If executed correctly, the Power Snatch is such a nice and impressive movement to watch, isn’t it?
If you have ever tried to Power Snatch, you have found out it’s more difficult to execute, as it looks.
Not only does it look impressive, you might have also heard people, that the Power Snatch can reap a lot of benefits.
The questions emerge What Power Snatches train? And is it worth to put the effort and time in to learn that movement?
This article and video discusses
- What Power Snatches train?
- What energy systems are dominant?
- What movements and muscles do Power Snatches train?
If you look at the Power Snatch and ask yourself, what does the Power Snatch train, it becomes obvious, that we need to dissect the Power Snatch and look at the different benefits of the Power Snatch.
One model, I am using is to look at different levels.
Let me explain.
I look at the
- Neural level or neuromuscular level, understanding the neuromuscular activation
- Metabolic level or energy system, what energy systems are active and what is the primary source of energy
- Technical level or the movement patterns, what are the main fundamental movement patterns needed to perform and execute the Power Snatch correctly and efficiently
- Muscular level, the muscles worked and activation of different muscle groups
Let’s go through that step by step.
What Power Snatches train on a neuromuscular level
Any kind of Olympic Lift and its’ derivative is performed explosively and the Power Snatch even more. From a biomechanical point, the Power Snatch shows the highest barbell velocity out of all lifts.
The Power Snatch is typically trained with at high intensity, an explosive effort, and few repetitions. The Power Snatch not only requires high strength levels, but also high power output. Check out the differences between strength and power in the article
- Power Training vs Strength Training – what is the difference between Strength Training and Power Training?
Consequently, on the neural level, the Power Snatches train the rate of recruitment and the firing frequency.
In a nutshell, recruitment refers to how many motor units can be activated and firing frequency refers to how fast motor units can be activated. For more details check out
- Why Understanding the Mechanics Behind Plyometric Training will make you jump like Michael Jordan
- Plyometrics benefits – Why is Plyometrics effective?
- Understanding Muscle Fiber Types from Bodybuilding.com
- The Secret to Motor Unit Recruitment by T-Nation
What Power Snatches train on a metabolic level
Metabolic just refers to the main energy systems that are used, whilst when you hear the word metabolic, the first thing that comes to mind is probably metabolic conditioning with higher repetitions.
However, the Power Snatch is usually trained with high intensities, an explosive effort and low repetitions, which targets the ATP-CP system or Phosphagen system.
The ATP-CP system provides large amounts of energy for a limited period of time, specifically for up to 6 – 10 seconds and requires longer periods of rest to be replenished, 90% is replenished after 60 seconds, whilst full replenishment can take 3 – 5 minutes.
If you want to read up more on energy systems, check out the article
- 3 Steps to Develop your own Power Training Method
- Understanding Energy Systems: ATP-PC, Glycolytic, And Oxidative – Oh My! from Breaking Muscle
- The Three Metabolic Energy Systems from Ideafit
- Energy Systems in Sport & Exercise from Sport Fitness Advisor
Bottom-line, on a metabolic level Power Snatches train the ATP-CP system or require the ATP-CP system to work for them.
Are there exceptions to the rule?
Yes, as I mentioned, the outline applies, if you train Power Snatches with high intensity, explosive efforts, low repetitions and complete rest.
If you chose to train Power Snatches with higher repetitions and incomplete rest, you will target a different energy system.
However, you will also have to deal with the negative consequences of such a training approach, such as technical breakdown and consequently training and repeating a technical flaw, which might manifest in a flawed Power Snatch technique.
What Power Snatches train on a movement level or technical level
Looking at the technical execution of the Power Snatch, the Power Snatch requires a powerful so-called triple extension and triple flexion.
Triple extension refers to the extension of hip, knee, and ankle, whilst triple flexion refers to the flexion refers to the flexion of hip, knee and ankle.
This triple extension and triple flexion can also be found in many sporting movements, such as running, jumping (and landing), throwing, kicking, changing direction and a few more. This is why the Power Snatch is such a valuable exercise for athletes (if you know how to execute the exercise correctly).
If you dissect the Power Snatch any further and look level deeper, what are the underlying fundamental movements of the Power Snatch, you will see the Power Snatch requires and teaches a series of fundamental movements, such as
- Bending or hinging
For more information on fundamental movements, check out the article
For more information on the Power Snatch technique, check out the articles
- How to do a Power Snatch
- Power Snatch from Catalystathletics
- Power Snatch from ExRx.net
- The Snatch from Crossfit Amplift
What’s the verdict?
What movements do Power Snatches train?
Power Snatches train a series of fundamental movements, such as bending or hinging, squatting, pulling and stabilizing.
The successful execution of a Power Snatch requires a powerful triple extension and triple flexion, which makes it a valuable exercise for most athletes.
Also, check out
What Power Snatches train on a muscular level
Whilst I am a strong believer in the approach of ‘train movements, not muscles’, which I think is attributed to Vern Gambetta and refers to the thought that we should much rather teach and coach our athletes how to move effectively, than how to activate certain muscles in isolation.
However, understanding the muscular activation and sequence or order of activation is helpful in the coaching process.
The Power Snatch trains almost all muscle groups of the lower body and targets the posterior chain, such as hamstring, glutes and lower back.
Also for the upper body, it mainly targets the posterior chain and shoulder girdle. I have written in more detail about the muscular activation in the article
Another good resource discussing the muscular activation of the Power Snatch is the article from Healthy Living The Muscles Used During a Snatch Exercise
So, what’s the bottom-line on the Power Snatch muscle worked?
The Power Snatches train mainly the posterior chain of the lower body, the back and shoulder girdle, which is a very good complimentary exercise to our daily tasks, that mainly happens in front of us.
Concluding What Power Snatches train
The Power Snatches train to activate more muscle fibers and to activate these muscle fibers faster, also referred to the recruitment of motor units and firing frequency of motor units.
The Power Snatch requires a high contribution of the ATP-CP energy system, which offers a lot of energy, for a short period of time.
Power Snatches train a series of fundamental movements, a powerful triple extension and triple flexion, which makes it a great exercise if you engage in a sport that requires you to either, jump and land, sprint, change direction, hit, kick or throw.
The Power Snatch activates the muscle of the posterior chain, back and shoulder girdle.
All in all, the Power Snatch is one of the most complex exercises out there and if you invest time and energy to learn the Power Snatch technique, you will reap the rewards.
More Power Snatch information
or the Power Snatch video library