Snatches are awesome, for a host of different reasons. I’m going to cover all of them below, but first I want to talk more generally and overcome some of the common objections to doing Olympic lifts in your training.
- I’m not a Weightlifter/Crossfitter, I just wanna get swole (bro!). That’s cool and admittedly nobody ever got huge doing snatches. However as a supplement to your normal hypertrophy training they will help, for many of the reasons listed below.
- They’re dangerous. Crossing the road is dangerous. Then you learned how to look both ways and it wasn’t such a risk. All weightlifting has some inherent risk, but it’s amplified when you don’t do it correctly. All the CrossFit fail videos on YouTube are idiots who don’t know how to snatch – a moron can make anything dangerous. It’s not an inherent problem with the exercise.
- They’re hard and complicated. That’s kind of the point. You will benefit from them much more than sitting on a machine mindlessly pumping reps while thinking about the chick from last night or what to eat for your post workout meal.
- I’m too stiff/sore/broken to do them. Well than that is a problem that you should be fixing. Don’t leave an issue untended to and hope to work around it. It’s only going to get worse and bite you in the ass.
- I suck at them. Good! After newbie gains you never again get to experience rapid progress that excites you…unless you start learning snatches. It’s fun and motivating. Pumping rep after rep of the same exercise can become monotonous. Learning a new skill and challenging yourself will keep things interesting.
Alrighty, so here’s 9 Reasons why everyone should do snatches:
- Mobility: You simply can’t do a snatch if your mobility sucks. Everyone knows they should do more mobility work, but it’s hard to see any real benefit. Working away from a future event that hasn’t yet happened (injury, poor joint health in old age) is not motivating in the short term. Improving your mobility will improve other lifts and your ability to build muscle as well, which I touched on in this post (33 Tips, Tricks & Hacks to Be Instantly Stronger in the Gym). If you need to learn mobility exercises for snatch, I have that covered in great detail on a little side project website.
- Shoulder health: Is there a more boring exercise than external rotations? I bet you don’t do them, even though you think you should, right? Snatching is the heaviest and most aggressive way to train your external rotators, why mess around with a 10lb dumbbell when in a couple of months you can throw your bodyweight over your head in to external rotation? Not only do the external rotators get a great workout, the required mobility discussed in point 1 will make your shoulders pretty much bullet proof anyway. Not to mention, snatching requires a lot of thoracic spine extension. A lack of which is the root cause of most people’s shoulder problems.Finally, want to know what shoulder stability is? Catch a big ass weight over your head, at maximum speed, while in a deep squat. Check out the routine I do to warm up shoulder stability and get the rotator cuff muscles firing properly.
- Posture: Shoulder external rotation, thoracic extension – sounds like the making of good posture to me. Again, the mobility required to snatch necessitates good posture and doing the exercise itself most definitely improves posture by building strength in all of the right places.
- Presence: You have to think about what you’re doing and this is going to help you in every part of your workout. It’s easy to tune out and go through the motions in the gym, even when you like training. If something isn’t complex or unpredictable it won’t be stimulating and you will tend to veer off mentally.To snatch, especially when you’re learning, you need to be present and aware of what’s going on. It will do wonders for your body control and controlling your mind in the gym. The complexity of the exercise means that you will never really fully master it, but always be making small improvements. This greater thought process and understanding of movement and the body will help you make improvements in every exercise. Lifting more, working muscles harder, etc.
- Power: Power is force applied with speed. Being more powerful is a good thing for any sport, for general lifting and just being awesome at life. Who doesn’t want to be powerful? Power is athleticism. Lifting, jumping, sprinting, stopping – it’s all power.
- Technical/skill development & learning: We don’t learn so well as adults. It’s well documented how much harder it is to learn languages as we get older and I think the skill development in the gym will make you an all around better learner. After all, it’s all just manipulation of the nervous system – there is very little difference between physical and mental learning.
- Fine motor control: Minute changes in angle or body position will cause you to miss lifts. It’s such a precise exercise. It’s going to train you to be more in control of fine movements. It will help technique in other exercises and generally for everyday life.
- Integrate body control: Snatching is a true whole body exercise. It’s the definition of functional. Challenging strength, power, mobility, stability of both upper and lower body, with heavy demands on the core for stability and holding position. It will make you a better athlete and a better mover in general.
- Speed: The snatch is the most explosive exercise possible. It will make you fast. Whether you’re an athlete or not, there’s always benefit to being fast.
Bonus number 10: Snatches look awesome.
Of course, if you have injuries or don’t have the mobility to do a proper snatch, don’t go hurt yourself. Instead look at the different variations and do partial movements; power snatches, hang snatches, pulls, etc.
To learn the technique for snatching and all of the variations I suggest you check out Catalyst Athletics, they have the best YouTube channel for this, in my opinion. Any questions, comments, please do post them up below. If you disagree, tell me why!