On Monday we performed the olympic lift: Snatch. For some, this is one of a favorite day of the week and for others, it’s one to avoid. Weightlifting plays a fairly large part in our CrossFit programming and for good reason! The benefits are numerous and all work together to make you a better athlete. In CrossFit we are training Ten Physical Skills that make up fitness, we don’t just program to make you stronger, or faster or to be able to run further and longer. Its all part of it, but we want more. We want you to be ready for any challenge that you may encounter or want to tackle. Snatching is a fantastic tool to target some pretty key aspects of your fitness. So, don’t worry, when “Snatch Day” comes we won’t make you don a spandex singlet but we will have you working within your abilities, and snatching that barbell!
I found a great article that smartly outlines the “undeniable” benefits of the Snatch from Barbend (Source: https://barbend.com/undeniable-benefits-snatch/)
So if you have ever wondered why the hell we are doing this, take a few minutes and read the following (I’ve left out a few items – cut for time)
Put simply, proprioception is an awareness of where your body is situated in space. It’s a big deal: not only does better proprioception reduce the risk of injuries, including minor injuries like ankle sprains, there’s evidence that it can improve brain function.
One German study, for instance, found that after just two sessions of balance training to improve proprioception, its subjects started developing more gray brain matter, which is linked to improved memory, attention span, and learning abilities.
We’ve said it before: core stability is more important than core flexion, and flexion is all you learn if you just practice sit-ups and crunches. But the more stable the core is, the more efficient you are and the more you can prevent force leakage during your movements.
It also means you’ll be better at resisting force and flexion, so snatch proficiency – contrary to popular belief – can reduce your risk of back injuries.
The snatch happens fast. The lifter has only the briefest of moments to pull him or herself under the bar while jumping under it to catch it before it starts accelerating to the floor. Perhaps because nothing makes the body learn a skill like the risk of a heavy weight dropping on its head, weightlifting teaches lightning-fast reactive times, which is a skill that transfers to everything from football to boxing.
Why is force so important? It’s a pretty complicated topic in physics, but a heightened ability to produce force means an athlete is able to move a weight faster, more efficiently, and in a more coordinated manner. That translates to less fatigue during exercise and a lot more power.
Because athletes that perform snatches can generate high rates of force development, the movement also translates to higher rates of acceleration, which is why Olympic weightlifting is often included in training programs for sprinters.
The ability to decelerate, change direction, and re-accelerate is vital in most sports, and the snatch can help. It develops agility and both linear and multi-directional speed, which means that despite the heavy weights, it produces an athlete who is incredibly light on his or her feet.
Because of all these benefits, particularly the way it requires athletes to generate large amounts of power at high velocities, the snatch is a staple for many sports that require powerful, full-body movements like throwing, sprinting, running and jumping.
It’s worth pointing out that given the complexity of the movement and the fact that many injuries tend to occur during the catching portion, some coaches recommend athletes just focus on the pulling portion of the lift.
As far as building muscle and losing fat goes, there’s a pretty stark difference between Olympic weightlifters and powerlifters. Because the move requires so much speed and energy expenditure, the snatch can seriously jack up the metabolism and burn a lot of fat.
Because it uses so many large muscle groups, it’s an efficient exercise for providing a full-body strength workout. That means it can provide stimulus for hypertrophy, too. The hypertrophy component is a little dependent on training styles, but even weightlifters who train in the lowest of reps have serious slabs of muscle on their back and legs.
As a dynamite exercise for improving the strength, function and coordination of the posterior chain, the snatch can help you attain the posture of a military soldier: straight back, shoulders retracted, tight core, and much, much, much better back health.
Due to its overhead nature, some folks have a misconception that the snatch primarily a pressing exercise, but it’s all about pulling the bar. The lift requires pulling the bar into your body hard, with straight arms which engages the lats, and once the bar is overhead it becomes an excellent isometric exercise for the lats. So, there’s carryover from the snatch to all pulling exercises, including the deadlift.
The snatch is the ultimate test of mobility. It challenges the range of motion of almost every body part, but in particular the ankles, shoulders, and hips, more than perhaps any other exercise. A good squat and a good strict press does not necessarily translate into the perfect snatch, but a good snatch means you’ve reached some of the highest peaks of mobility. Train for the snatch, and many other movements will fall into place.