Part 1 – How to perform the Olympic lifts (Snatch)

/ / All, Olympic Weightlifting, Strength and Conditioning

In this two-part series, I’m going to go back to basics and try my best to SIMPLIFY both the snatch and the clean and jerk so that you can get a general idea on how to perform the lifts. When learning the Olympic lifts it is important to understand what they are. The snatch is the most technical out of the two lifts because you are lifting the bar overhead to arm’s length in one motion which requires greater speed.

Now to the nitty-gritty.



When learning the Olympic lifts it is recommended that you learn to use the hookgrip when gripping the bar. It is when you wrap your fingers over your thumb. It may be a little bit awkward for novice lifters but in time that discomfort will go away. Overtime this grip will help you hold on to the bar with heavier weights. See picture below.

To find your snatch grip, I suggest that you grip the bar wider than shoulder width. When you pick it up, the bar should be in-line with the crease of your hips. You don’t want it too low that it’s near your junk and upper-thigh, or you don’t want it too high that it is on your lower belly.


The feet should be shoulder-width with toes pointed slightly outwards. The bar should be placed over the mid-foot. Depending on your mobility some people start at a quarter squat (partial hip and knee flexion), or full squat (full hip and knee flexion). The picture above is a full squat position.

Note: The lifters that lack mobility and flexibility to start on the floor would start at a hang position and progress their way into a full squat position. Also, if the lifter can’t get into an overhead position, I would have the lifter perform a high hang power snatch (catching the bar overhead with the legs above 90 degrees) and instead of finishing up, the lifter would pause during their power position and squat all the way down and up. The goal is to have the lifter get comfortable with performing a full snatch as soon as possible.HERE’S A VIDEO OF MY SNATCH PROGRESSIONS:

You are going to pull the bar up to your knees while keeping it very close to your shin. You should keep the feet flat and the arms should be relaxed and not tensed (I will explain this later). During this pull, the torso should remain roughly at a 45 degree angle and the only thing that should be rising are the hips. Also, this should not be a violent movement because it will not translate well to the second pull.

At this position, the bar should be above the knees and this is when you generate all your power as you extend your ankles, knees, and hips (Triple Extension). After the triple extension, the bar should make contact with your hips. This is when the bar should be driving up. As stated above, the reason for keeping the arms relaxed and not tensed is because when your arms are tensed it will cause you to swing the bar overhead. The swing will cause the bar to travel forward which will usually result in a missed lift (going way behind your head). The key is to keep the bar close to the centerline of the body.
This is when the bar has reached its highest peak and now you have to get under it. You are going to “pull” yourself under the bar, going in to a power squat or full squat depending on your mobility.
When catching the bar, you should be locking the arms and bracing the core. For safety reason, it is important that you stay “tight” during this movement because you don’t want the bar dropping on your head. Typically most lifters would stomp the floor during this process which is not a bad idea because I think that it helps you to contract all your muscles.  As stated above, if the lifter can’t catch the bar overhead in a full squat position, the lifter would catch it in a power position and progress to a full snatch.


Finishing the snatch is probably the easiest part… just kidding. After catching the bar, all you have to do is to stabilize the torso and shoulders to secure control of the barbell overhead. Now stand up by extending the knees and hips. The snatch is not complete until you are motionless for about a second during the stand position.

To bring the bar down you can step back and drop the bar on the floor (recommended for heavier weights) or lower the barbell under control.

Note: The snatch is a very complex lift that requires lots of technical preparation, don’t be discourage if you can’t perfect the technique right away. It involves a lot of patience and practice. Even I’m still trying to tweak my technique to become more efficient in executing the Olympic lifts. However, I would still highly recommend finding a good weightlifting coach to help you become proficient in performing the Olympic lifts.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Back to Basics – How to Perform The Olympic Lifts (Clean and Jerk)

Let me know other coaching tips and cues you use when teaching the Olympic lifts! Also, if you have a question or you want more in-depth explanation of each steps, please comment below. #StayGritty
Make sure you check out this article about teaching rhythm for proper technique in the Olympic lifts for some more learning.