How to Do Barbell Snatches: Techniques, Benefits, Variations

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Target: Biceps, quads, abs, shoulders, triceps, biceps, etc

Necessary equipment: dumbbells, discs, barbell clamps

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

The dumbbell loops are a hallmark of CrossFit. At CrossFit Games, “the strongest people on earth” seem to effortlessly lift hundreds of pounds overhead, landing in an overhead squat or power pose. They make snaps look so easy, but years of training have helped perfect the technique and learn how to quickly send heavy loads over your head.

The dumbbell loop is arguably one of the most technical weightlifting moves in existence, surpassing even the barbell push, loop, and pushup in complexity and difficulty.

Anyone can learn how to do the dumbbell loop, but everyone has to be willing to commit to practicing for hours, days, weeks, and even years. Winning the good fight is not easy but it is worth it, as evidenced by the benefits below.


Weightlifting has many benefits for your overall health.

Full body strength

Mastering the dumbbell loop will pay off. Not only can you get the weight to fly over your head and catch it with ease, but the motion also transfers to other lifts. As you begin to pull, pay attention to squats, deadlifts, and shoulder presses. You can see your numbers growing.

Engine control and coordination

Lifting weights will teach you to tune into your body and open your mind to muscles you didn’t even know you had. You’ll learn to execute the perfect timing, train the right muscles with the right amount of force, and master the reception positions to safely catch the barbell.

Strength and explosive ability

You don’t always think of these two traits when you think of “getting in shape”. However, bounce and explosiveness play an important role in overall fitness. As you develop strength and explosiveness, you’ll find that you can jump higher, run faster, and perform most sports with improved fitness.

Core stability

Core strength and stability are crucial for safekeeping. If you lack the ability to stabilize or engage your center of gravity, you can get back pain when doing dumbbell jerks (or really doing anything).That said, practicing jerking with very light weights, such as with a hollow bar, can teach you to stabilize your center of gravity while also teaching you jerk technique.


Hip and shoulder mobility is a must. To perform the dumbbell loop with good technique, you need to get into a deadlift with a wide grip, as well as locking your elbows and shoulders overhead. Practicing loops can help you get to these positions, and they’ll come easily in the end.

Step by step instructions

To get ready for the dumbbell loops, you’ll need a barbell, discs, and barbell clamps. You need the bumper because the bar has to be at shin height when it’s on the ground and if you need a lighter weight you can’t do this without the bumper. For example, a 10-pound multiple has the same diameter as a 45-pound multiple; it’s just thinner.

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Your starting position looks like a deadlift, but with a significantly wider grip. Bend down so you can fully grasp the bar, but keep your chest high and your eyes looking ahead. Don’t look at the ground or spin your spine. The bar should glide over your shoelaces and graze your shins. Tighten your core and breathe deeply.

  1. The first pull is basically a deadlift with additional power from your hips. Using strength in your glutes and hamstrings, stand up with dumbbells and push your hips forward. Squeeze your glutes hard, but don’t push the bar away from your hips. The bar should be close to your body, grazing or nearly grazing your hips as it moves upwards.
  2. The second pull can be compared to a dumbbell swing or a vertical row that explodes for traps. With hips still fully extended, continue to push the bar upward by shrugging your shoulders up near your ears. You may also be on tiptoe at this point.
  3. To bring the dumbbells overhead, pull your elbows up (imagine pulling them across to your ears) and quickly flip them over so your palms are facing forward. Hold your shoulders and elbows. At this point, it is important to prevent the weight from continuing to move backwards. If you don’t stop the weight by locking your shoulders, the bar will continue its path, potentially injuring you or dragging you down with the weight.
  4. Take the barbell in a support position (knees slightly bent, like a squat) or an overhead squat, whichever is more comfortable for you. Make sure your elbows and shoulders are stacked and locked. Keeping your body tight, step your feet back to a natural standing position. Now the representation is complete.
  5. Finally, you can bring the barbell back to the ground. Do so with control. Don’t just drop the barbell from overhead. First, bring the bar back to hip level. From there, lay it down as if you were completing the deadlift. You can come back to do another rep after resetting your starting position or taking a break.

Common mistake

With an advanced move like the dumbbell loop, it’s important to be aware of the potential mistakes you could make.

Pulling too soon

Many people feel the urge to “lower” the bar too quickly, leading to an early withdrawal. This isn’t necessarily a fatal mistake, but it can certainly hinder your progress. If you pull the bar up too early, you won’t get the most out of your hips and you’ll find yourself stuck at a certain weight.

Missing full hip extension

This mistake is also about using maximum strength from your hips. A big part of starting success comes from motivation – momentum you won’t be able to achieve if you don’t extend your hips all the way. For a full stretch, think about squeezing your glutes as hard as you can as the bar crosses your thighs.

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Bar path is faulty

Newer athletes tend to swing the bar far in front of their body. Not only does this make you more likely to get injured, but it also makes the exercise extremely ineffective — when you swing the bar out, you make yourself work harder. Hold the barbell close to your body for the duration of the lift. Many trainers will even ask athletes to lightly tap the barbell against their legs and hips on the way up.

Incorrect setting

A poor setup means poor execution, and this holds true for any gain. If your setup is faulty, you probably won’t time your pull correctly, and you’ll likely not keep the bar close enough to your body, potentially causing you to miss your lift.

Poor time

Timing is one of the hardest aspects of the lift. Without the right time, the exercise will become less effective and potentially dangerous. To master the timing of snaps, practice a few variations of the snap below.

Modifications and Variations

Olympic elevators are extremely scalable, thanks in part to their complexity. You can break the barbell into different sections to practice and perfect any problem areas.

PVC Snatches

Most lifting trainers ask new athletes to do the loop with a PVC tube, so they can feel the exercise without using weights like crutches. Even an empty barbell can disguise technical error, so using a piece of virtually weightless plastic can help improve bad form in the first place.


A jerk is basically a jerk without using your hips. You also don’t “lower” the bar while jerking, as it’s done without any leg movement. This jerky variation can help people who have difficulty with upper back and shoulder strength.

This video can help you learn how to jerk a muscle.

Pause snapshot

Pausing forces the lifter to segment the movement and build strength in problem areas. You can add a pause at any point while looping the barbell, but most commonly, athletes add a pause at the top of any of the three pulls. For example, you can pause at the end of the first pull if you’re having trouble with hip extension and explosiveness. In general, the higher the pause, the less weight you can use.

Here’s a helpful video illustrating a pause.

Tall Snatch

This bait accessory or movement helps you develop speed and improve your mechanics during the “third pull” and “spin” part of the dumbbell loop. To do the high recoil, start with your hips fully extended. The point is to practice the recoil that involves flipping your elbows to bring the weight over your head.

Watch this video to learn how to do the high recoil.

Snatch-Grip Deadlift

The grip deadlift can help you improve the first part of the dumbbell loop: getting it off the ground. To do a deadlift with the racquet handle, simply set up as if you were about to do a loop and raise the weight as if you were doing a deadlift. It’s basically a wide grip deadlift. You can use more weight for this move, because you won’t have to move too high and because the goal is to develop strength in your hamstrings, glutes, back, and grip.

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Here’s a helpful video demonstrating the deadlift while holding.

Dumbbell Snatches

This variation of the one-arm pull-up is great for beginners who aren’t yet comfortable with the barbell, as well as advanced athletes who want more cardio-stimulating effects. Light jerks are great for building endurance, while heavy loops can build strength throughout your back sequence.

This helpful video demonstrates the dumbbell pull-ups.

Kettlebell Snatches

The dumbbell jerk is basically an advanced version of the dumbbell abduction. The form of the kettlebell makes it harder to lift at the right time and catch the weight.

Safety and Precautions

Because form and technique are so essential to the dumbbell loop, it’s important to keep some precautions in mind during your weightlifting session.

Use PVC for practice

While you can do the pull up in any space with dumbbells, this move is common in CrossFit gyms and most CrossFit gyms use PVC tubing for training. They do this because the weightlessness of PVC pipes exposes flaws in your technique and forces you to focus on form. The funny thing is that pulling the rope is more difficult with a PVC pipe than it is with an empty barbell. Many newbies to weightlifting are shocked at how difficult a PVC pipe can be.

Practice under the supervision of a coach

If you’re new to CrossFit, weightlifting, or exercise in general, it’s best to do your jerky moves under the supervision of a trainer. Have your trainer follow you until you feel comfortable enough with the movement that you can confidently say, “I can do this without hurting myself.” Coaches may ask you to fix your form and prevent injury when it’s time to make the catch.

Perfect technique first

Usually, weightlifters rush to add weight to the barbell. With pull-ups, adding more weight before perfecting the technique is a bad idea – this move is complex and requires near-flawless form to avoid injury. Of course, no one does a perfect loop all the time (except elite and Olympic weightlifters), but you should get to the point where you can safely do it consistently first. when packing weights on weights.


Combine this and similar moves into one of these popular exercises.

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