03 Apr A Second Look At The Snatch Grip
A Second Look at the Snatch Grip
I’ve been there. You go to pull that big deadlift and you realize some jerkoff glued the plates to the ground. After you shrug it off and gather your pride you examine this problem more analytically. You conclude that either the weight was too heavy or you just weren’t strong enough to lift it.
But seriously I’ve been there with you. What were you missing? A little thing called starting strength- maybe you’ve heard of it. I know this because I’ve struggled with developing starting strength and have constantly had to find new ways of building greater levels of it.
There have been whole books written starting strength alone but I just want to focus on one technique that has improved my starting strength for the deadlift – the snatch grip deadlift.
I’ll give you some quick benefits of using this lift and then I’ll demonstrate it.
Increased Range of Motion
Competitive powerlifters usually limit range of motion (ROM) and the distance the bar has to travel in order to lift as much weight as possible. Examples of this would be doing sumo style deadlifts instead of conventional and arching up for the bench press. Check out my post Just Learn How to Bench to see what I mean.
That being said, increasing ROM in your training can make you stronger and more proficient in a lift. Think about it – if you have to practice pulling a deadlift through a greater ROM, how much stronger will you be when you only have to pull the weight through a ROM that you’re used to and you’re body type is most suited for.
The real wide grip in the snatch grip deadlift forces you to get closer to the ground and pull from there.
Improved Grip Strength
Don’t underestimate the importance of grip strength in the deadlift. Holding on to a bar with a few plates clanking around is hard enough without having to use a really wide hand placement. I’m sure I’m missing the biomechanical principle here but simply put – the closer your hands/arms are to your center of gravity the stronger you are.
Barring that it’s just plain hard to squeeze the bar when you place your hands in such a wide grip, having your hands away from the center of your body makes you have to work harder to keep the bar from slipping out of your hand.
Meaning – your grip strength gets stronger or you drop the weight.
Improved core stability
Because of the position the snatch grip puts you in (i.e. closer to the ground) and the way the load is held, your core is challenged more. Trust me, if you want a big deadlift you want a strong core.
Here’s my demonstration of the snatch grip deadlift:
(Don’t be intimidated by the amount of weight I’m using)
1. Keep the bar as close to your legs as possible so that the load is still close to your center of gravity.
2. Lock out your elbows, pretend like you’re squeezing a pen in between your scapulae, and slightly internally rotate your shoulders. It makes you stronger – because of terms like energy transfer which I threw in just now so you would think I’m smart.
3. Take your grip as wide as possible but remember the wider you have your hands the lower you got to drop your butt down to make sure you keep your back straight and your chest up.
Also remember that you need adequate hip and ankle mobility to get down into this position and perform it correctly. You should not load the bar until you can get into good position. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t have this but if you work on the flexibility specific to this position the snatch grip deadlift is a great tool to use.
One more thing
Chances are your grip will fail before you are incapable of lifting any more weight but that’s alright. You’re still lifting a load through an unfamiliar ROM building greater strength that will translate to a conventional deadlift.
If you want to use straps to lift heavier weight without worrying about your grip go ahead and do it, sometimes. To get the full benefit of this though I would strongly recommend doing it without straps as well to work on your grip.
Got any other simple techniques to help starting strength in the deadlift? Leave them in the comments.