting consists of two lifts: the clean and jerk and the snatch.
Why do Olympic lifters squat so low?
Olympic weightlifters often have deeper squats. Because they require leg force to emerge from the recovery position of a snatch or clean, the depth and upright posture are more closely related to their goals.