American lifter Legrand Sakamaki from Hawaii, doing various positions on the snatch. Legrand has snatched close to double his bodyweight of 62kg/ 136lbs. _________________________________________________________________________
The Snatch is essentially three movements run together, one after the other, into a competitive lifting event. First, you start with a wide grip deadlift. It's imperative when doing this that you keep your back straight. This should put your chest and shoulders slightly forward and over the bar. Don't let your back round at anytime. When elevating the bar, on the first pull or deadlift portion, your shins must be vertical, with your back straight, and your hips back (check out my link on Romanian deadlifts for an illustration of this).
When the bar has reached a height above the knees you start the transition to the second movement or high pull. The high snatch pull is the explosive part of the snatch, and it is this portion where most snatches fail because of poor execution.
Now, in simple terms, to execute your high pull, you bring your hips forward on a horizontal plane while grazing the bar up and along your thighs. Do NOT bounce the bar on the thighs. Also, while you're grazing the bar up, you want to simultaneously shrug in an explosive manner with your traps. Your goal should be to get your traps shrugged up by your ear lobes.
Also, if you have the proper body leverage, you can rebend your legs slightly under the bar as you pull your hips forward. This will then allow you to initiate a jump in along with your shrug. Thus getting even more elevation on the bar. The only draw back here is that you must jump in the same spot every time.
Now through this whole process, of the wide grip deadlift followed by the high snatch pull, you must keep the barbell close to your body.
The third part of the snatch is the tricky part, and that is getting into the overhead squat under the bar. In some rare case some lifters split under the bar. However, either way, the first two portions of the lift, the wide grip deadlift and high pull, are the same.
When dropping into an overhead squat you must be flexible in your ankles, knees, spine, shoulders, and wrists. This can be controlled to a certain extent by the width of your grip! The wider your grip the less distance or height you will have to pull the bar to snatch it. However, an extra wide grip can cause more instability overhead. Example: if your shoulders are extra supple you may end up loosing some of your snatches behind you. And visa versa, if your shoulders are tight, the wider grip will help you get the bar back and over the center of gravity of your foot position. When in an overhead squat you will want to have the bar in a straight line over your feet. Otherwise you will be running forwards or backwards to save your lift.
Start position from the 2.
Start position from 3.
Set position for 4.
Extension: full shrug
floor. blocks. second or high pull. close to the body.
The above four photos show one of my protege's, Bristol Marunde, doing snatch pulls. These are primarily used to isolate a specific weakness on the pull. Also a young lifter can perfect their pulling technique more easily if they train their snatch in sections.
Photo 1 shows the first pull or "full" pull from the floor.
In photo 2 the start is raised above the knees off of blocks. This is used to strengthen the second pulling muscles only, mainly the traps.
Photo 3 shows the set position for the second pull. This is the same whether the lifter starts from the floor or off of the blocks. The bar should be grazed (NOT BOUNCED) up the thighs.
Photo 4 shows the full extension at the top end of the second pull. Note the bar is close to the lifter's body. Also note that the elbows are pointing up with the shoulders shugged fully up to the ear lobes. One must do this to fully utilize their traps.
Now if you look to the right side of each of the above snatch pull photos you will see a stick laying across squat stands. This is used to let the lifter know that he is fully extending on each rep of his snatch pulls.
To determine the right height of the stick or "height gauge", squat down into an overhead squat. Now have someone measure the distance from the floor to the botton of the bar. This height will be where will want your height gauge set. Simply because this distance will be the height that you will have to pull the bar to snatch it.
In Bristol's case the bar is set about 1" above the nipples on his chest, where in my case the bar would be set about 2" higher, simply because I have longer arms than Bristol. (NOTE: Bristol and I are both about 6' tall, but because his arms are shorter than mine he does not have to pull a bar as high to snatch it.
It is very important to determine your body leverages when doing this snatch pulls, because the whole snatch lift is determined by the height you elevate the bar from the floor. If you train the lift too heavy and never reach the proper height, it will flaw you technique on a full snatch. About the heaviest weight you can expect to snatch pull, and still maintain good snatch pull form, would be about 5% over your best snatch.
Set and reps on snatch pulls are mainly up to the individual. However, to maintain the best form I recommend no more than 3 reps per set. Any more than 3 reps and your form will deteriote. Generally it's a good idea to work up over about 3 sets to a "work weight". Then stay with that weight for 5 to 8 sets and just drill your pulling technique. You could also do some light snatches first, for a warm up, and then go straight to your work weight on pulls.