The Barbell Snatch is unquestionably one of the most amazing exercises you can do to develop power – the ability to produce lots of force quickly! Power is king in athletic performance and it helps us mere mortals in many situations as well. There are several popular power exercises, but the barbell snatch is thought by many professional conditioning coaches to be the best way to develop total body power. Unfortunately it is not an easy exercise to learn, and it can take months of work with an experienced Olympic Lifting Coach to master the movement. More importantly, if you do not do it correctly or if you have issues with shoulder, hip, or ankle mobility; you can hurt yourself trying to do this lift. Enter the dumbbell snatch!
Start with feet apart and feet rotated out slightly from your hips. Feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width. Hold a dumbbell with one hand in front of your thighs with your knuckles facing forward. Squat down keeping torso upright and maintaining a slight arch in your lower back. Arm holding dumbbell is kept straight with dumbbell between the legs with knuckles still facing forward. Do not let the shoulder slouch forward or down! The movement is initiated by driving up quickly by extending the knees and hips. Picture yourself jumping up in the air holding a dumbbell. As you come up shrug your shoulders and pull the dumbbell upward, allowing your elbow to pull up and to the side of your head. Keep the elbow over the dumbbell as long as possible. Then pull your body under the dumbbell, catching it at arm’s length while moving into the squat position. Once you catch the dumbbell over your head, stand up with dumbbell overhead. Lower dumbbell to your shoulder then down to the original position in front of your thigh and repeat.
Simply put think: jump, shrug, drive elbow, and catch the dumbbell overhead!
Here is a great video of the dumbbell snatch from Michael Boyle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRA_8jrlT3U and another view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpE1ZtbZQpQ
Start with a relatively light weight – 20 – 25lbs men – 15 – 20lbs woman. However, once you get a little feel for the movement, you need to go up in weight – you want to use enough load that you have to use the power of your legs and hips to generate the power to throw the weight up – your upper body just guides the dumbbell – it does not do the heavy lifting!
After a dynamic warm-up do sets of 3 – 5 reps on each side starting with 2 – 3 sets each side to 5 sets each side with sufficient recovery between sets so that you can focus on doing each repetition with good form!