Have you ever asked yourself what Power Snatches do for you? With the rising popularity of Crossfit, Power Snatches seem to become more and more popular.
The question arises, what do Power Snatches and why you should do them?
If executed correctly, the Power Snatch offers a wide variety of benefits.
This article and video discusses
- What Power Snatches do for your movements
- What Power Snatches do for your acceleration, but also deceleration
- What Power Snatches do for your lower body and upper body
- What Power Snatches do for your nervous system
- What Power Snatches do for you psychologically
What Power Snatches do for your movements
We can break down the Power Snatch into a simple series of fundamental movements, the Power Snatch trains the fundamental movement pattern of bending and extending, squatting, jumping and landing and stabilizing.
Not only does the Power Snatch effectively train the squatting pattern, the bending and extension pattern and the jumping and landing pattern, it also trains the vertical stabilization. Because the weight has to be stabilized overhead, the Power Snatch teaches that vertical stabilization like no other exercise. If you are interested in more information how the Power Snatch enhances vertical stability and core stability in general, have a look at the article The Importance of Power Snatches
Power Snatches are one of the best exercises to teach and train the triple extension.
What the heck is the triple extension, you might ask?
The triple extension describes the extension of hip, knees and ankle as it happens in the majority of sporting movements, such as running, jumping, throwing and much more.
What Power Snatches do for your acceleration, but also deceleration
The triple extension will not help you with your ability to accelerate, but also with your ability to decelerate.
A powerful triple extension will help you to express forces and improve your ability to accelerate faster, but an often overlooked benefit of the Power Snatch is also the challenge to absorb forces during the catch phase of the Power Snatch. If you are unfamiliar with the different phases of the Power Snatch technique, have a look at the articles
Learning and improving the ability to effectively absorb and decelerate forces (another term is eccentric control) will help you with tasks like changing direction, landing after a jump without too much time to reset to get ready for the next action.
What Power Snatches do for your lower body and upper body
As explained in the previous paragraphs the ‘heavy lifting’ in the purest sense of the words is done by the lower body, the expression of forces through the triple extension and the absorption of forces during the catch phase.
But at the end of the catch phase, the weight has to be locked out overhead, this locking out has to be supported by a strong shoulder girdle.
So, if you train the Power Snatch and become stronger at the Power Snatch over time, you will also improve the strength levels in your shoulder girdle resulting in more stable shoulders.
What Power Snatches do for your nervous system
Depending on the intensity you chose to train the Power Snatch you will experience different physiological adaptations.
If you train with higher intensities, above 85% of the 1RM you will train the nervous system to recruit more motor units.
If you train with lower intensities, you will mainly train the nervous system to fire faster, the motor units are activated faster. A word of caution here, despite common recommendations in the literature, I have found from experience that the Power Snatch is not a good lift to work at lower intensities. The rationale is, the relatively light load will be accelerated quickly, but also too much of the total lift will go into decelerating the bar to catch it effectively.
Therefore, if you want to train the firing frequency, there are better exercises and training modes you can choose.
One last word on the use of Power Snatches for metabolic conditioning. Olympic Lifts have been popularized recently as a tool for metabolic conditioning as well. People doing multiple repetitions of the Power Snatch or doing Power Snatches for time. Generally speaking, the Power Snatch is a technically very demanding exercise, which favors low repetitions and complete rest. The rationale is that the technique deteriorates quickly and the more repetitions you do the more repetitions you do with sub-optimal technique.
This is not ideal for two reasons
- Practicing with flawed technique carries the risk of injuries
- From a perspective of motor learning, the more you are practicing a flawed movement pattern the more you ingrain that flawed movement pattern
My recommendation, if you are not really advanced lifter and you have a good rationale for doing Power Snatches at high repetitions, stay away from it!
What Power Snatches do for you psychologically
I have explained in detail how Power Snatches can develop a ‘go-at-it attitude’ in the article The Importance of Power Snatches
In a nutshell, the more advanced the athlete gets, the heavier loads he or she can lift and consequently that requires the athlete to get under the bar quickly and to fully commit to the Power Snatch. And this requires a lot of courage to bring your entire body under the bar and stabilizing a heavy weight over your head. If you remember the video in the article What Muscles Do Overhead Squats Work showing the reigning Olympic Champion at that time Matthias Steiner get hurt in the Snatch at the London Olympics 2012
Again the Power Snatch or Snatch is a safe lift if you dominate it and execute it properly. I have mentioned in the article, that I don’t believe it was the lift, that Matthias Steiner got hurt, I think he held on too long to the bar and he should have let it go earlier. Considering, it was the Olympic Games and he wanted to defend his title, his ambitions probably outgrew his sense of caution at this moment in time.
Back to the topic of what the Power Snatch can do for you psychologically, the fact that athletes have to commit to getting under the bar and express courage over and over again results in them becoming gutsier. I have seen that first hand over and over again.
Concluding What Power Snatches do for you
Power Snatches can help to improve
- the movement patterns of different fundamental movements
- enhance the stability of the trunk and shoulder girdle
- acceleration and deceleration
- the activation of motor units
- your ability to express courage and fully commit to a lift
More Power Snatch information
or the Power Snatch video library