View Full Version : When to move on to the Snatch?

Rhys Davies
02-04-2014, 02:26 PM
When should I move on from doing Overhead Squats, and start learning the Snatch progressions (Tall Muscle Snatch, Scarecrow Snatch, etc.)?

I am male, 5’11’’ tall, weighing 200lbs and 30 years old. I have worked out several times a week for the past 10 years, doing typical body building/strength training workouts. However, having gotten bored doing these types of workouts and wanting to include Olympic Weightlifting as a big component of my weekly workouts. Last summer I sold off most of my existing workout equipment and bought a bar and some bumper plates, a book and instructional DVD, and got to work. Over the course of 3 months I got up to being able to Clean 175lbs for 1 rep. However, my technique was very poor (early arm bend, feet transitioning at the wrong time, etc.). I therefore, did some research and discovered Greg Everett’s book and DVD and ever since it has been my bible. I ditched the learning progression I had been following and instead followed what Greg recommended, which was learning the Snatch first (instead of the Clean). It quickly became apparent that having never done any Overhead Squats, I did not possess the required flexibility to do this movement. And spent the next few months doing only Overhead Squats*, and am now able to Overhead Squat 148lbs for 1 rep and 121lbs for several reps.

As Greg states the Overhead Squat should be sound before doing the Snatch, is the weight I can currently Overhead Squat sufficient to start learning the Snatch, or should I continue to only train the Overhead Squat until I can lift more weight?

*I presently dedicate 4 days a week to Olympic Weightlifting (I do other sports the rest of the week). Training for 1 hour (3min jump rope, 6min foam-roller, 6min dynamic walm-up, 30min Overhead Squats, 15min stretching).

Javier Sanjuan
02-05-2014, 09:29 AM

I'm sure Greg or someone who works with him will comment on this, but I wanted to give you my thoughts in hopes that it can provide another point of view, or simply echo their advice.

First off, I agree with Greg's statement. In order to do the full snatch, you have to be confident and comfortable in your bottom position with the bar in the right position overhead and your body structurally sound.

In my opinion, you should be learning/executing the progression drills unless there's some extreme inhibitor (i.e., not being able to get your arms extended overhead due to lack of flexibility, shoulder issues, etc.). Granted, you're probably not comfortable with the going into a full squat with a dowel/bar overhead -- you're probably experiencing the common limiting factors that most endure, such as a lack of thoracic extension, shoulder immobility, and probably some ankle flexibility issues. Still, if you can get into a solid starting position and power snatch position, then the progression drills will help you. As of now, you're limiting yourself in what you can learn rather than identifying the things you can do and seeing which drills would help you reach your goal of being able to execute a snatch. Does that make sense?

In my own experience, I had an Masters-aged lifter begin to learn the lifts from scratch. He lacked ankle flexibility, which started the chain of problems: collapsing torso, shoulders unable to sustain a bar, lack of squat depth, etc. Still, he was able to get into a solid power snatch position. I taught him the progressions and continued to teaching him the power snatch; after each session, he would spend time squatting and stretching. Now, he is able to execute a full snatch, but he would still be trying to learn the snatch had I not taught him the things he could learn with the tools and capabilities he already had. For that particular lifter, it made the transition to a full snatch a lot easier. For me, the bottom line is that you can stretch all you want, but you're not going to gain the flexibility needed for, say, the front squat, unless you actually execute the front squat. Coupled with the dedicated stretching/mobility sessions, motions will begin to feel a lot more natural.

Obviously, each case is individual. Please take into consideration your own limitations when deciding how to approach your training, but know that limitations don't last very long with dedicated training and focus.

Lastly, if you can get yourself to a facility that has a quality coach, then I would recommend taking advantage of that available resource.

Hope this helps,

Greg Everett
02-05-2014, 11:22 AM
You can't snatch if you can't overhead squat, because a snatch is a lift with a full squat. That's all I meant. I also say in various places that you should still be learning the snatch as a lift in whatever way you can (in the case of someone who can't get into an overhead squat yet, this would be a power snatch, for example).

Also, it's not a matter of how strong you are in the OHS, it's a matter of being mobile enough to get into the position.

Rhys Davies
02-08-2014, 04:13 AM
Great, thanks for the feedback. I'll start learning the Snatch progressions.