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5 New Tips to a Better Snatch and Clean & Jerk

I just attended the USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Certification Clinic, dedicating 16 concentrated hours to learning about, examining, practicing, and coaching the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk.  Here are 5 takeaways you can begin using right now to immediately better your snatch and Clean & Jerk.


Ask yourself, “what would a monkey do?” If your answer was “grab that thing using the gift of the opposable thumbs and chuck it!” Then you are correct! The hook grip should be used for lifts that require you to pull from the ground including the Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and Deadlift. To do the hook grip think about the following cues: “web to bar, thumb around bar, finger, finger, cinch”. Basically, your goal is to create a secure attachment between your body and the bar. By wrapping your index and pointer finger around your thumb, you are not relying on any one individual finger to help you keep your grip. Instead you are using at least two of your fingers to “lock” your grip into place. It’s going to feel odd and uncomfortable at first, but if you can fight through the discomfort you will see your PR and finger strength go up!

Related:The Importance of Foundational Strength


This was a new one for me. Not only do you want to lock your grip into place with the Hook Grip, but you also want to think about pointing your knuckles down towards the ground (pictured on the right).  This downward pointing action will create a slightly flexed wrist (towards) your body. We do this to create yet another locking effect, but this time with our wrist. We are able to accomplish two goals: (1) we have another layer of hook that helps us maintain our hold on the bar and (2) we are better able to keep the bar closer to our body. The closer the bar is to the body, the less of a fulcruming affect we have and the more efficient and easier our lifts become.


Before you initiate the lift, you want to make sure you’re not already placing your weight forward onto the balls of your feet. By beginning with a forward-shifted weight, the bar will get away from you and you will find yourself jumping forward to try to  catch it. Instead, remove the slack from the bar by shifting your weight onto your heels. As a result, you can load up the quads and hamstrings (like springs) readying them to begin the first pull.  To remove the slack, think about gently tugging on the bar before you initiate the lift. You should hear a small, audible “cling” as the bar makes contact with the weights.

Related:Entering the Gym: Mind Tricks for Performing Your Best During a Workout


At the top of a Jerk, Snatch, or any pressing variation (strict press or push press), you want to think about “cracking an acorn” between your armpits and your shoulders. A good way to think about this is to really try to create tension by “bending the bar” towards the sky (pictured on the right), which also simultaneously requires that you pinch your shoulder blades back and down. This way you have set up your shoulders such that they are more stable to carry the load.


Lastly, as you either receive the catch (Snatch) or finish with your press overhead (Jerk), you want to slightly flex the wrist backwards so that the bar can better rest on the base of your palm rather than the upper half of your hand or your fingers (pictured on the right). This is a more stable position as it keeps the bar directly over your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. Also, as the weight gets heavier and heavier, it will literally become impossible for you to punch the bar overhead with straight knuckles because your small finger muscles will be unable to generate the power to keep the heavy bar in place.

If you are looking for more ways to improve your Snatch or Clean & Jerk, feel free to reach out to me at Jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com or schedule a personal training session with me or John at John@crossfitslipstream.com. Until then, keep on lifting!

Jasmine Gerritsen