Hang Snatch Ultimate Guide

The hang snatch is a snatch variation that is popular among Olympic weightlifters, competitive fitness athletes, and sports athletes alike. It can work to increase the rate of force development at the hip, enhance snatch technique, and even be used to increase explosiveness in all level athletes. Therefore, in this article we will discuss in high detail everything you need to know about the hang snatch, specifically:

  • Proper exercise technique and video tutorial
  • Training benefits and outcomes
  • Who should do hang snatches
  • Coaching and programming notes

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Hang Snatch Exercise Demo

Below are some great video demonstration on how to perform the hang snatch. 

Hang Snatch Disclaimer

Before we dive in, I need to address the fact that many people may be snatching or hang snatching without taking the time to address mobility concerns and fundamental hypertrophy and muscle development in the upper back, arms, shoulders, and core.

Throughout this article I will discuss the hang snatch, however at all times I highly recommend that prior to engaging in such exercises you (1) be sure to seek out a qualified coach and weight lifting progressions who not only hold proper accreditation, but also has marked experience to back themselves up, (2) dedicate time and effort to proper joint mechanics and bar speeds before adding loading, (3) never sacrifice form for function, especially in certain WOD and/or training situations unless you are already highly skilled in such movements.

Who Should Do Hang Snatches?

Hang snatches are beneficial for nearly every individual, especially:

Olympic Weightlifters

The hang snatch is highly beneficial for Olympic weightlifters as it is a direct variation of the competitive movement. Hang snatches can be used to increase the second pull abilities of the lifter, especially rate of force development and increasing pulling height in the snatch.

Additionally, hang snatches can be a great way to increase loading of lifters who may have technical issues with below the knee pulls, and therefore you can help them get acclimated with heavier loads above the knee to allow them to feel more confident with heavier loads from the floor.

CrossFitters

Hang snatches are key to snatch technique and fitness WODs, therefore many fitness athletes need to have the abilities and skill to not only perform hang snatches in a technique setting, but also under high amounts of loading to be able to withstand fatigue and/or heavier snatch attempts.

Sports Athletes 

There is a debate among strength coaches as to the best Olympic weightlifting movement to increase rate of force development, increase jump and sprint performance, and overall explosiveness of their athlete while minimizing injury risks to shoulders and wrists. I personally feel that the hang snatch (even the power version) allows for less strain on the wrists and limits the amount of loading that is used (power cleans and hang cleans have significantly more kilos on the bar), therefore increasing ones need to accelerate the barbell at the hip.

Acceleration (not load) is they key attribute most strength coaches are concerned with, therefore making the snatch a good movement to invest in (time, coaching, educating athletes on technique, etc.).

Strength Athletes 

While snatching isn’t entirely specific to powerlifting or strongman, I do find that the integration of the total body in this highly explosive movement allows strength athletes to increase force production, back strength, and enhance overhead performance. The ability to integrate snatches into a routine can also help to build in metabolic movements, integrated athlete movement, and explosiveness in somewhat slower speed sports (which at heavy loads is understandable, however the faster the neurological systems can engage force production, the greater acceleration and impulse any athlete can have on producing force, slow or fast).

General Fitness 

For general fitness, the snatch may not be a necessary component to increase power, integrated movement, etc. While hang cleans could do the trick, I personally feel that most humans can and should be able to perform the basic hang snatch to demonstrate a well-balanced and integrated movement program. This may not be heavy, or full squat in the receiving phase, but any variation of hang snatch can help to increase power output, stimulate muscle growth and adaptation, and help to increase posterior shoulder performance over time (if snatches are done correctly).

Older Populations 

No, I do not recommend having your aged clients partake in 135lb hang snatch EMOMs. I do however think that you can take the time to teach them to do full bodied and neurologically challenging movements (such as the hang snatch) to help them increase neural drive, motor learning, and maybe even give them the ability to increase force production, kinethetics, proprioception, etc. The ability to produce force in a rapid and controlled fashion can be highly beneficial for elderly clients who have to withstand the risks of tripping, falling, and/or other common missteps every day. Once again, even the simplest or regressions on the snatch (hang snatch, muscle snatch, power snatch) with a barbell, stick, dumbbell, etc can be beneficial for all levels and ages of individuals.

Why Should You Do Hang Snatches?

Below are five reasons why you should start to include hang snatches into your training program as a weightlifter, CrossFit athlete, fitness enthusiast, and sports athlete.

Increased Athleticism

Increased rate of force production, motor patterning, hip extension and posterior chain performance, integrated movement, proprioception, and kinesthetic sense are all attributes that can be taught and developed by movements like the hang snatch. While you can develop some of these using other movements, the hang snatch (and hang clean) can offer you a unique exercise solution for maximizing your time and training.

Teaching the Snatch

The hang snatch is a good snatch regression for coaches to teach all level lifters and sporting athletes, as it is a shorter range of motion and allows for greater emphasis on powerful hip extension (often the purpose of it when found in strength and conditioning programs for formal sports).

Snatch Technique Issues

The hang snatch can be first integrated into many weightlifting and functional fitness programs to develop a lifter’s ability to finish their pull and perform the full snatch. Many lifters fail to comprehend or master the full movement of the snatch (starting from the floor) at the onset of training, therefore making the hang snatch a good “top-down” teaching progression. Additionally, the hang snatch can be used for more advanced lifter to increase rate of force development, increase the height of the second pull, and ultimately increase a lifter’s final hip extension before becoming fixated unearth the barbell in the receiving position.

Sets, Reps, and Intensity

When programming hang snatches, I will basically break it down into three objectives. The first is power production and technique, the second is Olympic weightlifting specific, and the third is for metabolic conditioning purposes, such as WODS.

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General Guidelines

If the goal is technique, power application, and sport specific training to explosive sports, repetitions in the 1-3  rep range are most optimal (I find). This allows the lifter to have the greatest impulse of force production and acceleration at the terminal hip extension, and decreased the amount of residual fatigue from rep to rep (unlike sets of 10). The snatch is a neurological stressor, that at heavier loads can be failed due to even the slightest technical error.

If however, you are programming these for more conditioning purposes, I find sets of 5-10 are proper ranges (depending on loading percentage), however there is more wiggle room for such training. Note, that the more repetitions that occur, the greater margin for technical error, fatigue, and less transferability to heavier snatch training.

Olympic Weighlfiting

Generally speaking, for technique and developmental purposes, 3-5 sets of 1-3 repetitions can be used with 60-80% of one’s snatch max. This will ensure technique, bar speed, and overall development of a lifter can occur. In more advanced training stages, heavier hang snatch can be performed at much higher loads (80-90+% snatch max) to maximize performance, enhance a lifter’s confidence under massive loads, and have high transferability to near-maximal and maximal snatch lifts.

Fitness WODs

Hang snatches in a fitness WOD can be for either metabolic conditioning purposes or more of a strength/power cycle. Regardless of which to choose, the hang snatch should be done with integrity and a strong back. Failure to perform repetitions that have a lifter stay planted, finished their pull, and be active in the receiving position will have a drastically detrimental impact on heavier snatch specific training. Therefore, regardless of load, treat every weight the same (135lbs like 315lbs, and vice versa).

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Featured Image: Mike Dewar of J2FIT Weightlifting

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