Confessions of a snatch shirker

Confessions of a snatch shirker

When I first started CrossFitting if snatch popped up on the blog I’d suddenly find something else VERY important that needed doing.  Loading the dishwasher couldn’t possibly wait for a couple of hours, my house desperately needed hoovering, even a visit to the infamous Swedish hell, I mean homewares store, could become essential when threatened with the snatch.Christine Cope olympic lifting coach CrossFit Blackwater

I went to the first few classes but found myself standing around bemused – how exactly was the bar supposed to go from the ground to over my head again?  Then I got a bit embarrassed about having no idea what to do – so I stopped going to classes involving snatches.

Fortunately, my box at the time started up a weightlifting session and we worked on hitting positions that helped us to execute the full snatch.  After a few weeks something exciting happened – I was at the bottom of a squat with the bar overhead.  I wasn’t quite sure how it happened but it felt pretty good!

That continued for quite a long time – maybe once in every session, or even every other session some magic would happen and everything fell into place. I still had no idea how I was doing it but I was hooked – chasing those occasional lifts that just felt great.

A lot has happened since then. The snatch is now my favourite movement and I’ve invested a great deal of time educating myself on the intricacies of coaching it and on improving my own lifts.  I love sharing my technical knowledge and experience with other people and seeing THAT look the first time someone hits a good one!

So, here’s a quick rundown of common reasons for avoiding the snatch and why there may be an alternative approach.

I don’t want to be an Olympic weightlifter, I’m a CrossFitter/runner/triathlete…

Ok, CrossFit first.  The snatch invariably comes up at all levels of competition. The better your technique is, the more efficient you will be at cycling low weights.

Did you see the max snatch event at regionals this year – or the snatch ladder at the Games?  If you have aspirations to compete at CrossFit, the Olympic Lifts are a must for your toolbox.

The snatch is transferable to any sport requiring explosive power.  The extension of the knees and hips, drilled by snatching, is going to be helpful for any sport mimicking that movement. Like running…  and therefore sports involving running – rugby, football, hockey…  You don’t need to be a super heavyweight world champion snatcher to benefit from training the movement.

Which brings me to…

I don’t want to be a huge weightlifter with loads of body fat.

Eek – I hear what you are saying.  This lady seems to cause controversy wherever she goes…

Don’t panic – weightlifters come in all shapes and sizes.  The sport itself is categorised by bodyweight so similar sized lifters compete against each other.

Yes there are some BIG lifters out there, but there are also enormously powerful lifters with low body weights.

Check out Welshman Gareth Evans snatching twice his bodyweight of 62kg at this year’s British Championships.

I just want to be healthy – not a weightlifting machine.

As we age, we lose muscle tissue unless we fight and train to retain it.  Have you ever seen a grandparent struggling to get out of a chair?  If you get to the point where you can’t squat the weight of your own body that is the end result.  Lifting weights is essential to combat muscle wastage.

Especially important for women (but not exclusively, as men can be affected too) is the beneficial impact of lifting weights on bone density.  Menopausal and post menopausal women are particularly susceptible to osteopenia and osteoporosis which can lead to deformities and increased risk of broken bones in later life.  Lifting weights has been proven to help with the maintenance of bone density.

As an added bonus, building lean tissue through weightlifting can help to sculpt a tight, firm physique that hours of running will never achieve.

It’s hard…

Yes it is.

It is one of the most complex movements that we teach in CrossFit.  You will struggle, you will get frustrated and some days you will start to believe that you will never get the hang of it.

You will have other days where it feels like the most beautiful movement in the world.  You’re throwing yourself under an enormous weight and DAMN IT FEELS AMAZING!!

AND, you can do it in pearl earrings and pink wrist wraps…

What’s the point in training a movement I will never be competitive with?

Who says?

The growth of CrossFit in the UK is fuelling an increased interest in Olympic Lifting. This can only be good for the sport at the highest level and good for recreational lifters looking for opportunities to compete.

A number of our lifters have enormously enjoyed competing in this year’s East Anglian Lifting League.  None of them (yet!) have big enough totals to qualify for a major championship but have still been able to compete locally.

Our first inter-box lifting friendly match is approaching. This is a great opportunity to lift and compete.  This is the time to get up on the platform and exhibit the results of your efforts in training.

There really is nothing like an imminent competition to supercharge your training and nutrition.  Often the excitement and adrenaline of the occasion produces lifts at the top end of your ability.

Here’s Lori Bavetta competing at the British Championships.  She started weightlifting at CrossFit Essex and 3 years later is now on the British Weightlifting World Class Programme.

Whilst most of us won’t be attempting to get to Rio (!!!) there is an enormous amount of pleasure and satisfaction to be gained from mastering one of the most technically complex movements you’ll encounter in CrossFit.


Snatch 5×2

Snatch deadlift + 2x high pulls 3x (1+2)

Front squat 5×3

Optional conditioning

500m row for time

Core conditioning

75 abmat situps

Just in case you think my video coverage has been a bit too girly…


One thought on “Confessions of a snatch shirker”

  1. Loved the article Christine. Good to know you recommend pearl earrings and pink wrist wraps. I think that’s where I was going wrong. 🙂

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