Like many weightlifters who started the sport in recent years, I started while experimenting with CrossFit. Overall, I liked the challenge of CrossFit, but I quickly learned that the strength part of the training was my weakest link, so I decided to focus this aspect and train strictly on the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. In my first few months of training, while speaking with other lifters, coaches, and doing some reading, I kept hearing that a new lifter should compete early and as often as possible. I didn’t fully understand the idea, but I decided to give it a try, since it appeared to be common advice.
I wish I could state I enjoy practicing being uncomfortable but that wouldn’t be the truth. Sometimes reluctantly, I do practice it because I know being in an uncomfortable situation is often a place in which quality growth can happen. My first meet was exactly this, uncomfortable. It was my first time in a singlet, I felt like I barely knew what a qualifying Snatch or Clean & Jerk even looked like, and I’m lifting the smallest amount of weight of anyone in the session. It was quite humbling to say the least.
After that first meet, as awkward as it was, I knew I wanted to get out there again. The idea of competing soon after starting in the sport worked! I wanted to train better and improve for the next one.
The second meet went better but there was still the uncomfortable feeling I have come to appreciate. This time around, I felt more prepared. I communicated goals to coaches and had a better idea of the processes involved in a competition. The singlet was about as awkward as the first time, though..
I have now competed eight times in a bit over a year and a half. I now find it fun, it’s a great way to deepen bonds with coaches and teammates. So far, every time I come away with something else I want to work on, whether it be strength, technique, or most recently, the mental aspect of the sport.
After some recent frustration with my progress in weightlifting, I took a step back reminded myself I’m still relatively new to the sport and generally new to any strength training, period. This thought process prompted me to look up my previous competition numbers. I noticed I’m at almost a 50% increase since my first competition in July 2017, so I can’t complain too much 😊
Time to time we will re-post articles from other sources, this one coming from East Coast Gold's founder :
Leo Totten, MS
Totten Training Systems, LLC
USAW Level 5
Posted here first :
We all have been inundated with information on how beneficial the Olympic lifts can be as part of the strength coach’s repertoire – an effective tool in the toolbox. Many of the physical attributes that athletes need are enhanced by doing the Olympic lifts properly:
What is the Snatch and what does it accomplish? The pull pattern is basically the same as the Clean, but the difference is where the “catch” or “receiving position” occurs – overhead instead of on the chest.
Because of the pull similarity to the Clean, teaching the Snatch is relatively simple. In spite of this, some coaches think the Snatch is too difficult to teach and/or not worth the effort. A good coach is a good teacher.
Like the Clean, the Snatch has two major components to the lift, the “pull” and the “catch”. The pull works all of the major muscle groups and utilizes the triple extension producing the desired explosive power so crucial to athletic performance.
Thinking back to old exercise science classes and the force/velocity curve, different components of strength training affect moving that curve in a positive direction. Because Snatches will need to use lighter weight and move that weight more total distance, they would be training more in the “speed-strength” category as opposed to “power” or “strength-speed”. Documented studies have shown Hang Power Snatches to exude higher velocities than Hang Power Cleans. By the same token, Snatch Pulls have higher velocities generally than Clean Pulls. In a nutshell, if you train fast, you’ll be fast!
An additional benefit is that a wider grip is used for the Snatch as opposed to the Clean, thus opening up the chest more and allowing for more leg work and less back.
Some coaches are afraid of the overhead component of the Snatch. But, are overhead movements, in general, OK to be used by the coach? Obviously, screening for risk factors of all athletes ahead of time is smart to head off any problems or if a particular athlete is predisposed to shoulder issues, then caution must be taken. But, if safe and progressive training protocol is utilized, then the Snatch or another overhead movement can be effective and useful. With proper technique, proper progressions and proper loading, the athlete has an additional resource for core strength, scapular and shoulder strength and stability, as well as scapulothoracic mobility. The “catch” or “receiving position” can provide that additional benefit of core and shoulder stability.
Let’s be clear, though, that we are talking about Snatches to enhance athletic performance. Most coaches are not using Snatches to create a one rep max to prepare for a weightlifting competition (although we can help with that too! ) Athletes can use variations or derivatives of the Snatch to accomplish their goals.
A weightlifter in competition has to perform a one rep max on the platform from the floor. A majority of the time, they use a “Squat” Snatch as opposed to a “Power” Snatch. That simply means they only have to pull it as high as they need to get under and stabilize in the full squat position. A Power Snatch needs a higher pull to “catch” it above parallel.
However, any other athlete besides the weightlifter performing the Snatch can do any number of variations of the lift. Different goals, right? They can reap benefits of proper Snatches by either doing a power or squat. Both need that explosive power in the pull, but more flexibility is needed for the athlete to hit the bottom, squat position. Perhaps more weight can be used in the Squat Snatch, but only if the technique and flexibility allow it.
Flexibility might be another inhibiting factor for a proper pull position from the floor. If this is the case, the athlete can still attain the explosive component of the lift by doing a Hang Snatch from varying positions. Many athletes will do Snatches off blocks instead of from the hang, still accomplishing the goal.
If the pull is the weak component of the lift for the athlete, a heavier load can be used for just the pull itself rather than finishing in the overhead position. Any variety of start positions (floor, hang or blocks) can be used. Keep in mind when adding load, though, the proper technique AND speed of movement must be emphasized. Other slower, strength movements like snatch grip Deadlifts or snatch grip RDLs can be used where speed is not a factor, just proper technique.
The overhead position has to be strengthened as well. The Overhead Squat is one of the best exercises to improve the Snatch and is also a great exercise in and of itself. This is a great exercise to work shoulder and core stability, balance, flexibility and, of course, it increases confidence in the receiving position in the Snatch. Other overhead strength builders for the Snatch can be included in the program as well – Snatch Balance, snatch grip Push Press and Push Jerk.
Bo Sandoval, outstanding strength coach at University of Michigan, had this to say about including Snatches in his toolbox of exercises for his athletes:
“I implement the Snatch as a means to develop ground based explosive power systemically through coordinated bouts of concentric and eccentric actions. This lift, when executed properly, takes fractions of a second, taxes the ATP/CP energy system and requires varying degrees of athletic positioning while demanding and promoting mobility, stability, and speed throughout. Currently, I use the Snatch and/or variations with Track&Field, Cross Country and Lacrosse. I have used this movement with, but not limited to, Football players, Basketball players, Swimmers, Gymnasts, Weightlifters (of course!), Shooters, Tri-Athletes, Wrestlers, Cyclists and Bobsledders.”
So, ask yourself:
Can the Snatch be one of those exercises that fit those criteria? With proper coaching and if done for all the right reasons, the Snatch can be a very effective tool in the coach’s toolbox!
To learn more about how to incorporate the snatch into your routine ,
Email Coach Tom :
I have been working with my coach Phil Sabatini for almost a year now and I am learning more and more about weightlifting every day. This year is the first time I have had a fully planned out year and trained constantly throughout, without any breaks, forced or otherwise. One lessen I have learned as of late, is how important expectation management is during a tough training cycle .
In the context of training I am defining Expectation Management as your ability to perform lifts in relation to their time and place in your training. This training cycle in particular has been difficult for me during the last workout of the week . We currently are squatting 3 days a week at relatively high intensity. On day 5 , we do snatches and clean and jerks at above 80+ . My expectation going into this training cycle was that during these attempts I would be able to work up to 95+% on my final lifts each week with little to no issue. After my first two weeks in the program I have left both sessions disappointed and frustrated after only being successful in the 85-90% range at best. Technically those lifts have improved , but I have hit a big wall above that and things fall apart.
At this point in my weightlifting career, my legs are stronger than ever, my technique is better, but when I have the opportunity to push things my numbers aren't better. So what the heck is going on??? Am I getting worse? Should I just retire ? What could be to blame? I was fired up! Once I calmed down I had a hunch about what was going on but I had to text my coach to find out.
When I did, I found out my program for the next 6 weeks is designed to help increase my raw strength and improve my positions, NOT increase my total...yet. Once I asked I realized that the 80+ attempts were meant to stay closer to the 80% range and not so close to the 100% range. No wonder I was leaving my training sessions frustrated and down . My performance expectations for the workout were way too high when I took the rest of my training week into account. So what does this mean for my training going forward?
Now that my expectations are lined up with my abilities during my training, I can enter into my workouts with a better mindset and be present in my situation. This will help me improve my training in a variety of ways. This will allow me to focus on the things in my training that will make me better. Good positioning in my lifts and pushing the strength when I have the opportunity during my squats and pulls. This will help increase my overall attitude towards my training and identify the victories in each day. Weightlifting is hard, if I am going to be successful long term I need to be able to gain momentum by racking up these daily victories.
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