The Snatch

Learning the Olympic Lifts for Cross Training

Cross training programs, such as CrossFit®, use “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movements.” Many cross training exercises involve moving large weights and objects quickly over long distances. The snatch is a large muscle, multi-joint Olympic lift that involves pulling the bar from the floor overhead in one continuous motion. It is a central part of most cross training programs. The snatch— and its modifications— is difficult to master. However, they are among the best exercises for building well-rounded fitness, total body strength and power, and quickness.

Olympic lifting— more correctly called weightlifting— is a competitive sport that includes the snatch and clean and jerk. They are extremely dynamic lifts that work the large muscles of the upper and lower body. While the power gained in these lifts does not transfer immediately to sports skills, they provide a strength and power base that will eventually help you improve in many power sports and develop a well-rounded fitness that is the goal of cross training.

The Snatch - Learning the Olympic Lifts for Cross Training

The snatch is difficult to learn, so personal trainers or health club instructors seldom use it in their programs. In fact, many gyms don’t allow Olympic lifting and will ask you to leave if you drop the weights on the floor or platform. Few exercises build sequential strength better than the snatch.

Fortunately, modifications of this exercise, such as the power snatch, hang snatch and hang power snatch, are easier to learn and still build excellent strength and power. Posture and technique are critical for preventing injury and making satisfactory progress in the snatch. A good coach will help you avoid common mistakes and help you progress rapidly in these exciting and beneficial exercises. Experienced cross training coaches are usually well-schooled in the Olympic lifts and often have weightlifting coaching certifications. This article will teach you how to do the snatch and modifications of the basic lifts, and provide a checklist to help you develop and refine good technique.

FitnessRx for Men presents a brief introduction to the snatch for cross trainers. Don’t try to use heavy weights at first. Rather, develop good technique using a broomstick or dowel. Learn to use your hips, while maintaining a neutral spine. Develop good technique in the beginning and you will be amazed at the benefits these exercises can provide.

Introduction to the Snatch for Cross Trainers

The snatch is a complex and difficult exercise. The object of the lift is to pull the bar over your head in one movement and catch it overhead in a squat with your arms straight. Good coaching is essential to mastering this lift.

The snatch has three distinct pulls. The first pull involves pulling the bar from the floor to the top of the knees. At this point, the hips are flexed, the knees bent, chest is out, and the head and spine are neutral. The second pull involves extending the hips and knees, shrugging the shoulders, and driving up on the toes as much as possible before pulling with the arms. During the third pull, the weight is moving upward from the force provided by the second pull and the lifters actively pull themselves under the weight.

Maintaining the proper position during the first pull is critical and difficult. Many cross trainers do snatches from a hang because it is easier to maintain good posture and it reduces the risk of injury.

Brief Description: Place the bar on the floor in front of your shins, with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart. Grasp the bar with palms facing you, hands placed wide apart, and squat, keeping your arms and back straight and your head up. Pull the weight up past your knees to your chest while throwing your hips upward and shoulders shrugged. After pulling the weight as high as you can, go into a squat and catch the bar overhead with your arms straight. Stand up straight with the bar overhead. Return the bar to the starting position, while maintaining a neutral spine. The snatch checklist summarizes the nuances of the exercise.