What are Power Snatches

Have you heard people talking about the Power Snatch and asked yourself ‘What are Power Snatches?’ The Power Snatch is a training exercise that is used by strength & conditioning professionals to improve the athletic performance of their athletes, a training exercise used by competitive Olympic weightlifters, and an exercise that is used extensively amongst Crossfitters.

This video and article discusses

Ok, you heard Power Snatches are great and the ecstatic feeling when you master a heavy Power Snatch, but what are Power Snatches?

What are Power Snatches

Before I dive into the origins of Power Snatches and how you can benefit from them, the most simple form to explain what Power Snatches are is to say ‘you lift a weight from the ground in one movement over your head.’

Just check out this example of one of the greatest Olympic Weightlifters of all time Pyrros Dimas


In case you haven’t noticed that video was taken past his prime during his time as a national coach for the US Weightlifting Association.

Back to the topic, the Power Snatch is one of the best exercises to develop speed and power for sports.

Where do Power Snatches come from

Power Snatches originate from Olympic Weightlifting training, where the Power Snatches are used as a training exercise to improve the competition exercise Snatch.

Olympic Weightlifters use the Power Snatch as a training exercise to improve the competition exercise Snatch.

Olympic Weightlifting consists of two disciplines, the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. In an Olympic Weightlifting competition, the Snatch is the first exercise and the Clean & Jerk the second exercise.

To follow up on the previous video, check out Pyrros Dimas in his prime during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games performing the Snatch

The weight lifted in the Snatch and the weight lifted in the Clean & Jerk are summated to a total weight. In a nutshell who lifted the highest total wins the competition (if two lifters have the same total weight, the lifter with a lower body weight wins).

What is the difference between a Power Snatch vs Snatch

The difference between a Power Snatch and Snatch is often discussed, however, the answer is pretty simple and straightforward.

Let’s start with the Snatch, the Snatch is caught in a full squat position, where the knee angle is below 60 degrees. Check out this video from the 2012 Olympic Champion Aleksey Torokhtiy demonstrating a Snatch.

The definition of a Power Snatch is, that the weight is caught in a higher position, where the upper thigh is above parallel to the ground, which coincides for most people with a knee angle of 90 degrees or more (considering standing fully upright refers to 180-degree knee angle).

Check out the Power Snatch from Aleksey Torokhtiy and focus on the higher catch position.

So the take-away message, the difference between the Snatch and the Power Snatch is defined by the catch position.

The difference between the Power Snatch and Snatch is defined by the catch position.

What is the difference between a Power Snatch vs Hang Snatch

Another question you often hear is  ‘what is the difference between the Power Snatch vs Hang Snatch?’ essentially that is like asking ‘What is the difference between apples and oranges?’ Power Snatch vs Snatch are two different exercises, even though it has a lot of commonalities.  The information ‘Hang’ just refers to the start position, where the bar is literally ‘hanging’ in front of the body and not resting on the ground.

Comparing the Power Snatch vs Hang Snatch is essentially comparing apples with oranges.

Check out the Hang Snatch tutorial from Aleksey Torokhtiy

Hence the Hang Snatch is a variation of the Snatch with a modification of the start position.

As a side note, due to the higher catch position in the Power Snatch vs the Snatch, the load lifted in the Power Snatch is less than in the Snatch, but the movement velocity of the bar is higher since it has to travel a longer distance.

Why should you do Power Snatches

The Power Snatch has made its’ way into Strength & Conditioning and the physical preparation because of its’ unique benefits The Importance of Power Snatches. But also, because the Power Snatch technique is easier to learn than the Snatch technique, due to the higher catch position.

The Power Snatch technique is easier to learn than the Snatch technique, whilst the Power Snatch offers the same benefits.

Not that the Power Snatch technique is easy, nothing could be further away from the truth than that. The Power Snatch technique is actually quite difficult and demanding to learn, that’s also the reason, why a lot of coaches and experts are opposed to Power Snatches and Olympic Lifting for athletes in general because it needs too much time investment to learn or it’s too difficult to learn.

Well, this is the argument I had with my math and physics teachers in school. Math and Physics were just too difficult to learn and took me too much time. I guess I don’t need to tell you what the result of this discussion with my teachers was, right?

Anyway, back to the topic. The Power Snatch technique is easier to learn than the Snatch technique, however, it needs time and effort to master the technique, but once you master it you will reap the benefits of the Power Snatch.

How to do a Power Snatch step by step

From a technical analysis standpoint, there are different phases of the Power Snatch.

Those phases are in the order from start to finish:

–              the start position

–              the first pull

–              the transition

–              the second pull

–              the catch

–              the recovery

In the start position, the bar is on the ground, the feet are hip-width apart, the back is straight and the chest is held upright. The arms grab the bar with a wide grip and are fully extended. The shoulders are over the bar and slightly in front of the bar (if you look from the side).

During the first pull, the bar is lifted from the ground until a position just below the knees. During this phase, the bar moves vertically upwards and stays close to the shins. The shoulders are still in front of the bar and the chest is up. The back remains straight, actually the back is straight throughout the entire lift.

During the transition the bar moves past the knees, which is more difficult than it seems. For the bar to move past the knees, the bar needs to stay close to the legs, while the knees extend making room for the bar to pass. Once the bar has passed the knees and is above the knees, the knees re-bend and are brought forward and under the bar. The action of bringing the knees forward is sometimes called ‘scoop’ or ‘double-knee bent’, which is a strongly debated topic.
The reason for re-bending the knees and bringing them back under the bar is, that it allows a powerful triple extension in the next phase, the second pull.
During the transition the shoulders remain over the bar, the arms continue to be extended and the back is straight.

With the second pull the athlete extends hip, knees, and ankle powerfully (also called triple extension), which maximally accelerated upwards. The bar usually makes contact on the height of the crease of the hip (as opposed to mid-thigh in the Power Clean)

The catch is initiated by bringing / pulling the body actively under the bar, fixating and stabilizing the bar over the head.

Once the bar is fixated and controlled overhead, the athlete stands back up. This is the recovery phase.

This is in a nutshell how to do a Power Snatch step by step, fairly simple to explain, but learning the Power Snatch technique takes time and a lot of practice.

For a more detailed and visual analysis of the Power Snatch and the different phases of the Power Snatch technique have a look at the video below

For more details check out the article How to do a Power Snatch.

What Are Power Snatches Wrap-up

Power Snatches originate from Olympic Weightlifting and are used to improve the competition exercise the Snatch.

The Power Snatch is easier to learn and execute than the Snatch (easier, not easy)! Please read the full text), but offer similar benefits, when it comes to improving speed and power for your sport.

Learning the Power Snatch technique will take time and a lot of effort, but is worth the investment. Understanding the different phases and how to do the Power Snatch step-by-step can accelerate the learning process.

What to read next?

Check out