The snatch grip deadlift is a functional compound movement variation that provides lifters with similar benefits to the conventional barbell deadlift (superior posterior chain development). But it’s also excellent for improving grip strength, teaching proper lifting mechanics, and improving strength in an unconventional position which has good carryover to the traditional deadlift and more.
So, we put together a guide detailing every step of the lift in addition to what else you may need to know in order to effectively incorporate it or to improve your performance if you’re already doing this functional exercise…
How To Do The Snatch Grip Deadlift
Here are step-by-step instructions for how to safely and effectively perform the snatch grip deadlift. It may look rather simple but there are a few things you’ll want to pay attention to for optimal efficiency, as paying attention to the little details can make a big difference in your performance.
Step 1: Stance
- Take a hip-width or slightly wider stance with your shins up to the bar.
- Turn your feet slightly outward (30-45 degrees) to ensure your knees can more easily clear a path for the bar to move upward. This is very important since you have to get lower with this variation.
Step 2: Grip
Using a wide hand position makes it harder to maintain a good grip and depending on your goals, you can also use straps for better grip support.
- Use just the bar to establish an optimal grip position by standing up straight as if you were locking out and adjust your grip until the bar is on the hip crease.
- This is roughly where you want to grip the bar each time, although you may need to adjust a little to ensure you have a full grip on the bar.
Step 3: Starting position
- The starting position is similar to the conventional deadlift so the barbell should be over mid-foot and your shoulders should be positioned just over the bar or slightly past it.
- Then, with your back straight, lower your hips to where your upper legs are about parallel to the floor or slightly higher while gripping the floor with your heels and midfoot.
- Flex your lats by rotating your elbows toward your body.
Step 4: The pull
Now it’s time to perform the movement.
- Keeping everything tight and your chest up, then take a deep breath and tighten your core.
- Drive upward through your heels and midfoot keeping the bar close to your body (why it’s important to keep your lats flexed).
- As you pull up, move your knees back just far enough to clear a path for the bar and when the bar reaches about halfway or 3/4 of the way up your thigh, extend your hips and flex your glutes to finish strong. Breath out near the top.
Proper breathing and bracing can make a big difference in your lift performance.
Step 5: Reversing the movement
The eccentric (negative) is also very important and you want to treat it as such.
- Keep your core tight, back straight, and move your hips backward.
- Lower the bar down in a relatively straight path and as it reaches the knees, you can then bend your legs to place the bar back on the ground.
Important tips/mistakes to avoid:
- Always make sure your feet are pointed out to clear a path for the bar.
- Your butt should sit lower than a conventional deadlift due to the grip width.
- You can find an optimal hand placement by standing straight and locking out your arms. Adjust your grip so that the bar is level with your hip crease.
- If your ring and little finger are not secured on the bar, adjust your grip to ensure you have a solid grip.
- It’s important to maintain flexed lats throughout the movement to keep the bar close to your body and to also ensure you maintain proper torso position.
- Moving the hips too soon is a big mistake because your leg drive is where most of the lower body strength comes from. This is also dangerous for the back. So, drive using the legs then bring the hips forward as the bar reaches mid or ¾ of the way up the thigh.
- On the eccentric (negative), avoid letting the bar ride down your legs but rather, push your hips back and lower the bar to the knee before bending your legs to place the bar on the floor.
The snatch grip deadlift is an awesome movement for building muscle and strength because it’s a compound lift that involves the use of several muscles across multiple joints. Therefore, you can train heavier while working your entire posterior chain (backside of the body).
Muscles worked include…
- Legs (quads, hamstrings, and calves)
- Back (rhomboids, lats, erector spinae, trapezius)
- Biceps and forearms (from gripping and pulling)
Top 3 Benefits of The Snatch Grip Deadlift
There is no shortage of overall benefits when it comes to being proficient in the snatch grip deadlift.
1. Muscle hypertrophy
The snatch grip deadlift will work all the same muscles as the conventional deadlift, however, to a different extent. The legs, back, and core are all highly engaged during this movement but it’s typically more taxing on the upper back due to the wide grip.
But you won’t be able to lift quite as heavy as you would the conventional deadlift either. Although, you can absolutely train it pretty heavy but it’s an awesome muscle-building exercise so moderate to higher reps can also be extremely effective.
2. Improved grip strength
This variation, in particular, will really challenge grip strength because of the wide grip. That’s why even if you tend to opt for straps during similar movements, it’s still a good idea to use no straps to get the grip strength benefits.
But you want to make sure you’re gripping the bar deep and getting a full grip on the bar. Gripping too wide will cause the ring (between middle and little finger) and pinky finger to be the weak links and that’s not a good thing.
3. Proper lifting posture
Any deadlift variation makes for a really good teacher of maintaining proper position during essentially any lift. Not only is proper technique essential for safety (of your back especially) but if you want to be an efficient lifter then it’s a must.
Now, form can vary between individuals but the general movement requirements are the same.
And with the deadlift, you can practice each portion of the lift separately adjusting accordingly while using lighter weights or even just the bar. And another benefit is you can train this movement heavier to improve the snatch exercise from the bottom portion of the lift.
Who Should Do The Snatch Grip Deadlift?
We’ve already established that the snatch grip deadlift is effective and beneficial for several reasons. But it also makes a great addition to any workout regime for its functional carryover to other activities.
The snatch grip deadlift involves the first part of the snatch which is a weightlifting movement and it’s also used as a progression into the snatch. Weightlifters can benefit from maximizing deadlift performance in a wide grip (less than optimal) position which will only benefit them in training and competition.
The deadlift is one of three exercises for the powerlifter and although it’s done in the more conventional way, the snatch grip as explained previously improves strength in an unconventional position plus it improves grip strength which is always beneficial for deadlift performance.
The main goal of a bodybuilder is to build muscle and because the deadlift is one of the best exercises for building legs and a muscular back, any variation will have a positive effect. Although, the snatch grip deadlift will place more of a focus on the upper back.
But if trained using moderate to higher reps, this is more optimal for breaking down muscle tissue which stimulates the growth process (with proper nutrition). Not to mention, it’s efficient due to it being a multi-joint compound exercise. (1)
Athletes in general
Every athlete can benefit from training that involves overcoming a low body position (bottom of the deadlift into standing) with sufficient force and by doing the snatch grip deadlift, you have to utilize total body strength and coordination to get yourself back up to a standing position (e.g. MMA, football, etc). Most compound lifts when done correctly have carryover to active performance.
How To Program The Snatch Grip Deadlift In Your Training
Depending on your goals, you can train the snatch grip deadlift a few different ways or you can utilize all set/rep/tempo variations.
For strength – Utilize low reps in the 3-5 range (2-3 sets)
- Go heavy enough to reach near failure
For hypertrophy – Utilize reps in the 6-12 range (2 sets)
- Go heavy enough to reach near failure
Do both to get the benefits from each set/rep scheme. As far as tempo, a moderate pace is usually a great way to ensure you’re doing the exercise properly and using all muscles one after the other up the kinetic chain.
But when you get more advanced, feel free to train as you find fitting to your goals and preference which can involve more explosive reps, pause reps, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the snatch grip deadlift?
It’s a deadlift variation involving a wide overhand grip typically used in weightlifting movements.
Which muscles does the snatch grip deadlift work?
The snatch grip deadlift works the legs, back, and core, plus biceps, and forearms due to pulling and gripping the barbell. Although, it’s an upper back dominant movement due to the wide grip.
What's the difference between the snatch grip deadlift and conventional barbell deadlift?
The snatch grip deadlift involves a very wide grip, relatively low body position at the bottom of the movement, and knees are pointed outward to more easily move out of the way of the bar path.
The conventional barbell deadlift involves a narrower grip that places the body in an optimal position to be able to pull the most weight possible.
What are the benefits of the snatch grip deadlift?
The snatch grip deadlift builds muscle, strength, and grip while having carryover to the traditional snatch in addition to being an overall functional movement.
We hope there was sufficient information for you to be able to program the snatch grip deadlift in your training if you haven’t already.
It’s a very beneficial movement for strength, hypertrophy, and function so anyone can utilize this variation to improve overall performance and fitness.