ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, Snatch Accessory Exercises & How to Address Common Mistakes


Snatch Accessory Exercises & How to Address Common Mistakes

Reading Time: 5 minutes 46 seconds


Date: 2021-08-10T00:00:00-04:00

Olympic weightlifting involves complex or compound movements. The Olympic lifts include the clean and jerk, and the power snatch. Both require different exercise movement patterns that make up the entire lift.

A power snatch involves many movements including a squat and deadlift pattern. This makes it a complex total body exercise, which uses many different muscle groups at the same time. As a trainer, this is important to know. Clients may find it challenging to achieve muscular coordination when executing the snatch. Therefore, you might need to break down the movement into smaller parts for clients and athletes to practice.

At the same time, you may have clients who are able to perform the snatch but need to work on certain parts of the movements. Accessory exercises allow clients to target specific weaknesses and imbalances that arise during the lift.

Standard Snatch Form and Execution

As a coach, you must know how to perform the exercise to be able to teach and correct it. Start in a shoulder or hip-width stance. Squat down and grip the barbell on the ground. With a snatch hook grip, keep the shoulders over the bar. Maintain a neutral spine and keep the hips back.

Next, forcefully drive through the heels and extend the hips and legs. Pull the bar upwards by shrugging the shoulders and raising at the elbows. Once the bar reaches overhead or maximum height, squat underneath the bar, rotate the elbows forward, and extend the arms. Clients must achieve this overhead squat position.

Common Snatch Mistakes

Even when clients demonstrate correct form, they can still make mistakes during the lift. And while mistakes may arise as a client progresses in their exercise program, many can be addressed through accessory exercises.

Mistake #1: Pull Speed

One of the biggest mistakes that clients make is right from the beginning during the first pull. They often try to lift the bar off the ground too quickly. This throws off the timing of the movement when the barbell reaches knee height. It creates an uncontrolled movement. Instead, slow down the first pull to keep a controlled speed, maintain a strong back and keep the bar close to the body.

Mistake #2: Foot Pronation and Buckled Knees

Most clients need to improve muscular coordination to execute the snatch correctly. The timing of the movement is one of the most challenging aspects of the snatch. Clients tend to get nervous when attempting to catch the bar above their heads. This causes them to drop, squat, and catch too early.

Instead, they need to get comfortable being in this position. Teach your clients to let the bar glide using the momentum produced at the legs. When clients drop underneath the bar too early it takes away from the pull. Therefore, they end up in an unsafe position, which involves the knees buckling in. Their feet pronate and the knees cave in to try to hold the body up.

Mistake #3: Bar Path

The barbell must remain close to the body throughout the entire lift. The same way clients perform a vertical jump is the same way the bar must travel, against the body and straight up.

Many lifters allow the bar to get away from them. This causes the load to travel in two different directions. This is unsafe and can lead to serious injury. The more vertical the bar path, the better the timing and the smoother and stronger the catch will be.

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, Snatch Accessory Exercises & How to Address Common Mistakes, Behind Neck Press

Snatch Accessory Exercises

Accessory exercises not only help address mistakes made during the snatch but also target weak muscle groups. All clients have different weaknesses, strengths, and imbalances. This is why it is important to assess clients before designing a program. Over time clients build motor programs and respectively complete exercise in the same manner.

It is your job to make sure these motor programs are built efficiently. For a complex movement like the snatch, it is important to nit-pick. Don't be afraid to be precise and detailed with pointing out deficient areas when clients execute the movement. This will only help the athlete perform better, leading to more power development during training.

Accessory exercises help isolate one body part that needs to be stronger. They also help clients practice one part of the entire power snatch. Breaking down the movement into smaller parts helps clients who lack muscular coordination needed for the entire lift.

Many different accessory exercises help build strength during the snatch. Some of the most effective snatch accessory exercises are the snatch deadlift, push press, behind the neck press, snatch press, overhead squat, and muscle snatch.

Snatch Deadlift

Position your feet hip-width apart. Squat, shift your hips back, and grip the barbell in a snatch grip. Drive through the ground and stand up. Extend your hips forward and straighten your legs to stand up tall.

The snatch deadlift requires a wider grip than a conventional deadlift. This exercise is a good variation of the snatch and works on the first phase of the snatch. The initial pull is important and helps prepare clients for the entire lift itself.

If they don't build adequate strength during the first pull, they won't achieve the right timing and coordination. The snatch deadlift strengthens and targets the posterior chain. This includes the hamstrings, glutes, and lumbar spine.

Trying to work on your deadlift as well? Check this ISSA article on the Romanian Deadlift.

Snatch Push Press

From the jump position, rest the barbell on the traps with a snatch grip. Keep the elbows forward to make external rotation easier at the top. Dip at the knees and hips, drive and press above the head.

This movement builds overhead strength for the snatch. Clients who are just starting out for the first time should try a behind-the-neck press. This removes the dip and drive element allowing clients to build mobility and strength. Being able to hold the barbell behind the neck requires lots of shoulder mobility. Once they improve their mobility you can progress them to the dip and drive power component.

Snatch Press

This exercise builds strength in the bottom phase of the snatch. It also helps improve mobility in the shoulders.

Get into the bottom of a squat position with the barbell on your back. Maintain a snatch grip. Once you are in the bottom of the squat position, press the bar above the head straight up. Stay on your heels the entire time.

Common weaknesses here are tight shoulders, ankle mobility, and hip mobility. When performing the snatch press make sure to keep your spine neutral and sit up tall. Maintain a strong squat position.

To work on improving mobility, start with a depth appropriate to the client. Don't try to go too deep from the start. Instruct clients to do what they can and then progress lower.

Corrective exercise programs can also help improve clients' bottom squat position.

Overhead Squat

Start with feet shoulder-width apart and a barbell rested on the traps. Maintain a wide snatch grip on the bar and push press it above the head. From here, descend into a full squat, keeping the arms fully extended and barbell overhead.

The goal here is to use the exercise to build a stable overhead squat position for when clients perform the snatch. Ensure they work up to getting their hips below the knees in the squat and maintain knee alignment with the toes.

Muscle Snatch

Lastly, the muscle snatch is the closest accessory exercise to a power snatch. Your client will start in a hip-width stance. Resting the barbell at hip height with a hook grip, shoulders stay over the bar. Maintain a flat back and drive through the ground. Extend the hips forward and shrug the shoulders up. Continue guiding the momentum of the bar by raising the elbows. Pull the bar overhead and keep the legs straight. Do not drop into a squat.

This is almost a full snatch without the first pull from the ground and the squat or catch. This is a great warmup alternative for advanced clients. Also, it is an effective exercise for clients who need to practice the coordination and timing of the movement.

Strength is a key component to developing power, which is important in all weight lifting exercises. Check out the ISSA's Strength and Conditioning certification and learn how to prescribe the best exercise programs for all clients and athletes no matter their goals.

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