Tall Snatch: Technique and Exercise Benefits

The tall snatch is an accessory/primer movement that helps to develop better strength, speed, and mechanics during the final stages of the pull in which the lifter must elevate the barbell and quickly assume an overhead squatted position to receive the snatch overhead.

In weightlifting, the snatch is one of the two competitive lifts that requiring high amounts of technical precision, explosiveness, mobility, and strength.

Therefore, in this article we will dive into the tall snatch and offer coaches and athletes tall snatch technique breakdowns, discuss why an athlete/coach would do tall snatches (benefits), and how you can program tall snatches effectively into your current Olympic weightlifting program.

Tall Snatch Technique Video

In the below video the tall snatch is demonstrated. Note, that the lifter assumes a fully extended hip and knee position at the onset of the exercise, making sure not to bend the knees or lean forwards with the torso prior to the start. The key here is to be sure not to allow the body to have a brief dip and/or hip hinge as this will turn the tall snatch into a dip snatch or high hang snatch. By starting at this top position, the lifter is forced to use the traps and arms to aggressively pull upwards on the barbell with the elbows high and out (keeping the barbell close to the body), while simultaneously picking the feet up so that the lifter can pull themselves underneath the barbell in to the overhead squat position.

3 Benefits of the Tall Snatch

The tall snatch is an accessory/primer snatch movement that can be implemented into weightlifting programming to improve technique, strength, timing, and lifter confidence in the turnover phase of the snatch. Below are three primary benefits of the tall snatch that coaches and athletes can count on when programming the tall snatch into most Olympic weightlifting and competitive fitness programs. Be sure to check out the below section in which we discuss how you can start doing tall snatches within your current weight lifting program, complete with sets, reps, and loading guidelines.

Faster Turnover

When looking at how to become “faster under the barbell” there are a great deal of issues and exercises we can look at to determine why someone may be “slow” getting underneath a snatch. Assuming the snatch pull trajectory is sufficient, overhead strength and confidence is there, and proper pulling strength is available, exercises like the tall snatch can be a helpful movement to reinforce proper timing and speed in the turnover phase of the snatch. By not allowing the lifter to initiate the movement with momentum gained through knee and hip extension, the barbell must be moved upwards very fast using the upper body to acquire even the littlest of vertical velocity. In doing so, the lifter is then force to get under the barbell faster; as the barbell itself cannot reach high velocities and heights without the usage of the legs and hips.

Aggression and Confidence Getting Under Snatch

At the end of the day, a lifer must be confident and aggressive during the final stages of the pull in the snatch to allow themselves the opportunity to get underneath a moving load and fixate themselves into the receiving position. Often, lifters lack confidence or proper timing in the turnover of the snatch, which typically should happen with minimal thought and hesitation. In lifters who struggle with being aggressive and confident getting under snatches, the tall snatch may be a good accessory/primer movement to help them gain a thorough understanding and feel of what the speed and timing feels like going from the top of the second/third pull into the receiving position.

Proper Mechanics in the Turnover Phase

When looking at snatch during after the second pull, we hope to see the barbell staying close the the body and moving in a vertical fashion. As the lifter reaches full knee and hip extension (and slight torso extension), the elbows and traps are pulled upwards and out to guide the barbell higher into the air. Sometimes, a lifter will become loose in this phase, allowing the barbell to make contact with the hip in the second pull and either (1) get pushed outwards instead of continue its vertical journey, or (2) then lose tension in the arms and upper back which can result in the barbell not being guided into the right position and/or not properly setting the upper back and torso so that it can receiving a heavy load overhead. The tall snatch can help lifters who have these technical issues learn how to better control the body and bar at the final stages of the pull.

How to Program the Tall Snatch into Weightlifting Programs

The tall snatch is often done either as a primer before a snatch session (to primer the muscles and motor movements needed for snatches) or as an accessory exercise. Regardless of when the tall snatch is performed, it is often done with very light loads since the goal is not maximal power and strength but rather bar patterning, timing, and speed. Tall snatches can typically be done for 3-5 sets for 1-5 repetitions. Loading is kept low, often starting with just the barbell for beginner and intermediate lifters. As a lifter progresses, he/she can use heavier loads, often around 20-40% of snatch max (this is an estimate, as too heavy of loads will often result in a lifter involuntarily bending the knees and hips to help initiate the movement, turning it into a dip/high hang snatch).

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Featured Image: Mike Dewar on J2FIT Weightlifting

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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.