4 Tips To Improve Your Snatch

4 Tips To Improve Your Snatch

clock-circular-outlinePosted 20 Apr 2021

The Snatch. A complex movement engaging the entire body, which became an Olympic weightlifting exercise back in 1896 at the Athens Olympic Games.

Olympic Lifting, and, weightlifting in general has come a long way since then. With not only huge advances in the equipment we use, but also technique, with a greater understanding of the human body and how we move.

Did you know? The snatch was originally a one-handed lift, before adopting the two-handed approach we see today.

The snatch takes the bar from a stationary grounded position to full extension above the head, requiring power, coordination, and strength.

We've put together four tips to help develop your snatch, and take your lifts to the next level.

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TIP 1: Breakdown The Movement

This is your 'back to basics' reminder.

We all want to throw the weight from floor-to-ceiling, but developing strength and technique in each section of the movement is key. By breaking down the exercise and working on the individual phases of the snatch, we can make some serious progress with both strength and technique, before moving back to the complete snatch.

The individual phases of the snatch:
  • The First Pull - From the barbell lift-off until the first max. knee extension.

  • The Transition Phase - From the first max. knee extension until the first maximum knee flexion.

  • The Second Pull - From the first max. knee flexion until the second max. extension of the knee.

  • The Turnover Over Under-Bar - From the second max. extension of the knee until the achievement of the max. height of the barbell.

  • The Catch - From the achievement of the max. height of the barbell until stabilization in the catch position.

  • Raise From Squat - From max knee flexion to max knee extension. Exiting the overhead squat catch position and standing tall with bar above the head. [1]

Understanding the different phases of the snatch allows us to focus on particular areas, identifying our weaknesses and putting in the hard work to make improvements to specific phases.

One study noted the particular importance of the transition from the first to the second pull, executing this phase rapidly with a small bend in the knees to maximise the use of the stored elastic energy. [2]

Here are three movements to help you practice and develop the snatch, grouping different phases of the snatch lift to practice the beginning, middle and end of the Olympic weightlifting exercise.

1. Snatch Deadlift - This works on the beginning phases of the movement, developing the initial ground lift-off and grip strength.

2. Hang Power Snatch - Focusing on the middle, and most explosive phase of the snatch.

3. The Catch - This focuses on the crucial catch component of the snatch, catching above the head in the overhead squat position. Add weight to help develop strength at the bottom of the squat.

Remember to focus on progression across each phase of the snatch.

Idea: Use your phone to collect video clips of your lifts, and play them alongside Olympic athletes to provide a level of comparison.

TIP 2: Reduce The Weight

Sorry, but this may hurt your ego. Testing or competing at your 1RM has its place, but we all know our true 1RM looks pretty damn sketchy.

Constantly going heavy will soon let some bad habits creep into your lift, leaving your technique less than insta-worthy while also increasing your risk of injury.

Take a little weight off the bar and start moving smoothly through the full range of motion. Introduce weight in small increments, with a key focus on maintaining that silky smooth movement through the whole lift.

Efficiency is key with lifting, and the better your technique and bar path movement, the less effort it will take to get under the bar in the catch position.

TIP 3: Work On Your Mobility

Mobility, it's all the trend. Being able to move freely through a full range of motion isn't just beneficial in lifting, but also in life.

The snatch is a full-body movement, which demands flexibility and mobility from the ground up. Assessing current mobility limitations is a great place to start, and provides a great indication of which areas need to be targeted to increase mobility.

Key areas of mobility in the snatch include:

  • Ankle (Dorsiflexion) - Where the top of your foot and your shin flex closer together. A key mobility requirement at the bottom of the squat.

  • Hip & Quads - During the snatch, the hip and knee goes from full flexion to full extension. Mobility in these areas can help both the rapid second pull phase and provide a sturdy catch at the bottom of the overhead squat.

  • Hamstrings & Glutes - Much of the power through the first 3 phases of the snatch come from the hamstrings and glutes. Poor mobility can negatively impact the ROM during several phases, increasing the effort it takes to move the bar. Tight hamstrings and glutes can also travel up to the back and thoracic area, impinging further mobility and increasing the chance of injury.

  • Lats & Thoracic - The overhead squat is one of the most challenging movements, and where most people fall short is in their mobility to keep the bar in position above the head. The most common limiting factors often lie within poor mobility in the lats and thoracic, rather than shoulders. Increasing ROM in these areas will help greatly with the overhead bar position - and the demanding phase at the bottom of the catch.

Need a little mobility inspo? Check our flexibility and mobility articles:

TIP 4: Don't Just Snatch

It sounds like a no-brainer, but building strength across a multitude of lifts will leave you in good stead when it comes to progressing with the snatch.

Repeatedly performing the snatch is a great way to hone in on the movement and technique, building a base level of strength. As we plateau with the Olympic lift, it's important to identify the muscles recruited in a snatch and train them independently to develop muscle strength and power.

With the snatch being an explosive, full-body exercise - working on the main compound lifts will help develop strength across a broad range of movements that can be closely associated with the snatch, such as the squat, deadlift and row.

Training these compound lifts can be done to build strength, but also speed and power - focusing on completing exercises in an explosive manner.

Being a full-body movement, most muscles contribute to moving the bar from the ground to above the head. Key muscles used during the snatch include:

  • Hamstrings

  • Quads

  • Back

  • Calves

  • Glutes

  • Arms

  • Core

Whether you've been lifting for years, or new to the game of Olympic weightlifting - there's no denying the full-body movements are a challenging and rewarding exercise to complete.

If you're still learning how to perform the snatch, or would like a full breakdown of how to snatch - you can check out our full program for free on The Gymshark Training App for iOS and Android.

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1. Erbil Harbili, A., 2021. Comparative Kinematic Analysis of the Snatch Lifts in Elite Male Adolescent Weightlifters. [online] PubMed Central (PMC). Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3990899/> .

2. Gourgoulis, V., Aggeloussis, N., Garas, A. and Mavromatis, G., 2009. Unsuccessful vs. Successful Performance in Snatch Lifts: A Kinematic Approach. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(2), pp.486-494.

GymsharkBy Gymshark

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