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You have to perform the Olympic lifts heavy and often to improve.
No matter what may be holding you back in the snatch, an increase is practice frequency, training volume or intensity will ultimately help correct those problems. But you can accelerate your progress in the gym by simply including accessory exercises in your programming.
These movements are designed to target a specific deficit or weakness in the snatch. Each exercise can be easily added to the end of a training session, or practiced on a light day.
Give these movements a try and you will perform better.
1. Improve your first pull.
This is critical to success in weightlifting. Allowing the weight to pull you out of position will make it nearly impossible to complete a heavy lift.
The first pull begins when force is applied to the barbell, and lasts until the bar is lifted off the platform. The arms must be straight at the elbows, and the shoulders should be a little ahead of the bar. If the shoulders are behind the bar, other faults in the technique will follow.
Improper position off the floor is usually a result of a weak posterior chain. We can fix that.
Your Rx: Snatch Pull with Pause at Knee
Perform this lift just like a standard snatch pull, but the pause (2-3 seconds) trains the posterior muscles and adds an isometric contraction that allows the athlete to feel the correct position. This helps accelerate the acquisition of movement proficiency.
Keep your back flat, knees back, and shoulders over bar. The movement and the position in the pause must be identical to when performing the snatch for the exercise to be effective.
Use a weight comparable to your best snatch. Going too heavy might reinforce incorrect movement patterns and bad habits.
The proper second pull. Click the picture to learn more about FLIGHT Weightlifting.
2. Pull the bar back into your hips.
Once the barbell passes the knees it is very important that it comes back to the hips. This is sometimes referred to as “sweeping the bar.” The barbell should be over the feet, and the shoulders still over the barbell.
Allowing the load to drift away from the body is common as the weight gets heavier. So, it is important to engage the upper back and lats to ensure the bar comes back and ultimately stays back.
Your Rx – Barbell Rows
Training the upper back stabilizers is pretty common in Olympic Weightlifting, but often the lats are neglected. Barbell Rows allow both to be trained simultaneously.
There’s nothing fancy about rows. Bend at the waist maintain a static contraction of the back, and then pull the bar into your midsection. Use a weight that allows you maintain good form and something in the range of 5 sets of 5 repetitions.
3. Learn to get under the barbell faster
Once the bar reaches the maximal height of the pull you have force yourself back under the barbell with the same kind of maximal effort. Learn to do that and good things will happen on the platform for you.
The heavier the weight, the lower the height of the barbell and the faster you will have to get under into a full squat. Speed under the bar makes all the difference and the key to improving speed under the bar is FORCING yourself to move faster.
Going under the bar is an active movement. This key aspect must be taught and reinforced early and often in the learning process. You must learn to jump down.
Your Rx – High Hang Snatch
Similar to a conventional hang snatch, where the bar starts at arm’s length with the lifter standing, a high hang snatch is performed without countermovement. This means there is no lowering of the barbell prior to the pull. I call it “Pop and Drop” – Pop the hips and get under fast, but in control.
Just pull and get under. If you use too light a weight there is no reason to move fast, so pick something you can do for 2-3 reps at a time, maybe around 70-75%.
4. Get comfortable in the deep squat.
Next to speed under the bar, position under the bar is critical. Being able to maintain a deep full squat with a heavy barbell secured overhead depends in large part on the lifter’s comfort level in the bottom.
An extremely tight, inflexible athlete is always going feel out of place, whereas an athlete who can master this position will be stable for as long as is require to secure the lift.
The best way to get more flexible and comfortable in the bottom position is to practice more often.
Your Rx – Overhead Squats with Pause
Start with the barbell overhead, aligned over the scapula. To start, the athlete should attempt to push out on the barbell or ‘rip the bar in half’.
After squatting down, take a 2-3 second pause at the lowest point. Attempt to get lower and lower with each repetition. If you’re uncomfortable in this position, use high rep sets (10-15) performed with very light weight. An experienced athlete that wants to improve position may go with something like 5 reps with approximately 80%+ of their best snatch.
5. Improve overhead stability
After receiving the barbell you have to stand-up with it while maintaining locked arms. Failure to keep the bar locked out is typically due to lack of support at the elbows and shoulders. Strengthening the musculature around these joints is essential for a snatching heavy loads.
Your Rx – Snatch Grip Push Press
This is another basic exercise, with a twist that makes it more specific to training the snatch. Start with the barbell behind the head. Use your legs to drive the bar overhead, with an emphasis on squeezing the elbows and locking out hard.
This push press allows a heavier load to be used, which is important if we are going to overload the muscles needed to support a heavy snatch overhead. Start with 5-6 sets of 3 reps, that will do the job.
Give these movements a try. If you practice often, the snatch will come. I promise.
- For great more weightlifting knowledge visit Dr. Hartman at his blog site. Also, don’t miss his excellent book, FORTIS.
- We want you to be a better lifter. So, we made you an awesome free video series. Enjoy, and please share.
- Need a weightlifting program to fix your snatch? Check out our FLIGHT program.