Shrugged Collective

How do you get under the bar faster when snatching? – N&P


How can you get under the barbell faster when snatching?

There are several things you can do.

First thing’s first, you have to work on it more often. If you are at all uncomfortable with getting under the barbell, especially when things get heavy, then you need more reps. With additional practice, pulling under the bar will start to become second nature.

Do full squat snatches often to get better at doing full squat snatches!

Beyond practice, there are some other specific considerations for those who might be struggling with getting under.

Do you lack mobility?

If you cannot get into a deep, comfortable overhead squat with an empty barbell then you have a mobility problem. It could be your shoulders, but more than likely it’s the ankles or thoracic spine.

If you are rounded over at all then it will be very hard to catch anything overhead in a proper position. Your performance will always be capped by the particular problem.

The same is true for the ankle. Many athlete’s stretch their shoulders all the time to improve the snatch, but they forget that their forward pitch and poor catching position can be easily traced back down to their vertical shin and stiff ankle.

Remember, getting “stronger overhead” will not allow you to get around a mobility limitation!

Make sure your upper back can extend flat during your pulls, and that your shoulder joints can flex enough to allow the barbell to travel straight overhead.

If you keep working position than you will improve, and you’ll be able to lift more weight because of it. Once you’re there you can work some more specific assistance movements to improve speed under the bar.

Work movements that help you with pulling under.

Many people think that once the barbell leaves your thighs a miracle happens and it arrives overhead. But this isn’t true.  If you want to snatch well then you have to actively, powerfully shrug your shoulders. You have to pull yourself underneath the barbell, keeping the load very close.

This is why the muscle snatch is an excellent assistance exercise. Here, you mimic this same motion, which teaches you how to pull under. With time and practice on the full squat snatch you can get better, and then quicker.

You can also do snatches from the power position, or tall snatches. Here you initiate the lift with the arms, pulling under very quickly…because you have to. The power position pull is also a particularly good way to improve time and the transient from floor to this pulling under phase.

You need to master pulling under. If you’re afraid to do that with heavy weights, or if you just don’t know how, then you’ll always miss lifts that shoulder otherwise be routine and easy.

Finally, don’t practice failure!

How heavy should you lift? That answer is simple. Use the heaviest load that you can lift with perfect form. If you keep missing heavy attempts over and over because you’re not quite nailing the movement, then you will only cement these bad habits into place.

Practice and refine your pull, all the way from the ground to overhead. In time your skill will build and you’ll be able to handle heavier loads with confidence.

Now, go get under.

Happy lifting!


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Chris Moore is a writer, recovering meathead, fledgling raconteur and rabid imbiber. He's also cohost and resident potty mouth on Barbell Shrugged, a weekly podcast devoted to Crossfit, strength, fitness and all things brash. His experience is drawn from over twenty-years spent training for and competing in American Football, Powerlifting, a bit of strongman and a dash of mixed martial arts. Also, it's possible that he's had one too many cups of coffee. A caffeine fever is a hell of a thing, you know?


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