We all recognize the word snatch after seeing it so many times on our box boards.
In general, Olympic weightlifting has seen a surge of interest thanks to the popularity of CrossFit.. And surely because you do CrossFit you want to learn how to perform this movement better.
In this tutorial we will give you all the keys to learn the exercise step by step so you can improve your technique and increase the pounds you lift safely.
What is a snatch?
A snatch is the weightlifting movement called the Spanish start-up which consists of raise the bar from the ground above the head in a single movement.
What muscles do they work?
Unlike an analytical exercise, in an exercise of this type muscle chains are used and the list of muscles involved is very long:
- Hip flexor and extensor muscles
- Knee extensor muscles
- Biceps femoris
- Gluteus maximus
- Lumbar and rectus abdominis
- Shoulder external rotators and scapulae rotators
- Biceps brachii
- Broad dorsal
- External pectoralis major
Types of snatch
In CrossFit we usually differentiate between:
In the power snatch it is mandatory that the reception of the barbell is done above the squat position.
Full snatch or squat snatch:
In the full snatch, the movement requires receiving the bar below the squat position. It is not allowed to join two movements power snatch + overhead squat. Instead, the exercise must be performed smoothly in one go without pauses.
The muscle snatch is a snatch without leg flexion.
It is not usually an exercise per se that we see in the wod of the day, but rather in the technique part. It is used to make the athlete aware of the pull and his position during the first and second pull of the snatch. In addition, the strength gained from this exercise is transferred into the execution of the snatch.
When the type is not specified in the wods, it is because any technique is allowed, leaving it to the choice of the most efficient for the athlete.
Correct execution technique in the snatch
It is important to start with the ideal starting position in order to maximize the third pull, which is considered the key to the snatch.
Grip: hand position
The grip of the bar is wide looking for great separation between the hands. The greater the distance, the easier it is to perform the movement, but there are also some drawbacks to consider.
Find the middle ground that is comfortable for the athlete, keeping in mind that the more amplitude:
- the distance the bar must travel is reduced.
- does not require as much shoulder flexibility with the bar overhead.
- it is easier to keep the bar close to the body.
- allows you to apply more speed to the bar during the third pull.
But on the other hand:
- is more demanding on the wrists as it increases the stress on them.
- it is more difficult to lock the elbows which controls the bar going backwards once it is in the overhead position.
Normally the correct position is outside the mark that most bars have. But that mark is universal and does not take into account the difference in height of the athletes.
One way to check for proper hand position is to hold the bar with a wide grip and rest it on your hips with your arms relaxed. The bar should not move if you raise one of your knees. If the bar moves when checking, the bar is too low, so the grip is still too tight.
The agarra hook grip or trigger grip in Spanish consists of embrace the thumb with the rest of the fingers of the hand.
No Hook grip
While it may seem a bit awkward at first, the trigger grip is recommended for safer lifts.
The movement starts with the back straight, thus allowing more speed to be given to the bar during the second pull.
The bar is close to the shins to stay as close to the center of gravity as possible. This reduces possible imbalances.
The arms are positioned vertically on the bar and the shoulders are slightly bent forward.
The feet are placed approximately below the hips and the knees open outward.
The body functions as a chain as a whole and not as independent parts. And the whole body is with some tension/activation.
First pull - lifting
The first pull consists of moving the bar from the floor to the knees.
The pull must be gradual and not abruptly to maintain control of the movement and the same inclination in the back.
In order that the bar does not move away from the body, it is necessary to make certain knee correction to clear the way for the bar. The hips and back slightly together with the hips.
Go to from knees to hipsThe barbell brushes against the lifter's thighs.
The shoulders starting forward to the plane of the bar change as the posture is lifted and they move backwards to end up behind the bar just before the explosion.
It is necessary to activation of the dorsal muscles. The arms are not the motor of the movement, they only transmit the force of the lower body and pelvis to the bar. They are only the connection between the trunk and the bar and should be kept extended and relaxed.
This phase is the key to a good snatch lift. It is the moment to give the maximum explosiveness to lift the bar. The objective is to raise the bar as high as possible.
This pull consists of a hip extension, different from a caderazo. It is a mistake to think about hitting the bar because it would move forward and we do not want to lose the verticality of the bar.
The arms are still purely a connection between the body and the bar, but they are not the ones that generate the force. The tips of the elbows will be facing outward.
The athlete then actively positions himself under the bar. looking for the squat positionby delaying the hips and bending the knees.
The heavier the weight, the lower the bar tends to be received, since it is more difficult to lift the bar during the pull.
The lifter's feet move laterally for the reception of the bar.
In this phase, the athlete wants to secure the bar in the correct and stable posture with the weight above the head.
The scapulae are activated to fix the bar and the head is usually slightly forward to find balance.
Although at this point if you have the bar under control you are likely to finish the lift satisfactorily, the movement is not yet complete.
The lifter has to reentering the squat and finish firm in a fully stretched position with the bar fixed.
When you have held this position for a moment, you can release the bar. Remember that for a correct use of the bar, you will not be able to pull any weight. In this post about types of bars We develop it on how to use them correctly.
Snatch tutorials on youtube
Here you can enjoy free weightlifting seminars on pull-up technique.
How to improve a snatch?
Learning this weightlifting movement is complex. Those of us who do CrossFit always say that we miss this exercise, but that's normal.
Athletes who are dedicated to compete in weightlifting spend their whole lives to be the best in only 2 movements: snatch and clean and jerk. And we in 4 days do not understand why we do not move the bar better.
The level of impatience prevents us from realizing that this is a complex exercise that requires a lot of attention to technique.
Focusing only on how many kilograms you lift and ignoring how you lift them will cause you to quickly reach your ceiling without reaching your potential.
Technique must be above all else
If you want to improve your technique you will have to dedicate extra time in your Open box hours. Because although in a class the coach always goes over the most important elements of the technique, if you want to appreciate your improvement you will need more.
If you train at home and want high quality CrossFit or Weightlifting equipment specifically for CrossFit or Weightlifting I recommend KingsBox.
More weight is not better
Improve your mobility
Along with technique, it is essential to be able to carry weight in the range of motion we need. Although each athlete may have different limitations, it is quite common to have poor hip and shoulder mobility.
With these two exercises you will improve your mobility to be able to perform the snatch more comfortably.
Corrections in snatch technique
It is recommended that when you work on the technique you have a professional supervising you and who can correct your mistakes.
Ideally, a weightlifting coach would be ideal, but if you can't access one, your boxing coach will still be of great help in detecting where you are failing.
As we have broken down this complex exercise into different phases, practice each of them separately to correctly integrate the movement.
If you want to take it even more seriously, you can hire an programming service in which, in addition to having stipulated the weekly training, the coach will review the videos with your performances. That way he can recommend personalized exercises that are complementary and suitable for your goals.
Most common errors
While we are internalizing the technique, it is easy to be tempted to want to raise the bar with the strength of the arms. It is typical for beginners to shrug their elbows on the second pull.
Trying to lift the bar "by hand" is much more difficult than with the correct technique. If we use only our arms we will lift much less weight than with a properly executed pull-up.
To avoid this vice, do exercises practicing the second pull with the pvc bar. Instead of grabbing the bar with your hands, use your back strength and straight arms to move the bar. This is a way to memorize the movement using your lats instead of the strength of your arms, which should be pure connectors.
Do not use trapezes
On the third pull where the athlete must transfer maximum power to the bar, he must use the trapezius muscles to stretch as much as possible.
The heavier the weight on the bar, the harder it is to appreciate how the trapezius muscles work, but the movement must be internalized in order to be able to put it into practice even with heavy weights.
Retreat to the back
Loss of verticality
Related to the previous one. Thinking only about retreating backwards makes us lose power.
One way to practice the pull-up to get used to it being vertical would be to perform jumps with trapeze crunches.
Most common snatch injuries
Due to the nature of this exercise, the most common injuries are shoulder injuries.
But first and foremost and to remove fear, CrossFit is no more harmful than any other sport that is performed at a hobby level. We developed this topic in this article.
On the other hand, our physio and CrossFit coach Adria Pieexplains in detail what we can do to avoid shoulder injuries in this article.
The snatch is one of the most complex and demanding movements in terms of mobility, strength, speed, stability, ... If we have limitations in some of these points, the risk of injury is higher.
The most common injuries related to this movement affect:
The most common are injuries related to the rotator cuff (tendinopathies or overloads), we can also encounter dislocations, labral injuries, ...
The shoulder is a highly mobile joint and requires good muscular control (strength and coordination) to function correctly throughout its range of motion.
In addition, its correct function is related to other factors, among them, the mobility of the spine, stability of the scapulothoracic joint or even hip mobility.
Bursitis, pain of tendon, ligament or muscle origin are the most common problems.
In some cases, by moving very high loads, dislocations of the joint may occur.
The elbow is a joint with less mobility than the shoulder, being very stable in the position of maximum extension (locking).
It is important to work this position well in order to be ready to receive the bar and to have enough resistance to perform the necessary repetitions.
Wrist injuries in ligaments, bone fractures/fissures and tendon problems is what we encounter most often.
The position of the wrist in the snatch is not very "natural" and all the weight of the bar falls on it, it is essential to have the necessary tolerance to withstand the stress that this produces.
When receiving the kick-off, in addition to "locking" the shoulder and elbow, we must be able to stabilize the wrist to avoid undesired movements and to ensure a solid execution.
In this case, use wristbands can help us reduce the impact on the joint and better distribute the load.
In general, injuries occur at the moment of the "catch" or reception, when the bar weight falls and we have to overcome that inertia. Also as a consequence of the repetition of the movement. In any case, the stress or load of the exercise exceeds our tolerance.
The three joints or areas mentioned are the most affected but the causes can be found elsewhere. For example, a lack of thoracic mobility can increase the mobility demands on the shoulders.
Perform individualized strength work and transferable to this Olympic movement is highly recommended to improve our capabilities and reduce the risk of injury.