Exercise Spotlight: Snatch Step

Get Explosive and Athletic by taking the Power Snatch to a new Level

When the goal in the weight room transcends just plain “getting strong and muscular”, it’s worthwhile for an experienced individual to add some movements that may be a bit more ‘specialized’ to the mix.  Often, we shy away from the idea, thinking that the big 3 or movements like them are going to be the ‘one-stop shop’ to every goal under the sun, for every lifter, no matter where they are in their journey.

Once we develop a skill over an extended period of time, however, the amount of returns we’ll receive from them will not be the same as when the movement in question is brand new to us. I’m sure we already knew that. All of this is to say that thinking outside the box now and again can be a real benefit to our program, and quite the eye opener to show that we may not be as athletic as we think.

Enter the Snatch Step

Great move, but many just aren’t this mobile.

A barbell snatch provides a number of benefits in and of itself, but many people don’t have the mobility or speed to do a full barbell overhead squat. The result is either frustration from plenty of missed reps, or an awkward, even dangerous squat lacking in requisite range of motion. That’s why I like the snatch step as a variation. It’s as athletic as you can get, but takes many limitations into consideration. First, there’s no full snatch component to this; that means a lifter who’s capable of doing a muscle snatch or a power snatch (both requiring no overhead squat) is good to go for trying this. Second, this doesn’t requite a pull from the floor – so that aspect of potential immobility is also removed from the picture. Finally, this takes the direction of force away from being simply a vertical pulling movement. “Attacking” a box adds a new plane of direction into the mix, while also further challenging timing, coordination and balance.

The best part about it is, with practice, most people who try can get the hang of this.

To modify this movement, it’s also perfectly fine to perform this with two dumbbells, or even a single dumbbell. This accommodates lifters who have shoulder issues or mobility restrictions for a classic barbell snatch finish position.  With all of the above said, it’s important to know that at its core, this is still a movement I consider an intermediate lift. Because of all of the previously mentioned fitness attributes this simultaneously attacks, it’s a movement that shouldn’t be used by beginners. Have a solid background in strength training if you want to give this a go.

The Snatch Step: Coaching Cues

  • Set up a flat bench or box (no higher than knee height) and stand 3 feet away from it, with a unloaded or lightly loaded barbell held in wide snatch hand position. The feet should be hip width apart.
  • Start with a “load phase”, meaning a miniature squat that allows the weight to hang toward knee level (but still above it).
  • Explode upward by extending the body and pulling high with the elbows. At the same time, lunge forward as you raise the l0ading leg toward the box.
  • As the bar gets over the head, drive the head and chest through the window. Time this with the instant your foot lands on the box.
  • Hold position for a 1 second count. Your heel should be off the ground on the trailing leg.
  • Return to the original start position. Avoid swinging the weight down to the bottom position. Keep it close.
  • Focus on sets of 3-5 reps per leg. If the reps slow down significantly during your set, lower the rep range or reduce the load.

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