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Snatch Strategies for CrossFit Workouts and Competitions by Dave Castro - CrossFit Journal

In Olympic Lifts, Workouts

June 02, 2010

PDF Article

The squat snatch is the way to move the heaviest load, but what’s the fastest way to snatch lighter loads for multiple reps? Dave Castro outlines your best options for high-rep snatch workouts.

The traditional approach to the Oly lifts is to use these movements to develop explosive speed and power. They have certainly been proven effective for that purpose, and the best results are found with shorter sets. CrossFitters are certainly interested in explosive power and speed and will train low-rep Oly lifts. But true general physical preparedness (GPP) requires that we not pursue them to the exclusion of the other domains of fitness. Including high-rep snatch (and clean) workouts has a broader aim than training only power and speed.

Much attention has been paid to the technique of the snatch, and good technique is essential to maximizing the loads moved in any given set. If the barbell moves outside the base of support, the body’s positioning is sub-optimal and lifts are often missed. If the lifter doesn’t maximize full use of the hips, the lifts will not be successful. CrossFitters will do well to develop this technique as much as is reasonable for their 1RM efforts.

The same approach, though, is not necessarily true when dealing with light loads. These lifts can be successful even with inefficient technique, including keeping the hips high, pulling with the arms, not coming to full extension on the second pull and even swinging the barbell out. The question now is what is the best way to maximize the number of reps performed in a given time period or minimize the time to perform a fixed number of reps?

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16 Comments on “Snatch Strategies for CrossFit Workouts and Competitions”


wrote …

"After all, it comes down
to physics, right? Well, maybe not, or perhaps it’s more
accurate to say that maybe the physics are different at
light loads."

The Physics wouldn't change. However, if the pulling motion changes we would have a new set of mechanical levers to account for and in the case of lighter loads the body-weight of an athlete may be symmetrically "canceling-out" certain aspects of the lift that must be accounted for in the "traditional" snatch to complete the lift - this is still a Physics question, and seems intuitive, but we should still prove it before assuming anything more. One might suspect that this explains why we are observing athletes gravitating towards other forms of the lift with less mass, they can accomplish more work in less time due to symmetries of the movement with "lighter loads". The answer to a question about efficiency of movement will invoke Physics, at least in part.


wrote …

More articles like this please!

Being many miles away from other CrossFitters means sometimes not being aware of other methods of movement in the wider community.

Valuable stuff, Thanks Dave!


wrote …

Great read and supporting videos, well played!


wrote …

Thanks for this one! Just did my first high rep snatch WOD two days ago (Isabel), and am looking forward to many more. The article gives me a few things to consider in bringing my times down, that I may not have given much thought to. All the little things add up so much in these high powered workouts. Would love to see more articles with tips and tricks on how to get faster times with less effort...


wrote …

Great article more like it please.


wrote …

Excellent article brother. Really like how you posted it in conjunction with today's WOD. Would love to see more of that. Cannot thank Coach, Op Phoenix, the CF staff enough for the gear we're using out here in Afghanistan.

Semper Fi!


wrote …

Well spoken boss.

I would follow the crowd and say well placed and that follow ups like this have a home. Its all about options and the quote on the main site today says it well:

"We cannot advance without new experiments in living, but no wise man tries every day what he has proved wrong the day before."

Try all the one explained see what works for you and where, then keep the rest in your pocket for someone else who may need it later,


Dale Saran wrote …

Dave, Tony, Coach:

Very well done, all the way around. I'll give this a shake today when I get a chance to try "Randy."



wrote …

very helpful article considering todays wod.

its funny, i cant seem to find articles for techniques for high rep snatches in the journal of strength and conditioning research. or decent 1RM snatch technique for that matter.


wrote …

The timing of this article is perfect for everyone here at CrossFit VictriX. It will be on the blog with tomorrow's workout.


Frank DiMeo wrote …

Thanks again Dave!


wrote …


I agree w/ the basic premise: optimal technique for high reps at submaximal loads is different than for maximal loads. I would still urge people to spend time on the lifts and develop solid technique that allows them to pull a decent 1RM (such as bodyweight).

You'll get massive carryover from being able to lift heavy maximal weights with good technique and then modifying the technique to be as efficient as possible w/ submax weights. The same cannot be said for trying to somehow scale optimal high rep/submax technique up to maximal technique.

Not that I think it was the authors intent, but don't use this article as an excuse not to work on solid technique to snatch heavy weights.


wrote …

I agree with Peter, I know that this is a supposed no no. But I took a break from CrossFit and just did OLY for about 6 months. I would incorporate 1 CrossFit workout a week just to keep my hand in it. Anyways the results and carry over that came with me when I came back to CrossFit were better then anything else tried like SS or CFSB. Not that they are bad I am just simply stated what gave me the best bang for well my time so to speak.


replied to comment from Michael Miller

Michael it's a yes yes


wrote …

Thanks for the flash back. Very good information.

Today is Workout 12.2
Proceed through the sequence below completing as many reps as possible in 10 minutes of:

30 Snatch (M 75 / F 45 lbs)
30 Snatch (M 135 / F 75 lbs)
30 Snatch (M 165 / F 100 lbs)
Max Rep Snatch (M 210 / F 120 lbs)

This workout begins from the standing position. The athlete will complete all reps at the first weight before advancing to the next weight. Score is total reps completed in 10min

Let's roll!


wrote …

Um, what happened to Mechanics/Consistency/Intensity? CrossFit's own supple leopard Kelly Starrett teaches about "functional tolerance" in his seminars, which basically means just because you can do something a certain way doesn't mean you should. Pretty sure he also talks about Lon Kilgore's (PhD) concept about perfect biomechanics leading to less metabolic demand enabling greater work capacity whether in maximal effort or endurance demands.

Maybe I read it wrong but this sounds bizarre to me. Mechanics people!

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