Why Does My Snatch Suck? Fixing the Set-Up and First Pull: Part 4

I’m a big believer in the concept of troubleshooting mobility and flexibility issues before tackling stability and technique issues.  The last three articles specifically addressed mobility.  You’re going to...

klokov snatchI’m a big believer in the concept of troubleshooting mobility and flexibility issues before tackling stability and technique issues.  The last three articles specifically addressed mobility.  You’re going to need it in order to snatch properly.  Next up we’ll work on building stability and technique.  It’s time to utilize that new mobility.  If you missed the first 3 parts, here they are:

Now we’ll address stability and technique starting from the most basic of basic…

Step 1: Abdominal bracing and kegeling

Your core consists of muscles that support the spine from every angle forming a bit of a cylinder or canister (To borrow from Dr. Evan Oscar)

  • Top – Diaphragm
  • Sides – Obliques/transversus abdominus
  • Front – Rectus abdominus/transversus abdominus
  • Back – Spinal Erectors/lats/thoracolumbar fascia/quadratus lumborum/transversus abdominus/multifidi
  • Bottom – Pelvic Floor

These muscles all function together to help stabilize the spine.   With a stable spine we’ll be able to get into a better position, lift more weight and keep the spine healthy.

The key to recruiting these muscles is learning to brace and kegel.  Bracing is fairly easy, just tighten your abdominal muscles in preparation for someone to punch you in the gut.  We also want to kegel to help recruit some of these deep abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor.  Imagine cutting off the flow of urine mid-stream and drawing up and in with the abdomen, kind of like when you’re putting on a tight pair of jeans.  If you can do this then you’ve gotten the idea of kegeling down.  Any fans of pavel will be well versed in this one.

The idea is learning how to kegel while you can still breath and move.  (Most people appear paralyzed the first time they try to kegel).  Learning how to do this isn’t the easiest to learn for most people but that’s a story for another article series.

Pro Tip: Gently forcing your knees out or attempting to spread the floor with your feet will increase your ability to recruit the core musculature, along with setting yourself up into a more efficient position.  

Step 2: Hip Hinge and Neutral Spine

The next step involves learning how to dissociate movement of the hips and lumbar spine.

Say what?

Basically we want to learn how to brace the “core” just like we learned above and keep a neutral spine (nice flat back) while the hips do all of the moving.   For a more in depth explanation click HERE:

Benefits of the hip hinge:

  • Healthy spinal position (ie: Not shooting vertebral discs all over the room)
  • Better strength and technique

Pro Tip: If you have an athlete struggling to get into the correct position to deadlift, clean or snatch you can improve their form simply by working on steps 1 and 2 often without ever even doing any mobility work at all.

Step 3: Learn how to perform the first pull

Here’s a demonstration of what the first pull should look like:

Coach Burgener has several great instructional youtube videos on how to complete the set-up and first pull including this one:

Once you have the beginning steps down you can move along!

Step 4: Putting the first pull into the set-up and transitioning to other parts of the snatch

An excellent demonstrational video from Josh Everett on transitioning from the set-up and first pull to the other parts of the snatch, all with a PVC pipe

Step 5 – Add weight

Now that you’ve mastered your technique, really the only thing left to do is to start adding some weight.

Pro Tip: Never use too much weight during olympic lifts to the point where your technique starts to break down.  Bad form makes you less efficient and opens you up to injuries.  Read why HERE:   There’s a reason why world record lifts look effortless.

Step 6 – Add drills to improve your snatch set-up, first pull and barpath

Getting into the correct position is not going to feel comfortable, especially if you come from a background of heavy deadlifting and aren’t used to the olympic lifts. This is easily one of my favorite drills to build some strength in the right positions and improve your bar path.

Here are some great drills from the great folks over at Barbell Shrugged illustrating some drills to reinforce the first pull into the rest of the snatch.

Key Points and Take-aways:

For those of you who don’t have enough mobility to snatch properly but still want to practice the snatch:

  • Snatch off of blocks – at a height that permits good technique
  • Snatch from a hang position
  • Once you’ve built the mobility to do so, start pulling from the floor

I’ve been holding a kegel since 2004,

Dan Pope

P.S. If you enjoyed this article then sign up for the newsletter to receive the FREE guide – 10 Idiot Proof Principles to Crossfit Performance and Injury Prevention as well as to keep up to date with new information as it comes out via weekly emails.

Categories
corrective exerciseOlympic LiftingOlympic Lifting Accessory WorksnatchstabilityUncategorized
3 Comments on this post.
  • Why Does My Snatch Suck? Fixing the Set-Up and First Pull: Part 2 | FITNESS PAIN FREE
    8 July 2013 at 10:26
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    […] Part 3, Part 4 […]

  • Why Does My Snatch Suck? Fixing the Set-Up and First Pull: Part 1 | FITNESS PAIN FREE
    8 July 2013 at 10:26
    Leave a Reply

    […] Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 […]

  • Why Does My Snatch Suck? Fixing the Set-Up and First Pull: Part 3 | FITNESS PAIN FREE
    1 August 2013 at 10:26
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    […] ← Fitness Pain Free Podcast #23: Stability vs Mobility with Dr. Brian Strump Why Does My Snatch Suck? Fixing the Set-Up and First Pull: Part 4 → […]

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