Why You Should Try the Clean Grip Snatch
Snatches are hard enough as is—combining dynamic, explosive strength, speed, and timing with a mobility challenge for every major joint in your body. It can take years for an average athlete to get decently confident with full snatches and even then they’ll probably never reach elite Olympic caliber.
As is common in the strength and conditioning world, we love to make hard things harder.
Experiment with this Hybrid Olympic Lift
A close grip or clean grip snatch is exactly that: a snatch performed with your grip at a narrower width instead of the standard wide grip. Your hands hold the bar at just outside shoulder width, like the grip you’d use for a clean and jerk.
So what’s the point? To make an already challenging movement even meaner? We love to see it.
Weightlifting coaches don’t often program clean grip snatches as something to hammer and get really good at. They seem to be mostly for fun, but they actually do have a few benefits as a weightlifting drill. Use clean grip snatches to:
- Work on massive hip extension to get the bar as high as possible
- Dial in focus on keeping the bar close to your body
- Train more aggressive pulls & turnovers
- Improve your overhead squat mobility
- Play with something different on light training days
As with all Olympic weightlifting, your joints and tissues should be healthy enough to execute the movement without pain. Since the clean grip snatch requires greater shoulder and t-spine mobility, it can be extra taxing on your upper trunk. Poor daily posture will catch you here.
On the flip side, the clean grip snatch is a good substitute for regular snatches in a couple of instances (provided your mobility is solid). If the angle of a regular snatch grip width is weird on your shoulders or wrists, but you can do jerks or other overhead pressing movements just fine, clean grip snatches might be a good variation to try.
Whatever the state of your body, we recommend warming up with some solid mobility exercises before impressing your friends with your monkey tricks.
Check out our guide below, give them a try, and feel the weird magic of CGS for yourself.
How to do a Clean Grip Snatch
Points of Performance
You can start with an empty barbell and try the clean grip power snatch from the hang position to get a feel for the movement. Hold the bar down at your hips with a clean grip (just outside shoulder-width) then execute the following steps. Add some light plates to your bar when you’re ready to try a full clean grip snatch from the floor.
Coach’s Tip: Some coaches like to differentiate the clean grip snatch from the close grip snatch. A “close grip” is actually a little wider than clean grip, but still narrower than a standard snatch grip. Try them both to level up your snatch game. (PS. living for the coaches hype at the end of that video.)
With your loaded barbell on the floor, find your stance. Your feet should be about hip-width apart with the barbell over your midfoot. Crouch down to grip the bar with that narrower overhand clean grip. Keep your wrists down, arms straight, and chest over the bar.
Work through all three segments of the pull in the “fast, faster, fastest” mindset. Start the pull from the floor to the knees, then knees to mid-thigh. Notice how the bar makes contact with your body just below your hips, lower than a standard snatch. This means you’ll have to work harder to keep the bar close and execute the next part of the movement with lightning quickness.
Turnover & Catch
When you reach full “I’m about to do a backflip” hip extension, jump and shrug the bar up. Bend your elbows at the last second and pull yourself under the bar so it lands above your head. Your chest should be upright and your arms straight.
If you’re stopping at the power position, you’ll have significantly less time to make the catch, so your speed needs to be on point. For a full squat, try to land in the bottom at the same time your elbows lock out.
If you made it to this point, congrats. Keep the bar overhead, stand up out of the squat, and feel victorious.
Since the clean grip is a much narrower base for supporting the weight overhead, it’ll challenge your balance and ability to adjust your center of gravity. You’ll have to be super stable on your feet in the bottom position. All of this translates really well to one-arm kettlebell or dumbbell snatch movements.
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Remember, Weightlifting is Fun!
Regardless of what minor controversies this obscure movement has generated in the WL world over the years, the bottom line is that clean grip snatches feel interesting. It’s always worthwhile to stay curious about technique/movement patterns. And to lift for the fun of it.
Also, if you want to get some weird looks from your lifter friends, try the clean grip snatch balance.
Lily is TrainHeroic’s Marketing Content Creator and a CF-L1 with an English background. She was a successful freelance marketer for the functional fitness industry until being scooped up by TrainHeroic. An uncommon combo of bookish, artsy word-nerd and lifelong athlete, Lily is passionately devoted to weightlifting, CrossFit, yoga, dance, and aerial acrobatics. Find her showcasing her artist-athlete hobbies on IG @lilylectric.
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