When performed correctly, the snatch might be the most beautiful movement on the earth. When it is performed incorrectly it is possibly the most entertaining movement in the world to watch! As most of you know, I am a professional weightlifter myself. What’s that mean? Basically, I snatch and clean & jerk for a living! Of course, I do write articles and do some personal training on the side mainly because I LOVE talking about this stuff. So, I have had a few years worth of experience learning what it takes to be a phenomenal snatcher.
So, who uses the snatch? The snatch has recently been made more popular because of its usage in CrossFit. Well, it has been made infamous as well because of some of their horrendous technique when doing a higher number of reps with it. It is one of two lifts that is tested at the Olympics in the sport of weightlifting, with the other one being the clean & jerk. A ton of other athletes from all sports also use this exercise to increase their explosiveness. Here in Part One of this series, I am going to debunk some myths about the snatch, and tell you why it is so important to include in your training.
Phenomenal Lifters Just Perform the Basics Extremely Well
There is not really a “secret” technique. There is just a ton of misinformation out there. Every single body part is moving during the snatch. Well, it will move at some point during the lift to be more precise. The sequencing of contractions your body must do requires an extremely high level of coordination and athleticism. The elite level lifters simply stay in optimal positions throughout the whole lift and finish the lift with an attitude. I will get much more into the technique aspect of this lift in Part Two, but just know that there is not a secret. There are only a bunch of small things done the right way.
The Snatch is NOT Just Technique
I hear this all the time, “Oh, well I could do that if I had that good of technique.” Stop it…no you couldn’t. It takes years to master the skill and to acquire the strength of these Olympic caliber athletes. Could you golf as well as Tiger Woods if you had his golf clubs? I am not saying you could not develop the strength they could over a number of months or years. You probably could if you have the right genetics. There is a LOT of technique, yes, but there is also a ton of strength and flexibility involved in this lift.
It Can Increase Your Vertical
The 2nd/3rd pull of the snatch is faster than any other movement in sports. Wait…what? Yes! You complete that movement of the snatch faster than any kick, throw, swing, jump, or hit in any other sport. The change of direction can carry over to any sport and also increases your agility for that same reason. That is what plyometrics and agility is - ability to change directions very fast. Throughout the many years I have trained athletes, I have seen a correlation between the snatch and an athlete’s vertical. Each time their snatch goes up their vertical will go up as well, IF they have great technique. This is due to their ability to generate more force into the ground in a shorter amount of time. What athletes don’t want to increase their vertical?
The Snatch Requires More Flexibility Than Any Other Lift
I don’t think anyone would argue that performing an overhead squat as low as you can go is the measuring stick for someone’s overall flexibility. There are not too many programs out there that are still using the old “sit and reach” test to determine if someone is flexible. Sure, some curriculums still teach it, but functional and useful sports performance gyms are now using the overhead squat test. It tests the Achilles tendons and calves, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, low back, lats, pectorals, shoulder girdle, and even wrists. Is there any muscle I didn’t mention?
The position in which you catch the squat (overhead squat) is an extreme position that requires great athleticism and flexibility. If you are able to perform an overhead squat with no issues (as low as you can go), you are well on your way to snatching a lot more weight! Plus, it is much safer and stable to be able to do it with no limitations.
Watch a Video, Get a Coach, or Stay Tuned For Part Two
If you are serious about learning how to snatch, then I would really recommend you watch video of elite level lifters (Olympians), consult with a coach, and read Part Two of this series.
In Part Two, we are going to break down a lot of common technique flaws, and explain the key points of the snatch. This will give you a good starting point and can get you tinkering around in the gym giving it a shot. If you are an advanced lifter, then I promise you will take at least 1-2 things away from the article that you haven’t been doing already.
The snatch is all about performing the basics extremely well. That means staying disciplined throughout the lift and staying in the correct positions the whole time. The snatch requires a ton of strength and flexibility (in addition to technique) to be great. It is not like a magic trick. You don’t just magically pop the bar overhead. The explosive nature of the snatch can help you increase your athleticism and flexibility. Try to get constant feedback on your technique and stay tuned for Part Two on how to master the snatch technique.
Jared Enderton – Jared is a weightlifter, personal trainer, nutrition consultant and a nationally ranked weightlifter in the United States. He has earned his Bachelor’s Degree (with honors) in Exercise Science from the University of Northern Iowa. His certifications include: ACE-PT, CrossFit Level 1, and USAW- Sports Performance. He is also a former State Champion and All-American wrestler in the state of Iowa. In addition to working as a weightlifter and a personal trainer, Jared also has an extensive background in researching and selling sports supplements.