Many lifters fail to recognize the importance of a well-designed Olympic weightlifting warm-up routine. The inability to recognize and address the individual weak components of this complex weightlifting exercise results in missed lifts, technical faults, injury, and limited long-term progress. Additionally, the implementation of a solid warm-up routine will promote:

 

  • Motor mechanics
  • Central nervous system activation
  • Increase blood flow to muscle and other tissues
  • Increase body temperature
  • Enhance muscle firing rates
  • Increase active mobility

 

Detailed below are eight individual “primer” exercises that will ignite your central nervous system, enhance your motor mechanics, and develop a sounder snatch. Additionally, I have included a sample snatch warm-up routine using these exercises that you can use before each time you snatch.

 

A sound warm up routine will develop proper lifting mechanics.

Warm up like you work out. Work out like you warm up.

 

8 Snatch Drills to Develop Speed and Efficiency

1. Snatch Press + Overhead Squat

Reason: The development of proper overhead and squatting mechanics is vital for snatching. The snatch press + overhead squat will promote vertical squatting patterns and better stability in the catch of the squat.

 

Technique:

  1. Start with a snatch grip on the barbell on the back rack position.
  2. With you feet in squatting stance, begin the behind the neck (BTN) snatch grip press. Unlock the knees and hips to simultaneously "press" yourself into the bottom of the overhead squat.
  3. This exercise is to be performed slow and under control rather than explosively.
  4. Pause at bottom of exercise, and ascend under control.  

 

 

2. Heave Snatch

Reason: This exercise is used to develop proper overhead mechanics and squatting technique in the catch. It’s a great exercise to use for overload strength development and/or warm-up sessions.

 

Technique:

  1. Start with a snatch grip on the barbell on the back rack position.
  2. With your feet in squatting stance, perform a dip and drive, similar to the jerk, to initiate sending the barbell off the body.
  3. Unlock the knees and hips to simultaneously "press" yourself into the bottom of the overhead squat. This exercise is to be performed under control rather than explosively. Pause at bottom of exercise, and ascend under control.
  4. It is important to emphasize the drive under the bar in the catch.

 

 

3. Snatch Balance

Reason: This exercise is used to develop speed under the barbell in the catch. It’s a great exercise to use for technique and speed development and/or warm-up sessions.

 

Technique:

  1. Start with a snatch grip on the barbell on the back rack position.
  2. With your feet in pulling stance, perform a dip and drive, similar to the jerk, to initiate the sending the barbell off the body.
  3. Explosively unlock the knees and hips, and open the stance width (about a foot width extra) to simultaneously "drive" yourself into the bottom of the overhead squat.
  4. The snatch balance is to be performed explosively.
  5. It is important to emphasize the explosive drive under the bar in the catch.

 

 

4. Drop Snatch

Reason: This exercise is used to develop maximal speed, proper overhead mechanics, and squatting technique in the catch.

 

Technique:

  1. Start with a snatch grip on the barbell on the back rack position, with your feet in pulling stance.
  2. Unlike the snatch balance, do not perform a dip and drive in the drop snatch.
  3. Rather, unlock the knees and hips to simultaneously "drive" yourself into the bottom of the overhead squat, opening open the stance width (about a foot width extra), as fast as you can.
  4. This exercise is to be performed at maximal speed, explosively.
  5. Negating any dip and drive will force the athlete to be 100% confident in their footwork and stability under the barbell in the catch.

 

 

5. Snatch From Full Extension

Reason: This exercise will develop maximal speed and sound footwork under the bar in the catch. Additionally, it will teach the athlete to drop vertically under the bar.

 

Technique:

  1. With snatch grip, elevate yourself on to your toes, and shrug with long, fully extended arms.
  2. With your chest out and chin up, pause at peak extension.
  3. When ready, pull the mental trigger to forcefully and violently pull yourself into the bottom of the squat.
  4. The stance width should open about a foot width extra as you drop, with your hips landing inside the heels, and your elbows and wrists fully extended.

 

 

6. Snatch Liftoff

Reason: This positional pull prepares a lifter for the hamstring and posterior chain activation that will be required to properly load the first pull of the snatch (floor to knee).

 

Technique:

  1. Start in the snatch position from the floor.
  2. With your feet hip width apart, turn your toes open 15-30 degrees.
  3. Grab the bar with your hook grip, and load yourself into your snatch pulling position.
  4. As you ascend, pull your knees back shifting the weight from the balls of your feet to your heels, all while staying over the barbell with the chest and lats.
  5. The shoulders and hips should rise together through the lift.
  6. When you have reached knee level, return the barbell to the floor and repeat.

 

 

7. Muscle Snatch

Reason: The muscle snatch is a great teaching and strengthening exercise to develop sound pulling mechanics and minimizing horizontal displacement. By negating the catch phase, you force the hips and upper body to fully maximize strength and power.

 

Technique:

  1. Start in the snatch position from the floor.
  2. With your feet hip width apart, turn your toes open 15-30 degrees.
  3. Grab the bar with your hook grip, and load yourself into your snatch pulling position.
  4. As you ascend, pull your knees back shifting the weight from the balls of your feet to your heels, all while staying over the barbell with the chest and lats.
  5. As you pass the knees, explosively bring the bar vertical up the legs and extend your hips, transitioning into your high pull.
  6. Without rebending your lower knees and hips, rotate the barbell to snap yourself under the bar, forcefully extending the elbows and driving yourself under that bar.

 

 

8. Power Snatch

Reason: The power snatch is the fundamental snatch variation to build overall strength and power in the movement. By limiting the full catch position, you force maximal power and upper body strength, hip extension, and enhanced turnover of the barbell in the catch.

 

Technique:

  1. Start in the snatch position from the floor.
  2. With your feet hip width apart, turn your toes open 15-30 degrees.
  3. Grab the bar with your hook grip, and load yourself into your snatch pulling position.
  4. As you ascend, pull your knees back shifting the weight from the balls of your feet to your heels, all while staying over the barbell with the chest and lats.
  5. As you pass the knees, explosively bring the bar vertical up the legs and extend your hips, transitioning into your high pull.
  6. Quickly rebend your hips and knees, rotate the barbell to "snap yourself under the bar", forcefully extending the elbows and driving yourself under that bar.
  7. Your catch position should have the bar locked out overhead, with your hips at or above parallel.

 

 

The Complete Snatch Warm Up

 

Perform with an unloaded barbell, focusing on precision and speed.

 

  1. Snatch Press + Overhead Squat: 1 set x 10 reps
  2. Heave Snatch: 1 set x 3-5 reps
  3. Snatch Balance: 1 set x 3-5 reps
  4. Drop Snatch: 1 set x 3-5 reps
  5. Snatch from Full Extension: 1 set x 3-5 reps

 

Then, load the bar with 20-50% of your 1 rep max and perform:

 

  1. Snatch Liftoff: 2 sets x 3-5 reps
  2. Muscle Snatch: 2 sets x 3-5 reps
  3. Power Snatch + Overhead Squat: 2 sets x 3-5 Reps

 

When done, load the barbell with 50% of your 1 rep max and perform 1 set x 3-5 reps of the full snatch. Then, progress into your training program.

 

Attack With Purpose

This is a great routine to do when you are recovering from a few days off or want to take additional time to develop smoother movement mechanics at the end of a session. You can also interchange the snatch and the clean and jerk, depending on the emphasis of your training session. 

 

Remember, in weightlifting it's always technique first, speed second, and personal bests last. With this warm up on hand, you can attack your snatch training sessions with purpose.

 

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Photo courtesy of Mike Dewar.

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