The snatch grip deadlift is a fantastic posterior chain dominant movement that possesses benefits for every type of athlete. Often times, this exercise gets written off for only weightlifters, but every athlete can improve their performance by becoming stronger in snatch grip deadlifts.
Outside of improving snatch mechanics and positioning, the snatch grip deadlift also has carryover for improving grip strength and teaching patience off the floor when performing traditional deadlift. If you’ve never tried snatch grip deadlifts, then you’re in luck because this guide is designed to answer all of the questions you might have about this lift.
For the visual learners out there, check out the video below which covers the snatch grip deadlift how-to, benefits, mistakes, tips, and much more!
How-To Snatch Grip Deadlift
The snatch grip deadlift is best learned by breaking down the movement into specific steps.
Check out the written guide below to nail the stance, grip, setup, and movement sequencing needed for this lift!
Establish Your Stance
Before setting for the snatch grip deadlift, achieve a stance that is slightly wider than your conventional deadlift stance and angle the feet out, splay the toes, and grip the floor. Generally hip width, or just wider is a great stance starting point.
Get Your Grip
Take your traditional snatch grip and ensure the hands are making full contact with the barbell. If the outside of the hand is coming off the barbell, then you’re gripping too wide.
Pull the Bar Into You
Before lifting the weight go through a mental checklist and set the back bringing the hips to or just above parallel with the floor.
Try this mental checklist:
- Feet grip the floor.
- Full hand contact on the barbell.
- Hips are down and lower back is set.
- Contract the lats and pull the bar in.
- Big belly breath into the obliques.
Contract At the Top
At the top of the deadlift, keep the lats contracted and the shoulder back. Squeeze the glutes and brace the torso for the eccentric.
Control the Eccentric
Begin the lowering phase by shifting the hips backwards and keeping a relatively straight bar path, think about maintaining a strong hip hinge angle — avoid riding the bar down the thighs.
Once the bar gets to just above the knees and begin to pass them, then begin knee flexion and return to the starting position.
Snatch Grip Deadlift Benefits
The snatch grip deadlift holds a ton of benefits for every type of athlete. Whether you play a traditional sport or compete in strength sports, more than likely you can use this movement for multiple benefits.
1. Posterior Chain Growth
Since the hips are set lower in the snatch grip deadlift, the glutes and hamstrings will have to work exceptionally hard to produce strength and power. For this exercise, the hips are at a disadvantageous leverage, so the posterior will receive a ton of work in order to execute with perfect mechanics.
2. Patience Off the Floor
One of the most troublesome areas for regular deadlifts is having patience off the floor. Patience off the floor entails how you’re setting and contracting before physically lifting weight — a lot of it has to do with how you pull the slack out of the bar. One way to think about this concept is that it’s the first few moments from setting fir the lift to initiating power into the bar.
Basically, before that bar starts moving — can you maintain your strong body positioning, or do you experience technical breakdown?
In practice, an athlete’s hips rising too quickly is often a result of lacking patience off the floor. Since the snatch grip deadlift requires the hips to sit lower to be successful, then athletes can find carryover to their traditional deadlifts by reinforcing the cue of maintaining a strong hip angle before initiation of weight, even though their mechanical positioning may be different.
3. Lifting Postures
Whether you’re a recreational athlete or weightlifter, a strong hip hinge is an absolute must for compound movements and Olympic lifts. The snatch grip deadlift can be a great tool for improving lifting postures at specific positions.
Since this movement takes on more of a strength focus — and less of a power focus compared to a traditional snatch — then you can program pauses and really work on lifting postures throughout the entire movement. For example, if your torso is susceptible to flexion during the concentric or eccentric movement phases, then the snatch grip deadlift can be a tool to reinforce proper mechanics with tempos, pauses, and control with heavier weights that may not be possible to use with a regular snatch.
4. Grip Strength
On top of the hips having to work harder for successful snatch grip deadlift, the grip also needs to work incredibly hard. The snatch grip deadlift can be an incredible tool for building grip strength.
Below, we’ve listed a few great ways to improve grip strength with the snatch grip deadlift.
- Holds at the top (ex: 2-second holds).
- Tempo focused lifts (ex: Tempo – 4012).
Snatch Grip Deadlift Muscles Worked
Similar to the conventional deadlift, the snatch grip deadlift is going to work multiple muscles throughout the entirety of the movement. Below, we’ve listed some of the main muscles and muscles group worked with the snatch grip deadlift.
Note: Muscles and muscle groups will be more and less active throughout certain movement phases in this exercises.
Snatch Grip Deadlift Mistakes
The snatch grip deadlift, like most compound movements, comes with a list of common mistakes that beginners can sometimes be prone to making. We’ve included the two most common mistakes below.
1. Incorrect Grip Width
An incorrect grip width can be detrimental when trying to execute clean snatch grip deadlifts especially for reps. If you’re losing hand contact with the barbell, then it’s time to revisit your grip width.
Typically, an incorrect grip width will result in the pinky and fourth digit’s knuckles losing contact with the bar. This issue can be present during the first portion of the lift or at lockout.
2. Hips Rising Too Quickly
We referenced this earlier, but the hips rising too quickly can also be another mistake made with the snatch grip deadlift. If the hips are rising too quickly, then two things can occur 1) the lumbar will be taking more load and force than it needs to, and 2) you’re losing technical efficiency for executing clean reps.
Snatch Grip Deadlift Tips
1. Get Your Perfect Grip
If you’ve never performed a snatch or snatch variation, then finding your perfect grip can be confusing at times. An easy way to find your baseline snatch grip is by taking a dowel, broomstick, or other implement and performing the drill below.
- Grip the implement with the hands making full contact.
- Bring one arm directly up and think “bicep to ear”.
- Bring the other arm to a position that’s parallel to the floor and think, “create a 90 degree angle”.
- To get this perfectly right, have a coach or friend help with your 90 degree angle.
Generally, this will be the best starting point for lifters trying to find their perfect snatch grip width. Once you get set with this grip, you can then play with varying grip width slightly from what you just found depending on what feels most comfortable and accommodating for your success.
Author’s Note: I do not recommend using a barbell — we used one for the sake of this video due to lacking a dowel in the office!
2. Sequence the Hips Correctly
A great snatch grip deadlift is often the result of great hip sequencing. At the top of the movement, think about pushing the hips back while maintaining a strong set torso position. The barbell should not ramp down the legs, as this can cause a weight shift forward which can result in poor movement mechanics.
If you find that your bar path is a little out of line, then try setting two foam roller in-line with another at the very end of the barbell about 8-10″ apart. Ideally, the barbell should not make contact or knock down either of the foam rollers during both the concentric and eccentric movement phases.
The snatch grip deadlift is a great posterior training tool for every type of lifter and athlete. If you’re brand new to this movement, then start light and ease into the mechanics to ensure you’re moving correctly.
Once you nail the snatch grip deadlift’s mechanics, then you can begin to program this movement for various specific adaptations to accelerate your training.
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