The snatch is one of two main lifts in Olympic weightlifting. According to the competition rules, an athlete must lift a barbell in one movement from a platform to the overhead position. 

    As a training exercise, the snatch is used in the preparation process. Both weightlifters and athletes from other sports perform it to improve coordination, strength, speed, flexibility, power, and mobility. 

    What is a snatch? The best answer: “Olympic weightlifting snatch is power in its purest form.” An athlete needs all physical qualities for this exercise. Moreover, all highly-coordinated movements are not easy to understand. Therefore, it is also one of the most challenging exercises to learn. 

   How to snatch - phases and snatch technique

   Starting position 

   Approach a barbell, set up the shoulder-width stance, and place the barbell over the toes' phalanges. Use the snatch grip. At this stage keep the barbell as close to the shins as possible. Open the chest and arch the back, stretch and relax the arms. Maintain the shoulders over the bar, and push the knees out in line with the toes. 

   Pull

   Accelerate powerfully and pull the bar to the hips and groin. Keep the highest proximity and try to speed up throughout the whole movement. Maintain the center of gravity in the middle of the foot, shoulders over the bar, and arms relaxed. 

   Explosion

   At the moment the bar reaches the explosion position (in the groin), straighten the knees and hips powerfully and direct the elbows upwards. The main goal of this stage is to pass a vertical explosive impulse from the body to the bar.  

    Turnover

    At this phase, an athlete must quickly change the vertical upward movement to the vertical downward one, go under the bar and receive it in the deep squat. While pulling under the bar, stretch the arms above the head. No doubt, squat snatch is the most challenging part in terms of coordination and dexterity.

    Receive the Bar Overhead

    The goal of this phase is to stabilize the center of gravity and balance. Keep the back tense, shoulders and elbows fixed. 

    Stand Up

    Never rush to stand up. Both at a workout or competition, an athlete must be confident that they feel and control a bar and every body part. Even top athletes have failed some attempts and lost medals because they rushed and began standing up too soon. Practice good snatch habits: patience and endurance are essential at this stage. At competitions, you may often hear coaches shouting “reach up” and “hold” to make an athlete push a bar up and pull their shoulders towards the ears to provide the highest stability. When everything is finished, an athlete can stand up and wait for a signal to lower a barbell and get a “good lift”.  

     The main benefits of weightlifting snatch

     Strength and power generation improvement

    We can train explosive strength and power by doing “right” strength exercises at a rapid pace. Snatch in weightlifting is exactly this kind of exercise so you can significantly improve your power with its help. Additionally, such a boost makes you run faster and jump higher. Another great benefit is that the snatch involves mainly hip work which is crucial for jumping and running. 

    Motor neurons involvement and kinetic chain synchronization 

     A few words about physiology and biomechanics. A kinetic chain is “a combination of interrelated joints that form a complicated motor system.” A lot of exercises are based on this principle. Nevertheless, the sequence of muscle contractions in snatch weightlifting has no alternatives. It significantly depends on motor neuron recruitment in the central nervous system. It is, perhaps, the most difficult movement for the entire body. Once you learn how to snatch, it means that you can perform more moves with fewer efforts and less central nervous system exhaustion.  

     The snatch makes you a stronger weightlifter 

     It is rather obvious. Snatch lift is one of the two Olympic exercises.  

     Planning

     Planning the loads for the competition exercises is, perhaps, the most complicated process. But we will try to simplify everything and give clear recommendations.  

    Olympic lifting snatch program depends on personal peculiarities, experience, period of preparation, goals, etc. Usually, athletes perform 1-4 reps (rarely 6) within 70-100% from 1RM.  

    Olympic snatch is used for improving: 

    - technique with light weights (up to 50%);

   - speed with moderate weights (50-75%);

    - strength and power (70-85%);

    - the competition mode (90 % и выше).  

    As a rule, Olympic lift snatch is performed 2-3 times a week but top athletes may include it daily during particular periods of preparation. 

     How can I learn the technique of snatch Olympic lift?

    The very first step is to learn and train the technique. Start with a PVC. Learn different parts, elements, and phases incrementally, then join everything in one movement.  

     A lot of coaches use the “top-down” or “bottom-up” approach to work on every segment separately. You can learn how to snatch in 1-2 months if the process is arranged properly. After that, you can start aiming at particular weights. But mind that increasing the snatch mastery and honing the technique is a matter of the whole life. 

     There are plenty of the snatch variations. Let’s look at some of them.

     Сrossfit snatch (all crossfitters, attention please) is NO different from snatch Olympic. So please don’t make up your own technique, ask professional coaches for help and learn how to lift properly. 

    Snatch from Blocks

    The snatch from blocks is almost the same as the standard one but a barbell is elevated. This starting position has 2 goals: 

    - lift heavier weights to increase the load, as the shorter amplitude makes it easier for most athletes to snatch; 

    - perform snatch barbell more aggressively in order to become more powerful and precise in the explosion position.

    You may vary the block height and, therefore, alter the barbell position: above/below the knees or the middle of the hips. 

    Hang Snatch

    The hang snatch is very similar to the block variation but has one difference – higher hamstring and back load. The starting position of this exercise also varies. It increases work density and TUT and, on top of that, allows to focus on a troublesome part of the snatch. 

      Deficit Snatch

      It is performed the same way as the regular snatch but an athlete stands on an elevation – a special wooden platform (4-8 cm) or a couple of plates. In this case, the range of motion is longer which increases strength and causes higher leg muscle tension. 

     You can also perform power snatches, different snatch combinations, etc. Use straps if needed, or do exercises with/without the hook grip.

      I hope to have clarified what is snatch and how great it is! Wish you all new records!
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