Anyone who is interested in developing real power will want the Olympic lifts in their program. The hang snatch is a snatch variation that is popular among Olympic weightlifters, competitive fitness athletes, and traditional sports athletes alike. It can work to increase the rate of force development at the hip, enhance snatch technique, and increase explosiveness in all athletes, regardless of their athletic prowess.
In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about the hang snatch, and then some.
- How to Do the Hang Snatch Step by Step
- Benefits of the Hang Snatch
- Muscles Worked by the Hang Snatch
- Who Should Do the Hang Snatch
- Hang Snatch Programming Recommendations
- Hang Snatch Variations
- Hang Snatch Alternatives
- Frequently Asked Questions
How to Do the Hang Snatch Step by Step
There are many different ways to skin a cat, and this saying is doubly true when it comes to weightlifting. This guide describes the “top-down” method, where you start at the hip and work technique in the pull in a “downward progression,” rather than learning the lift from the floor.
Step 1 — Get Your Grip
Start by assuming the proper snatch grip width, such that the barbell is at your hip crease and your arms are straight. Your chest should be tall and your posture erect, with the shoulders pulled together and down. The legs should be straight, with your balance kept on your whole foot.
Coach’s Tip: Often, lifters will lean back or forward in their starting position, shifting their weight excessively. Stand normally upright and feel your entire weightlifting shoe contact the ground.
Step 2 — Secure the Hook
For best results in weightlifting training, you should use a hook grip. The hook grip is a specialized grip that takes time and patience to master. Be sure to practice it on a regular basis. To perform the hook grip, simply wrap your thumb around the barbell and overlap your fingers to create a tight seal.
Coach’s Tip: The hook grip can feel uncomfortable or painful at the start, but will eventually become habitual and make it nearly impossible to have the barbell slip out of your hands.
Step 3 — Hinge and Hang
To descend into the hang, push your hips back and allow the barbell to slide down your thighs. The knees should be slightly bent so that the shins are perpendicular to the floor. Keep your chest upright and ensure your shoulders are stacked vertically over the barbell when viewed from the side.
Coach’s Tip: If you find yourself getting pulled onto your toes, you need to really work to keep the heels down as you stay over the bar, and actively pull the bar into you with your lats.
Step 4 — Pull With Power
Once you have reached the hang position — which may be anywhere from high on the thigh to barely off the ground — fully extend the torso and legs to impart vertical force into the barbell.
As you stand up by pushing into the floor with the legs, be sure to keep the toes and heels down until the barbell reaches your hip. Avoid swaying your weight backwards or forwards, and maintain loose arms. Resist the temptation to bend or pull with the arms before your legs have finished their extension.
Coach’s Tip: In its simplest form, the pull involves forcefully extending the lower body into the ground to generate vertical movement of the barbell. Allow your legs to do the work, and don’t overthink individual mechanics too much.
Step 5 — Catch and Stand
If you have done everything correctly, this phase should be pretty smooth. Receive the barbell in an overhead squat position as deeply as you can go, and then return to a standing posture. It is typical to lift the feet after extension and plant them in a wider, more comfortable position for the squat.
Do not be afraid to sit down in the bottom of the squat if you need to stabilize the load overhead prior to standing. Many lifters will rush out of the receiving position, lacking stability, and miss the lift. It may be helpful to include pauses in the squat position to aid in overhead stability and strength.
Coach’s Tip: Two cues commonly heard at this stage are “reach,” and “push,” both of which reinforce actively pushing upwards against the barbell to aid in a stable and strong recovery from the squat.
Benefits of the Hang Snatch
While the hang snatch may be intricate to perform, the associated benefits are comparably diverse. Below are three reasons why you should start to include hang snatches into your training program, whether you are a weightlifter, CrossFit athlete, or even a regular gymgoer.
Increase Power Production
Increased rate of force production, hip extension force, and kinesthetic sense are all attributes that can be taught and developed by the hang snatch. While you can develop some of these using other movements, the hang snatch can offer you a unique, all-in-one exercise solution for maximizing your time in the gym.
Snatch Technique Progression
The hang snatch is a useful tool for coaches to teach lifters of all levels how to powerfully vault a barbell overhead. The shorter range of motion allows for greater emphasis on powerful hip extension itself, which is the crux of every weightlifting movement.
Full Body Engagement
Weightlifting is intrinsically a total-body sport — the legs, glutes, and lower back are the engine, but the upper back, shoulders, and arms provide critical support. Even a “partial” movement like the hang snatch can stimulate the majority of your musculature simultaneously, making it a fantastic element of a total-body routine.
Muscles Worked by the Hang Snatch
The hang snatch works many, many muscle groups, but instead of listing every individual muscle involved, we can break down the big players so you know where your effort will be directed.
Quads, Hamstrings, and Glutes
The lower body as a whole is effectively trained in the hang snatch. The legs are used to stand the load up to the hips and also produce the iconic extension of the body at the top of the pull. Your legs also absorb the load as you move under the bar and receive the weight before and during the overhead squat itself.
Shoulders and Triceps
Your shoulder muscles work to direct the bar upward once your legs have finished, as well as provide a critical support structure for the load overhead in the receiving phase. The triceps work overtime to maintain extension of the arm as you rise out of the squat.
The musculature of the upper back works to stabilize your spine during the pulling phase of the snatch, as well as reinforcing the shoulder girdle as you fixate the barbell in the overhead squat.
The scapular stabilizers and posterior shoulder muscles — think rear deltoid and teres major/minor — muscles work together to improve shoulder stability. Increased scapular stability will also help minimize excessive strain on the elbows and wrists.
Who Should Do the Hang Snatch
The hang snatch is an explosive exercise that can be used to increase athletic performance, improve explosiveness, and enhance your competition results. While it may look inaccessible at a glance, the hang snatch has a place in a multitude of different training plans.
Strength and Power Athletes
The hang snatch is often seen in Olympic weightlifting and can be used to address strength issues and timing in the competition lift. Additionally, the hang snatch can be used by strongman and powerlifting athletes as a general explosiveness primer.
Functional Fitness Athletes
Hang snatches are key to snatch technique, therefore fitness athletes need to have the ability and skill to not only perform hang snatches with good technique, but also under high amounts of fatigue.
While there is debate among strength coaches as to which Olympic lift is best for sport performance, most agree that powerful hip extension is the most important aspect on the field or the court. By removing the pull from the floor, the hang snatch allows traditional sport athletes to develop the quality most relevant to their main activity.
Gymgoers of All Levels
For general fitness, the snatch may not be a necessary component to increase power, technique, etc. You don’t even need to go heavy — any variation of hang snatch can help to increase power output, stimulate muscle growth and adaptation, and help to increase general performance over time.
Hang Snatch Programming Recommendations
If you’re convinced the hang snatch is right for you, the next step is applying it to your program. Below are three recommendations for properly programming the hang snatch based on training goal.
Note that the below guidelines are here to offer coaches and athletes loose recommendations for programming, and are not to be taken as gospel.
To Learn Snatch Technique
The first step to mastering the snatch is practicing technique. In order to make an advanced movement simple, breaking down the lift into its parts is paramount to success.
To do so, start with a PVC pipe or unloaded barbell and do three to five sets of two to three reps. You can also do this with a barbell and perform reps with light to moderate loads.
To Improve Power Output
To improve power output you need to use a weight that is semi-challenging yet still can be moved explosively. If the lift is too heavy, your ability to develop power is diminished as you may struggle to stabilize the bar or maintain good form.
Start by performing two to four sets of two to three reps using 60-75 percent of your 1RM.
To Increase Your Max
When programming for maximal strength and transfer to heavy snatches, you need to lift heavier than when focusing on technique or power. However, the weightlifting movements can’t really be performed for the traditional five-by-five scheme.
Start by training with around 80 percent of your 1RM, for four to eight sets of one to two reps.
Hang Snatch Variations
If you are looking to add diversity to your snatch training or attack various weaknesses in your snatch technique, you can introduce some variation into your typical training program.
Below are three hang snatch variations and alternatives that can be done to improve snatch technique, timing, and performance.
No Foot Hang Snatch
The no foot hang snatch is done with the feet already in the overhead squat position. While this slightly alters pulling mechanics, the athlete not moving their feet after extension forces them to properly pull the barbell vertically. If you have issues jumping forwards, collapsing in the snatch, or pulling vertically, this variation can be very beneficial to development.
Hang Muscle Snatch
The hang muscle snatch has the lifter perform the standard pull, but instead of assuming a squat to receive the barbell, they continue to extend the torso and arms upwards, pressing out the weight overhead deliberately. This variation can be done to increase upper body strength in the pull as well as the technique of your lockout.
Hang Power Snatch
The hang power snatch is done identical to the hang snatch, with the only exception that the lifter does not receive the barbell in the full snatch. Rather, the lifter receives the barbell in the half squat or parallel squat position, which forces them to have a more powerful pull since the barbell must be pulled higher than a standard snatch.
Hang Snatch Alternatives
If you are unable to perform hang snatches or are not interested in performing them, yet want some of the same benefits to power output or athleticism you can try out some of the alternatives below.
Note, that if you are looking to attack snatch technique for weightlifting purposes, these alternatives may not help you as much as doing direct snatch variations.
Dumbbell Hang Snatch
The dumbbell snatch can be done from the floor or the hang, and offers many of the same posterior chain strength and power benefits as the barbell hang snatch, however offers some additional customization. This can be helpful for lifters who are unable to perform barbell snatches, or are looking to adjust the mechanics to work around injury or discomfort.
Both the American and Russian kettlebell swing can help you establish greater posterior chain power output and explosiveness. without needing to ballistically lift a bar overhead or spend excessive hours refining technique. The kettlebell swing is a great way to help build basic athleticism and power output for lifters of all levels.
The hang snatch has more going for it than just being another accessory for weightlifting. If you can nail down the technique, it can afford you benefits that will affect every aspect of your performance.
From posterior chain development to total body coordination to impressing people at the gym, the hang snatch is far more applicable to developing true performance than it looks on the surface.
Frequently Asked Questions
The hang snatch can be a difficult exercise to master, and questions often pop up along the way. Even a more advanced lifter may have questions regarding snatch technique or programming. Let’s get into some common questions and clear the air.
How heavy can you train the hang snatch?
To start, perform the snatch with very light weights to improve your positions and timing. From there, once you have mastered the snatch at lighter loads, you can train the hang snatch heavily, often just as heavy as the regular snatch. Some lifters may also find they can lift heavier weights in the hang snatch than the snatch itself.
What is the difference between a hang snatch and a snatch?
The main difference between the hang snatch and the snatch is that the hang snatch starts off the floor, often from just below or above the knee. The full snatch requires the bar to start on the floor. Both snatch variations require the lifter to receive the bar in the overhead squat.
How can I progress the hang snatch?
You can progress the hang snatch like any other lift — by adding weight, more reps, or slowing down the eccentric. You can also perform hang snatches from lower hang positions (such as progressing the hang snatch from above the knee to the hang snatch from below the knee).
Featured Image: belyaev.photo / Shutterstock