The snatch is probably one of the most impressive weightlifting movements, but also the most difficult to master.
You may have seen Olympic lifters on the television performing the snatch by lifting the barbell from the ground to an overhead position in one smooth movement, sounds simple enough right? Think again!
Since your body isn’t accustomed to being asked to throw a load of weight directly above and catch it, it takes time, patience, and repetitions upon repetitions upon repetitions to instil excellent mechanics in your body.
Here are 6 of our favourite snatch technique drills for beginners to start your journey in Olympic weightlifting!
What is the snatch?
In the sport of weightlifting, usually referred to as Olympic weightlifting, the snatch is the first of two exercises that are competed in. The clean and jerk comes next. The snatch’s goal is to raise the barbell continuously from the floor to overhead. Snatch, split snatch, power snatch, and muscle snatch are the four primary types of snatch in the sport.
In the snatch, the lifter raises the bar as high as they can and squats down to receive it overhead with straight arms. By lowering the required height of the bar, this technique increases the lifter’s ability to lift a greater amount of weight. The lifter now raises the bar above their head and stands fully upright with their arms fully extended.
The snatch is a pure power movement, and super satisfying when you pull it off for the first time!
6 of our favourite snatch mobility drills to improve your snatch technique
The 6 exercises focus on all the key positions in the snatch, allowing a beginner lifter to drill correct body positioning, and transition from one position to the next.
Push press behind neck
To strengthen the upper back more and support a superior overhead position, perform a push press behind the neck.
- Standing with the toes pointed out and heels about hip-width apart, with the weight slightly more on the heels but the entire foot in touch with the ground. With your jerk grip, hold the bar on the traps behind the neck like you would for a back squat.
- Squeeze the upper inside edges of the shoulder blades together while bracing the lower body.
- Dip simply at the knees while keeping the trunk as vertical as you can.
- Keep your balance and drop to a depth that is around 10% of your height. To maximise the acceleration of the barbell upward, brake as quickly as you can at the bottom and drive right back up vigorously with your legs.
- After completing the leg extension, drive the bar straight up with your arms, locking out in a stable overhead position as you let your heels drop down to the ground. Before descending for the following rep, hold overhead firmly for a brief period of time.
Overhead squats are a fantastic exercise for developing your core and shoulder strength. Additionally, it’s a fantastic tool for thoracic spine mobility, ankle, and hip mobilisation.
- To a minimum of double shoulder width apart, extend your hands widely across the barbell. As you would for a squat, position your feet. Start by placing them, toes turned out slightly, under your hips if you are unsure of where that is.
- Use a push press or behind-the-neck press to raise the barbell overhead. With your arms behind your ears, the barbell should be fixed squarely over your shoulder. Make sure your elbows lock and stay locked the entire time and slightly elevate your head forward.
- Maintaining the barbell overhead while bracing your core and keeping your weight in the middle of your foot as you steadily descend into the squat. Try and keep straight as you move downwards.
- Reverse the action once you’ve squatted as low as you can and push off using your glutes and quads as you come up from the bottom of the squat. Check to see that the barbell held overhead is not moving forwards or backwards.
The snatch balance is a fantastic exercise for improving timing, speed, aggression, and confidence under the snatch and into the deep overhead squat position. Weightlifters who struggle with overhead stability and overhead strength will find this exercise to be helpful.
- Unrack a weighted barbell on the back with the hands in the snatch grip from a squat rack or jerk blocks. Tense your back muscles such that there is tension between your upper back and shoulder blades. Position your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
- The dip phase of the snatch balance should be the same as the dip phase of a push press or behind-the-neck jerk. To throw the bar off your upper back, simply bend your knees a little bit, stand up quickly, and extend upward through the barbell.
- Move your feet swiftly outward into your overhead squat stance after driving the barbell off your torso. Then, extend your elbows as soon as you can. You ought to squat down low in the overhead position. As the bar meets you, fully extend your elbows and reach your arms into the barbell. Standing up from the deep squat position after stabilising the barbell overhead will finish the lift.
Muscle snatch to toes
The muscle snatch is a weightlifting exercise that includes quickly pulling a weight up to overhead position and shrugging it off at the end of the motion.
- Start with the bar resting close to the shins and your feet hip-width apart.
- Widen your grip. Hands on the barbell should be at the very least outside the snatch rings.
- Drive the feet into the floor to begin the first pull. Shoulders and hips should rise about at the same rate. The bar should remain near the shins. Extend the hips forcefully once the bar passes the knees.
- Once the hips, knees and ankles have reached triple extension, raise the bar high. Rotate the hands above the elbow to complete the motion. The proper positioning the lifter should finish at should be with the arms fully stretched overhead.
By separating it into individual pieces for isolated work, you can enhance your snatch. You should practise the pull phase of the snatch, for instance, separately from the catch phase of the lift because it has very precise placements and timing requirements.
- With your feet hip-width apart, stand with the barbell positioned above your shoelaces. Take a wide grab grip on the bar. Keep your shoulders back and pulled together while gazing straight ahead. Your back should be diagonal, shoulders above hips, and your arms should be straight.
- Push through your legs while lifting your chest to lift the bar off the ground after establishing a tight start position. Keep your shoulders over the barbell in a vertical stack. Together, your hips and chest should rise. As the barbell is moved past the knee, it must remain close to your legs.
- Once you’ve gotten the barbell over your knee, keep it close to your legs as you stand up. Make firm contact with the bar when it reaches your hip and quickly stretch your hips and legs up. To convert your leg force into the upward momentum of the barbell, the hip contact should be quick.
- When you make hip contact, lift your elbows firmly up and back while your ankles, knees, and hips propel you to full extension. Throughout the entire pull, keep your knuckles pointing at the ground. Pull the barbell up to your chest without going any higher. At the peak of your pull, your feet should be extended upward.
Hang snatch from mid shin
- Start by assuming the appropriate snatch grip width, with your arms straight and the barbell at your hip crease. Your shoulders should be pushed together and down, and your posture should be upright.
- Push your hips back and let the barbell glide down your thighs to lower yourself into the hang. The bar should be at mid shin with the knees slightly bent. When viewed from the side, keep your chest up and make sure your shoulders are placed vertically over the barbell.
- Keep the toes and heels down until the barbell reaches your hip as you push off the floor with your legs to stand up. Once you’ve squatted as far down as you can to receive the barbell overhead, stand back up.
This video demonstrates a barbell complex for snatch technique.
This complex can be done as a warm up for snatch, or as a standalone drill with a bar or stick. Perform 3-5 repetitions of each lift and aim for 5 rounds if doing this as a standalone exercise.
A short rest between rounds is recommended as this complex is intended to drill technique, not to be metabolic conditioning.
Looking for Olympic lifting classes in London?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to perfecting your snatch technique. However, following the tips above will certainly help you to improve. Remember, the key is to practise frequently and be willing to make adjustments as needed.
At Strength Ambassadors, our Olympic Lifting Coaches and Classes can help you to perfect your technique and take your lifting to the next level.
If you would like to perfect your technique by working with an expert Olympic Lifting Coach, get in touch or book a class today!