Love Letter – Why do we do snatches?

A couple of weeks ago I had a friend ask me “Josh, when will I ever have to do a dumbbell snatch in my life?”. I gave her an answer but I left feeling as if I could have given her a better answer. To this day, the answer I provided her has bothered me so I’ll explain to y’all in two parts why we perform the Olympic Weightlifting movement called the snatch.

Have you ever wondered to yourself why we perform this movement? We perform functional movements in this gym which means the movements we do in here should be relatable to life. If you were required to put an item over your head, will you perform a snatch? The answer is most likely not. What you would do is a combination of the following movements: you would do a deadlift then a hang power clean and then one of the presses you’ve learned (Strict, Push, Jerk). That’s most likely how you would get an item above your head. So who performs snatches in life?

I see it done in life 4 times a week. That’s how many times I’m with my daughter a week. Everytime I’m with my daughter, she performs a single item snatch. Whether it’s a toy or her shoe for me to put on or her cup that she dropped, she snatches that item up. She bends over and in one complete sequence, brings that item above head to hand it to me. Sounds familiar? That’s a snatch. So the answer for part one is, as an adult you most likely won’t perform a snatch in life but what makes it functional is that it’s done by kids everyday without them even learning it. They just snatch.

The second answer to this question is this, a snatch tests your competency in all of the 10 components of fitness. The 10 components of fitness is one of the three models that CrossFit uses to define fitness. The 10 components are: endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, accuracy, balance and coordination. You’re only as fit as you are competent in all 10 of those components. If you suffer in one of those components, it can be seen. When you perform a snatch, all 10 of those components are being tested. If it’s hard to get the barbell or dumbbell above your head, you might lack overhead flexibility. If it’s hard to pull under the bar, you might lack speed. If you feel unstable receiving the bar, you might lack balance. I won’t go through all ten but you get the point. All 10 of those components are required to be healthy and fit in life.

So the answer I should have provided my friend was this, “You won’t ever be required to perform a dumbbell snatch or any sort of snatch in life. But the reason we perform a snatch is because it test your competency in the 10 components of fitness and also the functionality of snatching is seen in kids which means, we should always strive to move as we did when we were young.”

If someone ever ask you why you perform a snatch, let them know this. If someone ever says snatching is dangerous tell them NOT doing a snatch is dangerous (or a version of it) and doing it improperly is dangerous.



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