Mon. Dec 16th, 2019

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

How to Do an Olympic Snatch

4 min read

by Spotter Uphow-to-do-an-olympic-snatch

On our Spotter Up site we’ll explain some basic Olympic Lifting techniques and you’ll get to see pictures and videos of our friends performing. But we are not going to explain a lot of the Crossfit or Bodybuilding exercises here because there is a tremendous amount of great information out there already. What we want to do is simply introduce some of our readers to these types of lifts if they stumble upon it by perusing Spotter Up. We will also attempt to break each exercise down into basic movements so they can be digested simply. Our goal is to cover the most important lifts that use compound movements for you to build up your warfighter physique! If you want to give them a try or if you have been doing them already, then Spotter On!

Firstly, the snatch is a high-skilled movement that is a difficult lift to perform. If you watch the video of Aryhel Freeman executing it you will notice the energy he used to get the weight over his head.

You will have to use force and speed to pull the weight upwards in one continuous motion in order to get beneath it. It will require you to have balance, foot speed, flexibility, coordination, timing and determination to execute the snatch;  you will have to use many of your large muscle groups to pull it off. The illustration below shows the lifter using explosive lifting energy. The lifter stands up while simultaneously: standing up, driving his feet into the ground, pulling the weight straight up, rolling his shoulders and curling his hands, dipping in order to get beneath the weight, squatting to catch the weight and then standing up while the weight is positioned straight overhead. Phew!

Snatch 8

Your shoulder girdle should be well stretched before attempting to do a snatch. Flexibility is essential to doing the lift properly and to avoid getting injured; this is because you will need to lock the bar out overhead. The weight will sit right above your head near your ears and this requires the ability to stretch, while keeping your arms straight up and out. A broomstick or a plastic pipe are excellent tools for loosening up your shoulders.  We recommend that you begin stretching with one of these items in order to avoid injury; it would be wise to practice your snatch movements with these and then only progress to using a barbell when you are flexible enough. (If you can properly squat, can raise a broomstick or pipe behind your back while maintaining proper overhead-form, then it might be time to test yourself by using a barbell).

Prepare the Barbell

The first thing you want to do is get your bar ready. Find a testable amount of weight that won’t kill you the first time you lift it. Begin with a conservative amount of weight on the bar. Perfect your form first before testing your physical limits. The general rule of thumb is to go up in 5 lb. increments of weight.

The Stance and Squat

Snatch 1

Step up to the bar and put your feet shoulder width apart. Your toes should be under the bar while the bar is about two inches from your shins. Bend over and grab the barbell with a wide shoulder width grip; usually with your hands about 6-8 inches wider than your shoulders. Use the overhand grip. Flatten your back out. Don’t round your back. Stick your chest out and keep your head out. Your arms are straight.

The Lift

Before beginning to raise the barbell off the floor tighten all of your muscles in your body. Imagine you are driving your feet down into the floor and raising the bar upward with your arms straight and your back nice and flat.

Let’s begin: Your hips should be higher than your knees but lower than your shoulders. The path of the barbell will be ‘straight up’ and not in a wide arc movement. As the barbell gets above your knees begin to accelerate while keeping the barbell close to your body and not away from the body. (Gravity wants to pull the weight down. By keeping the barbell close to your body you will be able to use your energy to drive it upwards. Keep the bar as close to your body as possible while not allowing the touching of the barbell to impede the speed of it going upwards).

Snatch 2

Snatch 3Drive your hips forward aggressively and shrug your traps. Use enough force and acceleration to get the barbell above your head. As you bring the barbell vertically upwards begin to engage your shoulders. Begin to extend high up on your toes.

Snatch 4Come into a squatting position beneath the bar while allowing the velocity to drive the weight upwards. As the barbell passes your head begin to turn your hands at your wrists.

Snatch 5Extend your arms upwards and catch the barbell over your head while you bend your knees slightly and transition into the squat position.

Snatch 6Keep your arms locked out with your arms straight. You cannot do a full snatch with bent arms so if you are attempting heavy lifts then reduce the poundage. You may sink a little bit but this is okay but stay tight.

Snatch 7

Begin to stand erect. You will lean forward a little bit.

Here’s my buddy Herb Watson in the video. He’s currently a K-9 police officer and has honorably served the U.S. Army as a combat engineer with the Virginia National Guard 276th Engineer Battalion 237th Engineer Company. Herb also played college football as a wide receiver at a division II school for all 4 years.

In this video Herb just did 265lbs, at 5’9″ 185 lbs. Herb’s box is Crossfit Forward in Frederiksburg, VA.


Hope you like this one and we’ll see you soon! Thanks Herb!

(Image from




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