With the continued rise of CrossFit, lifts like the snatch and clean and jerk have hit the mainstream. There’s no denying the benefits these total body exercises provide – more speed, explosiveness and power, to name just three. They also require full capacity in various fundamental shapes, including the hang, squat, front rack and overhead archetype. If an athlete is missing range of motion in any one of these positions, the snatch and clean and jerk act as diagnostic checks that highlight where mobility work should be concentrated.

The trouble is that for all the benefits of the Olympic lifts, they’re highly technical and can take years to perfect – Olympic lifting is its own sport after all. With proper instruction and the reinforcement of correct motor patterns, the injury rate is very low but if novices just go and grab a bar and get going the chance of getting hurt is much higher (as is the case for any complex physical skill).

Below are two stripped down variations that provide most of the benefits of the full clean and jerk and snatch without the steep learning curve. Start with a lighter weight than you think you can handle, have a friend (or better yet, a qualified coach) check your form, and make sure you include a thorough warmup/cooldown. Consider incorporating the Burgener Warmup with a PVC pipe, broom handle or maybe even a SUP paddle.

Photo: tfd-grove.co.uk

Photo: tfd-grove.co.uk

Dumbbell Hang Snatch

Advertisement

-Pick up a kettlebell or dumbbell in one hand. Your palm should face your body with your thumb forward. Make sure your feet are neutral (straight) and screw them into the ground to create torque in the hips.

-Squeeze your butt to set your trunk-to-pelvis position, and contract your abs.

-Perform a quarter squat (don’t let those knees cave in!) and as you quickly push your feet away and extend your legs out of the bottom position, squeeze your glutes hard

-Shrug your shoulders and use this and the leg drive to pull the weight upward in the same path as an upright row – but as fast as you can.

-As the weight approaches chest height, drop your body under it as you continue pulling your arm upward.

Advertisement

-Finish in a quarter squat position with your arm fully extended above your head and your arm locked out. If you’re already familiar with the snatch, you can go into a deeper squat. Your thumb should be facing backwards, indicating that the shoulder is in an externally rotated and stable position.

-Complete 10 reps on each side.

Check your form with 4x CrossFit Games champ Rich Froning (6:55).

 

Photo: girlsgonestrong.com

Photo: girlsgonestrong.com

Dumbbell Hang Clean to Push Press

-Pick up two dumbbells. Your palms should face your body with your thumbs forward. Make sure your feet are neutral (straight) and screw them into the ground to create torque in the hips.

-Squeeze your butt to set your trunk-to-pelvis position, and contract your abs.

-Perform a quarter squat and as you quickly push your feet away from the floor and extend your legs out of the bottom position, squeeze your glutes hard.

Advertisement

-Aggressively shrug your shoulders and as the dumbbells come up, drop your body down into a quarter or half squat.

Dumbbell Push Press

Photo: dc-training.net

-At the same time, use the momentum created by the shoulder shrug and leg drive to catch the dumbbells in the front rack position – upper arms parallel to the floor, elbows bent and the dumbbells positioned over the shoulder. Your palms should still be facing your body and thumbs forward.

-Keeping your elbows and chest up, initiate another quarter squat and then drive up with the legs.

-As you do so, use the momentum to press the dumbbells over your head. Slowly lower the weights to the starting position.

-Complete 10 reps.

Check your form with this video

Newsletter

Only the best. We promise.

Contribute

Join our community of contributors.

Apply