The hang snatch is a great exercise for lower body power and explosiveness. Here’s a quick guide to help you perfect your hang snatch technique, learn key hang snatch variations, plus design your weightlifting programme with specific set, rep and weight recommendations to improve your hang snatches. We’ll be covering…
- What Is a Hang Snatch?
- Hang Snatch Variations Include:
- What is a Hang Snatch Good For? (Benefits)
- How Do You Do A Hang Snatch? (Snatch Technique)
- Looking for An Olympic Weightlifting Programme?
- How Much Should You Hang Snatch? (Weight Recommendations)
- Hang Snatch Sets & Reps
- Hang Snatch CrossFit
- Hang Snatch Alternatives
- Hang Snatch Summary and Infographic
- Next Steps
Let’s jump straight in.
What Is a Hang Snatch?
A hang snatch in olympic weightlifting is any snatch lift that is performed with the bar starting ‘hanging’ in front of your body rather than starting on the floor.
This means that the ‘hang snatch’ is actually quite a broad term that includes a few variations of exercises. Essentially high hang snatches, knee hang snatches and low hang snatches are all hang snatches.
Hang Snatch Variations Include:
High Hang Snatch:
In the high hang snatch you start with the bar around the ‘pocket’ area of your leg. This makes the high hang snatch variation great for focusing on the linking together of an aggressive, fully-extended second pull, with an accurate and well-timed pull under the bar.
Here’s a quick video of me demonstrating some high hang snatch triples:
Hang Snatch Above Knee
To perform hang snatches above your knee, start with your bar 1-2″ above your kneecap. Your shins should be close to vertical. This variation also helps to build an aggressive second pull and good timing under the bar, with the addition of slightly more hip hinge before the second pull begins.
Hang Snatch at Knee
When people say ‘hang snatch’ this is often what they mean. To perform hang snatches at the knee, start with the bar directly in front of your kneecap, with your shins vertical and shoulders over the bar. This variation is great for reinforcing and strengthening this specific position of the pull. Your shins should be close to vertical, back flat and core braced.
Here’s everyone’s favourite jacked boy klokov performing a hang snatch at knee:
Hang Below Knee, a.k.a the Low Hang Snatch
In the low hang snatch you start with barbell anything from 1-2″ below the knee to 1-2″ off the floor. It’s called the low hang snatches simply because the bar starts lower down your body. As a coach, I have my lifters perform low hang snatches when I want them to build specific strength in the lower positions of the snatch pull, plus they’re useful if you’re trying to learn how to properly move your knees backwards and keep the bar close as you rise.
Here’s me demonstrating a combination of snatch high pull plus low hang snatch:
What is a Hang Snatch Good For? (Benefits)
The hang snatch can develop lower body power and explosiveness, as well as full-body strength, stability and proprioception. The specific benefits of the hang snatch depend on how you perform it, which variation you perform and the weights, sets and reps you use. For example:
- A shot put or hammer thrower might perform 5 sets of 3 hang snatches at 60-70% of 1 rep max in order to build lower body power and explosiveness for their sport.
- Whereas an olympic weightlifter might perform 3 sets of 2 hang snatches at 70-85% of 1 rep max in order to improve the aggressiveness of their second pull alongside their timing under the bar.
“In other words, a hang snatch is a tool, but it’s up to you how you use it.“
How Do You Do A Hang Snatch? (Snatch Technique)
Good weightlifting is built on good technique. Here’s a quick hang snatch technique guide, taking you from the start of the rep to the finish:
- Pick the bar up from the floor with a flat back and strong brace. Once stood up, slightly bend your knees, then hinge at your hips to reach your desired starting hang position.
- Initiate the movement by extending at the hips and pushing the floor away.
- As you reach the ‘power position’ (upright torso, knees still slightly bent) you need to aggressively and maximally drive through the floor to extend your knees, as well as extending your hips by squeezing your glutes. This will give the barbell the majority of its upwards momentum.
- Once you’ve hit triple extension and aggressively accelerated the bar, it’s time to get under the barbell. This is an active process in which you reposition your feet and use your arms to get under the bar as quickly and accurately as possible.
- Catch the barbell in a deep, stable overhead squat position. Control the barbell and stand back up. If in a weightlifting competition, wait until your receive a “down” signal before dropping your bar to the floor.
Hang Snatch Movement Tips
With hang snatches, I like to coach my athletes to focus on 3 main things, weight distribution, posture and bar trajectory.
- Hang Snatch Weight distribution: Your weight should be over your midfoot, or ever so slightly behind midfoot. Avoid getting pulled onto your toes as this will shift your balance too far forwards.
- Hang Snatch Posture: You should have a flat back with your chest up and lats and abs tight and braced
- Hang Snatch Bar Trajectory: Keep the bar close to your body throughout the lift. For every inch the bar drifts away, you lose kilos off your total, and increase your chances of missing your lift.
Looking for An Olympic Weightlifting Programme?
I’ve put together a 13-week classic weightlifting programme.
It utilises the best evidence-based practice and focuses on the exercises, sets and reps proven to work, whilst cutting out the fluff and filler.
It also comes with full instructions, Q&A access, and a guide to auto-regulation/individualisation.
You can learn more about the programme by clicking right here.
How Much Should You Hang Snatch? (Weight Recommendations)
The weights you should use for hang snatches depend on your training goals and personal strengths and weaknesses. For example:
If you’re using hang snatches for technical work on lighter training days, you might use 60-70% of your 1 rep max. Whereas if you’re using them as a primary training movement on a heavy day you might use 75-85% of your 1 rep max.
If you’re a lifter who is really good as hangs but weaker from the floor, you might end up lifting at 90-105% of your 1 rep max. Whereas if you struggle with hangs but lift great from the floor, you might end up lifting at 65-75% of your 1 rep max, even on heavy days.
So there’s a fairly wide range of acceptable weights you can use.
What is a Good Snatch Weight for Beginners?
As a beginner weightlifter, your main focus should be to develop good technique, so don’t worry about how much weight is on the bar. As a coach, I often have my beginner lifters perform multiple sets of 5+ reps using just wooden sticks or lightweight training bars.
It might seem like a slow start, but in the long run you’ll progress faster and lift more weight.
Is Bodyweight Snatch Good?
A bodyweight snatch or hang snatch is a big goal for many lifters, and it generally represents that you’ve put a reasonable amount of time and effort into the exercise.
It’s also worth noting that due to allometric scaling a bodyweight snatch is easier for lighter lifters to achieve and harder for heavier lifters. (Just because you’re twice as big doesn’t mean you’re twice as strong)
Hang Snatch Sets & Reps
For most people hang snatches will be performed with 3 to 5 sets of 2 to 4 reps. This allows for quality technical practice, power and explosiveness development without too much fatigue breaking down movement patterns.
A heavier hang snatch session for a weightlifter might look something like 3 sets of 2 at 85% of 1 rep max.
A lighter more technical hang snatch session might look something like 5 sets of 3 at 60-70%. This is also a good session for power development for most athletes.
Hang Snatch CrossFit
The CrossFit hang snatch takes most set and rep recommendations and throws them out the window. Instead of being used to develop power, explosiveness or technique, the hang snatch is typically used within CrossFit as part of a multi-exercise workout, often against the clock.
A good example of hang snatches used in crossfit might be…
3 rounds for time of:
- Row 500 meters
- 21 hang power snatches
Or something like…
Isabel: which is 30 snatches performed as fast as possible
What this means is that you’ll typically be lifting lighter weights, or smaller percentages of your 1 rep max snatch, but under fatigue. You’ll have to do your absolute best to maintain your technique, even as your heart and lungs are working maximally.
You’ll also have to work on your barbell cycling technique, getting used to bouncing in and out of reps.
Hang Snatch Alternatives
Hang Power Snatch
The hang power snatch is a hang snatch in which the barbell is caught in an above parallel squat position. So you’re not going ‘ass to grass’ in your overhead squat when you catch.
This makes the hang power snatch a good alternative for people who struggle with mobility in their hips, ankles or shoulders, and who can’t quite get into a comfortable deep overhead squat.
It’s also a good alternative for lighter, technical training days.
Hang Snatch High Pull
The hang snatch high pull is a hang snatch variation in which the bar is aggressively accelerated upwards but never actually caught overhead. So you still perform your explosive second pull, and the bar travels upwards, but you make no attempt to pull underneath it like you would in a proper snatch.
This makes the snatch high pull a good alternative for people who really lack shoulder mobility or overhead stability, but still want to get most, if not all, of the lower body explosiveness benefits of hang snatch.
As a strength & conditioning coach, I’ve used the hang snatch high pull with rugby players, who very often struggle with tight shoulders, and found it to be a useful tool (alongside clean pulls) for building explosiveness
Hang Snatch Pull
The hang snatch pull is a hang snatch variation that simplifies the movement even further. In essence, it’s a snatch deadlift with an aggressive shrug at the end.
This makes the hang snatch pull a great option for athletes lacking mobility or dealing with overhead discomfort. The hang snatch pull is also commonly used by weightlifters after their main lifts to overload the pull, developing their pulling strength and explosiveness.
You would typically perform hang snatch pulls at anything from 90-130% of your best snatch.
Dumbbell Hang Snatch
The dumbbell hang snatch, or DB hang snatch, is a hang snatch variation in which you use a dumbbell instead of a barbell. The reduced stability means that you’ll use a much lighter weight.
The dumbbell hang snatch can be a good alternative for learning elements of the snatch movement pattern, or for putting into CrossFit style metcons for general conditioning. I’ve also found that people who have performed dumbbell hang snatches previously tend to learn the barbell hang snatch much easier.
Remember, though, the db hang snatch is no substitute for the proper barbell movement; the load is usually too light for optimal strength or power development, so keep it as an off-season or general conditioning exercise.
Hang Snatch Summary and Infographic
You’ve covered a lot of info here, so I’ve summarised it into a shareable infographic. Save it, print it, send it to your friends, it’s yours:
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‘Til Next Time
Alex Parry, MSc, BA
Alex is the Head content writer and Coach at Character Strength & Conditioning, as well as an Assistant Lecturer and PhD Researcher at the University of Hull.
His experience includes 7+ years within professional strength and conditioning, as well as working as a tutor & educator for British Weightlifting.