For longer than I can remember the muscle snatch was a movement that I did within the context of a warm-up and in complexes. Exclusively.
To be honest I didn’t have a good relationship with the muscle snatch. We were not friends. It was a tool that I used to warm-up, before I felt that my neuromuscular system was ready to pull some big weights fast. Once I felt primed and ready, regular snatching would commence and life would be good again.
Recently however thanks to my good friend Coach Dos, the muscle snatch has become a friend that shares the same goals as me, and my athletes. I have found that the muscle snatch is a great tool to develop technique, strength, and power.
What is it?
The muscle snatch is a variation of the snatch movement. The overarching goals of the movement are nearly identical: Move the weight from the starting position (floor, hang or blocks) to overhead in one “continuous” movement.
Like the traditional snatch the movement contains a 1st pull (initiation of the movement from the floor or low hang position), a 2nd pull (the rapid acceleration of the bar at the mid-thigh position), unlike the snatch the muscle snatch contains no 3rd pull (the movement or re-bend of the knees under the bar). Instead the athlete should continue the pull to the highest point possible and then turn over to press overhead.
How to do it?
At the start of the movement there is one possible large difference to the typical snatch. Athletes can use a wider foot position to start. This will help them have greater stability when they are in the overhead position. Athletes may feel comfortable in their normal pull foot position, however.
From there the movement is entirely the same to the traditional snatch until the time that the athlete would normally reach the 3rd pull. Rather than pulling underneath the bar the movement becomes a press to completion.
The bar should continue its path upward at all points., this means no re-bend to receive the bar and no stopping during the press to finish the lift. The elbows never descend in the muscle snatch before pressing.
Athletes can use either a clean (close) or snatch (wide) grip to do the movement. Choice of grip is dependent upon whether you are seeking improvement in the clean or the snatch movement. In either case the movement should stop above the head.
Why do I like it?
1. The muscle snatch is a cool strength and power hybrid. The athlete is asked to power the bar from the start position to overhead in one movement. As a stand alone exercise muscle snatches do an excellent job of training full hip extension. There is a speed component involved so it falls towards the power side of training, but by inhibiting the re-bend at the catch, some of the speed of the actual snatch is lost. Its kind of a tweener and I like it.
2. This movement is excellent for beginner athletes. The learning curve is quick. In 1 day most athletes can go from a good starting position to overhead. It is a great way to get athletes producing power quickly and safely.
3. The muscle snatch is an excellent technique tool for improvement in the traditional Olympic lifts. One of the major technical problems of the normal Olympic lifts is an inhibition of the 2nd pull so that the athlete can rush to pull themselves under the bar. The muscle snatch completely limits this from ever occurring. Muscle snatches preceding Olympic lifts in the training session are a great way to insure that athletes are finishing the 2nd pull completely and with extended hips.
Here is a video of me laying down some muscle snatches as I work up to a PR. Thanks to Coach Dos for the inspiration to use these to get really strong.
Until Next Time-