For any newcomer to snatching, learning how to do it correctly from the start will help you maximize the benefits of this weightlifting movement. And if he perseveres in leveling up his snatch skills before bad habits set in, he’s much easier to master, though you’ll still spend years refining his technique.
Along with advanced weightlifting exercises like the clean and press, jerk, or split jerk, the snatch works its way up the list of moves to master if you plan to work out in classes like CrossFit or Olympic lifting. But what is this?
The snatch is a floor-to-head movement that requires a lot of agile power. It basically consists of grabbing a weight on the ground and then driving the weight overhead in an explosive pulling movement. But of course, it’s not as simple as that, unfortunately. To safely handle a heavy weight overhead requires skill in controlling it. Below we cover how to perform a snatch, the benefits and variations of the snatch using kettlebells, adjustable dumbbells or barbells.
If you master your snatch technique, you could build a powerful body of strength, power and muscle and develop stability and coordination in your core and shoulders. Snatches will not only help you advance in weight lifting, but the movement works multiple muscle groups, including the muscles of the chest, back, arms, shoulders, legs, and glutes.
Good technique will translate elsewhere, improving exercises like the overhead squat, overhead press power, and (for the CrossFitters among you) handstands.
The core muscles are engaged during the snatch, especially to stabilize the torso, while the legs, shoulders, and arms will help bring the weight overhead into the catch position. To push up under the weight in order to stand up, the muscles of the legs, chest and shoulders are activated. Lifting any weight that fast will help your body learn to coordinate, balance, and develop power.
Any exercise that requires speed and power will recruit fast twitch muscle fibers (opens in a new tab) — the same assets during exercise as sprint. These fibers tire faster, but training them will help develop a better mind-body connection, power, speed, and more efficient neuromuscular pathways. Used in classes along with conditioning, it will stimulate muscle growth and burn a large number of calories.
How to do a barbell snatch: technique and grip
That is how.
- Stand with your feet hip-width or shoulder-width apart and the bar across the widest part of your feet
- Squat down and grab the bar with a wide overhead grip; this is called a snatch grip.
- Keep your weight evenly distributed throughout your feet.
- Engage your core, glutes, and shoulders, and tuck your shoulders back and down
- Send your hips down and lean forward slightly so your shoulders are over the bar while keeping your back flat.
- Push off through your feet, lift your chest, and begin to raise the bar to mid-shin height, keeping the bar close to your shins.
- Shoulders will be over the bar.
- Begin to stand up, now driving the bar toward your hips with close contact between your thighs and the bar.
- Extend your legs, push your hips forward, and roll your shoulders back. The bar should be in contact with your hips without bouncing off them.
drive and catch
- Slightly shrug your shoulders toward your ears and gently bend your elbows.
- Begin to pull the bar up overhead, the bar in close contact with your body.
- Fully extend your legs and hips.
- Get under the bar, ready to catch it in an overhead squat position
Catch up and stand up
- Straighten both arms and press under the bar.
- Engage as many muscles as possible to keep your body stable as you lock the overhead position and perform the overhead squat in one fluid motion
- Keeping your body tight, drive up to stand with the bar overhead.
The barbell snatch is perhaps the most technical snatch variation to master, especially since you can load the most weight using a barbell. The skill lies in transferring your weight from your lower body to your upper body and catching under the bar with stability before pushing up.
The two snatch variations below use free weights. Free weights allow you to work on only one side, which is great news for building strength and balance and addressing muscle imbalances. It could also benefit beginners learning the move, especially since Olympic bars in the gym often start with a weight of 15kg.
Two Boot Variations to Try
How to do a kettlebell snatch: technique and grip
- Start with the kettlebell on the floor between your feet, feet hip-width apart.
- Push your hips back, keeping your back flat, and lower your left arm down.
- Holding the handle of the kettlebell with your left hand, swing the kettlebell behind you, between your legs (like a kettlebell swing).
- While standing, extend your hips, straighten your knees, shrug your left shoulder, and swing the kettlebell up, raising your arm above your head.
- Keep your core engaged at all times
- As the kettlebell passes over your head, rotate it over your hand to catch the back of your hand.
- Lock left arm on top
- With control, flip the kettlebell to the front and lower your arm.
Avoid hitting the weight against your wrist, this is all on the wrists. Find out what happened when our writer did 100 kettlebell snatches a day, and learn how to hold a kettlebell correctly using various grip techniques here.
How to do a dumbbell snatch: technique and grip
- Start with the dumbbell between your feet, which should be hip-width apart.
- Grasp the weight overhead with one hand, lift your chest and send your butt down.
- Engage your core, keep your spine neutral
- Drive up through your feet and begin to pull the dumbbell up, lifting your hips and shoulders together.
- Keep the dumbbell close to your body and bend at the elbow as you pull the weight, lengthening the hips into a standing position.
- Shrug your shoulders as you send the weight up and pull yourself under the weight.
- Get into an overhead squat position, knees bent, squeezing the muscles and locking the arm at the top
- Stand up, keeping your muscles tight and the dumbbell above your head.
Hang snatch vs power snatch vs muscle snatch
You may have seen terms like “hang snatch,” “power snatch,” “muscle snatch,” and “hang power snatch.”
During a power snatch, you’ll catch the bar in a partial squat, otherwise you’ll catch it in a deep overhead squat. During muscle snatches, you’ll be gripping the bar with straight legs. “Hang” refers to your starting position. If it’s a hang snatch, you’ll start with the bar hanging down instead of on the ground.
Phew, that’s a lot of snippets.