How To Learn How to Snatch in Under 3 Minutes

I had a friend in a private Facebook group ask my advice on learning how to snatch.   Like so many people, she was stuck with analysis paralysis.

Every tutorial I’ve ever seen makes snatching seem sooooooo hard.  And at some level, it is.  For people who are trying to have technically proficient and maximally mechanically advantageous movement patterns, it is hard.  An olympian and U.S. record holder recently posted some technique work she was doing to perfect her clean.  If she’s still technically refining her lifts, you know the average Joe can spend a lifetime learning.

But when you’re just starting out, is all of that necessary?  I would argue no.  And not just no, but hell no.  First, you have to learn the basic mechanism of getting the bar from the floor to overhead.  Otherwise you’ll just get lost in the detail and you’ll quit.  And quitting means fewer people in the sport which is bad.

So this is a video for rank beginners.   In particular, rank adult beginners.   The assumption is that you’ve already figured out what your grip width on the bar should be (there are a lot of tutorials on that out in the world) and that you’ve actually seen a snatch performed.  With those two in mind, this video will take you to the getting it overhead position.

I take none of the credit for this series of cues.  They were learned from Nick Horton and Tamara Reynolds who are fantabulous coaches and amazing humans all around.  I just put them on film for a friend (hence, the “Hi, Abi!” at the beginning of the video).  I think they encompass the essence of the snatch.

In essence:

-start with your shoulders right over the bar, arms look straight when viewed from the side

-bring the bar up to your thighs by moving your knees back and out of the way – “shoot your butt back”

-stand up and pull the bar into your hips (the “power position”) with your lats

– jump with the bar pulled into your hips

-then lock that bitch out overhead by “spreading the bar apart”.  End of story.

Please don’t leave a thousand comments about why it’s important to externally rotate the humerus to keep elbows out and protract the shoulders and keep thoracic extension and initiate the movement with leg drive and keep torso angle stable etc etc etc.  I know all that.  You, if you are saying that, know all that.  But it is not essential to learning how to snatch at the very beginning.  So let the beginners get a few under their belt before they’re bombarded with the stuff it takes a lifetime to perfect.

And don’t bitch about the “jump” cue.  It’s hard for adult learners to understand explosive muscular power in any other way.  So shhhh and let the newbies enjoy.

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5 Responses to “How To Learn How to Snatch in Under 3 Minutes”

  1. JayJune 11, 2015 at 4:01 PM #

    Thank you, thank you and I say it thrice…. Thank you.
    As a 35yr old total newbie this was just the succinct “get in,get under and stand up” Instruction I needed to counter everything I’ve read and seen that states I’m old and useless in regards to weightlifting. I have loved watching it for years and now, despite no coaches near, the invasion of crossfit in every gym in town and no clue… I’ve built a platform bought some bumpers and wanna get under that bar.this is a great uplift.

    • Rachael KeilinJune 12, 2015 at 9:05 AM #

      Jay you have absolutely made my day! I love hearing that something I shared is useful 🙂 Huge kudos for building your own platform and wanting to learn the lifts. I’ve messed around with weights my whole life, doing p90X-ish sort of stuff for years. Found barbells at 41 and found olympic weightlifting at the grand old age of 43! It’s never too late to learn, but it can certainly feel like it. Get the basic movement pattern down first, then start tweaking. Crossfit can be intimidating and they don’t focus exclusively on the lifts so I would suggest going to the USA Weightlifting site http://www.teamusa.org/usa-weightlifting/clubs-lwc/find-a-club to see if you can find a true coach anywhere nearby. There are also many excellent coaches who will do video analysis for you if that is something that would work better.
      Best of luck and keep me posted on your progress! Or if there is anything specific I can help with or maybe refer you to somebody to help with.

      • JayJune 12, 2015 at 9:57 AM #

        Rachael,
        I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting a reply but just want to say thanks for the great post.

        I Iive in a little town in Essex, England so limited re coaches but I had never thought about video analysis . I’ll look in to it. Thank you once again . Platform is great and more than tough for my use.

        I’ve started working on snatch and cleans ( can’t jerk fully as ceiling gets in the way in the garage ! It’s coming down next week though)
        I seem to catch very high and then ride down to full depth . But it’s an addictive start ……

  2. aprilJanuary 17, 2016 at 11:00 PM #

    I’m a newbie to the oly lifts. Having a HARD time with the snatch and this was super helpful. Hoping that I can teach an old dog new tricks..I want to learn how to barbell snatch by my 40th birthday which is a few months from now.

    • Rachael KeilinFebruary 11, 2016 at 6:36 PM #

      Yay, I’m glad it was helpful!!! Sometimes I wish somebody had just given me the bare bones from the beginning. It’s easy to get lost in the details with a highly technical lift like this and you lose the fundatmental arc of what’s supposed to be happening. Best of luck and I know you’ll get it by 40! I learned the lifts at 44. If I can do it, anybody can!

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