5 Tips for a Heavier Snatch

Rooted Strength and Athletics coach Matt Stacuk gave us some great tips for improving snatch technique. Matt is an Olympic Weightlifting coach at our downtown location and will be running his club, Rooted Strength and Athletics, there. Club hours will be posted soon but to tide you over, here are his 5 tips to a heavier snatch. 

1.The bar should move back towards the lifter during the first pull. 
There are a few reasons for this. If the bar moves completely vertical or even worse forwards from the starting point this will be mechanically disadvantageous, as the mass of the barbell will pull the lifter forwards out of position. Furthermore knee flexion will eccentrically “pre-stretch” the quadriceps allowing for an explosion of elastic energy during the extension of the second pull. Try starting with the bar over the 1st metatarsal of the foot, if the bar starts too close to the lifter it will hit off the shins and move forwards. There are of course athletes who are successful who have the bar come forwards during the first pull (such as Ilya Ilyin) however this is rare at a high level and in the case of Ilya the bar moves forwards as a result of a dynamic start and the bar is in a good position by the time he reaches mid-shin but I digress...

2. Minimized Bar Drop- 
A common mistake that you see in beginner- intermediate lifters is allowing the bar to crash on them as they move under the barbell. Every action has an opposite and equal reaction, the pull under the bar needs to be as equally aggressive as the upwards force imparted on the barbell. When observing high-level weightlifters people are often mesmerized by the depth they can achieve and mistakenly think this is the only thing constituting a good lift. If you watch Lu Xiaojun’s snatch he does catch the bar quite low but if you watch at 1.36 into this video you will see how little bar-drop occurs during his snatch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-usczgtDQc

Gor Minasyan has an excellent turn-over with very little bar drop. He was the silver medalist in the 105-kg category at the 2016 Olympic games.
An assistance movement that will help if performed correctly is the power snatch catching the barbell in a half squat. Focus needs to be on aggressively pulling against the bar with the upper-body after completing the second pull and then consequently tightening up at the point the bar reaches its peak height. Think about shrugging down with the traps while punching upwards. This will train the body to decelerate the load and minimize bar drop while emphasizing speed. To maximize transfer-ability to the snatch this movement should be identical to the full snatch other than the height that the barbell is received. it is an error to jump the feet wider than what would be used during the full snatch and can become a bad habit.

3.Increase Speed of the 2nd pull -
Every kinematic analysis of the snatch done on lifters who are technically proficient (and even those that aren't) will show an increase in speed during the second pull. This is the chance for the lifters to create enough velocity on the barbell to allow them to aggressively pull under the bar. Snatches performed from the blocks at knee height may be effective for increasing speed of the second pull. Pulling from this position removes any momentum created during the 1st pull and requires an aggressive extension. Weights at around 70-80% of the snatch 1-RM are effective at increasing peak power and depending on the timing of the weightlifting macrocycle should constitute a large portion of total volume of lifts. Jumping- Weightlifters should employ a variety of jumping exercises such as box jumps, bounding, and depth jumps to increase their rate of force development.

4.Get comfortable in the Bottom- 
Overhead Stability is extremely important in weightlifting (yeah no shit…) If overhead stability is lacking try adding Drop Snatch's into your training at-least once a week. Also while training the snatch don’t be in a rush to stand up. Hold the bottom position for 2-5 seconds before standing up. Research shows Isometric holds increase positional strength.

5.Build A Stronger Back- 
A strong upper/mid and lower back while help the lifter to maintain thoracic extension and good positioning during the pull of the snatch.
Deficit Snatch Deadlift, Pullups(after an athlete can do 10 consecutive reps they should be adding weight), Chest supported rows and back extensions are some of my favorites for increasing hypertrophy and strength of the back. Try performing around 3-6 sets of each exercise for 5-12 reps. 
These should be programmed with progressive overload and are best emphasized when further from competition.

Gourgoulis, V., Aggelousis, N., Mavromatis, G., & Garas, A. (2000). Three-dimensional kinematic analysis of the snatch of elite Greek weightlifters. Journal of Sports Sciences,18(8), 643-652. doi:10.1080/02640410050082332
Akkuş, H. (2012). Kinematic Analysis of the Snatch Lift With Elite Female Weightlifters During the 2010 World Weightlifting Championship. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,26(4), 897-905. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e31822e5945

All images and videos used are owned by hookgrip.