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.
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.
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