Here is a guest article on the benefits of the Snatch Balance by Andy Murphy, who is a 77kg lifter--100kg/120kg-- and a professional strength and conditioning coach. He has a degree in Sport's Science from the University of Limerick, an IAWA Weightlifting Level One coaching certificate, and he also happens to have a very short memory. Just ask Eamonn "Deadman" Flanagan--who has also contributed a guest article which you can look at here.
The Snatch Balance.
The snatch balance is an assistance exercise for the snatch. The snatch balance enables the lifter to become more efficient at receiving the bar in the overhead squat position.
The bar is taken from the rack behind the neck and held is position with the lifter's normal snatch grip. The lifter stands up straight with their normal snatch foot position and rotates the elbows forward underneath the bar. This is important, as otherwise when the bar is driven overhead, the bar will be pushed out in front.
The lifter bends the knees and then forcefully extends, pushing the bar overhead, while simultaneously pushing themselves under and driving the feet out into their normal snatch receiving position.
The lifter, after stabilising the bar overhead, stands back up with the bar held securely overhead and either lowers the bar back down to shoulders behind the neck or drops it to the floor depending on shoulder health, weight lifted or reps to be performed.
Some common faults on the snatch balance are:
1. Driving the bar too high and riding the bar down. The bar should be driven just high enough in order to enable the lifter to push them underneath and secure the bar in the receiving position.
2. Not moving the feet out into the normal squat position of the snatch.
3. Driving the bar out in front. This can be cured by rotating the elbows underneath the bar and also be having a more vertical dip and drive phase.
4. The feeling of the bar crushing down on the lifter. This is due to either bad timing or due to the lifter driving the bar up forcefully and just flopping under the bar instead of actively pushing themselves under the bar.
The snatch balance is an important exercise for lifters that are uncomfortable in the receiving position of the snatch or that miss lifts due to a poor lockout in the receiving position.
The advantages of the snatch balance over other assistance exercises such as overhead squat and snatch drops are:
1. You are required to stabilise the bar at speed overhead as you are descending under the bar similar to the snatch.
2. You are required to extend the hips, knees etc and then forcefully rebend while pushing yourself under again replicating the snatch.
3. You become accustomed to stabilising and supporting weights in excess of your best snatch and thus when you come to snatch heavy the stabilising and supporting phase of the catch proves to no longer be the limiting factor.
4. For people with wrist issues there is less strain on the wrist than in an overhead squat due to the fact that the bar is not holding their wrist in the extended position for as long.
I have had reasonable success with the use of this exercise in my training. In my own lifting I find I have a strong pull but during the turnover and lockout the arms tend to be very lazy and almost soft in the receiving position. I find the snatch balance enables me to be much more stable in the receiving position and also much more confident with heavier weights.
I have used the snatch balance as my main snatch exercise in a session and I have also used it as somewhat of a warm up exercise performing maybe 5 singles around 80-85 % of my best snatch before some snatch or hang snatch. I have also used it in my normal snatch warm up with 40-50% of my best snatch and find it really enables me to find a comfortable receiving position. I have found that in my own training it works best when it is followed by some type of snatch movement.
I have used mainly singles in this lift due to the awkward starting position which I feel would not be the safest to perform with multiple repetitions. I think lifters who sometimes have a problem stabilising the bar overhead in the bottom of the snatch could benefit hugely from the addition of this exercise to their training toolbox.
Here is a short video of Andy performing the Snatch Balance. If you have any thoughts on the article or comments, please leave them below. In my own training, I worked out on Saturday and Snatched 100 for four singles missing the last and had a token session after that and also another shoddy enough session today. I am still recovering from the volume that my nervous system is not used to yet.