Today’s workout is the Snatch

There’s few things more primal than finding a heavy object and heaving it from the ground to overhead in one explosive movement.

But that’s not how I suggest approaching this WOD.  Focus on technical proficiency and use a load appropriate to your skill level even if it is only a broomstick.

Back in the 1990’s as a Judo coach I would attend various coaching conferences and back then everyone was buzzing about the efficacy of training the Olympic Lifts and the athletic carry over derived from practicing these movements.  Studies showed that Olympic Lifters were faster out of the starting blocks and over the first 50 metres than Olympic Sprinters, that they had better vertical jumps than Olympic basketball players.

But no one outside elite athletes were doing these lifts.  We knew they worked but where to find a coach to teach you how?  Where to find a gym that allowed them?  And no one sold bumper plates back then.

When I discovered CrossFit in 2005 I was skeptical but the fact that it included Olympic Lifts, which I knew to be one of the hallmarks of a great athletic training program, convinced me to give it a try.

Of the Olympic Lifts most beginners hate the snatch the most.  They hate it because it is difficult.  As frustrating as it is to learn, it is well worth your time.  The athletic payoff is unparalleled.

So let’s take a look at the Snatch and how it relates to the 10 General Physical Skills

1) Cardio Vascular Respiratory Endurance – Nope.  Unless you are hitting HeroWOD Randy (75 snatches for time) snatch practice will not work your cardio.

2) Stamina – To a lesser degree, yes.  With warm up sets and 7 heavy working sets you will begin to feel some muscular fatigue.

3) Strength – Yes.  Maybe not the type of strength required for a big deadlift or back squat but we’re moving loads well in excess of the old bicep curl and pec deck.

4) Flexibility – and then some!  Studies have found that next to gymnasts Olympic Lifters are the most flexible Olympic athletes.

5) Speed – Absolutely.  Getting under that bar requires explosive acceleration.

6) Power – There is no lift more powerful than the snatch.  Power is measured as Force x Distance/Time.  In the snatch you are lifting a max load (heavy) from ground to overhead (long distance) in one explosive burst (fast).  The snatch is the very definition of power!

7) Coordination – as great as this lift is it drives beginners nuts because it requires so much full body coordination to perform it correctly: legs, hips, arms, bar – everything must move in concert.

8)  Accuracy – a successful snatch requires precision similar to that of a golf swing.  Have you ever tried to land a heavy snatch with the bar a centimetre too far forward?  Or backward?  Not going to happen.  It is a lift of epic fails.  When you watch slow motion video overlays of Olympic Lifters it is astounding how their every lift looks almost precisely the same.  For the snatch this is essential!

9) Agility – The lift begins with the bar traveling up, then you change direction and quickly pull yourself underneath only to stand up again with the bar overhead.  Your hips are closed at the start, open to full extension, close as you pull under the bar and then open again to stand.  That’s open, close, open in the space of a second.  Agility and then some!

10) Balance – YES!  Look at the landing position with all that weight balanced overhead.  It is like walking a tightrope.

This is why the snatch is such a great athletic movement.  It requires development of 9 of the 10 general physical skills.  It is why Olympic Lifters, like gymnasts, are very successful transitioning to other sports.  They have built through their training a very solid athletic base.  And we as CrossFitters can too!

The Snatch: Learn to love it:)