vertical leap. Shins should be almost touching the bar, and the bar
should be over the metarso-phalangeal joint of the feet (where the toes join the foot).
The knee angle should be between 65 and 90 degrees. Arch the back.
Grip at least one and a half times shoulder width, and use a hook
grip. Make sure the arms are straight, flex the triceps if necessary,
as pulling with bent arms can lead to elbow injuries and bicep tears.
The shoulders should be either directly above or slightly in front of
the bar. Look upward only slightly. The torso should be inclined
between 25 60 degrees with respect to the platform. This phase
begins when the athletes applies force to the barbell and it ends when
at the instant of barbell separation from the floor (IBS). The object
of this phase is to create a rigid kinematic chain between the athlete
and the barbell, referred to as the athlete-barbell system, and
tension between the athlete and the floor, which will contribute to
the acceleration of the barbell. At the conclusion of this phase,
there should be no slack between the body and the barbell. By the
Note: Where there are three
numbers separated by a slash, such as x/y/z, this would indicate
difference for athletes 150/170/190cm tall. First Phase: Knee angle at
start of pull: 45 90 degrees Knee angle at end of phase: 80 110
degrees Arm angle with respect to bar: 49 63 degrees Torso inclined:
25 50 degrees.
Preliminary Acceleration. Begin by straightening the legs, and the
hips joints, which will move almost vertically during this phase,
which will cause the torso to lean forward a little and the shoulders
to move farther in front of the bar. Maintain the arch in your back at
all times. The head will move back to a vertical position. Smoothly
pull the bar from the deck and begin to accelerate it. Do not jerk it
from the platform. The bar will continue to accelerate even after the
legs have been straightened. The barbell should move toward the
athlete slightly, which will alter the combined center of gravity (CCOG).
The greater the distance between the COG of the body and the bar at
the start, the greater the barbell shift during this phase of the
pull. This phase will end when the legs have straightened, but the
feet are still flat on the platform. The objective of phase two is to
move the barbell upward and begin acceleration in preparation for
phase three. The majority of the work in this phase is executed with
the legs. This phase generally begins when the knees have straightened
to 110 degrees, and ends when the knees have reached an angle of 145
to 155 degrees. This phase is initiated by a contraction of the
quadriceps, glutes, and erector spinae. The weight of the athlete will
shift from just behind the ball of the foot toward the heel at the end
of this phase, as the latissimus dorsai contract to pull the bar in
toward the lifter.
Knee angle at start of pull: 80 110 degrees
Knee angle at end of phase: 145 150 degrees
Torso inclined: 30 degrees
Hip angle: 85 90 degrees
Average time elapsed at end of second phase: .4 0.55 seconds Bar
speed at end of second phase: 1.3/1.45/1.6 m/sec. Barbell shift toward
athlete: 3/6.5/10 cm Barbell height at end of second phase:
Rebend: Often called the adjustment or the amortization phase. This
phase is used to position the athlete-barbell system (ABS) for the
final explosion of the pull. Continue to straighten the torso, which
should cause the hips to move forward, and rebend the knees slightly,
this should occur when the bar is about 1/3 of the way up the thigh
(past the knee joint). The rebending of the knees should end when the
knees reach an angle of 125 135 degrees. This allows the athlete to
move closer to the bar, with a resultant decrease in the resistance of
the movement, and a more favorable CCOG.
Knee angle at start of phase: 150-155 degrees
Knee angle at end of phase: 120 125 degrees
Shins inclined toward the platform: 70 75 degrees
Torso inclined: 58 degrees
Hip angle: 105 110 degrees
Elapsed time of third phase: 0.125 seconds
Average distance of shoulders in front of bar: 6/6.8/7.6 cm Barbell
speed at end of third phase: 1.22/1.37/1.52 m/sec Barbell shift toward
athlete: 4/8/12 cm Barbell height at end of third phase:
Final Acceleration: This is when the explosion should take place. (the
shoulder girdle, bar, and metarso-phalangeal joints should all be in
the same horizontal plane) Jump, violently straightening the legs and
torso, rising onto the toes and shrugging as hard and quickly as
possible. The elbows should remain extended and pointing outward
during the shrugging movement. The barbell will move away from the
lifter during this phase, describing a slightly forward arc, until it
is moving nearly vertically. The body should be slightly hyper
extended at the completion of this phase, which will compensate for
the forward shifting of the barbell, allowing the CCOG to remain over
the support (the toes). The purpose of this phase is to impart as much
force as possible, to achieve as great a height as possible. The bar
should continue to rise on its own as the lifter begins the next
phase. At the initiation of this phase, the erectors, glutes, and
hamstrings are the major agonists. The erectors will work not only to
maintain a rigid spine, but to begin the acceleration of the barbell
as the torso moves rapidly erect. The glutes and hamstrings contract
in conjunction with the erectors to extend the hip joint. As the
athlete jumps, the quadriceps contract strongly, and the trapezius is
used to supply additional force at the top of the pull.
Knee angle at start of phase: 120 125 degrees
Knee angle at end of phase: 175 180 degrees
Torso inclined: 0 10 degrees away from platform
Shins inclined: 0 degrees
Hip angle: 180 + degrees (hyperextension)
Elapsed time of fourth phase: 0.2 seconds
Barbell speed at end of fourth phase: 1.65-1.8/1.78-1.93/1.9-2.05
m/sec Barbell shift away from athlete: 2/3/4 cm Barbell height at end
of fourth phase: 97.5/110.5/123.5 cm
Unsupported Squat Under: Pull on the bar slightly as it is rising to
help pull towards the athlete, while squatting down as quickly as
possible. In theory, the athlete is trying to exert some sort of force
on the bar at all times, and maintain control. The first portion of
this is where the feet remain on the platform while the knees and hips
begin to bend. As the bar passes the head, the elbows move down under
the bar and the wrists turn over.
Feet remain on floor during squat under: 0.1 0.15 seconds
time during non-support phase: 0.15 0.33 seconds
Elapsed total time
of fifth phase: 0.25 - 0.48 seconds
Barbell height at end of phase:
Phase Six: Supported Squat Under: The feet are then thrust from the
platform. During this phase, it is possible to raise the bar another
2.5 cm through the use of the arms while pulling under the bar. As in
the clean, the heels are under the hip joints and the toes are turned
to the side. The lower back is arched and the torso is tilted forward,
more than in the clean. The shoulder blades are flat and the arms are
straight, while the head is tilted forward. During this portion of the
lift, the bar will move backward, then down. Typically 5 9% of an
athlete¹s height. An experienced lifter can achieve a deeper squat
position, thereby reducing the minimum height required to pull the
Elapsed time of sixth phase: 0.3 0.6 seconds
Barbell height at end of phase: 99/112.2/125.4 cm
When receiving the snatch, the bar is in line with the hips at the
bottom. This means that it will be behind the head, which takes some
time to adjust to. To minimize stress on both the shoulders and the
elbows, the elbows should be rotated forward/outward as much as
possible. The arms must be absolutely rigid. When rising from the
bottom of a snatch, first the hips will travel back while the
shoulders move forward, although only slightly. To maintain tension in
not only the arms while rising, but the upper back as well,
concentrate on trying to pull the bar apart with the hands. Some
coaches advocate driving up out of the bottom as quickly as possible
after stopping the bar¹s downward progress even before the lifter is
completely balanced. This may allow the lifter to be able to save a
lift from a partially recovered position that would not be possible
from a deep squat position. Also, the application of force to the bar
applies a certain amount of control that may save a lift that would
otherwise travel outside the lifter's base of support.
The ascent: After control is achieved, the legs begin to straighten
secondary to the contraction of the glutes and hamstrings. The bar
must remain in line over the hips to avoid tilting forward and losing
the lift. At the top of the lift, the feet should be brought somewhat
Correcting simple mistakes in the snatch.
The most common problem in the snatch is receiving, or catching the
bar. If the athlete finds that the bar is drifting forward, lower the
hips, raise the head, and immediately drive up from the squat.
Lowering the hips brings them, as well as the lifters COG with respect
to the bar, forward, positioning the athlete under the bar. When the
bar has been over pulled and is drifting backward, the athlete should
lower the head and torso, and raise the hips backwards. This shifts
the lifters COG to the rear, once again in line with the bar.
Bending the elbows on the pull. This is an exceptional way to tear a
bicep. To avoid this, flex the triceps during the first phase, and
keep them flexed until the shrug during the fourth phase. There is a
reason that the old adage "where the arm bends, the power ends" is
still around. That reason is the simple fact that it is true.
Functional mechanics of the snatch:
Maximum velocity of the barbell is a critical factor when determining
training load. The product of maximum velocity (Vmax) and weight(m*g)
presents the external (measured on the barbell) physical power
component for the vertical barbell lift. This parameter is called
m x g x Vmax = Ps-s
(Kg x m/(s)2 x m/s = W Note: (s)2 = speed squared
The total power contains a component for barbell acceleration as well.
The value of this component is relatively low compared to the lift
component. Because power is the work (energy) performed in a given
time period, the relationship between the work required to accelerate
and to lift the barbell express the relationship between the power
components: Kinetic Energy: m/2 x (Vmax)2 Potential Energy: m x g x h
Where m = barbell mass; Vmax = maximum barbell velocity; g = 9.81
m/(s)2; h = path of vertical barbell lift.
The lift component of the work is roughly six times greater than the
acceleration component. The relationship between the power components
are comparable to the work relationship.
The goal of training should be to create higher power values. This can
be done through the use of high pulls, wherein the lack of the need to
receive the bar can allow for not only a greater training load, but
more focus on increasing velocity. Once the maximum velocity of the
barbell is achieved and there is no further accelerating force, the
remaining path of the weight, which is the distance s, will be
determined by the following
s = (v)2max/2g
It is worth noting that receiving the bar is not simply a matter of
catching it, as the barbell can descend by a velocity of about 2.5 m/s
when simply falling .32m. The goal should be to turn over as quickly
as possible, and thus reduce the velocity of the descending barbell.
Force generation by various joints:
In the snatch, the greatest power requirements fall upon the hip
extensors, which play a vital role in the entire kinetic chain. A
weakness in the hips will overload the knee joint, causing either a
starting movement which is too fast as well as a decrease in velocity
between the 1st and 2nd pulls. A smooth transition is necessary to
prevent overloading of single muscles, tendons, and joint structures.
Hip power reaches its maximum value at the end of the transition
phase. In descending order, the greatest power demands after the hips
are met by the shoulder, knee, and ankle joints.
While the bar will never be pulled in a truly straight line, the
closer the athlete comes to achieve this, the higher the power
generated. As a general rule, athletes with higher peak vertical power
and peak vertical force tend to pull in a straighter line. Also, as
the weight lifted relative to body mass increases, the power output
will also increase. It is worth noting that the heavier the weight
lifted relative to body mass the less horizontal displacement of the
Alterations of bar path to effect a superior lift:
A general backward displacement of the bar is related to successfully
catching the bar. This assumes that the feet are displaced as well. By
moving the bar backward and altering the CCOG by shifting the position
of the lifter, the athlete is able to continue to direct the force on
the bar up and rearward for as long as possible. This is achieved by
shifting the weight towards the heels at the initiation of the pull
and finishing the 2nd pull with the hips over or behind the ankles. As
the body leans back while the knee and hips fully extend, the
shoulders shrug and calves flex to complete the pull. Moving the trunk
upward during final hip extension enhances the ability to use body
mass to project the bar upward.
Problems in bar trajectory and how to correct them:
If the weight shifts forward over the toes at the start of the lift,
the bar will be moving away from the base of support. The lifter must
bring the bar toward the shin during the first pull and move the body
backward, shifting the weight toward the heels.
If the bar drifts forward during the 1st pull, the athlete must avoid
rising up on the balls of the feet too early, which will cause
premature extension of the hips, and excessive swing of the bar away
from the athlete during the fourth phase. If this occurs, the lifter
must slide significantly forward during the unsupported squat under,
or the bar will be dropped in front of the lifter when receiving.
Assistance work for the snatch:
Power Snatch -
This is quite simply a snatch executed without squatting under to
receive it. When catching the bar, the lifter descends into no more
than a quarter-squat. This will develop pulling power for the snatch
as well as allowing the lifter to practice receiving the bar. There is
less stress on the hips during this exercise compared to the classic
snatch, but there can be more stress on the knees, if the weights are
great. In some cases, the power generated during this lift can be
greater than in the snatch.
Hang Snatch -
This is a snatch performed with the bar starting at a higher level
that the platform. Such levels commonly include below the knee, above
the knee, and from a dead hang. This lift can be performed in a manner
similar to either the snatch or the power snatch, for extra emphasis
on pulling power.
Overhead Squats -
After power snatching the bar into place, the lifter will descend into
a full squat position. Care must be taken to maintain stability of the
bar, both while descending as well as while ascending. This lift is
used to improve the athletes stability in the bottom of the snatch as
well as teach control during the ascent. One aspect often overlooked
when performing this exercise is that at the bottom, the neck is not
arched. Often, to allow the shoulders to retract, the lifter will
actually be looking somewhat down. Another manner of setting up for
this lift is setting up in a squat rack with the bar on the shoulders
and the hands in the appropriate position. The athlete will then
push-press the bar into place. This is useful for lifters whose power
snatch is particularly weak. If this is necessary, pulling power needs
to be improved. Due to the intense neuromuscular demands of this
exercise, the athlete¹s CNS will fatigue long before the muscles will.
Therefore, it is best to keep the reps low, rarely more than two.
Drop Snatch/Snatch Balance -
This technique is designed exclusively to improve the athlete¹s
ability to receive, and ascend with, the barbell. The lifter will back
out of a squat rack with the bar on the shoulders, with the hands set
in the appropriate position for executing a snatch lift. The lifter
will then drop from under the bar, catching it overhead in the bottom
position of the snatch. Beginning athletes may knee a slight knee kick
to initiate movement of the bar, and advanced athletes may used this
technique to move more weight than is possible in the classic snatch.
Due to the inherent difficulties with balance and the associated CNS
demands, the reps should be kept low, preferably 1-2.
Snatch Pulls -
This is quite simply the 1st 4th phase of the pull. The purpose is
to not only increase training load, but to improve the power of the
pull, which has already been shown to be a necessity. The pull may be
executed from the pins or from a hang at various positions, as well as
pulled to a set height.
Snatch Grip Deadlifts -
Generally used only if the pull off of the deck is weak. This
technique allows for a great deal of weight to be used, although the
decrease in power output is significant. This technique can be used to
overload the muscles of the erectors, hamstrings, and trapezius if
extra work is needed in those areas.
If used for the snatch, a similar grip should be employed. There are
two basic types of shrugs, the first style has the athlete simply
gripping a bar and shrugging upward with the trapezius. The other,
more specific style, is the power shrug, where the bar is pulled from
pins set at a height that allow a certain, limited amount of leg
drive. This allows so much weight to be used that it will generally be
beyond the athlete¹s ability to maintain a grip on the bar, and straps
may need to be employed.
Snatch Grip Press Behind the Neck -
While many individuals, due to a rotator cuff imbalance, or just
general inflexibility, will have trouble pressing behind the neck, the
snatch grip version may offer a solution. Not only does it require
less flexibility than the regular press behind the neck, there is
significantly less opening of the acromial process, which makes this
exercise far easier on the shoulder joint. This exercise will serve to
strengthen the shoulders, as well as build specific ability to
stabilize the snatch overhead.
Non-specific assistance work: Squats -
If you need someone to tell you why these are beneficial, stop reading
Front Squats -
Not very applicable to the snatch. Quad strength is rarely the
limiting factor. So rare, in fact, that this author has never heard of
it being a problem.
Useful if the lifter has a strength imbalance. Will also supply a
greater training volume to the hips. Even though the split style
snatch was not discussed, if the athlete uses this style, this
assistance exercise becomes paramount.
Overhead Split Squats - Useful again if the athlete employs a split style. The bar is held
overhead with a snatch grip, and a split squat is then executed.
Good Mornings -
Essential for developing power in the erectors and hamstrings. A
variety of good morning exercises can be employed, but the arched back
good morning is by far the most specific.
Reverse Hyperextensions -
Not only good for developing power in the hamstrings and erectors, but
essential for unloading the lumbar spine, which is subject to quite a
bit of force. The pull-through at the bottom of this exercise will
open the spinal column, mediating the flow of interstitial fluid
within the discs.
Pull Throughs -
Yet another exercise for strengthening the all-important hamstrings,
as well as the erectors.
Ham Glute Raise -
Very good exercise for strengthening the hamstrings. Has the benefit
of strengthening the biceps femoris, which is far more involved in
knee flexion. This muscle is not targeted as directly by the previous
A must for every athlete. This topic is so extensive it is a
discussion in and of itself.
Utilizing the snatch in training: As the snatch works so many different muscle groups, it can be
difficult for the athlete who is not an OL¹er to comfortably place it
in the training program. For the bodybuilder, there is little reason
to execute the classic snatch. The power snatch, or varieties of, such
as the power snatch from the dead hang, can be utilized on any day
where the shoulders and traps are worked. For the powerlifter, it will
vary based upon the type of training involved.
In a standard periodized program, the power snatch is probably best
utilized on the day deadlifts are performed, perhaps as an alternate
lift when the athlete is fatigued from numerous weeks of heavy
deadlifting. Snatch pulls can be used as a deadlift assistance
movement, both to strengthen the traps as well as to teach the athlete
to accelerate the bar. If the athlete utilizes the conjugate training
program, the snatch, preferably the power version, executed from the
hang, can be used on both the maximal effort as well as the maximal
acceleration bench days. It would be used in place of standard
shoulder and rotator cuff work, as the power snatch is an exceptional
exercise for strengthening the external rotators, which tend to
receive far less work on a standard program than the internal
Also, specific variations of the snatch can be used in a variety of
programs. For anyone wishing additional development of the traps and
posterior deltoids, either the snatch or any variation of the power
snatch is exceptional. Throwers utilize this exercise heavily, as well
as a variety of pulls, as the strength of the upper back is critical
to any strength athlete. Overhead squats with a sumo stance can be
performed to a box to teach a lifter to execute sumo style lifts with
a completely erect torso. This will necessitate the use of very little
weight, generally just the bar at first, until the athlete learns to
adapt to this complex exercise.
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