Olympic Lifting Snatch Progression 1

The Olympic lifts are one of the most utilised methods of developing power and explosiveness for athletes and military personnel.  With the explosion in popularity of Crossfit Olympic lifting has become more and more popular and there are now more people practicing Olympic lifting than at any other time in history.

As a huge fan of the sport of weightlifting and as a coach who has worked with athletes up to the national level I am excited about the growth of Olympic weightlifting but at the same time somewhat concerned with some of the technique that I see when people are learning to lift.


The Olympic lifts are far more technical than any other lift performed in a gym and require high levels of speed, flexibility and coordination to complete successfully.  Coaching the Olympic lifts takes a LOT of experience and is not simply a matter of taking a 2 day course or a couple of workshops and then getting stuck in.  I coached 3-4 hours per day 4-5 days per week for about 3 years (just Olympic lifting) before I considered myself to be a competent weightlifting coach so it amazes me when I see other coaches with a few weeks or months experience trying to coach the full Olympic lifts.

In theory the Olympic lifts shouldn’t be that difficult.  Approach the bar, pull it off the ground as hard as you can and then catch it on the shoulders or overhead.  The positions used for Olympic lifting are familiar to anyone who has been involved in fitness training for a while since they involve deadlifting, front squatting and overhead work.

The complexity arises because to perform the Olympic lifts you have to transition through these familiar positions at the maximum speed possible and during the movement there is not enough time to adjust your position or force production dynamically if you start to get out of position.  There are also a large number of cues and positions to remember and experience shows that at most a lifter can focus on 2 or 3 cues during a lift and that anything else will get lost.

The key then to learning the Olympic lifts is to break them down and practice each part of the lift in such a way that only 2-3 key points are being practiced at any one point in time.  Repetition of these drills will lead to the key points becoming ingrained and instinctive so that as the lifter progresses they do not have to actively think about the previously learned points and can concentrate on learning the next steps of each lift.

To illustrate the point imagine trying to concentrate on all of the following the first time you tried to do a snatch.

  1. Feet hip width under the bar
  2. Hands on the outside of the rings
  3. Elbows turned out
  4. Hook grip
  5. Back extended, chest up cialisviagras.com
  6. Shoulders over the bar
  7. Controlled break off the floor
  8. Shoulders remain over the bar
  9. Keep the bar close
  10. Accelerate the bar at the knee
  11. Get as tall as possible/hips through
  12. Keep the bar close
  13. Elbows high and outside
  14. Fast feet under the bar
  15. Tight core
  16. Stabilise in the bottom position
  17. Recover

These are just some of the cues that a coach may use to emphasise different stages of the snatch technique during a lift and within each point there are a number of more subtle cues to adjust position to optimise the lift. Attempting to keep all of these points in the front of your mind while performing a lift that takes maybe 2-5 seconds from lift off to dumping the bar is an impossible task!

Imagine instead that for the first few weeks you broke the lift down into stages and practiced no more than a handful of these cues and positions at a time.

For example to work on the set up and first pull of the snatch you can practice a snatch grip deadlift and focus on only the first 5-7 points above with only 2-3 of those happening during the dynamic portion of the lift.

After practicing the deadlift you could then choose a different exercise such as a snatch pull from the hang to work on the maximal upward acceleration of the bar without having to concern yourself with the set up and first pull.

For a detailed set of training progressions for the Power Snatch check out the link below and if you would like coaching in the Olympic lifts for athletes or trainers I am available for workshops from 3 hours to 3 days all around Australia by appointment.



This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 25th, 2013 at 17:57 and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.