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How to Do the Barbell Snatch - Form, Muscles Worked and Variations

by RitFit Sports 06 Feb 2023 0 Comments

Your strength training routine is incomplete without a barbell snatch. The snatch is highly demanding, impressive, and difficult to master. No wonder bodybuilders dedicate a huge part of their training career to perfecting this exercise. But with the right guidance, you can also incorporate this into your workout schedule in no time.

This article will discuss the proper technique for doing the barbell snatch, the muscles used, the benefits, and some common mistakes to avoid.

What is the Barbell Snatch

What is the Barbell Snatch

The snatch is an expression of raw power and discipline. It's an advanced weightlifting technique where you lift a weighted barbell off the floor and use your hips to get the bar above your head, simultaneously squatting beneath it. 

Executing a perfect snatch requires good timing, strength, adequate speed, and skill. The beauty of the snatch is that it works most of the muscles, from the trapezius to your glutes.

Proper Barbell Snatch Form and Technique

To make sure that your form is correct and does not hurt your muscles, it is recommended that you practice the snatch under the supervision of an experienced coach. That being said, here are the steps to help you understand the right way to do it.

Step 1- Get Ready.

Getting a good starting position before you go in for the lift is essential. First, place appropriate weights on the barbell and stand in front of it with your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, grab the barbell with your hands at a distance from your hips. Your hips should be near your knees that should be pushed ahead of the barbell. Only your toes and quads should feel pressurized in this stage.

Step 2- Pull The Bar Up.

Moving from the starting position, lift the bar by applying all the pressure on your legs. Ensure you move your knees out of the way during the lifting motion. Don’t forget to spread the weight evenly across your foot. Also, don’t lean on your toes or rest back on your heels as this can cause strain.

Step 3- Turn Over The Bar.

At this stage, you should use the momentum from pulling the bar off the ground to get it over your head. Next, continue pulling the bar from your hips to above your torso, using your elbows. As the bar rises above your torso, rapidly pull your feet inwards and drop toward a squat.

Step 4- Dropping and Catching The Bar Over Your Head.

As you reach the squat position, ensure your arms are completely extended outwards. As this step can be tricky, it is best to practice it without weights until you get the hang of it.

Once you have gotten the bar over your head, you must stabilize it. After you have extended your arms completely and feel that the bar is balanced over your head, stand up in an overhead squat setting. 

Step 5- Reaching and Standing Up.

Once you’re completely secured in the squat position, you can rise to a standing position. A point worth noting here is that rushing this step can cause instability regardless of the weights.

Barbell Snatch Common Mistakes to Avoid

the form of barbell snatch

With so many muscles being involved, most people can easily mess up the high bar squat. The proper technique will make it feel effortless but get one thing wrong, the bar will become your worst enemy. Have a look at the common mistakes that you must avoid from day one:

Cutting Your Pull Short

Although catching the barbell in a deep squat position is essential, if you get into the squat position without completely pulling the barbell, you might miss out on some extra power. To get as much vertical force as possible, it is essential to completely extend your knees, hips, and ankles as you are pulling up the barbell. Breaking the habit of dropping below the bar before you are completely perpendicular can be difficult.

Lifting Off with Your Arms

Even though you grip the barbell with your hands, people have a common misconception that the hands do the lifting. The real power to lift the barbell comes from your back and legs. Even some experienced lifters will try to just push the barbell up with their hands. Make sure that your hands are relaxed as you lift. Stiff arms can not only affect the speed, but they will alter the barbell's vertical path. The arms should be relaxed and should snap into place once you drop under the bar.

Hyperextended Lower Back

A hyperextended back will put too much strain on your lower body and back, resulting in back pain and can lead to injuries. 

Make sure you warm up properly before you try the barbell or any other advanced lifting exercise, for that matter.

Barbell Snatch Muscles Worked

The barbell snatch is quite a unique lifting exercise as it trains various muscles. Here are some muscles that work the hardest during the snatch.


Barbell Snatch Muscles Worked quadriceps

These are the muscles in front of your thigh. The quads help keep the knees stable, flex the hips, and maintain balance and posture. In addition, the work done by the Quads is essential to lift the barbell as it is the main muscle used in the squat part of the exercise.


Barbell Snatch Muscles Worked deltoids

These are the muscles on the top of your shoulders. The deltoids allow for easy arm movement and insulate the shoulder joint. They play an important role in balancing the bar and making sure to offer the necessary upper body strength for this workout.


Barbell Snatch Muscles Worked trapezius

This is the diamond-shaped, large muscle found on the back. It starts from where your skull ends and goes halfway down your back. The trapezius muscles help in better mobility in your arms, neck, and head, as well as help stabilize the spine.


Barbell Snatch Muscles Worked glutes

These are the 3 muscles that are present inside your buttocks. The main function of the glutes in the snatch is to be able to rotate and extend the hip and thigh. Therefore, the glutes are worked for almost the entirety of the snatch. It is no surprise as most of the strength training exercises involve extensive use of the glutes.

Benefits of the Barbell Snatch

The snatch is not only a showcase of strength, but it also shows your mental fitness, speed, and agility. Thus, making the snatch a part of your arsenal has several benefits. 

Better Weightlifting Performance

The sumo squat snatch is one of the two main weightlifting competitions. Improving this workout requires long-term practice. Over the span of perfecting it, your overall weightlifting performance will go up.

Enhanced Core Stability

The core is more than just for looks; it contains muscles that work together to support your body's motion. The snatch is a unique exercise that requires good core stability in the catch position. Being able to do the snatch properly will fulfill the potential your core beholds.

Improved Balance and Posture

A good snatch form can help you get a better posture, resulting in a tighter core, retracted shoulders, straightened back, and a lesser painful back. The catch in the overhead snatch requires a high amount of balance. Repetitive snatch practice will help you achieve balance and overhead strength like no other exercise. 

Barbell Snatch Variations

The renowned snatch has many kinds of variations. It does not limit the lifters to one kind of movement chain. The most common ones include:

Barbell Power Snatch

The barbell power snatch has a similar starting position. You are in a deep squat with a wide grip, and your knees are ahead of the bar. The key difference in the barbell power snatch is that as you pull the bar off with your legs and reach above your hips, you use your elbows to bring it to the highest position. Once you feel the bar has peaked, rapidly drop below it to get an overhead catch, and then it follows the standard method. 

Barbell Hang Snatch

In the barbell hang snatch, once you pull the weight to your hips, fold in your knees a little. In a rapid Then, lift the bar and come underneath it simultaneously, moving into the deep squat position. This shortens the total time, and the muscles work less for the snatch.

Snatch Grip Barbell Shrugs 

The snatch grip barbell shrug is quite different from the regular barbell snap. It mainly focuses on the shoulder muscles. The starting is the same as the regular snatch, where you grip the barbell with a wide gap. Similarly, you pull up the bar by applying pressure on your feet. Once you have the barbell next to the hips, lock out your arms and shrug your shoulders up to your ears.

Barbell Snatch Grip Deadlift

The snatch grip deadlift starts with a similar wide grip to the regular snatch. Then it transitions into more of a deadlift. Keep your arms locked in the wide grip as you lift the bar up. As you bring the bar towards your hips, push the bar out with your legs. Make sure that the bar stays close to your center of gravity as you bring up the bar. This variation will help you activate more of your back muscles and glutes.

Barbell Snatch Alternatives

The snatch workout can be challenging and tough. Here are a few alternatives you can try to get a similar workout effect.

Paused Overhead Squats

The paused overhead squat is an alternative to the Bulgarian squat that strengthens and tests your core. The paused overhead starts with the barbell set on your shoulders. From there, you raise it above your head, go into the deep squat position, and hold it off for 5-7 seconds. Once you are done, you return and repeat the squatting. Once the bar is over your head, ensure the arms are extended out and locked for the entirety of the rep.

Snatch Grip Push Press

Like the Paused overhead squats, the snatch grip push press starts with the barbell resting on your shoulders. From there, you stretch out your arms and raise the bar above your head. Again, this exercise trains the deltoids and focuses less on the glutes.

Barbell Snatch Safety and Precautions

The barbell is an advanced weightlifting technique, and not everyone can go out and try it without supervision. So, you must take care of the following things before you try them out.

  • It is recommended that people having back issues should not try the snatch as this exercise puts a large amount of strain on your lower back. 
  • Ensure you get a good warm-up before you attempt the snatch, as it will put a lot of stress on most of your muscles simultaneously.
  • You must always carry out basic gym precautions like using straps, pins, and belts. These make workouts easier through added support and comfort. 

Barbell Snatch FAQs

Who should do the barbell snatch?

The snatch is an advanced technique. But it can still be performed by many kinds of professionals, such as weight lifters, Cross Fitters, Athletes, and the general population under supervision.

Barbell Snatch sets and reps recommendations?

Different sets and reps are recommended for different purposes. For example, 4-6 sets of 5 reps are recommended for conditioning. 

How to program the Barbell Snatch?

The barbell is quite easy to set up. First, place the equipment on the stand and add weights on the side until it is ready to go. Then, get a good grip on the barbell, and go for it!


The barbell snatch is a highly effective and advanced weightlifting technique that will help you boost your core strength as well as work on all kinds of muscles. The more you practice, the better you will get at it and make it feel effortless. 

It is a great feat to conquer and add to your workout routine as it can fulfill that gap you might feel in your routine. This article has everything you might need to know about the barbell snatch and get it right. Now all that's left for you to do is to do your best!

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