Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Snatch

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Training

A perfect snatch is a beautiful thing.

It seems that more coaches prefer the clean when it comes to Olympic lift variations for power production.

But I’ve always preferred the snatch and have been obsessed with it for as long as I can remember.

Before I even started lifting weights, actually.

Cleans are a great exercise but they are also significantly harder to teach/learn than snatches are.

The other issue I have with cleans is that they can lead to wrist and elbow injuries. There are certain athletes, such as basketball players or baseball players, that I wouldn’t want to risk doing cleans with. It’s just not worth the potential of screwing up their wrists with one sloppy rep.

And that’s usually what you get for the first few weeks or months… a lot of sloppy reps.

With sloppy reps comes increased lower back stress as guys start leaning back way too far as well.

Unlike cleans, snatches actually keep your shoulder healthy (provided you do them correctly and don’t go too heavy) and strengthen the rotator cuff muscles better than almost anything else.

You usually notice, after a few weeks or months of doing snatches, that your shoulders just feel a lot more stable. Everything you do seems tight and locked in.

I like snatches so much that I honestly wouldn’t have a problem with someone starting every workout they did with some type of snatch variation. There are a lot worse things you can do.

If you want a higher vertical jump and bigger traps few exercises will deliver as much bang for your buck as the snatch.

Here are 10 ways to improve it.

1) Master 1 Arm Dumbbell Snatches First

If I could only use one exercise for power development that wasn’t a jump, it would be the one arm dumbbell snatch. It’s by far and away the easiest Olympic lifting variation to learn.

Most motor morons can learn it in about ten minutes and can start incorporating it into their training programs immediately.

In the early days of Physical Culture a 1 arm snatch was a contested lift.

Arthur Saxon used to dominate that shit. So should you.

2) Always Start with the Hang Position

There’s no need to start from the floor unless you plan on competing. Learning from the hang position on a dumbbell or barbell variation will always be much easier. Stand up straight first, then bend over by flexing at the hip. Push your ass out as far as you can and go down until your hands are just above your knees, while keeping your lower back flat.

3) Finish in the Power Position

Again, there’s no reason to squat all the way down if you don’t plan on competing. Finishing in the power position of any Olympic lifting variation means a soft bend in the knees. No need to need to dip any lower than a quarter squat at the very most.

When you first introduce the bar start with a clean grip (shoulder width). That’s safer than an ultra wide grip.

You don’t have to go as low as the legendary Tommy Kono


4) Progress to Clean Grip Snatches

When you first make the move from the dumbbell to the bar start with a clean grip (shoulder width). It’s safer and is a nice progression into a wider grip snatch.

5) Don’t Go Too Wide

After getting pretty comfortable with the clean grip you can start widening it up a bit. But again, unless you’re gonna compete, you don’t have to hands to collars. Most of those cats start doing that at a very young age.

Your shoulders probably won’t be as well prepared for it.

So go no wider than index finger in the rings.

6) Don’t Do More Than 3 Reps Per Set

The snatch is a very technical lift. It’s also meant to be done very explosively. Anything that’s technical and explosive should be done for sets of 1-3. Eventually if you get good at them you could do as many as five or six reps on something like a whip snatch.

7) Do Them Often

To get good at something that requires a modicum of skill you should do it a few times per week. In this case I’d recommend starting a workout 2-3 times per week with some type of snatch.

8) Start With Really Light Weights

All Olympic lifts are meant to be done very explosively. So you never want to use heavy weights that slow you down.Keep it fast and always maintain perfect technique. One quick move from knees to lockout. No pressing.

9) Progress Slowly

It’s hard to increase the weight on snatches so don’t rush it. You have to be consistent and patient. Using the same weight for a few workouts (or even weeks) in a row is a good idea. Once you have mastered it make the next smallest weight increase or simply add another set. Fractional Plates come in handy here.

10) Jump & Shrug

When you’re in the start position keep those two cues in mind. As you start to explode up and the bar moves along your quads just think about shrugging violently and simultaneously jumping straight up in the air as high as you can.

A life without snatch is a life not worth living.

For the ultimate 12 week trap and upper back specialization program that is loaded with snatches and will help you build “the Power Look” click HERE now.

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36 Responses to Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Snatch

  1. KC Todd April 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    I love the first line ” a perfect snatch is a beautiful thing.” I agree 100%. Haha.

  2. Dan Mumm April 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Great article. Vast majority of people think that the clean is an easier lift because there’s a smaller range of motion, but it is definitely harder to learn than the snatch. Glad someone else has my back on this. Love the olympic lifting articles, keep them coming!

  3. Jason - FitnessWorkouts April 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    I love snatch too.

    You are so right that it it much easier to teach. Whenever I tech Olympic lifts I always start with the hang power snatch.

    Give someone a piece of pvc and away you go. I like it so much I often include it in the warm up. As much as I dislike CrossFit there are a few good things that come out of it and one of those is The Burgener Warmup. I use it all the time, you will be amazed how warm a piece of PVC can get you.

    • Jason Ferruggia April 9, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      Yeah, definitely. Good call about the PVC

  4. Gary Deagle April 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    I remember the first time I did a snatch, I only lasted a couple reps with good form. Now my stamina is much better when doing the snatch.

  5. Raymond- ZenMyFitness April 21, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve never done them before and look forward to adding them into my workout to help create some variety.

  6. Bobby Fisk April 21, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    Great article. Just started adding the barbell snatch as the first exercise for lower body days and finish off workouts with the kb snatch. Both awesome movements. And I’ve definitely seen the same thing with regards to teaching the db snatch…its very easy to teach and learn.

  7. Chris April 22, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    Also, a revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having.

  8. Steven Rice Fitness April 22, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Dumbbell snatch is one of my top exercises.

    I’m curious about 2 things:

    Why from a hang position- I like to put the dumbbell on a plate and touch down between reps in a low rep set, although I’ll do 10-12 rep sets from a hang.

    Any opinion about what a good weight is vs. bodyweight at different levels of conditioning?

    • Jason Ferruggia April 9, 2012 at 8:22 am #

      A one arm snatch with half your bodyweight is a decent goal to shoot for. Anything above that is pretty good.

  9. Niel April 22, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    Nothing is manlier than a barbell snatch. It’s probably my favorite exercise.

    • Jason Ferruggia April 9, 2012 at 8:23 am #

      That’s true. It is some manly shit.

  10. diego April 24, 2011 at 12:40 am #

    when you say do snatches after jumps. do mean in super set fashion or after all your jumps then proceed to snatches? thanks!

    • Jason Ferruggia April 9, 2012 at 8:23 am #

      @Diego- Honestly you can do either.

  11. Bill April 24, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    I actually have the opposite problem. The wide grip on the snatch messes with my wrists and elbows. The clean doesnt.

  12. Lame-R April 25, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    The split snatch is a nice old-school change of pace from the squat snatch. Singles are good, but snatches likely are best done in doubles or triples. Much more than that and you won’t be doing each snatch as well as you should.

  13. stan April 26, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Hi, mr. Ferrugia, I have a question. Can you explain me (or give me some resources) why the clean is more dangerous than snatch?
    Best regards,

  14. Robert May 28, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    Remember two things:
    1) Nothing is better than a nice Snatch
    2) Clean it first, the jerk it
    -as per Jim Schmitz: US Olympic lifting coach.

    Jason, thanks for calling out the power of the snatch.


  15. John February 29, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    Awesome post and awesome exercise. Its funny how most people in commercial gyms look at you lie a nut job when doing snatches for any other Olympic lift.

    Weight belts on chest day? Nuff said

    Nice one Jason


  16. The Get in Shape Girl April 7, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    I have been working on my olympic lifts with a fantastic Olympic Lifter up here at Total Performance Sports in Everett. We definitely employ all of these methods to help me perfect my snatch, although some would argue my snatch is already perfect as it is… jk!

    But seriously great pointers.. one other worth adding I think is increasing flexibility/ range of motion as my flexibility helps me get low in my overhead squats.

    • Jason Ferruggia April 9, 2012 at 8:26 am #

      You train at TPS? Nice! Great gym and Murph is a friend of mine.

      You’ve got a perfect snatch, huh? Interesting…

  17. Dominic munnelly April 8, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    Got to ask. What are you snatching right now Jason?

    • Jason Ferruggia April 9, 2012 at 8:27 am #

      @Dominic- Haven’t done them in a long time due to shoulder surgery and some other stuff I’m doing with my training. Because of the shoulder surgery I usually stick with 1 arm db snatches and rarely go over 100lbs.

  18. Liam April 21, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    Hi Jason,i’ve just started doing one arm DB snatches and was wondering whats the ideal rest time for snatches and other power moves? Thanks for your time.

  19. Donny May 23, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    This is good stuff. I have been doing clean grip snatches for a couple of weeks and my shoulders/upper back feel awesome. The only problem I have with the clean grip is that you can’t get the bar in the hip crease with straight arms. Are you supposed to just pull a little early (like a little below the hip crease)?

  20. jay July 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    I am practising weightlifting since 1 yr.
    But still i have a problem that in snatch the bar is not passing inner.
    pls tell me some exercises to inner the bar in snatch.

  21. jaya krishna sahoo January 15, 2013 at 4:35 am #

    please tell me how to keep the bar bell inner the body during snatch?

  22. Nick Primavera August 22, 2013 at 5:56 am #

    Epic article. More people need to do snatches, not just athletes. Then maybe people wouldnt have such jacked up shoulders, and more people would have badass traps. Nothin better than a great snatch (giggity). U da man Jason!

    • Jason Ferruggia August 24, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      Nick- Thanks man. Yes, snatches are awesome.