The muscle snatch is possibly one of the most underused and commonly incorrectly-performed exercises in weightlifting. Its commonly poor execution may contribute to its underuse, as if it’s done improperly, it doesn’t serve the purpose it should.
Start with the bar on the floor in the snatch starting position, making sure your elbows are oriented to the sides (arms internally rotated). Lift the bar as you would for a snatch
until reaching the top of the upward extension of the body. At this point, rather than repositioning your feet and pulling yourself into a squat under the barbell as you would in the snatch, keep the knees straight and the body extended and pull the elbows up as high as possible, keeping the bar in immediate proximity to the body. The elbows should move out to the sides as they move up (if the arms are properly internally rotated during the lift). Once the elbows reach maximal height, turn the arms over to bring the bar the rest of the way up and back into the proper overhead position, punching straight up against the bar and finishing in a tight, aggressive overhead position. The legs must remain straight once extended in the pull. Maintain constant tension against the bar throughout the movement, and make sure the bar is moving continuously—there should be no pausing or hesitation during the lift.
I only consider a muscle snatch to be legitimate if the elbows never drop from their elevated position during the turnover. If the elbows drop, the movement is not a muscle snatch; it’s an awkward snatch-grip clean and press, and it will not serve the intended purpose.
It’s helpful to think of the movement as a snatch high-pull
with an added turnover of the bar afterward. This will help reinforce the idea of lifting the elbows high and to the sides before the turnover.
The muscle snatch is helpful at lighter weights to learn and reinforce the proper upper body mechanics of the turnover (third pull) of the snatch. At more challenging weights, the muscle snatch will help strengthen the turnover of the snatch.
The muscle snatch can be performed early in a training session as a technique primer
, or as a training exercise. It can also be performed at the end of a training session as accessory work. Use 3-5 reps per set generally, although the muscle snatch can also be done for heavy singles and doubles.
The muscle snatch can also be performed from the hang or from blocks. Straps can be used if desired, but doing the lift without straps will help with grip strength and help the lifter practice the transition from the hook grip to a hookless grip if that lifter releases the hook grip in the snatch. They can also be done without straps or a hook grip to help grip strength.