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116. The Snatch

116. The Snatch

In today’s episode two of the best break down the Snatch.  Todd and Fern discuss the points of performance, progressions, common faults, cues they have used, and much more. They also dive into the importance of the movement and how everyone can and should be doing it, even if it’s just with a PVC pipe. This is something whereby challenges that athletes face with shoulder mobility or depth can not be fixed overnight, so it’s important to remember the long game with your athletes. 

 
We’ve listened to you guys have asked for. So we’ll be coming at you guys will be more movements episode and lots more spot the faults video on the gram.

Timestamps: 

(4:51) The importance of PVC pipe
(7:33) When an athlete can’t Overhead Squat 
(10:41) Progression
(13:47) Muscle Snatch
(15:42) Wide Grips
(18:26) Struggle overhead
(22:08) Make sure to actually do the movement to get better at it. 

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The Push Press.mp4 transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

The Push Press.mp4 was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2019.

Fern:
All right, everybody, welcome back to the best out of their day. We are absent of Jay Ackerman today. It is just Ferne and Todd. Jay still bumbling around in Boulder, Colorado, trying to figure his life out. But today, we’re going to talk a little bit about coaching. So we asked the world what they wanted more of. And a lot of what you guys told us was you wanted more episodes on movement, on how to coach them, more spot the fault videos on Instagram. So that is what we are dialing up for you guys today. And today, we’re going to deep dive into the snatch and I and Todd. Now we’re wrapping a little bit before we started here because there’s some, like, I don’t know, confusing conversation . I was having a bit of an Internet debate the other day talk with a guy who was saying that. You know, nobody should be teaching the snatch in their gym. And this just brought up so many questions in my mind and I just like just confusing to me in general. So I guess my first question is, do you teach this snatch to everybody in your gym?

Todd:
Yeah, everybod that comes through the door gets to learn, gets to learn the snatch. In fact, in my opinion, I think it’s an easier movement to teach than even like a clean. Really? It’s like you’re taking the bar from the ground, you’re jumping it overhead. There’s no receiving position. There’s no awkward rack position. It’s literally take it from the ground and jump it overhead. So, yeah, everybody everybody learns and does the snatch quite frequently.

Fern:
And I mean, we could probably just like just see the statement and then we could end the show. But I think we should elaborate on a little bit. Like there’s this weird assumption that when we use the word snatch, that somehow we’ll call it relatively significant load is involved. Right. So. A that’s just incorrect. I would just bet would just be like meaning like that we like we only taught people how to 1 rep max deadlift. Right. And I think I think there’s something to be said for a 72 year old who can do a power snatch or a full snatch with a PDV pipe like forget the discussion about load.

Fern:
If they can physically jump and get overhead and get into something that resembles a squat with the bar relatively close to the front a plan. I know quite a bit about this 72 year old’s ability to interact with their environment. I know about their coordination, accuracy, agility. And I think that is what is overlooked here, is that we’re not saying that everybody should snatch heavy weight. I think we can all agree that that is probably not gonna happen for quite a few people. What we’re saying is that there’s a ton of value to be learned in teaching the snatch and teaching it intelligently.

Todd:
Yeah, I think one of neat things about the snatch is it’s self-correcting. If somebody shouldn’t be snatching one hundred thirty five pounds, it’ll work out well because they physically won’t be able to do that. Like I’ve never seen somebody, you know, myself included. I probably have no business snatching 250 pounds. Lucky for me, the bar doesn’t get over my head at that level. Like it’s just not a thing. So.

Fern:
It turns into snatch deadlift day .

Todd:
Yeah, exactly. So it just doesn’t doesn’t like you’re not able to do the things that you typically shouldn’t do and if you are quote unquote able to do it. But now the movement that you are doing to get the bar of your head no longer even remotely resembles what a snatch should be. Then once again, you are not snatching, you are doing something else, and you shouldn’t be doing that either. Me as a coach or anybody else as a coach. It’s their job to not allow that athlete to attempt whatever movement they have just created to try to get that loading over their head.

Fern:
Yeah. Again, I think the argument is always, you know, people shouldn’t come in your gym and be snatching this heavy weight, to which my response is always correct.

Todd:
Yes, I completely agree

Fern:
Nobody’s nobody’s saying that. That is not at all what we’re saying. You know, and I think I think between just the two of us, between you and I. And then we’ll throw somebody like Coach B in the mix. I’m not sure there is like a special person that we could think of that we have not taught us not to at some point.

Todd:
Yeah, unless unless there is a physical limitation that prevents them from being able to do the action of the movement. Everybody else still does it. And be honest with you, I’ve had a couple athletes that physically don’t have the ability to overhead squat any sort of loading, but they still snatch with the PVC. pipe as we’re warming it up. And then if it you know, if they’re in class for that workout and it it requires a snatch on that scenario because they can’t do any load. They continue to use the PVC pipe the workout. Or maybe we modify the movement to a dumbbell snatch or potentially clean in that scenario or something like that. But otherwise, everybody does it.

Fern:
Well, I think what you brought up there is an interesting point, which I’m I’m not sure most gyms do. I know that we do. And I know you guys do, which is. If we’re doing the snatch, I can safely tell you that 100 percent of the time that we program that movement. The first thing that gets broken out is the PVC pipe.

Todd:
We will sometimes skip the PVC and go directly to a barbell. Actually, I’d probably say that more often than not we go that route, but we’ve got fifteen pound training bars. We’ve got twenty two pound. I don’t know what they call kids bars or whatever it is. Then we’ve got thirty five pound bars and forty five pound bars and so we find the the the bar that’s appropriate for them. Actually we’ve got a step between them. The PVC pipe and the 15 pound training bar, we’ve got some galvanized bars that essentially look like PVC pipes, but they’re a couple pounds so we can use some of those as well. And so when we jump in to class for snatching and typically we’ll grab a barbell. So if you have the ability to grab a hundred or a forty five pound barbell, you grab that. If you’ve got a thirty five, that’s fine. All the way down to there are some people in that scenario that we’ll be using the PVC pipe.

Fern:
So yeah I think the important pieces there A. We have to, you know, kind of effectively get people warmed up and we have to understand something complex like the snatch does require a little bit more detail on the front end. You know, it’s for those for those people that argue that not everybody should do the snatches. I would even agree to some extent. There will be people that will never snatch like lives and people that just like just severely restricted or they will never do an overhead squat, maybe. But the value in the snatch is that it does simultaneously demand and challenge the 10 general physical skills that we’re talking about. Right. So, OK, maybe you’re never going to snatch one. Thirty five. That’s fine. I would argue that snatching one thirty five puts you in a very small percentage of the human population, just being able to snatch one. Thirty five. Right. So yeah. People are not able to do that. But the ability to work on the overhead mobility, the hip mobility work on the timing of the hands and the feet developing coordination like those all have significant carry over to many, many other things that we are going to do in Crossfit,. And that will very likely be demanded of people in real life. So there’s tremendous value there. But the question is, how do I do that safely? How do I, as a coach, go about teaching something incredibly complex to the snatch? Because Bobby has terrible overhead position. And Johnny can’t overhead squat. How do you solve that problem in your gym?

Todd:
So there’s a few different routes that will go as far as teaching the snatch goes, and this is one of the movement that there’s a handful of different progressions out there and we kind of vary the progression that we use one. Sometimes it’s coach dependent. Sometimes it’s day dependent because we want people to get exposure to different different techniques and different ways to learn this movement, to see if there’s something that helps click for them a little bit better. But there’s one way to do it that’s you know, there’s ways to do it where we’re taking the bar from the ground, starting from the bottom up. There’s other ways to do it from the top down. So something similar to a Burgner warm up. You start with like a jump and shrug. Then the scarecrow then and tall muscle snatch. And then we’ve got we’re working on overhead squats there. And then we start to move hang positions, can go through those same positions and then work it down towards the ground. Most of the time what I find is whether I’m working from the top down or the bottom up, most of my athletes can power snatch, right?

Todd:
They can take the bar jump at over their head. That’s a pretty simple movement to do, even with limitations in mobility or flexibility or whatever you want to call it. People have the ability to jump a bar with a wide grip over their head.

Todd:
Now, one of the things that we do to help work our way towards an overhead squat is we will teach it in a way to where it’s like we have our athletes jump the bar over their head into a power snatch position. We’ll pause there for a second and then I’ll cue them to squat and at which point they’ll add the squat. And slowly but surely, we will take away the pause and work it towards, you know, the full squat snatch. So that gets people warmed up getting to that overhead position and helps them start to find that overhead squat.

Todd:
And it also gives us the ability to limit somebodies depth if they don’t have the ability to get there safely or effectively with the load in hand. Now, like we’ve already talked about, I find that pretty much everybody can overhead squat a PVCs Pipe that allows for the bar to move out of the frontal playing that allows for your lack of flexibility not to be an issue and you just still practice the movement.

Fern:
And I. What’s important about that is that there’s I think people think that’s easy, right? Like overhead squatting with a PVC. pipe. You and I both know we’ve we’ve we’ve been participants in circles.

Fern:
We’ve taught circles of the overhead, squat and snatch. That is that can be challenging if done correctly. And because I mean, if we think about that athlete who struggles in positions, simply being inefficient makes everything harder. Right. So if they already have to work harder to achieve the same positions. That alone makes it hard. Then maybe we have them move a little bit faster. I would argue there’s not enough people in affiliate’s who are doing snatch workouts or overhead squats with a PVC pipe in the workout because that alone is challenging enough for them and allows them to add intensity to the equation safely. Like you said, like you. It’s pretty hard to get injured moving a PDV pipe. It allows for lots of error while still being able to work on the skill.

Fern:
The the second thing, is like. So what’s progression? So you said you use progressions like it doesn’t really matter. And then what? So let’s say somebody is restricted. Is your go to a power snatch. You’re just like, we’re just gonna power snatch. We’re not going to go below parallel. We’re just going to jump it overhead and catch it.

Todd:
Will it kind of depends on the day, the goal of the workout, that kind of stuff. If it’s a workout where we’re lifting heavy into heavy day work, snatch for a heavy day, then we’ll probably limit the range of motion and allow them to lift heavier and to do a power snatch or, you know, not get to depth there. If it’s a day where, say, it’s a lighter weight in the workout and the goal is to squat snatch, that’s typically a day that we will demand more of the range of motion. And so in that scenario, then we’ll limit the load. So we’ll give up and load what we’re looking for in range motion on a heavy day. We’ll give up in range of motion, the range of motion because we’re looking for more low.

Fern:
What are some of the different options that people could play around with on like so front like for instance like tomorrow? The workout we have programmed is a snatch complex, so it’s one snatch and then two overhead squats. What would you do for some of these people that are kind of like we’ll call them. They’re not so great movers in your gym. Like, what are some what are some things that you would be prepared for? For those individuals and they walk in on that day that the people that are unlikely to come because we don’t have good options for them. Right. These are all people that don’t show up on those days because they know that we are not prepared. And I don’t mean me and you, but in a lot of gyms.

Todd:
Yeah, I think we do. We’ve created an environment where people know, regardless of what the workout is, they’re gonna go through so much of a warm up on a day like that. They just hold the PVC pipe or a barbell and going through progressions and practicing the movements are going to make them feel like they’ve got to work out as far as that’s concerned. If that was our day and so it was a snatch complex and the goal was a heavy day. This is probably one of those where. I’m going to look for a load that allows them to accomplish the task. And if it ends up to where they just can’t lift any sort of a significant load in that day, potentially what I would do would be add a few more reps to each piece. So maybe instead of one snatch in two overhead squats, it ends up being two snatches, three or four overhead squats, because I know the weight is light enough to where the snatch necessarily isn’t a huge limiting factor, but what they’re working on is their overhead squat.

Todd:
And so now we’ve got a lighter load which they can do it, but they get more time under tension and more opportunity to practice and simply practicing and fighting for positions. And our coaches cueing them through those overhead squats are going to allow them to move a little bit better, increase their flexibility and set them up for success moving forward and make their position a little bit better.

Fern:
No, that’s cool, and something else we’ve played around with in some of those days is let’s just say you have somebody severely restricted like they they can’t get even into a quarter of something that looks like a snatch or an overhead squat. The muscle snatches a really, really valuable movement. Right. So if they can just get into a good starting position, you know, push through that kind of first and second pull and then just work on some upper body strength and turn over at the top like that’s gonna be value valuable for those people. And now we’ve removed essentially like all of the second half of that movement, which is like anything that resembles a squat that’s going to really, really put them in a less than ideal position for that. So like eat. And I don’t know if any of the listeners have ever done like, you know, heavy muscle snatchers, like try to find a one rep. Might some muscle snatch like that is difficult. Like that is a really, really tough movement. It’s a really, really tough movement. So keep that in your back pocket. If you’re coaching, it’s not like you can just do a muscle snatch and remove the squat portion out of it. But we’re still keeping the primary function of that, which is from the floor to overhead in one fluid movement.

Todd:
Would you turn that into it? Would you turn that into a triple then? Is that what you’re doing since there’s three reps of the other movement or what are you thinking there?

Fern:
I think maybe I think that would be athlete dependent. Right. So I think I would kind of do that one on the fly. I might start with some triples and then depending on like what kind of success the athlete was having there, I might say. All right, cool. So we got a heavy triple there. But primarily for muscle snaps, something like that. I’m probably just going to work on singles just because it’s a little awkward to reset and like string those. Yeah. If you will. But now if I was going to do triples, it would be more more like a weightlifting triple where like there’s a there is time to reset and not rest, but like they’re not touching goes if you will and have them reset, get ready. Maybe pull a third one and then just see what kind of weight we can get overhead for for a single maybe.

Fern:
One of the things I see a lot is the and I want to get your thoughts on it is these really wide grips. Everybody wants to go collar at a collar on the snatch, right? They have this crazy wide grip. What? I don’t I don’t know if you see that as frequently as I do, but B, what’s your thoughts on just wider is better?

Todd:
Oh, I see. I don’t know that I typically see that very much unless it’s an athlete that has, you know, super long arms, right? Because what I find is that the wider the hands go, the more demand it puts on the wrist. And so typically people that are super wide with their hands will complain more of know risk discomfort.

Todd:
And so we work on finding that happy, happy, happy medium there to where it’s you know, we’ve got to be wide enough that that provides the space and the shoulders and back for them to move to the range of motion that we’re looking for, but not so wide that one, the risk or are uncomfortable or two, the bar doesn’t end up getting to the position that we needed to get into. So I don’t think that’s not something that people. Look for, try to do unless that’s really their only option What I find with my athletes.

Fern:
I typically see it and people would have a little bit of shoulder restriction or assume they have more shoulder restriction than they actually do. They just want this really, really wide grip. And if you’re here, it’s kind of like a little bit of a telltale sign that somebody has way too wide of a grip. If they’re in the overhead position and the distance between their head and the barbell is like two inches, that is an unrealistically wide grip. And you see this a lot with PVC pipe. So they have this crazy wide grip with their hands like almost and not even on the PDC pipe anymore. And what it looks like is they’re almost just holding their hands out to the side. And these are also the people that complain of wrist pain. They’re also generally the people who can start to have some shoulder issues because it usually looks like some sort of internally rotated shoulder. So the first thing I look at is before we add any range of motion is like making sure that we have an appropriate grip with. And if we’re just going to go off of basic geometry, I want something that at least somewhat resembles an equilateral triangle. And if you’re going as wide as you possibly can color a color, that’s probably not what that looks like. You’re probably the person that complains of risk pain. So, you know, like if you’re if you have somebody that struggles overhead, what’s your priority? Todd, as far as like is it you know, is it range of motion and the squat? Is it something they can kind of work with overhead? Do you kind of go back and forth there like what do you usually do?

Todd:
Yeah, I mean, it depends depends on the athlete and the situation. Similarly, it’s like depending on the day, we might limit the range of motion in the squat itself. We’ll continually do things to to work on the overhead position. I’ve seen some people loosen up their shoulders, some by doing. Not only passers as you’re standing, but if you try to do pastors at the bottom of your overhead squat, that does a pretty good job of starting to loosen you up in that position that you’re working to get towards. One of the best things that I’ve I’ve done personally myself and had other athletes do is simply trying to accumulate time over the course of a day hanging from a pull up bar that’s been the best thing for my overhead position is made a big difference. So it really kind of depends depends on the athlete. But this is one of those scenarios where, you know, somebody might see somebody that that that lacked shoulder upper back flexibility. They’re like, well, that person just shouldn’t squat overhead squat shouldn’t snatch because of that. It’s like I would argue the contrary. It’s like that person needs to be doing that movement because it’s so challenging for them. And by doing that movement, it’s going to start to increase. The range of motion is going to give them more flexibility. Now, that being said, they’re going to have to do it at a loading that is appropriate that they can complete. And once again, the movement itself is going to really dictate that somebody that has a really bad overhead position is not going to be overhead squatting or snatching very much weight. So it kind of works itself out anyways.

Fern:
Yeah, it’s a self-correcting evolution. A lot like it’s just don’t it’s not something is I worry about a ton because like you said, you will not be moving very quickly or very heavy load in very short order if you have poor positions. The hanging thing is super cool and I’ve done that with quite a few people. I think that’s an old Itoh Portnow thing where I think he recommends like seven minutes of hanging a day. And I think that. A lot of us don’t look at the long term, whereas, you know, this person has poor shoulder mobility, which for whatever reason, the assumption that this can’t be corrected over time, you know, because we we look short term or like I’m not going to correct it today. Well, of course not. But what if I make this a two year endeavor and have this person hanging and working on PVC Pipe and hanging and working on PVC Pipe? We eventually work our way to a barbell and they can do something that resembles an overhead squat. Why? I would argue we’ve added significant value to this person’s life. It just took a lot longer because they’ve been in really crappy positions for 40 or 50 years potentially.

Todd:
Yeah. And most of that stuff is going to take a long time. And the cool thing about this program and using functional movements is they are going to develop and demand full range of motion about a joint and more important than any magic trick that you can possibly do, quote unquote with mobility drills or exercises. It ain’t going to be solved overnight. And so consistently showing up to the gym and not avoiding movements because they’re hard for people are going to make them better. So it’s like if you don’t squat to death because it’s hard to squat to death. Good. Good for you. You’ll never squat to death. You don’t snatch because your overhead position is very good, not very good. You’re not ever going to get a better overhead position like me. You’ve got to do the thing to actually get better at the thing. And it’s it’s it’s really, really cool to look at some of my members that have been with me five, six, seven, eight years. And to see their positions change, like to see somebody is overhead position or to see their knees day out in their squatter them to get to the depth that they need to man. I get way more fired up about that than of these new PR because you look at the quality of their movement and I know what that’s going to do to their everyday life.

Fern:
Yeah, I had a guy years ago, this is quite 2009 when I was in Iraq and we were training. No special ops guys or knuckleheads. I love them, but they’re typically pretty resistant to anything that resembles like scaling or doing making intelligent workout decisions. But he had a terrible overhead position and he was like dead set on overhead squatting. So I put him we put him literally on a six month plan. I said 50 reps every day on a PDC pipe until I tell you we’re going to switch it. So in six months, this guy went from literally not being able to overhead squat a barbell to being overhead squat his body weight in six months simply by like doing nothing else than overhead squatting. We didn’t do fuckin mobility. We could do anything. Started with the p.p.s. pipe. Next we went to a women’s bar. Then we went to a men’s bar and it was 50 reps every single day. His movement improved and improve and then he was over at squatting ninety five pounds and then one thirty five. And he was a little bit of a smaller guy. So I think his body weight was like one sixty five. But from from not even be able to do a barbell to your body weight in six months is pretty significant, but thousands of reps at that point. So you know it’s like it’s like you said like you you can’t skirt the movement, like you have to train the movement, like do your mobility and all that stuff. But then you need to come back to the movement time under tension, like it is a real concept and has real carryover.

Todd:
Yeah, that’s that’s that’s the best form of flexibility and mobility training is doing the movement and doing it deliberately. I think a lot of times we see people at the level ones that come in and they’ve been doing Crossfit, for eight, 10 years and we take them through the squats group and they squat for 30 minutes and they’re absolutely crushed and devastated. Like, Man, I’ve been doing this for 10 years. I’ve never felt that in my squat before. And it’s like you’re not just squatting. You shouldn’t just be squatting squat. It should be deliberate practice on doing this thing right. I think Jay mentioned that after his this is 50 back squats like he actually practices moving. Well, finally, after years and years and years of doing this stuff and it makes things easier and it makes you move better. Who would’ve thought?

Fern:
Yeah, it’s weird. It’s a weird concept. Yeah. So I think. And then so let’s go down the road. You have somebody that just like really severe restriction. I mean there are other options in order to still work on that. Like you can use kettlebell as you can use dumbbells and I can still snatch like again, if they’re if they’re severely challenged, those will still be challenging to them. And I can still work on things like external rotation with those two implements to slowly get them to better positions over time. So there’s yeah, I just will probably always vehemently disagree, just as I think Coach Burgner would that like everybody sits should snatch like there is tremendous value to be gained there and that is absent of any conversation that’s that looks or sounds like load like just the snatch by itself pdc pipe. You can get better and you can get stronger too. Like particularly for some of these like you know what we would describe as the underserved populations if you talk about the overweight or the elderly. Listen, that’s PVC pipe time right there. But we’re helping them regain that capacity because all you’re talking about earlier is they’re like functional movements or rehabilitative in nature. If you don’t have it and you start doing it, you’d be hard pressed to convince me you’re not going to start get some of that capacity back.

Todd:
Yup.

Fern:
So here’s here’s the argument, guys like everybody should snatch if you are resistant to teaching this, not just probably because you don’t know how to teach it correctly or you don’t understand scaling. So dive into a book. Go to one of the Crossfit, preferred courses, the weightlifting courses. There’s a lot of stuff out there, but if your assumption is that snatching is loaded, that’s probably an incorrect and irresponsible conversation that we’re having. So it should be started intelligently with a progression absent of loads that we can work on technique and then you can get people to snatch in some way, shape or form. So it snatching is not bad. Coaching is bad if you do it poorly.

Fern:
All right, guys. That’s all we got for you today. Any closing remarks there, Todd?

Todd:
Nope, I think that covered it, man. Enjoyed it.

Fern:
Awesome, guys, if you have any questions about anything we discuss with regard to the snatch progressions, different ways to modify that hit it’s up. We’re more than happy to hitch up in and help you out with that. But until next time, we’ll see you next time on DSR of their day. Thanks.

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