What is a Power Snatch?

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  • Written By: Jessica Reed
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 22 January 2020
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The power snatch is a strengthening exercise move which involves raising a barbell and then swinging it over and behind the head in one swift movement; this exercise also can be performed using a kettlebell instead of a barbell. When performed properly, it builds up an athlete’s strength and speed. The move is popular with athletes who need to make jumps, such as hurdles, and for warming up. Special care should be taken to learn the correct form for the move, otherwise injuries can occur. Before performing the exercise, the athlete should always have a spotter and should not lift more weight than is comfortable.

Beginners should start with a bare barbell bar with no weights attached. This allows the athlete to focus on her form before adding resistance. She should have a coach or spotter nearby to help with her technique and intervene if she is thrown off balance or begins to drop the weight. The spotter should easily be able to lift the amount of weight the athlete is using for the power snatch.


When the athlete is ready to perform the power snatch, she starts with her feet hip width apart and the barbell on the floor. Gripping it near either end with her hands curled into fists and fingers curled in toward her body, she then lifts the barbell first to the knees and then the waist. The knees stay bent slightly and will naturally bend under the weight of lifting the barbell.

Next, in one quick motion, she pulls the barbell up above the head, and the feet leave the ground slightly to add to the momentum and power need to lift the weight. She extends the arms fully and brings the barbell over and behind the head. As she lands, she bends the knees to absorb the weight from the barbell. Arms remain straight to support the barbell.

Once she is back on her feet, she stands up straight and keeps the barbell raised over her head. This completes the power snatch. To perform a second power snatch, she lowers the barbell to the floor again and starts over. Unlike other exercise moves, fewer repetitions are needed to build strength, and overdoing it can cause soreness or injury.

Before starting any new exercise, an athlete should always consult with her trainer or doctor if the move is difficult or she has a health problem. Stretching and lifting a light weight at first can help prevent injuries while performing the power snatch. If the athlete feels pain during the move, she should lower the barbell to the floor and stop. If the pain is severe or does not go away, she should consult a doctor before continuing with her exercise routine.


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