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Ask Greg: Snatch Swinging Forward
Greg Everett

Kris Asks: I have a lot of problems and one that I can't seem to correct is the bar looping after contact in the snatch. I’ve observed that during a no brush snatch my bar path is almost vertical, I extend with my torso upright and I'm pulling up with my elbows high. It looks great and almost nothing like my snatch.

I've tried to correct the looping by doing a no brush snatch + snatch complex, but I can't get my body to make the correction.  From what I can see, it looks like my arms stop pulling after I make contact the bar and I almost reverse curl as I pull under pushing the bar forward.

I know the answer is to stop doing it, but my awareness of this issue and my attempts to correct it have been futile. Thoughts?


Greg Says: The first answer is always Stop doing it or Do it right, but only because it’s the simplest approach and sometimes it actually works. In this case, you’ve tested that and found it’s not working, so let’s try some more elaborate fixes.

The snatch with no contact can be a good exercise for this problem because it helps force a more vertical drive of the legs in the finish—you can’t just drive your hips through the bar and arch backward. That it hasn’t solved the problem for you doesn’t mean it’s not helping at all, or it won’t ever help—it’s just inadequate on its own, or you haven’t given it enough time. Keep in mind that correcting errors in skilled movements is a process, and the more ingrained the bad habit, the longer and more difficult that process will be. You need to stick with it for a significant period of time before deciding whether or not what you’re doing is effective.
 
What that exercise can’t do, however, is teach you how to drive the legs vertically with contact, keep the bar close prior to hip contact, and keep it close following contact. Anyone can drive vertically when they have to keep the bar off their body.
 
It sounds like your pull isn’t the problem (if your description is accurate); that is, you’re not slamming your hips too far forward and bending too far backward when you snatch, but rather the problem is isolated in the third pull. So the fix is focusing on what the upper body is doing at the end and after the finish, not on the pull itself, which is more what the snatch with no contact does.
 
Start first with snatch high-pulls at a weight that allows you to get your elbows to their max height, i.e. what your mobility allows. You can do these from the power position initially to really feel a vertical drive and constant pulling up with the arms. This is the motion the arms must do as you finish the pull—notice how you’re able to keep the bar and body in immediate proximity here despite an aggressive pull with the legs and hips and normal contact between the hips and bar. If you can do that in a high-pull, you can do it in a snatch.
 
When you can do the high-pull consistently well, move on to muscle snatches. Again, start by doing them from the power position to focus on that more vertical extension and more easily isolate the proper arm motion. Lift the elbows out and up to maximal height exactly like the high-pull before turning the bar over (unless you have extreme mobility—in that case, get the elbows up to about shoulder height and turn over). Squeeze the shoulder blades and elbows back as you turn the bar over to keep it as close to your face as possible. This needs to be an active, aggressive motion all the way through—preserve as much bar speed as possible.
 
From here, move on to tall snatches, replicating the upper body motion of the muscle snatch. Again, the entire motion needs to be extremely active and aggressive, and the bar must remain as close as possible to you all the way through.
 
Use this series of exercises in your warm-up for snatch workouts—you can do a few sets of 5 reps each in order with just an empty bar. You can also do a complex of snatch high-pull + snatch to really train and reinforce that control of the bar after contact and the active pull under with some weight.
 
See this video to get more information on the pull under and visuals on the exercises:
 


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Greg Everett is the owner of Catalyst Athletics, coach of the USA Weightlifting National Champion team Catalyst Athletics, author of the books Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches and Olympic Weightlifting for Sports, director/writer/producer/editor/everything of the documentary American Weightlifting, co-host of the Weightlifting Life Podcast, and publisher of The Performance Menu journal. He is an Olympic Trials coach, coach of over 30 senior national level or higher lifters, including national medalists, national champion and national record holder; as an athlete, he is a fifth-place finisher at the USAW National Championships, masters national champion, masters American Open champion, and masters American record holder in the clean & jerk. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, and sign up for his free newsletter here.

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