Heaving Snatch Balance: I'm Sorry for Doubting You
Until maybe a year ago, I typically wrote off the heaving snatch balance as more of a piece in a teaching progression than a useful exercise. But in the last year, I've started using it more and more with some of my lifters and have decided it's actually one of my favorite exercises.
First, for those of you not familiar with the exercise, it's pretty simple: Start with the feet in your squat position and the bar on your back with a snatch grip. Dip at the knees smoothly and heave the bar up slightly so you can punch down under it into an overhead squat position. The feet remain flat on the floor. This ends up being somewhat of a hybrid between a snatch balance and a snatch push press + overhead squat.
There are a couple reasons why I've become so fond of the exercise. First, maintaining a connection to the platform with the feet means that it's a good exercise to force lifters to feel the proper placement of the feet for receiving their snatches and it serves as a good hip and shoulder flexibility exercise because there's no moment of slack for body parts to move in ways they shouldn't. This connection is also good for lifters who have a bad habit of picking up the feet too much during the transition from the pull to the turnover of the snatch--this gives them the opportunity to feel what it's like to be reconnected and be able to actually push up against the bar and resist it rather than having it fall on them.
In addition to this, the lifter can benefit from the active stretching and overhead strength and positioning elements of overhead squats without the strain on the wrists that accompanies overhead squats for reps and is usually the limiting factor. And the lifter gets the benefit of explosive punching under the bar you would get from the snatch balance without the potential for squirrelly foot placement accompanying the foot transition of the snatch balance.
I like doing sets of 2-5 reps and not necessarily aiming for huge weights, but being more interested in smooth movement, quick elbows and perfect balance and posture. This can be done as an auxiliary exercise for the snatch near or at the end of a workout, or with lighter weights at or near the beginning to loosen up and reinforce proper balance and positioning for forthcoming snatches or snatch-related training.
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