Snatch Grip Romanian Deadlifts – Exercise Guide and Muscles Worked

In weightlifting, many coaches and athletes stress technique and speed of lifts (which is vital) as a lifter starts out in their training and throughout the years of progression. Strength, while often seen in heavy squats, clean pulls, presses, and rows, can often be the most elusive aspect of one’s long-term development as they evolve into intermediate and advanced lifters. Enter the snatch grip Romanian deadlift.

Few movements can strengthen the lats, hips, hamstrings, and mind like snatch grip Romanian deadlifts. Great lifters, such as Dmitry Klokov, have been seen performing movements like the snatch grip Romanian deadlift to maximize strength development in later stages of progression.

[Master the Romanian deadlift here to build serious back and hamstring strength and hypertrophy!]

In this article, my goal is to shed some light on this one-of-a-kind Romanian deadlift variation to provide you (and your fellow Olympic weightlifters) with some insight on why you should include these into your accessory training to:

  • Improve back strength and thickness,
  • Enhance pulling performance (snatches, cleans, and even deadlifts)
  • Increase your back and front squat rep maxes

The Snatch Grip Romanian Deadlift

The snatch grip Romanian deadlift is performed exactly like a standard Romanian deadlift, with the only exception in that the lifter assumes the standard snatch grip width on the barbell. For added difficulty, lifters could take an even wider (1-2 inches more) than normal grip, as I have done for both snatch and clean pulling variations to really increase back and hip strength. Weightlifting straps are optional, however I find that using them allows me to really emphasize back, hip, and hamstring strength as grip isn’t such a limiting factor. Some coaches and athletes may feel wrist straps are not necessary, but to each their own (all I know is performing sets at 140-180kg for 1-5 reps does nasty things to the hands).

In the above video, Dmitry Klokov is performing a 250kg/551lb snatch grip Romanian deadlift off a block, making it even more demanding on the entire back side of the body. It is important to note that this movement is often done with much less weight than the standard Romanian deadlift, and potentially even less than snatch pull loads. Be sure to focus on the back and hamstring stretch while keeping a flat, rigid lower back. Poor back positioning in this movement will not have application to the actual competition lifts (snatch and clean and jerk), and can result in potentially serious injury to the lower back, as this is the segment in which most lifters will be limited the most.

Muscles Worked

The snatch grip Romanian deadlift stresses all the same muscle groups that a standard Romanian deadlift does, while also taking back (both width and thickness of the lats and traps) and grip strength to a whole new level.

  • Latissimus Dorsi (back)
  • Trapezius (traps)
  • Scapulae and Rhomboids
  • Erectors (lower back)
  • Gluteal Muscles
  • Hamstrings
  • Forearms (grip)

Why Do Snatch Grip Deadlifts?

Below are just a few reasons to perform these mentally and physically challenging pulling variations. Many lifters swear by the snatch grip Romanian deadlift, so much that the anecdotal success stories has inspired me to get back on the snatch grip everything train.

1. Increased Back Strength and Muscular Development 

Wide grip anything will increase back thickness and width (muscular development), which in turn will make any inside grip that much easier. When trying to increase back hypertrophy and strength, especially specific to Olympic weightlifting, the snatch grip and other wide grip variations are extremely helpful.

Increasing back strength and development will transfer over to all other aspects of your training and performance, and the added increase in hamstring, gluteal, and grip development will only boost your pulling abilities. Lastly, when done from blocks or full range of motion, snatch grip Romanian deadlifts can will increase the stretch and flexibility demands of the posterior chain (erectors, glutes, and hamstrings), not only aiding in their overall development, but also increasing injury resilience when done correctly.

2. Improved Pulling Strength for Snatches, Cleans, and Deadlifts

This should be a no brainer, but let’s discuss this anyways. Generally speaking, a clean pull is often a stronger movement for a lifter than a snatch pull. The increased grip width and depth demands (due to the grip width) can limit a lifter’s back strength and pulling capacities. Furthermore, relatively speaking, Romanian deadlifts are often done with less loading than clean and or snatch pulls (maybe not too much less than snatch pulls).

[Here’s 6 different snatch and clean pulling variations to boost your strength and power!]

Therefore, if you were to take the snatch grip, a very challenging grip width and combine it with a Romanian deadlift, also a much more challenging pulling variation, you would be left with a very, very challenging movement. The good thing about training hard variations is that when you progress with them, all other “less challenging” movements most likely will become better as well. Increasing your ability to snatch grip Romanian deadlift will add kilos to your snatch deadlift, snatch pulls (as well as make loads move faster), increase grip strength, and most importantly, enhance pulling power and positional strength for heavy snatches and and cleans.

3. Better Back Tightness for Heavy Squats

It’s no secret that leg strength is key for weightlifting. While squat training is used primarily to develop such strength and development (legs and hips), back strength is often underlooked when lifters start to collapse forward under heavy loads.

Snatch grip Romanian deadlifts can be done to increase back strength and development to increase a lifter’s ability to pack the scapulae firmly under high bar squats. Additionally, added muscle mass to the traps, latissimus dorsi, and erectors will aid in back squat racking positioning and front squat performance.

[Here are 4 reasons (and solutions) why your are missing heavy snatches!]

Final Words

Few movements challenge so many vital muscle groups to Olympic weightlifitng at once. By adding the snatch grip to an already highly effective and challenging exercise for back, hip, and hamstring development and positional strength specific to the snatch and clean can result in some serious progress (across all lifts) for nearly every lifter. I highly advise coaches to add this variation into particular training cycles in which pulling strength and back development are emphasized.

Featured Image: CROSSLIFTING on YouTube