Are you starting to get into CrossFit just like me? Well you are in for a treat. There’s nothing more challenging and more exciting than a fresh workout every single day. But, with that, come many challenges, especially as a beginner. You’ve probably heard me state before that one of the best ways to get fit quickly and drop weight and gain muscle is to do multiple joint movement weight lifting exercises. It’s definitely the case with the Squat Snatch. The range of motion and weight you can lift with this movement can be great, but you must be weary and careful. In this article I’m going to focus on the Squat Snatch, but these principles can be used to further your overall fitness level. I’ll write about four things.
As with any exercise, it is always best to warm up. If you’re like me and you have a limited home gym, that can include jumping jacks, 8 count body builders/burpees, jump rope or high knees. Stretching is also important. If for no other reason than to reduce the possibility of injury, that gives me plenty of reason to stretch so you should too. Remember, the older, more out of shape, less experienced you are, the higher the potential for injury to occur. Let’s prevent that with warming up and stretching. This movement requires range of motion in your hips so work on that prior to this exercise.
Again, with any exercise that you have little experience with, I will always recommend practicing your form with no weight or very little weight to make sure you can do the movement correctly. In this case, I did my homework first as well. Youtube is an excellent resource for exercise tutorials. The following are two of the videos I found from what I consider to be reputable outlets to help me with my technique prior to beginning a Squat Snatch for the first time.
Watch them here http://youtu.be/EXntbWGJEqE from North State CrossFit and here http://youtu.be/L6SjuAOjMEk from California Strength. Now, make sure you can do the full range of motion with no weight or light weight before building up your weight trials. Repeat it multiple times. With a multiple muscle group and multiple joint movement like the Squat Snatch, I can’t stress proper form enough.
Previously I recommended that you choose no weight or a very light weight if you are a beginner at the Squat Snatch. I also recommended repeating the movement several times to build muscle memory into the movement. The reason for no weight allows you to concentrate on the movement and form itself prior to building on that weight for further reps. Now, you can add weight, but be conservative! Do not jump into a 135Lb. Squat Snatch if you have never done the movement before just because bumper plates look cool. I began doing 5 movements per weight to ensure that I could continue to retain proper form at that weight. If you complete a weight 5 times without breaking form, add weight. Moving on, continue this repetition. 5 Reps, add weight, but ONLY if you can maintain your form. Once you reach a point where the form and the weight cause you to waiver in form even slightly, you have found your max weight. DO NOT PUSH IT TO THE POINT OF COMPLETELY BREAKING FORM! If you have not reached the weight you were hoping for, then make a goal for your Squat Snatch and work towards achieving it at a later date. Now that you have established your max, reduce your weight to a comfortable level, say 10 to 15% less than max for your workout weight and continue to do repetitions of 5 movements.
Many mistakes can be made in this multiple joint, multiple muscle movement. To begin with make sure that your form is correct. Have I said this before??? It all starts with proper grip. If you have an improper grip, it will be more difficult to get the weight over your head. Ensure your grip is placed to where you can get a slight bend in your hips prior to your thrust upward. Second, during the thrust upward, you can easily begin to throw the weight outward from your body creating an arch or movement rather than a straight up and down movement. Do your best to ensure the weight travels straight up. The reason for that is that when the weight reaches the top, it can be moving in a horizontal direction and force you to use more arm strength to keep the weight steady at the top of the movement. That can result in disaster.
If you do this exercise correctly, it has the potential to be a massive builder of muscle and of stability for you. I felt this exercise in my shoulders, back, quadriceps and arms and it was a real eye opener for me. This movement is, after all, an olympic movement that is thankfully a major part of the CrossFit repertoire and for good reason. Get your form down and build your stability and strength with me!
Now, to be as transparent as possible, I will admit, that I took my first session of Squat Snatching too far. I did way too many reps for having never done this movement and I felt it for several days after this [sore]. There is NO NEED to push yourself that hard. Also, I reached my weight limit and went too far dropping the weight during a bad repetition at least once. Yes it will happen to you if you cannot control your form. The most difficult part for me was the squatting part. I can get the weight over my head with no issue, but getting into the squat and back up proved to be my stopping point. I am Squat Snatching a very low weight. My body is just not ready for real weight just yet. It’s humbling, but I would rather be capable of doing this movement with a moderate weight than to injure myself trying to catch up with the next guy so you shouldn’t either. It’s about a personal goal, not what other folks are lifting. So, with all that said, the Squat Snatch is now a welcome addition to my exercise routine and I have something to build from and achieve better form and higher weights in my future.
Now, lets go get a workout!