15 Pound Improvement on the Snatch in 16 weeks

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In April, after The Open, our athletes go through testing. This allows us to re-assess, set goals and lay out what training will look like for the rest of the year. One of the tests is 1RM Squat Snatch. The snatch is without a doubt the most complex lift, one that everybody wants to improve on. This includes Individualized Coaching Client, Gabriela Fernandez. During testing she Squat Snatched 135 lbs. You might look at 135 and think to yourself; “That’s a pretty good snatch for a girl, what’s there to fix?”. Two things that stood out were; hips shooting up and lack of control after catching in bottom. Both are important issues that need improvement, but we had to prioritize, and the one that was affecting the lift the most was the first pull. She would let her hips shoot up, weight shifted forward and had to jump two inches in front of her to catch the bar. So, improving her snatch had to start from the ground up, and fixing the first pull had to be priority #1.

Here’s a breakdown of her snatch work during the 16 weeks leading up to a 15 lb PR. And yes, only one day of the week was dedicated to work on her Snatch. The rest of the week was laid out to work on the deficiencies from results of the other test. This is what it looked like:

Week 1-4; 3 Pause Snatch Grip Deadlift; (w/2sec hold in each pause); pause Just off ground, @Knees and Mid-thigh

Here we where working on that first pull, making sure to lay down solid movement patterns. Both Snatches and Positional work (3 Pause Snatch DL) can be done in the same week and that’s fine. But I decided to remove snatches completely, until we had “re-programed” the first pull.

Week 5: 3 Pause Snatch Grip Deadlift + Straight Arm Snatch pull; w/2sec hold in each pause; pause Just off ground, at knees, and mid-thigh

First pull was looking strong. Now I wanted to see if the new movement patterns had stuck (not let her hip shoot up in pulling off ground) by introducing the second pull, no pauses, explosive, and good test to see if she was ready to take the bar overhead.

Week 6: 3 Pause Snatch Grip Deadlift + Power Snatch; w/2sec hold in each pause; pause Just off ground, at knees, and mid-thigh

After improvement in first and second pull, power snatch would now follow. The results from all the weeks of positional work paid off, Power Snatches looked solid; great first and second pull, and no jumping forward. But, even though there was a significant improvement in her Snatching technique, I wanted to prolong the positional work for a few more weeks.

Side note: jumping forward is usually caused by two things; hips shooting up, resulting in weight shifting forward, or not keeping the bar close. If the issue was not keeping the bar close, the next progression would’ve been Muscle snatches. Which are great to teach bar path.

Week 7: 3 Pause Power Snatch Snatch; w/2sec hold in each pause; pause Just off ground, at knees, and mid-thigh

Week 8: 2 Pause Power Snatch; w/2sec hold in each pause, pause Just off ground, at knees.

Week 9: 1 Pause Power Snatch; w/2sec hold in each pause, pause Just off ground + Power Snatch

Weeks 7-9 had no Snatch DL, it was all Power Snatches with pauses. Every week one pause would be removed to allow her to lift more weight. She was already able to Power Snatch 130 lbs (5 lbs under her tested 1RM Squat Snatch) with a 2’ pause just off the ground! Even though her power snatches had improved significantly, I wanted to prolong the pauses to really make sure these movement patterns would stick. These last three weeks are what you would usually see when trying to fix first pull in the snatch. And there is nothing wrong with starting off with this if you don’t have the time or didn’t figure out what needed to be fixed early on in the year (this is why testing after the Open is crucial) but, we found the problem early on and were able to program accordingly.

Week 10: 3RM TnGo Power Snatches

Week 11: 2RM TnGo Power Snatches

These two weeks were just little “testers” to see if everything was going in the right direction. She got 2 Touch and Go Power Snatches @ 130 lbs. It was safe to asume that everything was going as planned.

Week 12-13: Squat Snatch Doubles; w/3” Pause @Bottom

Priority #1, fixing the first pull. Now we move on to #2, which was, fixing a sloppy catch. She would try to stand up to fast after catching the bar in the bottom, without having stability, and usually end up loosing it forward or backwards. Hence the 3” pause at the bottom. Afterwards, she told me; “I cant believe I’m snatching so much better because of a pause in the bottom”. And it wasn’t magic. Through the adequate exercise prescription, she learned that patience in a complex hit or miss lift, like the snatch, would pay off. This week she Squat Snatched 135 lbs for a double, matching her current 1RM for 2 reps!

Week 14: I set up a Gauntlet but due to a miss communication it was not done as intended.

Week 15: Squat Snatch; Build up to #125

Just wanted to build to something tough, something she could move fast with, but not something she would miss.

Week 16: #150 Snatch PR

I don’t know about you, but Id call this an effective 16 weeks of training. An issue was identified, a well thought-out plan was executed, and the results speak for themselves. It didn’t take a fancy lifting cycle from Russia, it was just a matter assessing the specific needs of the individual and designing an adequate program address those needs. There is no way in the world that bulk online training or class workouts would have yielded these results for this particular individual. That’s the power of individualized coaching.

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