Snatch Exercises

Snatch Exercises

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A snatch rep is complete when you're standing with the bar overhead.

Image Source/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The snatch is an Olympic weightlifting exercise that develops power, improves athleticism, and can also benefit your speed and vertical leap. Learning the snatch, however, can be challenging, as it's a complex movement. The traditional snatch is performed on a lifting platform and with a barbell. According to former United States Weightlifting Team head coach Jim Schmitz, the four components to the snatch are the set-up, pull, receiving the bar and the stand.

Components of the Snatch

The set-up begins with setting your feet to hip width and positioning them underneath the bar. Bend over and grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Lower your hips to get into a squat position with your back straight, arms straight and head facing forward. For the pull, explosively extend your hips and legs to propel the bar upward. It should remain close to your shins, knees and thighs as it travels vertically. To receive the bar, shrug your shoulders as you pull yourself underneath the bar, dropping into a squat position. As the bar passes by your face, rotate your wrists, push upward and lock out your elbows so the bar finishes overhead. To finish the stand component, while maintaining the bar overhead, extend your ankles, knees and hips to a standing position.

Unloading the Weights

Unlike most strength exercises, during the snatch you don't lower the weight in the same manner that you lifted it. When performing the traditional snatch, after you've finished and are in a standing position with the barbell overhead, bend your knees slightly and drop the barbell to your mid-thigh. From this position, if you're using rubber weighted plates on a platform, you can drop the barbell. If not, keep your back straight and trunk nearly vertical as you squat down and return the bar to the floor. During the dumbbell snatch, from an erect standing position with the weight overhead, lower the dumbbell first to the shoulder, then drop it to the front of your mid thigh.

Benefits of the Snatch

The snatch requires contribution from a number of muscles throughout the entire body. As you perform the pull component, your glutes and hamstrings explosively extend your hips, your quadriceps extend your knees and your calves plantarflex your ankles. To control the bar as it travels upward and eventually overhead, your shoulders and scapulae control movement at your arms. Throughout the entire movement, your erector spinae muscles isometrically contract to keep your back straight. Due to the explosive nature of the snatch, the exercise effectively develops the neuromuscular system, making it more efficient at transmitting signals from the brain to the muscles. As a result, your muscles are able to contract more explosively and with greater force.

Dumbbell Variation

For variety, perform the snatch exercise with dumbbells. Hold the dumbbells down by your side. With your feet at hip width, lower into a squat. Explosively extend your hips and legs to propel the dumbbells upward, keeping them close to your body as they travel. Drop under the dumbbells and lock out your arms overhead to catch the weight. A single dumbbell or kettlebell can also be used for a single-arm snatch. Lower into a squat and with one hand hold the dumbbell between your legs. Set the elbow of your free arm atop your knee. Perform the snatch while keeping your free arm at your side.