Written by Team Juggernaut
Snatch Push Press and Overhead Squat:
This is one of my favorite exercises to build the upper body strength and stability that is required both in the standing and receiving position of the snatch. For me personally, this is a great confidence builder for the snatch. When I get stronger in this exercise, I see a direct impact on my snatch. This exercise can be done either from the racks or from the blocks. I tend to do them from the blocks due to an old injury.
Competition Snatch Pull:
This is sometimes referred to as a fast pull, Panda Pull, or Chinese style pull. The lifter executes a snatch high pull, but instead of merely pulling up on the bar with the shoulders and elbows, the lifter actually moves the feet and begins the descent. This exercise is great to help the lifter practice pulling under with the arms and keeping the bar close, as well as proper foot movement. It can be performed on its own or as part of a complex with the snatch, from floor or from blocks.
Snatch Pull with Pauses:
Incorporating pauses at various positions in the snatch pull exercise can help to strengthen your posture at those positions. For example, you can pause 1 inch off the floor to reinforce keeping your chest up as the bar breaks. Pausing at the knee or mid-thigh ensures that the lifter becomes comfortable staying over the bar. Three second pauses are typically enough to attain the stimulus you want. Make sure you are not compensating for the sake of pausing, such as rocking too far back on the heels or allowing the bar to rest on your legs. Finish the pull explosively just as you would with a standard snatch pull or snatch.
Snatch recoveries are a great exercise to build strength and confidence in the receiving position of the snatch. You will have the bar on blocks or safety bars in a rack. Set the height of the bar so that you are in your receiving position of the snatch. To be successful with a heavy load in this exercise, you must be centered under the bar in a good, upright position. This reinforces a proper receiving position with a higher percentage weight, without having the impact of a drop snatch and full snatch. It’s also a great confidence builder for an athlete to pull themselves under a big snatch if they have stood up with a weight that is at or above their max snatch.
Accessory Strengthening Exercise:
One of the most beneficial accessory exercises for the snatch is a tempo snatch grip RDL. The hands should be in the same spot on the bar that they would be during a full snatch from the floor. Then, the athlete brings the bar up from the floor and holds it at the hip, like a deadlift. This is the start position for the snatch RDL. The knees should be slightly bent as the descent begins down toward the floor with a tight, straight back and tailbone pushed back. The knees should not bend more as the athlete descends. The hamstrings should feel stretched, and glutes should be flexed throughout the entire descent. Once the bar is positioned just below the kneecap, the athlete will begin the ascent by keeping the chest up and bringing the tailbone back in line with the shoulders. Throughout this movement, the athlete’s focus should be on keeping the lats engaged to keep the bar close to the body.
Since this is a tempo snatch RDL, the descent should be three seconds with a one second pause below the knees and a three second ascent back to the start position. The weight will vary from athlete to athlete. I would recommend starting with 50% of the athlete’s best snatch and increase weight and reps as the athlete becomes stronger and more competent with the exercise. This exercise is great for developing a strong posterior chain, which allows for better positions throughout the full snatch.
Technical Snatch Variation:
Snatching from blocks can be a VERY beneficial exercise to improve speed under the bar and allow athletes to perform proper positions that are less taxing than pulling from the floor. Wood, metal or hard foam blocks will work. Different heights create different effects for an athlete. Blocks that place the bar directly above an athlete’s knees will force the athlete to immediately push with his or her legs, sweep the bar into the hips, finish, and drop under the weight. This is a good height to work on the second pull of the snatch. Low blocks, which can also be beneficial, place the bar at the middle of an athlete’s shins. Blocks that place the bar at the shins force the athlete to immediately push his or her knees back and sweep the bar up the legs through the second pull to a quick finish and pull under the bar. This is a slightly more advanced exercise because there are more technical components.
Either way, blocks are a great tool that can be incorporated into an athlete’s training at least once a week. They are helpful to use midweek, when an athlete may be a little more tired. Usually, the weight used will be lower than if the athlete was pulling from the floor. Additionally, the athlete is pulling a shorter distance, which is less taxing.
There are a ton of accessory exercises you can do for snatches. My personal favorite one is the drop snatch. I think this really works on the timing of your feet with the catch position. It also gives you extra confidence when jumping under those heavy weights.
High Rep, Submaximal Work:
My favorite exercise to improve positioning in the snatch is basically picking a weight usually around 70-80% and performing reps and reps, focusing on something different every time.
Specific snatch variations and their purposes: There are thousands of different variations of the snatch; however, the most important thing is doing the full lift. The different variations can help correct positioning and technique. Additionally, simply doing different variations can make it fun for you to train. I personally use different block heights almost every training session.
Snatch Grip Press:
For overhead strength and stability, snatch grip presses are one of my favorite exercises. They can also be used to emphasize a solid lockout position overhead.
Snatch grip RDLs:
I like these from an elevated position. They can help to improve posterior strength and reinforce lat activation throughout the pull from the floor. Variations can also include using straps, no straps, and no hook grip to also focus on grip strength.