Do you think you’re rather adept in the weight room? Feel pretty strong? You approach the loaded barbell, it’s deadlifting time, oh yeah, you’re a beast at this. Suddenly, the door creaks open behind you… a slow cadence of footsteps approach (maybe there’s a jingle of spurs to add to the ominousness).
“So, *snort* you think you’re some-bod-ee huh?” says a raspy voice. “Heh, heh, heh, heh,” the voice laughs derisively.
Beads of sweat break out on your forehead and the chalk on your hands slowly starts to disappear on your sweaty palms. It can’t be. Not him. Not today…
The snatch grip deadlift.
Yes, the snatch grip deadlift, the most humbling lift to ever saunter into a weight room. O! The abhorred and feared snatch grip deadlift! The bane of lifters’ pride everywhere. Like Mad-Eye Moody, the snatch grip deadlift looks a little scary, destroys weakness with the fervor of Moody attacking Death Eaters, and will humble proud lifters by turning us into bouncing, white ferrets.
Thus, if you’re at all interested in improving athletic performance, growing stronger, and upping your Jedi Mastery, then the snatch grip deadlift (SGD) needs to be in your strength box.
Why do them?
- The SGD improves hip mobility and increases the posterior chain muscles’ (glutes and hamstrings namely) strength rapidly. The starting position of the hips in a SGD is much lower than in a conventional pull, forcing the hips lower than a conventional or sumo stance. (Hooray mobility!) The hips must go through a greater range of motion which stretches the glutes and hamstrings at the bottom thus increasing the demand on said muscles to produce force. If the initial pull off the floor in a conventional deadlift is the weak link, the SGD is an excellent tool to strengthen the hamstrings (which play a prominent role in the first few inches off the floor). *Note* if you’re hip mobility blows and you’re unable to get to the bottom position without crumpling your spine, elevate the bar to a safe height, work on your mobility, and gradually decrease the elevation.
- Due to the wide grip, it challenges the upper back musculature and increases muscle recruitment of the following: erector spinae, rhomboids, rear deltoids, and the trapezius. Fellas, if you’ve ogled Bane’s traps, the SGD is for you! Ladies, you should not shy away from a muscular and well developed back; we don’t have enough testosterone to look like Bane (though, in my head, I am the female Bane) so train hard and do not hesitate to add SGDs into your training!!
Strong backs = more pull ups
- SGDs increase vertical jump height (all the basketball and volleyball players just perked up their ears…) Wha? That’s right, a very good jumper Please note that there will be additional updates from Power charter school during roster verification. will rely hip extension, not knee extension, to grab some air. Hip extension is created by glutes and hamstrings where as the quads and calves are responsible for knee extension. As informed readers and lifters, you all know that the glutes and hamstrings are FAR MORE POWERFUL than the quads and calves, especially in jumping. Look at these two pictures.
Notice any difference? The first is knee extension dominant while the second is hip extension dominant. Olympic lifters train the SGD (since it’s part of their sport) and I think their verts are pretty good?
Hopefully by now you’re convinced that you should add SGDs to your training. Let us, therefore, speak upon the subject of form.
1. Choose a conservative weight. Anywhere from 50-70% of your max. Actually, I’d start even lower if this is the first time, but that’s your decision.
2. Set up like a conventional stance, feet somewhere around shoulder-hip width.
3. Find your grip width. Kneel by the barbell, spread out your arms. Bend 90 degrees at the elbow, and move your hands straight down. That’s your grip (or at least a good starting point. Depending on your levers, you may have to adjust). I would do this before you’re first rep just so you don’t feel funky at the top. I’d also do this when no one is watching because, as my husband pointed out, you’ll look like you’re trying to do the Robot.
4. Grab that barbell, deep breath and brace.
5. Drop hips into position. (Read Dip, grip, and rip)
5.5. (as you drop the hips) Pull shoulder blades down and together and try to bend the bar around your legs.
6. Rip that sucker off the floor. Repeat steps 1-6.
CLICK ME FOR VIDEO (curse the lack of embedding! Yes, I know my knees are a bit wide, but I have a funky hip that won"t let me pull my knee in more.)
1. Round upper or lower back for the love of all things iron! If there’s rounding you need to either a) lower the weight or b) elevate the bar since your mobility might not be there yet.
2. Pop your hips up before lifting the weight off the ground. This movement is a sure fire way to piss off your back.
3. Rush your reps. NO BOUNCING the barbell between reps. Reset each time. Be patient, young padawan.
- Practice your set up. Load the bar up heavy enough that you know you can’t pull it off the floor. Practice your grip and dip (see, you need to read that link about gripping, dipping, and ripping….). Pull yourself into the bottom position (maintaining a neutral spine) and hold for :20-:30. Repeat 2-3 times to work on the necessary hip, ankle, and upper back mobility.
- Use a hook grip. Not at all related to Captain Hook. (an actual hook would be rather useless in this case) Here’s a picture of the hook grip:
I switched to using it for my conventional deadlifts (to great success! Your grip is much stronger like this which negates the need for a mix grip (one hand under, the other over) the heavier sets.) and the SGD can produce a funky grip and it’s nearly impossible to use a mix grip on a SGD. The hook grip takes care of that. Though, it can be rather uncomfortable near the thumb joint (until you get used to it)
So, my fellow iron lovers, has the snatch grip deadlift won over your heart?