The power snatch is a staple Olympic weightlifting movement typically used in high-intensity functional training modalities such as CrossFit. It involves moving a loaded bar from the ground to an overhead position. With grace, this movement is extremely impressive and will give you some bragging rights when performed correctly in the box. That being said, the power snatch is an advanced and technical lift, and can lead to serious injury when it’s not executed appropriately. We’re going to break down how to perform a power snatch and its benefits.
What Is The Power Snatch
The power snatch is a variation of the snatch, in which a loaded barbell is moved from the ground, all the way overhead in one fluid motion. The power snatch combines more elements of pure athleticism into one movement, more so than nearly any other lift requiring speed, coordination, agility, mobility, strength, power, and accuracy.
As you can imagine, the power snatch is a compound movement. A compound movement, is one which involves several primary and secondary muscle groups, flexors, and joints. Olympic weightlifters use the power snatch as a complimentary training exercise to develop the conventional snatch, creating more power, force, and explosiveness.
What Muscles Does The Power Snatch Work
Lifting heavy weight from the floor all the way over your head, is going to require quite a few muscle groups. From the set-up, you’ll be engaging your core, upper back and traps, quads, glutes, and hamstrings. As you power through this explosive phase of the lift, you’ll engage your hips, core, glutes, hamstrings, and shoulders for the catch. Not to mention, several secondary muscles and joints.
What Are The Benefits Of Power Snatch
Moving fast and lifting heavy definitely has its benefits, especially when it comes to building lean muscle mass, strength, burning body fat, and developing muscular endurance and athleticism.
1. More Muscle Mass
Compound movements like the power snatch will help you build more muscle mass and gains. Loaded strength training will increase muscle protein synthesis, tearing down muscle fiber, and rebuilding it, resulting in more mass. As with any other resistance training or strength exercise, volume, load, and intensity are all critical factors in stacking on more gains.
2. Increased Strength
With muscle gains comes strength. Compound movements incorporate multiple muscle groups, therefore providing more muscle fiber recruitment to develop and build more strength. Compound movements recruit joints and muscles to work in unison of one another, optimizing more body function for further muscle protein synthesis. When building more muscle, strength will directly follow with a periodized strength training program incorporating these exercise movements.
3. Better Coordination And Balance
Developing critical skills for executing Olympic lifts such as the power snatch, will result in better coordination, balance and core stability. Power snatch is a bilateral exercise, meaning it uses each side of the body, as well as several inter-dependent components and muscular systems, creating more force, core stability, and strength, resulting in better coordination and balance. This exercise requires a significant amount of focus and focus, and will greatly emphasize your ability to optimize your coordination.
4. Increased Weight Loss
Compound movements like the power snatch, will burn more calories as compared to an isolated movement. Because compound movements incorporate multiple muscle groups, they require more muscle fiber recruitment, more intensity otherwise known as energy and calories to complete. Burning more calories will help you achieve a caloric deficit and burn more body fat resulting in weight loss.
Strength training will result in weight loss and optimal body composition, for the most part. Of course, this relies heavily on your nutrition protocol and diet as well. However strength training will increase your caloric burn through what’s called EPOC – excess post oxygen consumption also referred to as “the after-burn affect” in addition to the expended calories during your training.
How To Power Snatch
The power snatch is a very technical movement, and therefore has a few different phases, to practice and complete for proper fluid execution. We’ve taken some steps from the National Strength And Conditioning Association, to provide a detailed framework on how to power snatch.
Phase 1: The Set-Up
- Properly position your feet so that they are in line with your hips and shoulders, with your toes pointed slightly outward
- Squat down and grab the bar with a wide pronated or overhand grip, keeping your back flat, and your hamstrings loaded with your weight.
- Your grip can be a closed grip or a hook grip. To use a hook grip, place a pronated hand on the bar and first wrap the thumb around the bar, then wrap the four fingers. The first one or two fingers, depending on their length, will cover the thumb.
- Position your arms outside of the knees, with your elbows fully extended
- Once your set-up is complete, you will be ready to move onto the movement, specifically the pull.
Phase 2: The Pull
- Pull the bar off the ground, smoothly moving it past the knees.
- Keep the bars as close to the shins as possible slightly shifting your weight back towards the heels as the bar is lite with the proper trajectory
- After the bar passes the knees, you’ll want to explosively pull and launch the bar overhead, dropping underneath the bar
- When you feel the bar go “weightless” after pulling high and overhead is when you drop underneath the bar. When you start to move under the bar, we are now in the transition.
Phase 3: The Transition
- When the bar goes overhead and reaches maximum velocity this thrust the hips forward and slightly flex the knees
- The shoulders should still be over the bar, although they will tend to move backward as the knees and thighs move under the bar. The body is in the power position at the end of this phase.
- Keep your back neutral with your elbows fully extended and pointed out to the sides and head in line with your spine
- From here you will catch the bar, and stand up straight to finish the power snatch
Power Snatch: Takeaway
Executing a smooth and solid power snatch will develop your explosiveness, raw power, and strength, and when done right it's really a thing of beauty. The power snatch can help create the critical lifting skills you need to add more mobility, strength, balance and coordination. Whether it's for a training protocol like CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting, or you just want to add some functional movements into your bodybuilding training split, the power snatch is a technical and challenging exercise movement, that will make you a better athlete overall. For a deeper dive into this amazing workout, read our how-to master the snatch in CrossFit blog.
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