Squat Snatch – Technique, Muscles Worked, and Differences Between Power Variety

The snatch is a common movement seen in Olympic weightlifting, CrossFit, sports performance training, and fitness. Depending on the coaching background, the term snatch, squat snatch, full snatch, and power snatch may or may not be clear to some athletes/lifters. Therefore, in this article will clarify what exactly a squat snatch is, and how it differs from power snatches (and the snatch/full snatch).

While the snatch typically implies that a lifter is receiving the barbell in the full squat position, some coaches and athletes will also refer to this term as the “squat snatch” or full snatch. The squat snatch is no different than a snatch, however some functional fitness WODs will add “squat” to clarify. Below is an exercise demonstration of a full snatch, also know as a squat snatch.

Squat Snatch vs Snatch

There is no difference between a squat snatch and a snatch, however some coaches and athletes may use them interchangeably. In Olympic weightlifting, the snatch implies that a lifter catches the load overhead in the full squatted position. In non-Olympic weightlifting circles, the term “squat snatch” may be used to further designate that a lifter cannot power snatch the load. *It is common for less trained (in terms of formal Olympic weightlifting technique) lifters to power snatch more than they can full snatch/snatch/squat snatch.

Squat Snatch vs Power Snatch

The difference between the squat snatch vs the power snatch is exactly the same as the differences between a snatch and a power snatch. In the power snatch, a lifter pulls the barbell from the floor (like all snatches from the floor) into the overhead squat position, however the depth of the squat it typically to above parallel (thighs parallel to the floor). In the below section, we will discuss two (2) differences between the squat snatch (or simply referred to as the snatch/full snatch) vs the power snatch.

Increased Pulling Strength (Power Snatch)

The power snatch requires a lifter to move the barbell higher (via pulling strength and increased power output), as the lifter cannot shorten the distance it must travel by simply squatting lower to receive it (at a lower point). By designating that a lifter must power the movement, you force them to be more aggressive in the pulling phases of the lift.

More Advanced Snatch Movement (Squat Snatch)

The squat snatch (also simply referred to as a snatch) is a far more technical lift than the power snatch, one that requires more timing, speed, mobility, and time to develop. For non-Olympic weightlifters (or individuals who do not address snatch training often) they will find that they can power snatch close to the same (if not more) than they can squat snatch (snatch and catch into the full squat position). If these athletes were to address snatch faults, mobility, and basic overhead squat strength limitation, they most certainly over time would be able to actually “squat” snatch more than their power snatch (typically the power snatch is 80-85% of a trained weightlifters snatch (squat snatch) max.

How to Program the Squat Snatch vs the Power Snatch

Generally speaking, Olympic weightlifters will refer to these two movements as simply the snatch (entails a lifter to perform a snatch into the full squatted position) and the power snatch. The power snatch would be used to bring about the differences discussed above and/or to allow for higher amounts of power production without having to have increased load (as most trained weightlifters cannot power snatch as much as they can snatch into the full squat).

For general fitness training and some WODs, the squat snatch term may be used to fully clarify to a lifter that he/she cannot power snatch within the workout, which obviously will increase the technique and lower body demands of that session.

Need Help Building Better Snatch Technique?

If you are someone who can power snatch more than you can snatch, and/or are looking to become better at full snatches (squat snatches), take a look at the articles below!

Featured Image: @crossfitpantanal on Instagram


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Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.