Master the Snatch in Olympic Weightlifting

Man completing a Snatch lift, mid standing. At Strength in Depth competition wearing White WIT t shirt and black WIT shorts. Team behind him cheering on


The Snatch is a movement which originates in the sport of Weightlifting and has since become a popular exercise in the sport of CrossFit. Predominantly completed with a barbell, the Snatch has evolved to be a dual dumbbell and single dumbbell movement, and has become synonymous with the exercise term ground to overhead.

The Snatch is one half of the lifts contested in Olympic Weightlifting and is extremely technical, best learnt under the eye of a Weightlifting coach, but can also be learnt individually by following the movement breakdown below.

So grab either a broomstick if you’re a t home, a PVC pipe or an empty barbell and give the following steps a try!

Warm Up - Check out our article on Shoulder Mobility which would be a great warm up before trying this mobility intensive exercise

The Set Up - Creating Tension

Begin with your feet shoulder width apart and hold the barbell with a wide grip - this should mean that if you stand with the bar in front of you, it should rest along your hip crease. Once you have sorted your hand placement, bend your knees 90 degrees, pushing them over the barbell. This differs from your typical squat position as you are sat with your body positioned forwards over the barbell. 

The First Pull - Activate and Drive

To initiate the first pull make sure your back is flat, and tensed, and you are squeezing the barbell to activate your lats (think about snapping the barbell in half to activate lats). At this stage your arms remain straight and unengaged only gripping the barbell to create tension in your lats. Begin then driving through your mid foot and through your quads, bringing the barbell off the floor in a straight line close to your body.

The Second Pull - Explode Up

Once you reach just past your knees, begin bringing your chest up still driving through your quads. This is the quickest part of the pull, activating your glutes so that once the bar reaches your hips you are fully extended with your glutes activated and your toes slightly coming off the floor. The bar should still be close to your body and traveling in a vertical line. Once this full extension is achieved, begin bending the elbows pulling the bar upwards, keeping it close.

The Catch - Drop and Stabilise

In a fully extended position and with the bar traveling up and overhead, quickly transition, dropping under the bar into an overhead squat. Your feet should land in a wider position than when you started and your arms should be locked out overhead. For a Snatch you must land below parallel in order for the rep to count. For a Power Snatch you land anywhere above parallel.

Once you have stabilised the overhead squat position, stand up driving through the quads.

Key Points

  1. A good starting position will ensure the bar stays close and you are optimising your bar pathway. Make sure before the bar leaves the floor that your back is tense and your lats are activated.

  2. When driving upwards it’s good to think of trying to be as tall as possible before you come off of the floor. This will ensure you are optimally extended and are utilising your power upwards.

  3. In the catch position, take your time! Do not rush stabilising the bar in the overhead squat position. If you need to, sit with it until you feel confident you can stand it successfully 

Quick Questions

What is Snatch in Weightlifting?

A Snatch is a version of a ground to overhead movement where weight on a barbell is picked up off of the floor with a wide grip, brought overhead into an overhead squat and then stood up tall.

What are the 3 Olympic Lifts?

There are two main Olympic Lifts that are contested in the sport of Weightlifting. These are the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk which both consist of bringing a barbell from the floor to overhead.

How do you Snatch properly?

To snatch properly it is best to learn under the watchful eye of a weightlifting coach. They will be able to show you the specific technique required starting with an active set up and ending in a secure overhead position.