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Snatch Exercises

The snatch involves pulling a loaded barbell from the ground and over your head in a single movement. Snatching, which takes both strength and skill, is usually taught by a qualified weightlifting coach. Many exercises assist the snatch, but none more than practicing the lift itself. Working on the snatch and isolating elements of snatch technique can improve your performance.

The Snatch

The snatch is executed from the floor, and the bar is held with a wide grip. Your hands are placed at a distance usually at least 1.5 times the width of your shoulders when gripping the bar. You begin the lift by straightening your legs and then your torso. The bar is pulled smoothly from the floor, and as the bar passes mid-thigh level, you jump explosively with the bar and shrug your shoulders as hard as you can. This provides enough power for the bar to continue to rise on its own. At this point, your arms bend and you squat down, pulling yourself under the bar as it continues to rise. After catching the bar overhead with straight arms, you then stand up from the low position and bring your feet together. To maximize power, keep the bar as close to a straight line as possible when pulling the bar.

Power Snatch

The power snatch works on the second pull, or the final acceleration of the bar once it passes your knees. This lift can start from anywhere between the floor and mid-thigh level, but it must be pulled higher. To catch the bar, you must descend into a 1/4 squat but no more. This will lessen the weight you can use, but your technique must be identical to the actual snatch. When starting with the bar higher, such as mid-thigh level, ensure that you do not use more of your back to lift the weight. You must still jump to accelerate the bar, otherwise you will cause the bar to arc out in front of you, which reduces the efficiency of your lift.

Snatch Pulls

Snatch pulls are used to teach the pulling section of the lift and build additional power. Snatch pulls also allow more weight to be used, and you can use them to learn to tolerate heavier weights. Care must be taken to ensure a straight bar path, as overloading this lift can lead to poor mechanics and a loss of power. Set up like you were going to execute the snatch and pull the bar smoothly from the ground. When the bar reaches mid-thigh level, jump and shrug to accelerate the bar. Do not bend your arms or proceed any further. Lower the weight to the ground and repeat the exercise.

Drop Snatch

The drop snatch is used to practice catching, or "receiving" the bar on the snatch. You start with the bar on your back as if you were going to squat, with your hands in the same position as if you were going to execute a snatch. Bend your knees and explosively drive the bar overhead using the power of your legs. As the bar clears your shoulders, drop underneath it and catch it in the low position of the snatch. Your foot placement must be consistent or you will experience displacement of the bar. You must practice catching the bar in the drop snatch the same way you would catch it in the full snatch. In weightlifting, all of your assistance exercises must be practiced in the same manner as the competitive lifts.

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About the Author

Eric Brown began writing professionally in 1990 and has been a strength and conditioning coach and exercise physiologist for more than 20 years. His published work has appeared in "Powerlifting USA," "Ironsport" and various peer-reviewed journals. Brown has a Bachelor of Science in exercise physiology from the University of Michigan and a Master of Science in kinesiology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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