The snatch is one of the most challenging and technical movements in weightlifting and CrossFit. Achieving mastery in the snatch takes time, dedication, and a highly detailed approach to address technical faults and weaknesses. Even experienced lifters constantly work to improve their technique and build their strength. One exercise that can greatly enhance a weightlifter’s snatch is the snatch balance.
The snatch balance is a dynamic drill that helps athletes strengthen the lockout phase of the snatch and improve their coordination and mobility in the receiving position. In this exercise, a weightlifter presses a loaded barbell from their shoulders to overhead while dropping into a deep squat. The receiving position of the snatch, which resembles an overhead squat, requires a great deal of mobility in the ankles, hips, and shoulder joints, as well as coordination and balance to maintain a stable position.
Many newer lifters often struggle in the receiving position, making it difficult to complete a successful snatch. The snatch balance offers multiple variations to help athletes work on the specific areas they need to improve to nail the receiving position. Whether you’re a beginner-level weightlifter or an experienced lifter, the snatch balance is a valuable exercise that can help you reach your full potential in the snatch.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of the snatch balance and provide a step-by-step guide on how to do it properly. We’ll also discuss the muscles worked by the snatch balance and provide some variations to challenge yourself as you progress in your training. Whether you’re looking to improve your snatch or simply want to add a new exercise to your workout routine, the snatch balance is a great place to start.
What Is Snatch Balance?
Snatch balance is a powerful compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups in your body, including your back, shoulders, legs, and core. It’s the perfect exercise to help you get ready for more advanced Olympic weightlifting exercises.
So, how do you do it? It’s simple! Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees to dip your body under the weighted barbell. Once you’ve unracked the barbell using a snatch grip (hands wider than shoulder-width apart), rest the barbell against your upper back muscles.
Then, drop your body into a squat stance and explosively kick your legs into a shoulder-width squat stance. Hold the barbell above your body in an overhead squat position with your elbows fully extended. Finally, stand up and place the barbell back on your shoulders to repeat the movement.
How to Do the Snatch Balance
Here are the steps on how to do snatch balances:
- Choose a weight that you can control for 2–5 sets of 1–3 repetitions.
- Set up the barbell outside of the squat rack, slightly lower than your shoulders.
- Step under the bar and place your hands on it with a wider-than-shoulder grip.
- Unrack the bar and take a couple of steps backward, keeping your posture tall with your feet hip-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.
- Distribute your weight evenly and engage your core, lats, and upper back.
- Bend your knees to lower your body a couple of inches, then explosively push your feet into the floor to straighten your legs and drive the barbell overhead.
- Catch the barbell overhead while dropping into the bottom of a squat, keeping your pelvis level and your upper body strong.
- Stand tall, finish the movement like an overhead squat, and lower the barbell in a controlled manner.
- Repeat the process for the desired number of repetitions.
Muscles Worked by the Snatch Balance
Snatch balance is a compound exercise that works several muscle groups in the body. It targets your traps, shoulders, and triceps, scapular stabilizers, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Your traps help stabilize and support the barbell in the overhead squat position, while your arms are driving weight/ overhead, making your shoulders and triceps active in the first phase of the exercise.
The scapular stabilizers and posterior shoulder muscles work together to improve shoulder stability during the ballistic overhead movement, while the quads, hamstrings, and glutes are used to absorb the load and extend the knees and hips during the drive phase. With the snatch balance, you’ll get a full-body workout that will help improve your overall strength, stability, and form for more advanced Olympic weightlifting exercises.
Snatch Balance Benefits
The snatch balance can very well prove to be your key to improved weightlifting, here are a few of the benefits imparted by this exercise:
The Ultimate Technique Enhancer
Practicing the snatch balance can significantly improve your weightlifting technique and footwork, leading to better execution of more complex snatch exercises like full snatch, power snatch, and muscle snatch.
A Powerhouse for Overhead Strength
The snatch balance is an excellent way to build strength in your upper and lower body, enabling you to lift heavier weights overhead with ease. Warm up with light weights before you increase the weight for a more challenging workout.
The Core Stabilizer
The snatch balance engages your core as you extend your arms in a lockout position and hinge your hips, knees, and ankles during the receiving position, making it an excellent exercise for enhancing core stability.
Confidence in Receiving Position
By practicing the snatch balance, you can develop the mobility, timing, and speed required to confidently drop into an overhead squat receiving position.
Faster Under the Barbell
The snatch balance can help you attain a stable and fixed position under a loaded barbell quickly, improving your speed and timing, two critical factors in successful weightlifting.
Overhead Strength and Stability at its Best
The snatch balance can help you increase your overhead lockout strength and improve your stability throughout the receiving positions of the snatch. It’s an excellent exercise to secure lifts overhead.
Snatch Balance Variations
Once you’ve mastered the basic snatch balance, you can try different variations to keep your workout challenging and interesting. Here are some snatch balance variations to consider:
1. The Drop Snatch
The drop snatch is a variation that eliminates the dip and push movements at the beginning of the snatch balance exercise. To perform this variation, simply drop into a squat position and receive the bar overhead at the bottom of the movement. This variation is a great way to test your mobility and speed in the receiving position.
2. The Heaving Snatch Balance
The heaving snatch balance is a variation where you maintain a shoulder-width stance throughout the entire exercise. This variation places a greater emphasis on stability and balance, making it a great addition to your workout routine.
3. The Dumbbell Snatch Balance
If you’re having trouble with the snatch balance or want to target any muscle asymmetries, you can try the dumbbell snatch balance variation. Instead of using a barbell, you’ll use a pair of dumbbells to perform the exercise. This variation can also be helpful for athletes who are new to weightlifting and want to build strength and technique.
4. The Pressing Snatch Balance
The pressing snatch balance is a variation that is great for beginners or athletes with less exposure to the snatch balance. It’s also an excellent dynamic mobility warm-up exercise. To perform this variation, start with the bar on your back, hands in a snatch-grip width, and feet in your squat stance. Squat down with control and press your arms overhead into lockout, focusing on timing and control rather than speed and footwork.
Snatch Balance Alternatives
When it comes to developing strength, control, and overall performance, the snatch balance is an excellent exercise. But for some athletes, it can get repetitive and boring, or they might not be at a level to perform it correctly. In these cases, it’s great to have some alternatives that offer similar benefits. Let’s take a look at three snatch balance alternatives:
1. Snatch Push Press
This exercise is a simplified version of the snatch balance, where the lifter focuses on driving the bar overhead using a snatch grip. If your goal is to target the shoulders, this is a great variation to include in your workout.
2. Tall Snatch
The tall snatch is similar to the snatch balance in that it minimizes the time a lifter has to get low and stable under the barbell. This makes it a challenging exercise that can be used to improve a lifter’s ability to properly receive heavy snatches.
3. Overhead Squat
The overhead squat is the foundation for the snatch balance and snatch, and if the overhead squat lacks proper strength, balance, mobility, and control, the lifter’s performance and confidence will be impacted. Incorporating overhead squats into your workout along with snatch push presses, snatch balances, and snatches can improve your confidence and ability to get under heavy snatches.
The snatch balance is a versatile and effective exercise that can be tailored to meet individual needs and goals. Whether you are a beginner looking to improve your mobility and control, or an experienced athlete looking to add some variety to your routine, the snatch balance and its variations offer a range of options to challenge and improve your performance.
With the drop snatch, heaving snatch balance, dumbbell snatch balance, and pressing snatch balance, you can target specific muscle groups and develop the skills needed for a successful snatch. By incorporating these variations into your training regimen, you can take your snatching abilities to the next level.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.