Snatch Extensions Vs Snatch High Pulls

Snatch extensions (sometimes known as snatch pulls) and snatch high pulls are accessory pulling exercises for weightlifters. Both variations, although very similar, have distinct training outcomes and intentions that should be fully understood so coaches and athletes alike can program and reap the benefits of implementing both lifts into a structured weight lifting program.

What is a snatch extension/pull?

This is an accessory lift that develops strength, leg drive, and powerful hip extension directly correlating to snatch performance. This lift is often done at higher percentages of a lifter’s snatch, and can be trained using supramaximal snatch loads to further enhance pulling power as it relates to the snatch.

How does the snatch high pull differ?

Much like the snatch extension, the snatch high pull starts off the floor with leg drive. The key difference is that in the snatch high pull, the lifter, after reaching the end of the snatch extension movement, continues to pull with the upper body. Through the additional shrug and elbow bend, the lifter is able to develop a stronger finishing pull with the upper body. The main focus on this exercise is to transition the first and second pulls directly into the shrug and finishing pull of the upper body.

Why do both?

Depending on your limitations in the snatch, choosing the best lift for your ailments will better customize your training approach. For lifters who lack leg drive, snatch extensions may be a great pulling exercise to add after your main lifts so that you learn bar path, firm feet, and minimize premature arm pulling. Conversely, some lifters find that their pulls are their strong suit, often limited by lack of a strong finish before pulling oneself under the bar in the catch. Snatch high pulls would be a viable option for lifters looking to maximize the entire pull and transition the leg drive into a smooth and strong elevation of the traps, elbows, and barbell.

How much weight should you use?

Because these exercises are to develop strength, power, and technique specific to the snatch, it is important to perform them using the same set up, liftoff, and alignment; as if you were going to snatch it. If a load is too heavy, speed falls, technique get shaky, and a lifter may resort to “deadlifting” the weight upwards (see why clean pulls are NOT deadlifts), altering the mechanics and benefits of the lift. To the same point, if a load is too light, force output will fall, and a lifter will be more able to alter their mechanics on the barbell; such as decreasing leg drive due to less than stimulating loads.

Loading for these exercises are based off of a lifters snatch best, and can be trained anywhere from 80-110% of one’s maximum. Remember, as with anything, coaches and athletes should use their best judgement when prescribing loading. Monitoring technique, bar speeds, and athletes responses is the best approach.

When should you perform them in a session?

Strength work like pulls and squats are often performed following the main lifts (snatches, cleans, and jerks), since the neuromuscular demand is less on the body. Novice and intermediate lifters could benefit from doing snatch (and clean) pulling variations at least once per week per main lift (snatch and clean), either as extensions or high pulls.

Here are some examples of each…

Lu Xiaojun with a 180kg snatch high pull.

Routine snatch pulls at 130kg

A video posted by Justin Forte (@justinforte) on

77kg weightlifter performing two snatch high pulls at 130kg

Snatch high pulls worked into training sessions following snatches and cleans.

A video posted by Mike Dewar (@mikejdewar) on

Snatch high pulls worked into a snatch complex.

A video posted by Mike Dewar (@mikejdewar) on

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured Image: @mikejdewar on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

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.

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