The Muscle Snatch is a great Olympic lift variation that I like to use as part of the Snatch teaching progression or to re-emphasize hip extension on the Snatch, either with beginners and/or at the start of the yearly training cycle.
In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do a Muscle Snatch, the benefits of including it in your training and a few alternatives in case you need them.
Table of Contents
How To Do Muscle Snatches
- Bumper Plates
- Muscle Snatches are a total body exercise. Almost every muscle group is utilized at some point during the movement.
- Start with feet hip width apart with the bar resting close to the shins (directly above the knot in the shoe lace is my favorite coaching cue)
- Use a wide grip. At minimum, hands should be placed outside the snatch rings on the barbell. (The outermost rings closest to the barbell sleeve)
- Hook grip is recommended, but not mandatory.
- Eyes should be focused straight ahead or slightly down.
- Back should be flat. Shoulders pulled back (chest out) and Lats engaged.
- Hips higher than knees. Shoulders higher than knees.
- Breathe in, brace the core.
- Initiate the first pull by driving the feet through the floor. Hips and shoulders should rise at relatively the same rate. Bar should stay close to the shins.
- Once the bar crosses the knees, explosively extend the hips.
- Pull the bar high once triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles has been achieved.
- Finish the movement by rotating the hands above the elbow.
- The finishing position should be with the lifter fully extended. This is much different than most other variations of the snatch where the lifter catches in a full or quarter squat.
Once the weight gets heavy enough, the natural adjustment of the lifter will be to want to bend the legs to dip slightly under the bar in order to get full arm extension. Resist this urge to want to dip the legs. If the lift isn’t possible without bending then lower the weight.
Straps can (and often are) be used for Muscle Snatches and can aid the lifter in moving more weight and reducing the wear and tear on the hands. These benefits are even greater if the hook grip is not being utilized.
Muscle Snatch Benefits
The Muscle Snatch provides two key benefits for lifters, especially athletes.
First, like most Olympic lift variations the Muscle Snatch is a partial movement. Partial movements give the lifter less things to think about, therefore they are able to concentrate more on the parts of the movement that the variation emphasizes.
This makes the partial movements like the Muscle Snatch a great teaching exercise for beginners. The Muscle Snatch completely eliminates the catch from the movement.
This allows the lifter to really focus on bracing, being as explosive as possible with the hips and keeping the bar close to the body through the first and second pull. It also overemphasizes the arm pull as well because once a heavy enough weight is used, the arm pull to finish to rep is critical.
Muscle Snatch Variations
Hang Muscle Snatch
The closest variation to a Muscle Snatch is Hang Muscle Snatch. This variation is achieved by simply changing the starting position – going from the hang instead of the floor.
This version of the lift is a bit less technical with the removal of the first pull and allows the athlete to focus even more on generating power during the hip extension of the second pull.
A Tall Snatch is essentially a muscle snatch in which you’re not allowed to strike the thighs with the bar. It demands more strength and, almost ironically, more ‘muscling’ of the bar.
It’s a great variation to work on generating drive off the floor (cause you will need all the momentum you can get) and building a strong upper back and shoulders.
Muscle Snatch Alternatives
Can’t do Hang Muscle Snatches because of limitations with equipment, technique or even an injury? Here are a few alternatives that you may be able to try out:
DB Hang Muscle Snatch
If you don’t have a barbell, you may be able to do Hang Muscle Snatches with dumbbells instead.
Besides the obvious change in equipment, the other major difference will be the range of motion will be much more narrower. This is because a snatch grip on a barbell is much wider than shoulder width, but shoulder width is as wide as you’ll want to go with dumbbells.
If you have an injury to one arm (shoulder, elbow, wrist, etc), a Single Arm Dumbbell Snatch may be a good alternative to work around your injury. Just make sure to check with your Doctor or Athletic Trainer to understand the exact limitations of your injury.
Snatch Pulls take away the entire pulling movement of the arms and focuses entirely on the starting position and the explosive triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles.
This is a great alternative to still be able to perform (a very similar) explosive movement without having to the take the bar overhead.
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