The snatch is one of the major Olympic weightlifting movements, and it’s as complex as it is effective. The snatch involves five major steps: the starting position, the pull, the explosion, the catch, and the overhead recovery. As simple as these steps sound, pulling them off perfectly is no easy feat. Even experienced lifters struggle with nailing a perfect snatch. The good news is you can learn and master the snatch. It’ll take plenty of time and effort, but it’s doable. And to help you get the best out of your workout, here are five tips to help you improve your snatch…
Five Tips to Improve Your Snatch
These five tips are tried and trusted practices that the very best in the business have used to set themselves apart. They range from body form to warm-up drills, but they’re all effective for you…
Get a coach or join a program
The first step to nailing any workout is to perfect your form and technique. The best way to get this right is to get a coach. Watching people perform these movements and trying to copy them by yourself is a risky move that could land you in trouble. The safest, albeit more expensive, way is to get a coach or join a program. This allows you to develop steadily under the watchful guidance of people who will answer any questions you have and handle any mistakes you might be making.
Extend yourself over the bar
As I’ve already mentioned, the fundamental part of nailing any workout is getting your form right. If your form is wrong, you stand little chance of doing the right thing. At best, your workout would be ineffective; at worst, you would sustain an injury. Many lifters, especially beginners, get it wrong from the get go. They bend and grip the barbell with their shoulders straight up and in front of the barbell, but that’s wrong.
Your starting position for the snatch should instead have your body leaning slightly across the bar. This opens your body up for a more powerful explosion when you get to it. This small change in your form will make a big change in your workout and improve your snatch experience.
Get under the barbell faster
You’ve nailed your form, now it’s time to work on your technique. The heavier your barbell, the harder it will be to lift. This means the height of your barbell just before the catch phase will reduce as your barbell gets heavier. To effectively perform your snatch, you must then learn to get under the barbell faster. So the heavier you lift, the lower the barbell height and the faster you must move under the barbell. This is something to work on with a coach until you can handle it alone.
Practice makes perfect is one of the most common sayings, but it’s completely true. The more you practice your workouts, the better you’ll get at them. Seeing that the snatch is a complex workout, you can break it down into smaller drills that you can focus on. By breaking the complex movement into smaller bits, you can learn and master them faster before moving onto the complete workout. I’ll give you some examples…
The snatch deadlift basically helps you practice and master the first stage of the snatch, which includes your starting position and first pull. It also helps you build strength in the necessary muscles for a complete snatch. You start from the floor like a regular snatch, but instead of exploding, stand up straight like in a deadlift.
Heaving snatch balance
One critical stage of a complete snatch is the turnover and catch, and you can perfect it with a heaving snatch balance drill. This one starts with the barbell hanging on your shoulder, so it’s better if you have a power rack. With the barbell on your shoulder, dip slightly and push the barbell upwards to an overhead position while dropping to a squat. Then push yourself up while still holding the barbell.
Hang snatch pull
We’ve talked about the starting position and first pull, and the turnover and the catch. The one part that’s left is the explosion, and the hang snatch pull focuses on that. Start with the barbell already in your arms in the power position, then sweep the barbell along your thighs up to your stomach, then come back down and repeat the movement. This helps you generate more power in your explosion without humping the barbell on its way up.
Use lifting gear
If you’ve nailed the proper form and technique for the snatch, but still need some help, use lifting gear. There are several weightlifting accessories that provide you with enough support to help you progress in your lifts. My favorites are lifting straps, wrist wraps, and lifting belts.
Lifting straps help you secure your grip by attaching your wrist to the barbell directly. Wrap one end around your wrist and the other against the barbell. This keeps your grip locked in throughout your movement.
Wrist wraps help relieve the stress on your wrists and transmit it all straight to your arms. This means you don’t get tired as fast as you would usually do, and can lift heavier and for longer.
Lifting belts give your back support and help strengthen your core to enhance your lifting experience.
Note: It’s important that you don’t depend on these lifting accessories as this will reduce the eventual effectiveness of your workout. Use them only as supports, but put in the necessary work to master the form and technique required for the snatch.
If you’re just starting out or an experienced lifter looking to try out the snatch, it’s important to start well. The foundation of anything is the most important part, so it’s better to start out the right way and build the right habits. These five tips will help you massively, but the first tip is perhaps the most important.
Now it’s your turn. Have you been struggling with mastering the snatch? Which of the lifting accessories or smaller drills caught your eye? Did I miss anything? Reach out to me in the comments!