The snatch is one of two events in competitive Olympic weightlifting. (The clean-and-jerk is the other.) The snatch is composed of three lifts that look like one. You have the deadlift, the pull and the catch. When performed correctly, it looks like one fluid movement.
The most important thing to consider when adding this to your resume of successful movements performed in the gym is that this move is more than an exercise. It is a skill. It is part of a sport. It requires tremendous particular attention to the technique. There is a very high rate of injury in this movement because of the velocity and precision needed for this sport.
If you are interested in learning this sport, it is crucial that you have a certified Olympic weightlifting coach help you. If you would like to do it for fun, you can always practice this movement with a very light practice barbell or wooden dowel or broomstick.
If you have a history of shoulder, back and/or neck pain, this movement is not the best choice for you. Make sure you clear this with your doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor before hiring a coach to teach this skill to you.
Master This: Barbell Snatch
PART 1: THE DEADLIFT
- With the barbell on the ground, it should be starting at midshin height. With weights on the bar, the bar will be at about midshin. If the bar is empty, prop it up on blocks to create the correct starting height.
- Assume a somewhat wider stance so that your feet are wider at your toes than your heels. Everyone will have a different stance based on length of leg, so play with a position that makes you feel you can get the best leverage and vertical pull position.
- Get close enough to the bar so that your shins will touch the barbell. Hinge your hips back and grab the bar with a very wide grip. Using a hook grip of the bar is best for heavy pulling and keeping your arms relaxed.
- Keep your back straight and push the ground away from you to lift the bar to hip height. The bar must stay in contact with your shins and thighs on the way up. Brush your body with the bar.
PART 2: THE PULL
- When the bar reaches the height of your hips, it is time to transition to the pull. As the bar continues its momentum vertical, you need to simultaneously start shrugging your shoulders and rising with your calves. This upward momentum of the bar is accelerated by the vertical extension of your pelvis, heels and shoulders. The result will be that the bar will travel as high as possible (depending on the load and force required to move it). If the bar is light, it will travel high. If it is very heavy, it will not travel as high.
- Keep your arms relaxed because tension in your arms will slow down the momentum of the bar. Keep the bar moving in a vertical path.
- At the point of maximal height of the barbell, it is time to receive or catch the bar.
PART 3: THE CATCH
- With your elbows pointing toward the sky and your hands below the height of your elbows, pull yourself down under the barbell by dropping into a squat while at the same time whipping your hands through the ceiling. Be prepared to have to violently stiffen your body to time catching the barbell overhead in a strong overhead squat position. The barbell will be directly behind your ears, over your shoulders and pass through the center of gravity to the midpart of your foot. Imagine a straight line drawn from the barbell through the midline of your body.
- Once you have received the barbell in the squat, you must stand up with the weight overhead.
You have successfully performed one rep of the barbell snatch.
Make it easier: Perform the one-arm dumbbell power snatch. This is a supplemental movement that involves all the coordination of the barbell snatch with less load and complexity in the catch phase of the movement.
Make it harder: Perform a barbell snatch from blocks. Set the barbell on blocks that are about knee height. This makes the movement so much harder because it is difficult to generate leverage and velocity. Your technique must be perfect to successfully snatch the barbell.
Photo credit: Tom Casey, box24studio.com
Model: Logan Schwartz, Your Trainer