Snatch and Form

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For Load:

          1-1-1-1-1-1-1 Rep Rounds


Many of us worked the basic drills of the Snatch with light weight, practicing the movements, the overhead squat, building our foundations, being patient with technique.  We do that so we can do well with heavier loads as we get better and stronger at form.  It reminded me of the essay on What Is Virtuosity? and thought it appropriate to share it again as a reminder to us all.

Learning these basic movements and skills, learning them well and
maintaining good form as a base to build on is what we strive for.  As
form improves in the movement, we can then start to introduce loads and

Jon Gilson, of Again Faster, has written yet another article that perfectly ties in with this.  I have been hammering several of you on your squat lately, asking you to do multiple "wall squats", working that uprightness in the squat.  This essay perfectly illustrates why.

A Case for the Upright Squat

by Jon Gilson      


The upright squat—hips under the shoulders, back arched, weight on the
heels—requires tremendous strength, stability, and motor control.  It’s
less-than-upright cousin, the powerlifting squat, requires the same,
although it puts the hips behind the shoulders and the torso at a
forward angle.   

There is no question that the powerlifting
squat allows athletes to move greater loads.  Simple observation
adequately proves this point.  The end goal of the powerlifter—to put
up the biggest total possible—is borne out again and again using this

We do not practice the squat as an end in itself, but rather as a steppingstone to the high-power Olympic lifts.

Nonetheless, my athletes are taught to strive for a perfectly upright
torso, bypassing the weight-bearing advantages of the powerlifting
squat.  The reason is transferability. 

Given our goal of
developing athletic power, it is not enough that my athletes possess
the ability to move large loads.  They must also be able to move them
long distances extremely quickly.  In addition to maximizing strength,
we seek to maximize speed and range of motion.  For this reason, we do
not practice the squat as an end in itself, but rather as a
steppingstone to the high-power Olympic lifts.

execution of these lifts, in which maximal loads are moved from the
ground to overhead in mere seconds, requires a rock-bottom squat and a
vertical torso.  Due to the dynamic nature of these lifts, any forward
lean unacceptably exacerbates the torque around the hip, increasing the
possibility of failure. 

Again, observation adequately
proves the point.  Snatches and cleans are caught atop upright squats
and brought to standing.  When the athlete is unable to bring the spine
under the bar with the hips directly below the shoulders, the weight
inevitably hits the platform.

While a debate on the
relative merits of powerlifting and weightlifting is beyond the scope
of this discussion, the former does not develop many of the qualities
we want in a well-rounded athlete.  Flexibility stands first and
foremost.  An upright squat, especially in combination with the rack
position seen in a proper clean, demands and develops flexibility in
the legs, back, shoulder girdle, arms and wrists.  This full-body
flexibility is a prerequisite to successful gymnastics—muscle-ups,
kipping pull-ups, planches, straddles, and hip pullovers all require
pliable body parts. 

Add to this the accuracy, agility,
and balance components of the Olympic lifts and their transferability
to nearly any sport, and it’s easy to see why our athletic journey
progresses beyond the powerlifting squat.

Squatting style
is an individual decision, predicated entirely on the reason for
squatting.  If maximal strength is the goal, irrespective of speed, the
powerlifting version is the wise choice.  If the athlete is striving to
move beyond strength, into the realm of speed, power, and wide-ranging
athletic competence, the upright squat serves as the gateway. 

demonstrates a fully-transferrable air squat at CrossFit Boston.
Picture courtesy of the author.  For a tutorial on obtaining an upright
squat and additional reasons for doing so, check out Fixing the Squat on Jon’s Mic’d Instructor page.


Jason Snatched a PR today at 74kg=163 lb. (72kg is his bodyweight)  Really good to see you in here today, Jason and Sara.  We love you both a ton and want you to know how incredibly important you are to all of us!


  1. Patrick says:

    Thanks for the post Lisa. That video was great! Hopefully I can “mature” a little in the next few weeks.

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