Leg Exercises

Build Explosiveness With the Ultimate Barbell Snatch Workout

The barbell snatch is an underrated exercise, here's how to maximize it.

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Barbell Snatch
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty

It’s an unfortunate fact of gym life that the barbell snatch has for decades now been relegated to the scrap heap of exercises you never see anyone doing. This is borderline tragic, but it makes sense because snatching is hard work, it’s a relatively difficult move to learn, and most people don’t understand what it does or how it can help.

We suggest you take another look. In terms of building strength and power, as well as placing a ton of focus on your hips, hamstrings, and shoulders, the snatch easily rivals the squat, deadlift, and clean. In fact, based on its all-or-nothing nature— either you can get the bar moving to lockout in one piece or you can’t—it may, in fact, be the most effective explosiveness builder of all.

But to avoid injury and maximize the gains this exercise offers, you must not only execute it perfectly but integrate it into a worthwhile workout. Here are tips on how to do just that.

How to Snatch

To learn snatch correctly, start with a barbell-length dowel or piece of PVC pipe. Like the clean, the snatch consists of two major pulls— from the floor to knee level and from your knees to a locked-out position over your head and behind it. Place your feet shoulder-width apart with your hands as far apart as you can hold the bar and follow this four-step approach to snatching.

The Workout

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Front Squat 3 5 2 mins
Overhead Squat 3 5 2 mins
Barbell Snatch 5 3 2 mins

Four-Step Progression

Executing the snatch really is a matter of foul distinct movements. Breaking them down as such will help with fluidity and help you get the bar overhead in one smooth, powerful motion.

1. Heel spurred: Once you’re holding the bar, place all your weight on your heels and keep it there until the bar is over your head.

2. Backward Hipster: Keeping your shins perpendicular to the ground, push your hips back to return to the start position.

3. First Pull: Keep the barbell near your shins. Use your hamstrings and lower back to raise it to a point just above your knees.

4. Second Pull: From this point, jump, shrug, and pull, exploding the barbell in a straight line through to the top position.

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