The Power Snatch | The One Lift You Should Start Doing
Improve your general fitness and athletic potential with one single exercise, the power snatch!
The power snatch is an underrated and underused movement across general gym-goers. Although, if you’re looking to become a freakishly explosive athlete then you need to incorporate it into your training routine. There are few movements that test raw strength, full body coordination, and explosive potential the same way a power snatch does.
You may initially correlate power snatches strictly with olympic lifters or crossfit athletes, but anyone can do them to improve their strength and performance. You don’t have to be doing competition movements in order to use the power snatch as part of your training. Below you’ll learn what a power snatch is, who should use it, and how to start doing power snatches right away.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is a Power Snatch?
In its most basic form, a power snatch is just an accessory to a full snatch. This is when you move a weighted bar or dumbbell from the ground to an overhead position in a single, fluid motion. The only difference between a power snatch and a full snatch is that you will catch the weight above your head without your hips breaking parallel as you stand up.
As the name suggests, it is a power movement that requires a large amount of speed, control, and coordination to move the weight from below your hips above the head. The power snatch is a full body movement that uses the posterior chain, lower back, core, and entire upper body to complete. You need to create, apply, and absorb force throughout the exercise to get the most benefit.
Who Should Use Power Snatches
Power snatches can be used by just about anybody, even people just looking to progress their general fitness and improve their quality of life. As you get older, you may see a decline in speed and coordination compared to when you were younger. Using rapid and dynamic full body exercises like the power snatch can help with vitality and reduce the chance of injury as you progress in life. Although, there are specific types of athletes that should regularly be doing power snatches.
That first group of people that should be doing power snatches are olympic weightlifters. Crossfitters can be grouped in this category as well since they do the olympic movements as well. Since the main movements for olympic weightlifting are the snatch and the clean and jerk, power snatches are an obvious tool to increase the brute strength for competition movements. Power snatches are used as an accessory for athletes that are struggling with reapplying force quickly to complete lifts. They are also an alternative to competitive athletes that cannot reach full range of motion to complete a full snatch as they are allowed in competition.
Shotputters, discus throwers, hammer throwers, and javelin athletes should be another group of people using power snatches regularly in their training. Throwing is not only a technical sport, but it requires producing an insane amount of force in a very short period of time. The power snatch and its variations is a vital exercise for developing that raw power that translates perfectly to using the entire body for a throw.
Also, throwers tend to be bigger and have more muscle mass than most other athletes. This will result in a lack of mobility or range of motion. The power snatch will help improve that strength and mobility over time, especially in the shoulders where throwers need it the most.
Think about a lineman that needs to jump off the line and crash into another 300 lbs man or a running back that needs to explode through gaps while getting hit from all angles. These athletes need to constantly be able to produce rapid force with their whole body to achieve the focus of each play. They also need balance while producing rapid force. Power snatches will help football players become stronger, more explosive, and balanced on the field to prevent injury.
Lastly, any other performance athletes like jumpers, swimmers, and wrestlers should be using power snatches to improve their full body athleticism. Even runners can use power snatches to become more explosive off the starting blocks. Performance athletes need an insanely strong core for their highly coordinated movements which the power snatch will help develop.
How to Do a Power Snatch
There are many components to completing a power snatch since it is a full body movement that requires you to move a weight from the floor to over your head in a single movement. They are most commonly done with a barbell, but dumbbells can be used as well. Now let’s take some time to cover a simple progression so you can start doing the movement.
Establish a Grip
If you’re using a bar, you need to know how to properly hold it in a snatch position. The grip for snatches is going to be wider than that of a deadlift or bent over row. The reason for that is because during the power snatch, we will need to make contact at our hip to help get the weight overhead.
The best way to establish your grip is to have your hands wide enough on the bar or dowel rod so that the bar is at your hip crease or slightly above.
Upper Body Movement
Once you have your grip, it’s time to practice how the upper body will move the weight from the hips to overhead. For the power snatch you actually want to master the second pull before working on the first pull from the floor. Before you grab a barbell and pack on the weight, practice with a dowel rod or broom stick to get the movement down
To practice the upper body portion of the lift, start with the bar at your hip and no bend in the arms. This is going to prepare you to practice the second pull.
You will then bend the knees slightly while bringing the chest forward slightly as well so that the bar travels 3-4 inches down the front of your thighs.
Once the bar is done moving, extend the hips forward while pulling the bar with the upper body by shrugging shoulders and doing an upright row as high as you can. Make sure to keep the bar as close to your body as possible to maintain a vertical bar path.
Finish the pull by turning your elbows back and pushing the bar above your head with locked out arms.
That is going to be the entire upper body portion of the movement. It should be a momentum driven upright pull into a full extension of the arms.
Hang Power Snatches
The next step in the power snatch progression is using high hang and low hang power snatches to practice bringing the bar to the hips. This will help improve timing into the hip; incorporating the use of full body extension to get the weight over head.
High Hang Power Snatch
Start with a high hang power snatch. This is when you start standing straight with the bar at your hips. Similar to the upper body practice, bend your knees and bring your chest forward until the bar is right above the knees.
Then push the hips forward until the bar makes contact with the hips. As the bar makes contact with the hips, fully extend your torso and pull the bar over head into the catch position. This is where you can also start to incorporate a slight dip in the catch as the bar is placed overhead.
Once you get comfortable with the movement, you can add a little resistance by using bands. Attach each end of the band to a side of the barbell then stand on the band. Use the band to practice accelerating the bar into your hip and really pulling the bar in as vertical of a bar path as possible.
Low Hang Power Snatch
After mastering the high hang snatch, you can move onto the low hang snatch. The low hang snatch is very similar to the high hang snatch except this time the bar will travel below the knees. This is meant to work the second pull after accelerating through the knees.
The low hang snatch will require you to hinge at the hips as you bring the bar below your knees. When the bar is lower than your knees, the chest should stop moving forward and the posterior chain should be controlling how low you go.
The low hang snatch will help you practice moving the knees back and bringing the knees through until the bar makes contact at your hips. The upper body movement will be the same for the low hang snatch.
Pull From the Floor
The last step in learning the power snatch is to finally move some weight from the floor, otherwise known as the first pull. Now that you have worked on moving weight from different positions, it’s time to bring in the posterior chain.
To do a power snatch from the floor, you need to set your grip so that when you accelerate past the knees to make contact, you will make contact with the hip. This just means to use the same grip that you’ve been using throughout the progression.
Once the grip is set, bring your butt down so that your back is straight and not rounded. Make sure to keep your arms straight and chest up as well. The starting position should be a parallel squat or maybe lower depending on your leverages.
From the starting position, brace your entire core. This means to brace your upper back, lower back, and abs so that the torso stays in line as you pull the bar off the floor. To pull the bar off the floor, keep your weight on your heels and start to stand up while bringing the knees back.
Once you reach right below the knee, follow through the movement same as the low hang snatch. Bring the knees forward as the bar passes your knees and extend your hips. Once the bar makes contacts at your hips, use the upper body to complete the pull and lock the weight overhead with straight arms.
Why You Should Use Power Snatches
So what exactly is the power snatch meant to do? From a coaching perspective, it builds the skill of cognitive learning for technical movements. If you are working with athletes and teaching them to power snatch, you can see how they handle instruction.
Power snatches are also going to transfer really well to high speed movements. In this case, the first step for performance athletes like a swimmer coming off the blocks or a lineman coming off the line. The ability to create, apply, and absorb force is needed in all aspects of sports and even in life. Using power snatches as part of your regular training is going to encourage the body to adapt and prevent injuries as you get older.
Going along the lines of injury prevention, power snatches are also going to improve your mobility over time. The power snatch is going to force your shoulder to get into positions that they might not get into regularly unless you’re a swimmer or a gymnast. It will even improve your reaction time by engaging those fast twitch muscle fibers.
When it comes to building muscle and promoting hypertrophy, the power snatch is a great movement to build that upper body in a fun and exciting way. The power snatch combines two popular upper body movements: upright rows and overhead press. Although the overhead press is aided by momentum, you will still develop that tricep and shoulder strength to control the bar overhead.
The power snatch is not just an exercise specific to olympic lifters or crossfit athletes. The power snatch is for anyone looking to improve their strength, speed, stability, and vitality. Dynamic trunk control is a massive factor that plays into the movement and will be tested more and more as you continue to increase the weight.
Power snatches are going to recruit every single muscle group in your body to move as fast as possible. Although the power snatch may not be an exercise that is complimentary for bodybuilders, it is an all inclusive exercise that will test all aspects of your fitness. By playing around with different rep ranges you can build muscular endurance with sets of 5 to 6. Then when you want to start going heavier and testing your ability to produce raw power, use rep ranges of 1 to 3.
If you want to see what kind of sports you should be doing power snatches and some accessory exercises for power snatches, sign up for the Peak Strength app and get custom programming for your athletic goals. The Peak Strength app also has tutorial videos that will show you exactly what to do in case you forget any of the steps in this article. Give power snatches a try and tag us in your best lifts @GarageStrength
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Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!
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