The snatch grip deadlift is a popular variation of the conventional deadlift. It’s a great functional and compound exercise that trains your whole body with the main effort going on your posterior chain.
It’s a great tool to strengthen your posterior chain muscles and to develop both functional and pulling strength. This advanced variation of the classical lift is widely used by Olympic weightlifters and strength/ power sport athletes across the world.
Snatch grip deadlift muscles worked
Just like the conventional deadlift, the snatch grip variation is a great compound multiplanar movement to both strengthen and build various muscles across your body. And just like the classical version, this variation is primarily a posterior chain exercise, meaning it will focus mainly on the muscles on your backside.
Because of the wide hand position in this lift, it will activate and recruit more of your upper back muscles such as your trapezius and lats compared to the conventional deadlift. Also, it will place more load on your forearms and hands in general. It does so because it’s much harder to grasp and hold onto the barbell whit a wider grip.
Also, because of the wider hand position, the starting position of this lift will be a little bit lower than in the original exercise. That will place more effort on your hips and glutes.
Primary muscles worked:
- Lower back (spinal erectors)
Secondary muscles worked:
- Core muscles
Benefits of the snatch grip deadlift
It works and trains your upper back muscles more. It’s a great DL variation to target and train your upper back more. As I mentioned in the chapter above, the snatch grip variation trains and works mostly the same muscles as the conventional deadlift whit one small difference. It will place a greater focus on your upper back rather than your lower back, thanks to the wide grip. It’s so because the wider grip activates your upper back muscles more, and it forces your upper back muscles to work much harder to keep your shoulders and chest collapsing forward.
It will increase your grip strength. It’s a superb exercise to strengthen your gripping muscles and get a super-strong grip. This exercise will place a lot of emphasis on your forearm because of the extra-wide hand position and the fact that is lift can be done with some serious weight on the bar. Both of those aspects make it much harder to grasp and then hold onto the barbell. So your hands will need to work extra hard to hold on to the weight for the whole lift.
It has an increased range of motion. The fact that you have an extra-wide grip in this exercise means you are starting the lift from a little deeper and lower starting position. That means the distance the barbell needs to travel increases and the exercise’s overall range of motion increases. An increased range of motion means your body and muscles will be under tension for a longer time, and they will need to work harder to complete the lift. Also, it will enable you to engage your hips, lower back, hamstrings, and upper back muscles more and even help you increase their own mobility and range of motion.
It will improve your hip mobility. Our hip mobility is something that places a rather large role in our day-to-day lives. It’s an important functional movement for both picking things up and for bending down. And of course, your hip mobility plays an important role in the conventional deadlift. Without the necessary amount of mobility in your hips, it’s almost impossible to deadlift with the right form. Now, the snatch grip deadlift will help you improve your hip mobility thanks to its deeper starting position. Thanks to the deeper starting position, you will have to start the lift a little lower, which will activate your hips more and increase the stretch in them.
It will do wonders for your conventional deadlift. It’s a great exercise to help you improve your deadlift. It does so because of various reasons. In addition to the more obvious things like increasing your grip strength, hip mobility, and training your accessory muscles, it will help you improve your deadlift form and technique and improve your overall lifting posture. It also allows you to target specific points in your technique because it’s a little bit of a lighter lift and a more strength rather than a power-oriented exercise.
It will increase all of your other lifts and exercises. Because of all the benefits above, all of your other bigger and smaller lifts will benefit from this exercise. Also, it’s a great tool to increase your Olympic lifts, particularly the snatch.
How to do the snatch grip deadlift
- Start by standing in front of the barbell whit your feet placed slightly wider apart than your hips. Just outside your hips should be fine.
- Point your toes a little outwards. They should be pointed outwards at about 20 to 30 degrees.
- Makes sure the barbell is pointed directly over the middle of your feet, whit your shins close to the bar.
- Next, grasp the barbell. To do so, hinge your torso forward from your hips and slightly bend your knees until you can reach it.
- Grasp the barbell in an extra-wide snatch grip. Grip the bar from somewhere around the last ring of the barbell. Use an overhand grip.
- Now drop your hips down until your shins touch the bar. They should be a little higher than your knees.
- Make sure that your shoulders are directly over the bar, your back is straight, and your head is in a neutral position.
- Tighten your elbows and upper back. Squees your shoulder plates and push your chest slightly up.
- Tighten and brace your core.
- Start pulling the weight upwards while at the same time pushing your feet strongly into the floor.
- Completely extend your hips and body.
- Once you are in an upright position, lock your hips.
- Hold for a second and then slowly lower the weight back down and continue this movement for your desired repetitions.
Tips and recommendations
- Grip the bar at the right width. The width of the snatch grip should be somewhere around the last ring of the barbell. But in the end, it will depend on how tall the lifter is and what he/she is most comfortable with. If you are a taller athlete (6 feet and more), your index finger should be over the last ring if you are a shorter lifter ( at about 5’5” and shorter), then your pinky should be on the last ring. Also, keep in mind the wider the grip, the more demanding it will be on your forearms and gripping muscles. Overall, play around with different grip widths and try to find the best one for yourself.
- Make sure your feet are pointed outwards. The snatch grip deadlift requires a little bit more room in the bottom of the lift. Also, this way, the barbell has a clearer path while moving upwards, and your knees won’t be in the way. So always point your feet out at about 20 to 30 degrees.
- Keep the bar close to your body throughout the lift. If the bar starts shifting away from your body, it will start placing a lot of stress on your spine and can cause you serious injuries. Also, it will limit the weight you can pull up. Now to avoid this from happening, keep your lats flexed and tight.
- Keep your core and midsection tight! Your midsection should be contracted and tight or the entire lift. It will help you maintain proper form and help you avoid any possible injuries.
- Be sure to keep your back flat. Don’t let your back round our also, don’t arch your lower back. Both of these things will place a lot of unnecessary strain and pressure on your spine, which can cause various injuries.
- To lift heavier weight use lifting straps. If you want to concentrate more on your upper back muscles and on strength in general, but are lacking in forearms strength to hold the bar, then consider using weightlifting straps. They will help you decrease the load on your gripping muscles and help you hold on to the barbell.
Snatch grip deadlift variations
Snatch grip Romanian deadlift
The snatch grip Romanian deadlift is a challenging combination of the RDL and the snatch grip deadlift. It’s basically identical to the classical Romanian deadlift, except the lifter uses a wide snatch grip to perform it. It’s a great posterior chain lift that places a greater emphasis on your hamstrings and glutes.
How to do:
Start with your feet about hip-width apart, with the barbell directly over the middle of your feet. Squat down and grasp the bar with an overhand snatch grip. From there lift the bar up, just like in the normal snatch grip deadlift.
Now that you’re in an upright position with the barbell, the real exercise can begin. First, bend your knees slightly. Then tighten your core and midsection. Keep your back straight and head in a neutral position. Start to lower the bar by pushing your hips backward. Keep lowering the weight until you feel a strong stretch in your hamstrings or your upper body is nearly parallel to the ground. Then stop at the bottom for a second and reverse the movement by pushing your hips forward and bring the bar back up.
Deficit snatch grip deadlift
The deficit snatch grip deadlift is an insane posterior chain exercise. It’s a very challenging and advanced variation of it that will strengthen and train your entire posterior chain.
What makes it so difficult and challenging? Well, it’s performed by standing on an elevated platform, usually from 2-4 inches high. It places you in a higher position relative to the barbell. You basically start the pull from a deficit. It will increase the whole range of motion for the exercise.
Now the regular snatch grip deadlift already had a deeper starting position, to begin with, adding an elevated platform to stand on will mean you are pulling from a super low starting position. That means you are in a very difficult position.
Thanks to the low position and the increased range of motion, it will keep all of your muscles under tension for a longer period of time and make your posterior chain muscles work much harder.
How to do:
Start by standing on an elevated platform. Weight lifting plates or wooden blocks will do fine. It should be elevated off the ground anywhere from 1 to 4 inches. Take a hip-width stance. Point your toes outwards (20-30 degrees). Make sure the barbell is still over the middle of your feet. Squat down and grasp the bar in an overhand snatch grip. Make sure your shoulders are over the bar, back straight, and head in a neutral position. Brace your core and initiate the lift. Drive your feet to the ground and lift the bar upwards. Extend your hips and body completely. Finish the lift by locking your hips out.
There are a few other ways to further modify the snatch grip deadlift to either make it more suitable for your specific needs or make it more challenging. For example, if you want to add resistance and make the lift a little more difficult, you could use resistance bands or even chains.
If you have trouble getting into the right position and maintaining form at the starting position. Or you want to make the lift a little easier on your back and body, you could elevate the barbell by placing plates or blocks under it (or even by using a squat rack).
Or you could try out the wide stance snatch grip deadlift, where you take a shoulder or wider stance. That will allow your body to remain in a more upright position and will place less stress on your lower back and spine.
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