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The snatch grip deadlift is a deadlift variation often seen in Olympic weightlifting and strength sports. Olympic weightlifters will use the snatch grip deadlift to increase snatch specific pulling strength and positional awareness. Strength and fitness athletes can use snatch grip deadlifts to increase back and grip strength, gain muscle in the back and traps, and increase overall pulling abilities.
In this snatch grip deadlift exercise guide we will discuss:
- Snatch Grip Deadlift Form and Technique
- Benefits of the Snatch Grip Deadlift
- Muscles Worked by Snatch Grip Deadlifts
- Snatch Grip Deadlift Sets, Reps, and Weight Recommendations
- Snatch Grip Deadlift Variations and Alternatives
- and more…
How to Do the Snatch Grip Deadlift: Form and Technique
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to properly set up and perform the snatch grip deadlift.
Step 1: With you feet about hip width apart, step up to a barbell (on the ground) a place the feet slightly outwards.
The barbell should be over the midfoot, with the lifter assuming pressure throughout the entire foot.
Step 2: Assume a snatch grip width, using a double overhand grip placement (hook grip optional).
To determine proper snatch grip width, be sure to use our snatch grip width guide.
Step 3: Set the arms, back, and hips into the loaded position, making sure that the shoulders are on top of the barbell (not too far over, and not too far back).
The back should be flexed, with the chest and hip pulled upwards. The hips should be slightly above knee level, with the shoulders slightly above the hip level.
Step 4: Initiate the snatch grip deadlift by pulling upwards on the barbell with the back, traps, and arms while simultaneously pushing the feet into the floor.
Be careful not to let the hips rise faster than the shoulders, as this will result in (1) shifting balance too far forwards and (2) poor pulling mechanics and positional strength with little technical application to correct snatch technique. Too often lifters will let the hips rise up faster than the chest, altering the mechanics of the snatch grip deadlift and how it relates to the snatch or other deadlifts.
Step 5: As you stand upwards, you must work to keep the chest pulled high and the weight close to the body.
If you find yourself falling forward of having the hips shoot upwards in the pull (making your back more parallel to the floor), this is a good indicator that your back strength is limiting the movement. To address this, you should drop your loading and force yourself to use proper technique.
Step 6: At the top of the snatch grip deadlift, the arms should be straight, chest pulled up, and the weight dispersed through the backside of the body (glutes, back, and traps).
Be careful not to let the shoulders get pulled forwards, as this suggest the traps and lats are not staying active in the movement.
Step 7: While maintaining back tension and control, lower the load the same way you lifted it, making sure to not allow the back and hips to lose tension.
Set yourself up again, and repeat these steps for the remainder of the set.
Snatch Grip Deadlift – Muscles Worked
Below are the primary muscles groups worked by the snatch grip deadlift. Similar to other deadlift variations, the snatch grip deadlift works the gluteal muscles, hamstrings, and back (posterior chain). There are however, some slight differences between the muscles worked from employing this deadlift variation; which are discussed below.
Latissimus Dorsi and Trapezius Muscles
The upper back and traps are highly active in this deadlift variation, primarily due to the wide grip width. Coaches and athletes can use the snatch grip deadlift to address weaknesses in the upper and middle back during most forms of deadlifts; and can even use them to stimulate muscle growth in the upper back.
The glutes are active in most deadlifts, with the snatch grip deadlift being no different. The glutes are involved in maintaining proper positioning in the pull as well as forcefully extending the hips at the finish.
The hamstrings are used in the snatch grip deadlift to help the lifter stand the weight upwards. Like most dealfits, the hamstrings concentrically contract the help extend the hips while resisting knee flexion. That said, if a lifter is looking to target the hamstrings exclusively, they may want to perform Romanian deadlifts instead.
Erector Spinae (Lower Back)
The snatch grip deadlift also increases lower back strength due to the wider grip placement. By assuming a wider grip on the barbell, the lifter must forcefully resist spinal flexion in a more challenging position.
The snatch grip deadlift is extremely challenging on the grip muscles due to the wider placement of the hands on the barbell. By increasing the width of the grip, the lifter must contact the lats (back) and forearms to a greater extend (a relative loads) due to the less forgiving positioning in this deadlift variation.
3 Benefits of the Snatch Grip Deadlift
Below are 3 (three) benefits of the snatch grip deadlift that coaches and athletes can expect when they integrate the sumo deadlift within a training program.
The snatch grip deadlift is a variation that can be done to increase back strength and hypertrophy due to the grip width. By setting the grip wider, the lifter is forced to contract the back harder to resist the shoulders and chest collapsing forwards. By increasing the width of the grip, the lifter must also activate the latissimus dorsi in a more demanding way, making it perfect for lifters who fail to keep their chest up in the deadlift.
A wider grip in the deadlift will force lifters to increase grip strength. Using the snatch grip deadlift in both strength as well as accessory programming (such as snatch grip Romanian deadlifts) are a great way to incorporate grip intensive pulling movements while still gaining the benefits of a deadlift.
Snatch Technique and Strength
Snatch grip deadlifts, also called snatch deadlifts, are a great way to increase pulling strength and positional awareness specific to the snatch. While snatch deadlifts are not the same as snatch pulls (snatch pulls often are more speed based, and occur at lighter loads than a snatch deadlift), both snatch pulling movements can increase a lifter’s ability to snatch heavier loads and address snatch technical faults in the setup and pulling phases.
Who Should Do Snatch Grip Deadlifts?
The below section breaks down the benefits of the snatch grip deadlift based on an lifter’s/athlete’s sport goals and abilities.
Snatch Grip Deadlifts for Powerlifters
The snatch grip deadlift can be used to strengthen the back, forearms, and add variety to the deadlifting movements in most powerlifting programs.
Snatch Grip Deadlifts for Strongman Athletes
Similar to powerlifters, the snatch grip deadlift is a movement that can increase back and grip strength and help to address weaknesses in pulling movements.
Snatch Grip Deadlifts for Weightlifters
Snatch grip deadlifts, also called snatch deadlifts, are a foundational movement for weightlifters. The snatch grip deadlift strengthens the specific muscles and movement patterns necessary for a strong first and second pull and can be used to address technical faults and imbalances in the setup and pulling phases. It is important to note that the snatch grip deadlift is not the same as a snatch pull.
Snatch Grip Deadlifts for CrossFit/Competitive Fitness Athletes
The snatch grip deadlift can be beneficial for competitive fitness athletes for many of the same reasons they are beneficial for weightlifters, powerlifters, and strength athletes.
Snatch Grip Deadlifts for General Fitness
Snatch grip deadlifts are an advanced deadlift movement that can help to increase general back and grip strength, increase muscle hypertrophy of the back muscles, and help lifters reinforce proper back rigidity in the deadlift.
Snatch Grip Deadlift Sets, Reps, and Weight Recommendations
Below are four sets, reps, and weight (intensity) recommendations for coaches and athletes to properly program the snatch grip deadlift specific to the training goal. Note, that the below guidelines are simply here to offer coach and athletes loose recommendations for programming.
Movement Integrity – Reps, Sets, and Weight Recommendations
The snatch grip deadlift
- 3-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions with light to moderate loads, at a controlled speed (focusing on proper eccentric/lowering of the weight), resting as needed
Muscle Hypertrophy – Reps, Sets, and Weight Recommendations
The snatch grip deadlift can be done for higher volume with moderate to heavy loads to increase muscle hypertrophy and general strength. The below guidelines can be used by coaches to program snatch grip deadlifts and most training plans.
- 3-5 sets of 6-10 repetitions with moderate to heavy loads OR 2-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions with moderate loads to near failure, keeping rest periods 45-90 seconds
Strength – Reps, Sets, and Weight Recommendations
The snatch grip deadlift can be used to develop maximal strength for powerlifting, strongman, and weightlifting athletes. In addition, the snatch grip deadlift can be a deadlift alternative for lifters looking to diversify the general pulling strength.
- 3-5 sets of 3-5 repetitions with heavy loading, resting as needed
Muscle Endurance- Reps, Sets, and Weight Recommendations
The snatch grip deadlift can be trained in higher repetition range is to increase muscular endurance and fatigue resistance.
- 2-4 sets of 12-20 repetitions with light to moderate loads, keeping rest periods under 30-45 seconds
Snatch Grip Deadlift Variations
Below are four snatch grip deadlift variations that coaches and athletes can do to increase sports specificity, boost strength and power, and increase movement integrity in the snatch grip deadlift.
Deficit Snatch Grip Deadlift
Deficit snatch grip deadlifts are often used in both Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting programs as it can increase (1) pulling strength off the floor, specific to the snatch (2) be used as a conjugated deadlift variation (3) increase lower back and leg strength in the deadlift. The lifter starts by standing on a plate (or small riser) and performs the snatch grip deadlift with a flat back.
Snatch Grip Deadlift with Accommodating Resistance
Accommodating resistance via bands and/or chains are a great tool to increase rate of force production, motor recruitment, and maximal strength. Simply add bands/chains to the snatch grip deadlift and pull with focused intensity and speed.
Tempo Snatch Grip Deadlifts
Tempo training can be used to increase back strength, hypertrophy, and movement integrity. Weightlifters will use tempos in snatch grip deadlifts to help increase positional awareness and strength throughout the entirety of the snatch pulling phases. Powerlifters and other athletes can use tempos to increase time under tension an address weaknesses in back, leg, or grip strength.
Floating Snatch Grip Deadlifts
Floating snatch grip deadlifts are a snatch grip deadlifts that do not fully touch the floor at the bottom of every repetition. This can be done with the lifter on risers (similar to deficit snatch grip deadlift set up) or without. By performing repetitions in a continuous motion, the lifter is forced to increase concentric and eccentric strength and motor patterning of the pull, as well as can help to stimulate muscle hypertrophy (increased time under tension).
Snatch Grip Deadlift Alternatives
Below are two (2) snatch grip deadlift alternatives that often can be used interchangeably within training to add quality muscle loading and stimulus to an athlete while still allowing for variety in one’s programming.
Axle Bar Deadlift
The axle bar deadlift is a deadlift variation done with a bar that is wider in diameter than a traditional barbell. In using an axle bar, also called a “fat bar”, the lifter is forced to increase back tension and grip strength, both of which are also seen in the snatch grip deadlift.
The Reeves deadlift, names after Steve Reeves, is a deadlift variation that challenges a lifter’s back and grip strength and can build a seriously wide and strong back. This is done by grabbing the plates (yes, the plates rather than the barbell) and standing upwards in a deadlift pattern.
Featured Image: Mike Dewar