Power Snatch – Exercise Guide and Benefits

In this guide, we will discuss the power snatch, a powerful snatch variation that can be used by all levels Olympic weightlifters and fitness/sports athletes to increase barbell pulling speed strength, finishing height (of the barbell), and rate of force development specific to the full snatch. 

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The Benefits of the Power Snatch

The power snatch is a snatch variation that is often used by coaches to improve overall snatch performance and/or allow some lifters to compete with limited squat mobility. Below are some benefits of the power snatch.

Increased Terminal Height of Barbell

By not allowing the lifter to assume a lower catch position, the lifter is forced to pull the barbell higher to allow proper fixation underneath at a higher receiving height. Lifters who lack pulling or finishing strength could benefit from powers snatches, which is discussed further below in the article.

Increased Force Production and Rate of Development in Second and Third Pulls

The need to accelerate maximally at the second and third pull is often higher during the power snatch vs the snatch because the lifter cannot compensate a lackluster finish by squatting deeply to receive the barbell. The increased force production and the rate at which the lifter can accelerate the barbell, specifically at the finish of the pulling phases (second and third pull) will often transfer over to increased pulling performance and snatch abilities.

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Teach Beginner Lifters Snatch Technique

The “top down method” is a common teaching progression for coaches instructing beginners in the snatch. After mastering hang or block snatches (either full or power), coaches can then slowly move lifters to the floor with power snatches, which while more complex than hang variations (due to the need to navigate throughout the first, second, and third pulls), the need to achieve a full overhead squat positioning is negated. After proper progress in the power snatch, the lifter can combine movements such as the snatch balance and/or overhead squat in complexes to then progress into the full snatch.

Snatch Variation for Competitive Lifters with Mobility Limitations

Lifters with mobility issues should constantly address them, however sometimes the body just says no. In this case, if still choosing to snatch, the power snatch can be a good variation (and still legal in competition) to perform the snatching movement. Maybe lifters have knee issues or simply cannot assume overhead squats at full depth. Whatever the purpose, power snatches can allow some lifters to still do what they love.

Increased Technical Training of Snatch Lift on Lighter Training Days

Minimizing squatting volume during light days and/ tapering blocks is often needed to allow proper recovery. By performing power snatches, lifters can still use moderate loading, challenge bar speed and pulling height, however save the legs for full snatches (whether for upcoming competition and/or moderate to heavier training days). The ability to perform the snatch movement, in the case the power snatch, more often will increase technical mastery and barbell velocities as well.

How to Power Snatch

Below is a clear and concise power snatch tutorial in which the lifter can be seen from the side angle performing the lift. The power snatch differs from the snatch in that the lifter meets the barbell in a quarter to half squat position (anything above parallel squat), minimizing downward motion into the squat while receiving the barbell. By doing so, the lifter is forced to maximize the height of the barbell and assume a strong, overhead receiving position.

  1. Lifter assumes proper snatch set up position with the snatch grip and width appropriate to lifter’s body size and measurements. Read here to determine your proper grip width and hook placement.
  2. Lifter performs the same first and second pull, transition, and turnover as in the snatch.
  3. The lifter must receiving the barbell above parallel, working to not allow the barbell to push them downwards into squat. This will ensure maximally bar height at the finish of the pulling phases, and ensure proper turnover and overhead mechanics.

It is important that lift lifter does not manipulate their receiving position to catch the barbell in different patterning than used in the full snatch. Some lifters jump their legs out too wide (“starfishing”) and/or have excessive torso lean forward (similar to a low bar squat patterning) so that they can disguise their hips as not going below parallel. While this is TECHNICALLY above parallel, the application and mechanics DO NOT carry over to the full snatch, and therefore merits lighter loads. I often will make lifters catch a power snatch, freeze, then descend into a full squat with weight overhead and pause. If they can do this without resetting the feel, adjusting, etc, then that is a successful power snatch footwork and body mechanics.

How to Program the Power Snatch

There are many ways to incorporate power snatches into a training regimen. Personally, I perform the full lifts about 75-80% of the time, however use power snatches on lighter days and/or during heavier complexes if trying to challenge pulling strength and speed. Power snatches can be integrated on a case by case basis determined by the needs of the athlete. With that said, if a lifter is naturally a good power snatcher, they may need to devote more time to snatching at full depth as over time this will allow them to handle heavier loads.

In the event they have larger discrepancies between their power snatch and snatch (for example I snatch 15kg more than I power snatch… 105kg vs 120kg), sometimes even bigger differences, using power snatches can help lifters finish the barbell higher allowing for greater loads to be used in the full lift over time (assuming the lifter is not limited in getting fixed under the barbell). I have went depth more about the relationship between the barbell terminal height, fixation depth and rate, and technical mastery predictor before, which can help to calculate the specific needs of an athlete based on such variables.

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Below are some programming guidelines one can follow when integrating power snatches into a training program.

  • Speed and Technical Development: 1-3 repetitions of intensities between 50-75% RM (of full snatch)
  • Speed Strength and Lighter to Moderate Training Days: 1-2 repetitions of intensities between 70-80% RM (of full snatch)

Tips to Snatch More Weight!

Improving one’s power snatch shouldn’t always be a primary concern so much as increasing the overall snatch lift. Some lifters will have a very high power snatch to snatch ration, while other may not. Lifters with a high power snatch ratio (say, over 85% of their snatch) may tend to be strong pullers who lack the ability to turn the barbell over fast/get under the barbell fast enough, and hence need to pull the bar higher in the snatch to successfully lift it.

Others, like myself, may find they do a great job at getting under barbells faster, since they do not have higher pulls relative to their counterparts. Both athletes successfully lift the loads, however they both can work on their weaknesses (increasing turnover speed and depth of fixation under the barbell OR increasing pull height/power with heavier loads to allow for increases in maximal snatch) to best progress.

Below are some of my favorite articles to help you not only improve your power snatch, but more specifically increase your snatch personal records!

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