Training Ground

The Ultimate Guide To The Snatch

The Ultimate Guide To The Snatch

It is literally impossible to teach a person to snatch within the scope of a single article, but we will run through the basic movement and some of the most important and effective queues you will need to master a snatch.

If you have some experience with trying to learn the Olympic lifts, you know how incredibly complex the snatch is. The movement combines strength with speed in a movement that involves maximal extension and flexion within seconds.

Understanding The Snatch In Its Entirety

The objective of a snatch in weightlifting is to lift the most amount of weight on a barbell from the floor into a locked, overhead position. It is important to keep this in mind as you learn and perfect technique. The goal is to master a technique developed to lift heavy- not 100 repetitions of a 50%RM.

Officially, there are a few rules to follow:

  • The barbell may not stop moving along the way

  • The athlete may not press the elbows out at any time

  • No other part of the athlete may touch the floor (dropping a knee to the floor)

The Pull / Throw

The pull is like throwing the bar into the air. It should be precise and efficient to ensure it makes it to the final catching destination. If it is just a half inch too far forward or backwards, it is likely to be missed. Learning your ideal start position should be the first step to master.

The pull should be Close. To achieve this, start with the bar against your shins and your shoulders over top of the bar (a lateral view). This shoulder position, with the chest covering the bar superiorly, will make it easy to keep the bar close to your body throughout the movement. Feet should be a comfortable width apart, but not wider than your shoulders. If you lack mobility in the lower back, hips, or ankle, this could be difficult. Do the best you can! Finally, keeping your eyes up and face relaxed as you pull. Keeping your eyes up on a point ahead helps with cervical and thoracic spine extension. It also helps with maintaining balance throughout the snatch.

After mastering the start position, pulling in the correct bar path is the next great challenge. Looking at a lift from the side, you should notice the bar curve in an “S” shape. It moves slightly anterior as you pass the knees, then pulls in towards the hips.

During the pull, the most important queue is to avoid lifting your hips up as the bar ascends towards the knees. You will need to lead the bar with the chest and shoulders “covering the bar” to ensure there is enough power left to finish pulling. Notice how professional lifters are leaning over the bar as it ascends before pulling it in towards the hip crease.

Focusing on a good pull position trumps over-pulling a bar. Simply finish extending by standing up completely straight. The next step is to turn the lift from a throw into a catch.

The Catch

Catch the barbell by pulling your bodyweight down and under the bar. Always lock out your elbows as fast as possible to support the weight of the bar safely. If the bar is heavy, you’ll need to get lower, as you probably will not be able to throw it as high as lighter bars. This is why there is an inherent squat in the snatch and clean. In order to snatch the most weight, you will have to get used to getting low!

Since your eyes were fixed to a point on the wall through the pull, you should land with your back extended and head up. The barbell should be placed in the strongest position possible, above the vertebrae. Extend your body with control and a strong core to finish the lift.


Always pull using a hookgrip. This keeps the arms loose and pliable. They are able to whip around into the catch position more easily and allow you to use the force of the legs more effectively.

The width of your grip on a barbell will be fairly wide. To find your ideal grip, stand with a bar hanging loosely in your arms. Slide your hands out to raise the level of the bar to the level of your hip crease. This is the area above your pubic bone and below the level of your hip bone. Ensure you use a consistent grip every lift.

Final words of wisdom…

Practice makes perfect… but no need to over train! Perform snatch sessions 3 times per week to see improvements.

Perform sets of no more than 3 reps and as few as singles, totaling between 12 and 20 reps per session.

All your lifts should look identical, regardless of the weight you are moving.

To improve the snatch, Snatch! Accessory lifting is for correcting errors and training accessory lifts! Improve speed and snatch technique by lowering your load and practicing the full movement correctly.

Finally, don’t get angry or frustrated with your bar. Do the work. Lift relaxed and calmly, and always ask for feedback and help from those around you.

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Christie Leclair
Christie Leclair - Author

FD Bulsara, BSc is a competitive athlete in Olympic weightlifting and a student in Osteopathy. She coaches private and group fitness classes and freelance writing about her passions: fitness, health, sport, nutrition, weightlifting, CrossFit, injury prevention, pain relief, injury rehabilitation, and the latest research on all these topics! She is a dog person and spends free time training at the lake. Find her at

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