The High Hang Snatch - The Secret Way to Perfect Technique
You strap up, the weight feels like, you know you are ready to absolutely smash this rep. Standing tall at the top of the movement, you feel strong tension throughout your body. You move the weight eccentrically, not knowing that you are potentiating the shit out of your nervous system (if only you would have read our FREE guide on the keys behind strength training), it creeps close to the power position, you push your knees back, ignite your hips and loop the bar like a second grader skipping jump rope at recess. What the heck happened? Everything felt so light, the bar moved FAST but clearly the body was out of position. Let’s dive DEEP into this peculiar movement that is rarely executed properly!
Something that I wanted to go over today is specifically related to the movement, the high hang snatch and the way I see it being executed on social media, on YouTube and all the various platforms and even in training halls around the world and around the United States. It comes down to the fact that this variation is an excellent movement but it's being executed the wrong way all the time even in relation to sports performance. If we can think about the high hang snatch and what it is, if you can think about the Olympic weightlifter or an athlete who is in sports performance, picking that bar up concentrically with a snatch grip all the way up to a standing position when they would lower the bar, what we typically tend to see is the chest will come forward slightly and the knees will stay back. (Insert image of shitty knees at bottom of high hang)
What ends up happening is the hips shoot forward tremendously far, the knees never fully extend and the chest gets way behind the bar.
And so I always find this ironic because we'll see these athletes or we'll hear coaches saying,
“Keep your chest over the bar, keep your chest over the bar.”
And yet the athletes are doing variations where the chest gets way behind the bar. They never extend their knees. You'll hear the age-old adage of “finish vertical, finish vertical” but then you see their chest getting way behind the bar and their knees never extending. So they're not finishing vertical. And so even in relation to sports performance, if we can think about a linebacker, they're in a position, an athletic position where their chest is forward and their knees are forward, their knees are in front of their toes. In most methods of human locomotion, our knees will be tracking in front or past our toes.
Now if we watched the best weightlifters in the world, Hshin Chun Kuo, Loredana Toma, many of the Chinese lifters, when they pull to their knees, the knees move back and then you will see the knees travel forward when the bar passes the knees and then they finish vertical, the hips extend then the knees extend. And that's the biggest thing that I see that carries over to sports performance.
This is even something that carries over to the cycling world. I have worked with the Trinidad and Tobago sprint cycling team, with Pan Am champion and Olympian sprint cyclists, teaching them the high hang snatch because their knees come forward just to the same position, almost the exact same position that they're gonna be in when they're on a bike with hip flexion and knee flexion.
If we can think about that with football players, with shot putters, with wrestlers in a stance where their knees are going to be forward, their chest is going to be forward. For Olympic lifts to carry over to sports performance, we need to teach our lifters, our athletes, our football players, our hockey players, our field hockey players, our shot putters, sprint cyclists, to load by bringing the chest forward and when that chest comes forward, the knees will track forward, which will create more dorsiflexion, knee flexion and a steeper angle of hip flexion. And then as the lift commences, the chest will come up, the knees will stay forward, the hips will extend, and then after the hips extend, the knees extend to keep it vertical. The hips extend, knees extend, finish vertical.
Now move onto the football field. If you can think about a linebacker's position, they're tracking the running back with their eyes. Meanwhile, their knees are holding knee flexion, they're dorsiflexing and plantar flexing with their ankles and their chest is forward. Now they see a play-action and the QB fakes a handoff to the running back that they're tracking, when that fake handoff occurs, the QB pulls the ball in and they drop back to pass. The QB releases the ball to an open receiver not seeing the linebacker. That linebacker now jumps to pick the pass, now he's going to extend his hips, extend his knees, and jump vertically to try and get a pick and that's exactly where the high hang snatch will transfer over in sports performance. That's exactly where the high hang snatch transfers over to the finish of a shot put or discus throw. That's exactly where it transfers over for sprint cycling, it's exactly where it transfers over even coming out of the blocks in sprinting, in swimming, in basketball, but the biggest key factor for that transfer is to keep the chest forward and the knees forward while the heels hold grounded so that there is optimal dorsiflexion.
Ankle mobility has to be up to standard as well to for this lift to transfer over the way it can transfer. Now if we can jump into the Olympic weightlifting realm, the best lifters in the world, like I mentioned, Kuo, if you watch her lift as the bar passes the knees, her knees track forward, her chest comes up vertical, the knees will extend after the hips extend, then the knees extend. Often times we're taught that the knees are the last accelerator, but we've been taught wrong and you've been taught wrong. The correct way to finish a lift is to have hip extension first, then knee extension. After the knee extension occurs, that's where the vertical finish comes in and we slide into the catch.
When training the high hang snatch, we need to train the knee flexion coming forward, the chest coming forward, creating hip flexion, and then transfer that into the finish of the competition lifts so that we understand what it feels like to have our knees forward and to have our hips come underneath the torso. This will work toward vertical knees while our chest stays over the bar or slightly behind it, but not getting way behind it so that we're jumping backward. Lifters must hold their heels down. The chest will come vertical from the hip extension, followed by knee extension. Now we've got a long vertical finish and an assistance exercise that carries over properly, we will see a dramatic improvement in the finish of the competitive movement.
The variation needs to be executed the exact same way that the best technique and the best technicians in the world execute it. It also needs to be executed this way for optimal transfer to sports performance! And that's by having the knees track forward, having steeper hip flexion and having the hips come forward on the finish while the heels are holding grounded and then extending through those knees. If you have any more questions, comment below.
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Watch how to properly perform a high hang snatch!
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