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Why Do Our Athletes Perform The Snatch?

It’s an odd movement right? (The Snatch: Mattie Rogers’ 100+Kg Lift)

Bending over and grabbing a barbell with an almost wide as possible grip, then pulling it up to your hips, thrusting into it, and then pulling your body underneath the bar so you can catch it over head. This sounds like absolute lunacy!! Yet, we have you do this movement every week.

You aren’t alone in thinking this movement is weird. In-fact there’s quite a lot of CrossFit gyms that no longer incorporate this movement in their routines since CrossFit is rooted in movements that are foundational for life, and I don’t see many people performing snatches with tree branches outside of CrossFit bros on a hike. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into this movement by looking at it’s history in the world, CrossFit, and Vegvisir.

I Can Lift More Than Anyone In The World 

The Snatch (and by extension all of our other standard lifts) comes from our desires to improve our strength and to be stronger than everyone else. 

Like most things in weightlifting, the story starts off quite simple. People have always wanted to see who can lift the most in the world and what is more impressive than taking a weight from the ground and putting it over your head? Nothing in terms of feats of strength.

Our first record of the Snatch being brought to competition was at the Olympics in 1896,  although that year it was performed as a one handed movement. It wasn’t until 1924 where we saw the two handed variation we see today (History of Oly Lifts – IWF).

Now this two handed lift didn’t look exactly like the what we see today where athletes squat under the bar to make the lift. It looked more like a really long and awkward deadlift, which lead to the sport being dominated by Strongmen. Athletes were also allow to take the bar from hang (starting at the knee) in order to remove the need for mobility at the start of the lift. 

Then over time more mobile athletes began to win medals as the split snatch was developed! (The Split Snatch) This adaption changed the movement from a strength movement, to a power movement. (Think of strength as how much weight you can use and power as how fast you can move a given weight).

It wasn’t long after till even more mobile athletes honed their technique and began performing the snatch we know today as the squat snatch (The Squat Snatch).

The reason these more mobile and power athletes become successful was that they focused on a very simple idea, it’s just easier to move a weight a shorter distance. Think about it! If you’re 5ft tall with a 5ft wing span and you take a barbell from the ground to overhead without squatting, you have to move that bar just under 7.5 feet! Where as if you learn to use your hips to hit the barbell and squat underneath the bar at its’ apex, you only have to get it about 3.5 feet off the ground (about 70% the height of your body). Why on earth wouldn’t you perform the squat variation after realizing that as a competitor? 

Adoption as A Household Movement

Humans tend to progress in a top down approach with developing new techniques and tools. From GPS to the spear, someone tests a new invention in a situation that is at the limit of what our society is at. Once we see that it is successful in solving a problem or made someone else more successful in solving a problem (invention and innovation), others begin to dissect, replicate, and apply it to their own needs.

The snatch simply followed the same route. 

If you are an athlete trying to become more powerful in a sport, i.e. American Football, you would start by looking at what the most powerful athlete’s in the world do right? Well, that’s exactly what other top tier coaches did. Movements like the clean and snatch were adapted for application in many other sports that require athletes to display strong and fast movements.

Oddly enough, the biggest crossover application that brought this movement to you was its use in training gymnasts. How so? The founder of CrossFit was a former gymnast and that is where he learned it.

CrossFit and The Snatch

CrossFit may seem like a complex and weird training program made of funky movements and squats. In reality, the program’s movement choices come down to some pretty standard body movement principles:

  • Core To Extremity
    • Movements must involve generating energy from the center of the body outwards.
  • Movements must work on a combination of these 10 general physical skills:
    • Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy.

The Snatch is the prime movement for establishing a core to extremity as well as working on 9 of the 10 general physical skills. While the clean matches these, the snatch takes coordination, power, balance, and flexibility to a whole other level. That is why when Greg Glassman was putting together his training routine of CrossFit, it was this movement that wasn’t just included, it was the cornerstone. It was so crucial to him, that it was once view as the test of a great coach to have everyone in their gym to squat snatch.

Why We Do The Snatch

Now as y’all know, we are not Glassman fanatics. But, the man did create one effective training program. If we didn’t think it was effective, we wouldn’t teach it!

But, as an affiliate we have the option to program how we want and provide our own brand of CrossFit, which is actually a blend of Strength & Conditioning and CrossFit, so we actually focus on Snatch more than the average gym. 

The reason is that the biggest problems we actually end up trying to solve for athletes outside of losing weight and muscle gain, are all involving mobility and coordination. 

As we age your mobility, balance, and coordination become even more important than your power. Your ability to move without pain is something that many people take for granted until it is too late. The snatch is such an effective move at not only training everything, but getting you to focus on working on those 3 skills even more so you can get better at them.

If we make sure that you train and work for better positions in a difficult movement, we not only help you become a better young athlete, you become a healthier lifelong athlete. 

As long as we lift with proper form and respect the weights we lift, the constant challenge this movement provides is the ultimate fast track to moving better as an athlete.

Lifting on your own? The snatch is the ultimate in giving feedback! Not able to squat with the barbell but you can without the weight? Work on your lat mobility. Barbell landing forward on you? Work on your pulling technique by pulling your shoulder blades tighter together. Heels coming up in the bottom of your catch? Time for some ankle mobility. 

The list goes on! But, now we hope you’re even more excited for your next Snatch day! If you have any questions about the snatch, shoot an email back letting me know what we can help ya with on it!

Not already a Vegvisir athlete and want to learn more about this movement and how to exercise to be feel healthier and prepared for what life throws at ya? Click the “Free Intro” button at the top right of the page so you can meet with one of our amazing coaches to see how we can help you!

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