The snatch is the first of the two lifts—the snatch and the clean & jerk—contested in the sport of weightlifting (AKA Olympic weightlifting). The athlete lifts the barbell from the floor to overhead in a single action.
With a snatch-width grip (hands wide enough that the bar contacts the body in the crease of the hips when standing tall with the bar at arms’ length), set the starting position tightly—feet approximately hip width and toes turned out with the weight balanced evenly across them; bar over the balls of the foot; knees pushed out to the sides inside the arms; trunk braced forcefully with the back extended; shoulder joint above the bar; arms relaxed and straight; head and eyes forward.
Push with the legs against the floor through the whole foot similarly to a squat, maintaining approximately the same back angle until the bar is above the knee. Continue aggressively pushing against the floor with the legs and extend the hips violently, keeping the bar as close to the body as possible and ensuring full contact with the hips.
Once you’ve extended the body completely to maximally accelerate the bar with the lower body, pull the elbows up and out to begin moving your body down, and lift and move your feet into your receiving stance as you squat under the bar. Continue actively bringing the bar into the overhead position and fix it in place forcefully. Make sure the bar is stable and secure overhead and then stand. Once you’ve stood completely with the bar in control overhead, return it to the floor.
Learn to Snatch
The primary purpose of the snatch is as one of the two competitive lifts in the sport of weightlifting. As a training exercise, it serves weightlifters as a way to train for the lift in competition by training technique, strength, speed and all of the other qualities needed for the lift. For other athletes, it can be used to develop power, speed, precision and mobility.
Programming of the snatch varies based on numerous factors such as the athlete’s needs, the timing (i.e. proximity to competition), the focus of the program at that time, etc. Generally speaking, sets will be 1-3 reps at anywhere from 70-100%. Weightlifters will typically perform snatches in some form at least 2-3 days per week and as frequently as every training session. When training both snatch and clean & jerk in a session, the snatch is typically done first unless there is a serious and temporary need to emphasize the clean & jerk for a given lifter.
For in-depth program design for weightlifting, see my online training programs
, or my book Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches.
There are many variations of the snatch—most commonly they are done from the hang, from blocks, on a riser, or with one or more pauses in the pull.
1-Minute Snatch Tutorial
Snatch Grip Width