I’ve been Crossfit training for a year and a half and up until 1 week ago I would literally shake in my boots if the overhead squat was mentioned – let alone the Snatch. So many things terrified me about it – throwing a loaded barbell over your head and then squatting with it is scary right?! Whenever I tried – with just a 15kg bar I would loose it – the bar would go one way and I would go the other, so then I just stopped trying, Id stay at 15kg and not push it. This was wise – first things first – don’t EVER load up a bar with bad technique.
As my numbers went up and I was jerking 40+kg I started to realise that I did actually have pretty decent upper body strength and so I finally decided to face my fear and ‘fix’ my Snatch – which also meant fixing my overhead squat. My results and progress have happened quickly – really quickly and I’m delighted. I cant wait to see where I’ll be at in another 4 weeks. I literally went from (badly) snatching 15kg to snatching 30kg at speed.
Im going to briefly take you through what I have been doing. First I must stress – I’ve been weightlifting and training at Crossfit for a year and a half, I didn’t build additional strength in these 4 weeks I just started fixing my technique and mobility. Also – I didn’t do this alone, far from it, I have taken the advice of Crossfit coaches, gotten myself an Olympic Lifting personal trainer and attended the Catalyst Olympic Lifting Course (yes all in 4 weeks!)
So – disclaimers complete, here’s some of what I’ve been doing:
Mobility – 3 times a week
Thoracic spine, scap and shoulder mobility are imperative for a decent overhead squat. The T Spine Smash Extension with overhead bias using a Triggerpoint foam roller is amazing and really loosens everything up. Ive also been ‘organising my scap’ using a Lacrosse ball.
I HIGHLY recommend purchasing Kelly Starrett’s Becoming a Supple Leopard – its the mobility ‘bible! Also check out his You Tube channel!
Accessory Work – 3 times a week – the goal here is to isolate and strengthen the smaller muscles e.g Rotator Cuff
3 sets of 12 Band Face Pulls
3 sets of 12 Band Rotator Pulls
3 sets of 12 Dumbbell Pullover at 5kg (keep it light and controlled)
1 minute bar hangs
3 sets of 5 Scap push ups
Drills – Im not going to link videos to these as I dont recommend doing them without a qualified Coach with you. Please feel free to take these drills to your coach and ask for help with them though!
Drop Snatch (some people call this Snatch Balance) – you should be able to drop snatch 110% of your Snatch 1RM
High Hang Snatch
Overhead Squat (3 second pause at the bottom)
TECHNIQUE – If you are serious about Olympic Lifting I highly recommend getting yourself a Personal Trainer for a few weeks. This is what I did, as Im not a qualified Olympic Lifting Coach Im not going to advise on technique however I will note the main things Ive learned from my time with my PT so far:
When approaching the bar to set for your first position, look down and ensure that you can see just the tip of your toes on the far side – often people stand too close to the bar and then need to ‘curve’ it round their legs on the first pull.
To find your correct Snatch grip bend over at the waist and move your hands out – it will feel wide and weird – get used to it!
ALWAYS use a hook grip
Pause at the bottom of the snatch in the overhead position – get comfortable down there, you should be able to hold it for 3 seconds at the bottom.
Dont bottle it – don’t over think it, in the words of Nike – just do it!
If your having problems dropping under the bar – stop – practice overhead squats and drop snatch’s until it is second nature to drop under the bar.
Your snatch with a 15kg bar should look exactly the same as your snatch with a loaded bar (easier said than done)
And that’s it for now – I’ll keep you up to date with my progress! My Oly Coach reckons I have a 40kg Snatch in me just waiting to get out, personally I’m just getting up the courage to move to the green plates (the 10’s!!)