Category Archives: Snatch

The proper way to Snatch High Pull

alis snatch high pull

Anyone who Olympic lifts knows that it is a continuous learning process and that there is always something you can do to get better at it. I also do believe that if you don’t practice a lift enough, you won’t get better at it.

Common “weaknesses” of my snatch have always been the tendency for the barbell to swing out in front of my body and a failure to complete triple extension. These are different problems but they are very much linked. After all, the perfect snatch is one smooth lift and not the individual components that make up that single lift. This means that every component will have an impact on the rest. You know the drill, a poor snatch set up position will almost guarantee a failed – or very messy – lift.

In this post I want to focus on the second pull, how that links to the failure to complete triple extension, and the proper way to snatch high pull (which is, in essence, the second pull in the snatch). Continue reading

When the bar swings out in front – Tall Snatches

Once the bar reaches my pockets (the creases of my hips), it swings out in front of me. This is not supposed to happen. In a good snatch, the bar is supposed to be as close to your body as possible so that the barbell and the body are a ‘single system.’

This picture illustrates a great third pull. The bar is very close to the lifter’s body:

snatch high pulls

third pull

The problem: the bar swings out in front

We can narrow this down to being a problem primarily with the third pull and the tall snatch is a superb exercise for nailing the third pull.

The fix: the tall snatch

What is the tall snatch?

It is a snatch from a ‘high hang’ or ‘tall’ position. You start on your tip toes, the bar at your hips. There is no knee bend. You have a very vertical torso. There is no downward dip/drive to initiate the lift – you just shrug and pull from the high hang and continue the lift as you would in the full snatch.

There is no room for the bar to swing out in the tall snatch. You will notice that it is near impossible NOT to pull the bar straight up in an upwards path.

The key to a good tall snatch is the aim to get your arms into a “scarecrow-like” posture, which ensures the bar stays close. At the end point of the third pull, the combination of the pulling power and the bar being so close to the body leads to a vigorous pull under the bar into the bottom of the overhead squat position.

It is because the bar begins so high in the tall position that speed is imperative in this exercise. So the tall snatch is also an excellent exercise choice for improving your speed getting under the bar.

The tall snatch is an assistance exercise to ASSIST you in becoming stronger in the full snatch. It is best used with light weights and the goal is speed.

Forget calf raises – Olympic lifting builds calves!

A lot of people have “problems” building up their calf muscles. Some people say that the size of your calf muscles is largely down to genetics. I have personally found my calves get a serious workout and have built up since I started Olympic lifting. Olympic exercises such as Cleans and Snatches, as well as assisting exercises such as jump shrugs and high pulls, allow big amounts of weight to be shifted using calves to help. Continue reading

Poor timing in the receiving position of the snatch

The receiving position of the snatch is when the athlete is in the bottom position and the bar is locked out overhead, like this:

receiving position of the snatch

This image shows the receiving position of the snatch, thanks to Rob Macklem 2010.

For myself, this is the part of my snatch that currently could be improved upon; so I wanted to write a post about it. Continue reading

The hips and shoulders rise at the same time

One of the basic biomechanics required for a great pull in the snatch is that the hips and shoulders rise at the same time.

The background to this post is that I am currently struggling with the application of this cue. My hips have the tendency to rise too fast and I end up in an undesirable near-horizontal / ‘flat-back’ position as the bar arrives above the knees. This is a freeze frame from a recent video I recorded, illustrating what I mean: Continue reading

Optimal grip width for the snatch

This week I’ve been working on improving my snatch technique. I have come to a bit of a ‘dip’ in my snatch training. As always with Olympic lifting training, your technique will never be perfect; there’s always something that can be sharpened up, so it’s important to continually think about and even video yourself lifting to identify any areas that could be improved. Continue reading

Declaring a good snatch by its sound

Today we were practicing the speed of the ‘jump’ component in the (power) snatch. Who would have thought you can tell a good snatch simply by its sound? 🙂

The snatch is a very explosive movement and thus is performed very quickly. Although the component of moving the barbell from the floor to the knees is slow in comparison, once you get beyond the knees, the speed of the bar is extremely fast. Continue reading

Maximising hip drive in the power snatch

This morning I was training Power Snatches. One of my weakest areas in this lift is my lack of hip drive. My hip drives sometimes feel awkward, typically from the hip upward, i.e. the middle portion of the lift.

To help improve this “weak link”, I have been concentrating on power snatching from the hang position. The hang position eliminates the pull from the floor and allows me to fully focus my technique on the hip drive.

Maximising hip drive in the power snatch is critical because you are primarily using your legs and hips to bring the weight from the floor to overhead in one, smooth motion.

power snatch

(Thanks to for the image)

Below I have outlined my personal tips and advice on maximising hip drive in the power snatch:

Improve your Snatch High Pulls

Snatch high pulls train you to lift the bar to an appropriate height to allow you to get your body under the bar as quickly as possible.  They help you learn the technique that is ensuring the bar bounces off your ‘pockets’ (the hip crease region), and that your elbows are kept nice and high. Regularly incorporating snatch high pulls into my training regime has helped me learn to extend my hips before the bar goes overhead.

snatch high pulls

snatch high pulls

(Thanks to for the image)


When you are power snatching it’s helpful to jump! It does not have to be a high jump, but your feet are definitely allowed to leave the floor. This jump improves speed and aggression. If the movement is fast, the bar should fly smoothly overhead. The jump should be vertical. As the bar reaches your mid-thigh, simply jump upward and extend your hips and legs. As you jump, shrug your shoulders and try and keep the bar close to your body.

This image here illustrates really well how explosive you need to be! Brandon here jumped up hard with great momentum. Take a look at his feet and hips:

maximising hip drive in the power snatch

maximising hip drive in the power snatch

(Thanks to for the image)


So, the three things that have most helped me in maximising hip drive in the power snatch are:

  1. Starting from the hang position
  2. Working on snatch high pulls
  3. Jumping upward

Another problem I have when power snatching is that I have a tendency to press the bar out (this is bad – you can get a red flag for this in competitions!). This means that the bar is not initially pulled high enough and that there is a delay in driving the body under the bar into the receiving position. I’ve noticed that when I apply the above tricks to the exercise, this press-out habit goes away!

I’d love to hear your advice on how to really get your hips through in the Olympic lifts.

Further reading:

Snatch High Pulls instruction and video from T-Nation

Olympic lifting as cardio

I hate cardio. I know that many weightlifters hate cardio.

I do love riding my bike out in parks and along the roads, but when it comes to those cardio machines, I hate them! They are works of the devil, i.e. torture devices!

If you look at all the men and women on the treadmill, cross-trainer and bikes in the gym, you’ll notice that they all look kind of like hamsters. 🙂

cardio hamsters

(Thanks to for the image)

We all know that cardiovascular exercise is essential for good health and so I always make sure I incorporate it into my day. Many traditional “bodybuilders” train all their muscles but neglect the most important, their heart!

Olympic lifting can be cardio!

Surprisingly (and I wasn’t aware of this until I started training these lifts myself), a huge benefit of Olympic lifting is its effect on the cardiovascular system. In both lifts, the Snatch and the C&J, the bar is moved from the floor to overhead, covering a distance which could well be 7 feet. A challenging set of either snatches, cleans or cleans and jerks gets my heart rate up as though I’d been sprinting.

High rep Olympic lifting

If you’re like many lifters out there who love lifting weights and hate cardio, why not use your Oly lifting training to reap the cardio benefits? I know that when I do 3-5 sets of 5+ reps I am sweating, breathless and sometimes a little lightheaded! All this is achieved without even going near the treadmill or bike.

Cardio to me means having your heart rate elevated for an extended period of time – through high rep sets my heart rate is definitely elevated. At the end of the sets, my heart rate is still very fast.

A word of warning: it will be tough. 😉

Get cardio in but build strength at the same time

Olympic-style lifts are excellent at generating strength. If getting good at Olympic lifting is your goal, then you should dedicate 90% of your time in the gym toward it. Strength and skill must be trained as the majority of your work if those are your goals. But as I explained above, it is possible to make your Olympic lifting a form of cardio.

cardio as well as strength

Another great thing about using Olympic lifting as cardio is that it will help you improve your form. By doing lots of reps and sets regularly, you’ll become more confident and more aware of the technical aspects of the lifts.

Olympic lifting for fat loss

The human body is built in one piece. By lifting the bar from the floor to overhead, all the muscles are utilised. This means there’s a big calorie burning effect! Moving weights helps to maintain and grow muscle, as opposed to cardio exercises such as running which may arguably burn your muscle away…

As a form of HIIT…

You might have heard of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). In simple terms, HIIT involves working at maximal (or very, very near maximal) effort for a short period of time, and then allowing your heart to return to a slower more normal rate, and then repeating this process several times.

Many people consider HIIT to be the most effective form of cardio for fat loss.

The reason I’m mentioning it here is that when you do a high number of repetitions and sets of either the snatch or the C&J, it’s a form of HIIT.

To summarise, the workout could be like this:

  • Work hard for 10-30 seconds (this could be around 3-5 reps of the chosen lift)
  • Rest for an extended period of time (depending on exertion, this could be anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes) or until your heart rate normalises
  • Repeat around 3-5 times (this is the number of sets of the lift)

The Olympic lifts are perfect for this kind of HIIT training!


To sum up, if you hate traditional forms of cardio then why force yourself to do it? If you love lifting weights, why not make also make weight lifting your cardio? By training sensibly and understanding what you are doing in the gym can help you achieve the benefits of cardiovascular exercise, as well as build up your strength. By training the Olympic lifts more regularly, you will improve your technique as well.

No treadmill needed!

sprinting or weightlifting?

(Thanks to for the image)

Why I like the Snatch Balance

The Snatch Balance is a derivative exercise of the Snatch, based on the Overhead Squat. It teaches you to hold and control the bar in the catch position of the snatch – which is, in fact, the bottom of the overhead squat.


(Thanks to for the image)

Initially I never used to enjoy the snatch balance exercise – I can’t pinpoint why though. I think it’s because I’d feel unstable pressing a bar up from behind my head (as opposed to in front) and dropping down into a squat at the same time. It was really hard, and even at a low weight, it’s a little scary! Fortunately as time went on, the exercise became more easier and more enjoyable, less nerve-racking and it’s nearly second nature to me now. Continue reading