Vertical jump training is my specialty, simply because it is one of the most important factors to my success as a basketball player. Due to this, I have found many ways to adapt vertical jump training and methods of how to increase my vertical jump, along with the obvious desire to get bigger and look more cool. Which is why I love the snatch grip deadlift.
The snatch grip deadlift is an amazing exercise and is highly underutilized at this point in time because it probably won’t get you too many views on Instagram, something which has completely taken over the actual functionality of training your body.
The snatch grip deadlift will boost your vertical jump, sprinting speed, movement quality, overall posterior chain strength, back width and thickness, trap size, and much more. Why do more people not use this exercise? Answer: I have no idea.
Basically, the snatch grip deadlift is a deadlift where your hands are wider and your feet narrower. Due to this, you are forced to sit lower and pull from a slightly more awkward angle. The benefit of this is that you are forced to use a unique and underutilized set of muscles in your posterior chain to perform the exercise.
One time I read a quote from a Russian Olympic lifter (great explanation of the scenario, I know), which said that the biggest problem that American powerlifters have is that we always are pulling the bar from positions which make the pull “easier.” Basically, he called us soft. But it is true!
How often do you see our people pulling sumo deadlifts or with the bar on blocks, compared to from deficits or from the snatch grip? Just recently we are starting to catch the rest of the world in powerlifting and Olympic lifting strength, even though we have an incredibly higher total population. We should have better lifters due to sheer numbers, right?
Pulling from a position of advantage over the bar is easier and makes moving weight easier, I know. It aids in “bar speed,” whatever that actually means, and it has helped some of our lifters with pretty good totals. However, I honestly believe, we could do better!
There is not good research on the benefits of the snatch grip deadlift at this point in time (hmmmmm), but we can make some good causation/correlation deductions based off of other research! According to an article posted in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, when comparing the sumo deadlift and the conventional deadlift,
“Quadriceps, tibialis anterior, hip adductor, gluteus maximus, L3 and T12 paraspinal, and middle trapezius activity were significantly greater in higher knee flexion intervals compared with lower knee flexion intervals, whereas hamstrings, gastrocnemius, and upper trapezius activity were greater in lower knee flexion intervals compared with higher knee flexion intervals.” http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/11932579
This is science talk for saying that deadlifting with a bigger range of motion works more muscles and works your body harder, while deadlifting with a smaller range of motion works less muscles and is less difficult for your body.
You will be able to receive greater benefits, without risking jumper’s knee or any other similar annoying injury!
Wow! Incredible deduction!
Let’s apply that too the snatch grip deadlift! The snatch grip deadlift promotes the highest overall range of motion when compared with any other deadlift except the deficit deadlift, so I believe that this inevitably will work the most muscles, and have the most overall benefits for you!
Vertical Jump Benefits of the Snatch Grip Deadlift
For people focused on increasing their vertical jump, the snatch grip deadlift is legit a savior.
If you can perform a full snatch with perfect movement quality, don’t deadlift. Ever. You don’t need too.
For us who cannot do this regularly, use the snatch grip deadlift! Many of us athletes have the major problem of having dormant glute muscles.
Not just the mirror glute muscles, but the glute muscles which actually help you to run faster and jump higher.
My advice is that for an athlete, think about how much you could maximally deadlift right now in a sumo or conventional stance, and then think about how strong you would be if you could pull that amount of weight or more from a snatch position!
I am 100% sure this will help your ability to move in your sport, as well as make you incredibly fast and with an improved vertical jump!
Furthermore, one of the lesser seen but just as important benefits of working on the snatch grip deadlift is that you are forced to actually improve your quality of movement. Conventional deadlifts and sumo deadlifts can be done even with heavy weights, with bad form. This is not good. Especially for those competing in athletic competitions.
Lower back injuries are not fun, and neither are massive imbalances in your body. The snatch grip deadlift makes you become honest with your body in terms of how much weight that you can move, as well as how you move it. Try lifting more weight than you can from a snatch position, I am pretty sure you will not get far at all with it!
Consistent snatch grip deadlifts will properly strengthen your lower back, and help you avoid injuries from bad training!
Implementing the Snatch Grip Deadlift in Your Program
Personally, I like reps between 2 and 5 for this. Even a large amount of singles can do great work. I would not worry about doing high-rep sets of this, because the benefits come from even your very first rep!
My favorite workout for snatch grip deadlifts is 5-7 sets of 2reps around 80% of what my 1 rep max would be (1 rep snatch grip max). I choose to tone down the weight when doing these because the movement pattern is just as important as the weight move, and you will still make incredible gains over time by working sub maximally in this fashion, I promise!
Another piece of advice I have is that if you want to focus on really bringing your strength up on this movement, ditch the back squat for this amount of time! Until you are extremely comfortable with the movement, there is no need for the added lower back strain. You are working your body hard enough with this movement! This pairs much better with the front squat, or my favorite-the goblet squat.
Goblet squatting goes great in your routine with the snatch grip deadlift as it improves your overall flexibility and movement quality, while also adding strength to necessary parts of your legs!
Along with this, I would also recommend some serious time sitting in a “3rd world squat.” This will work to open your hips and lower back, allowing better form and more weight moved over time!
Using the Single Leg Deadlift with and the Snatch Grip Deadlift
If you are looking for one single exercise to pair with the snatch grip deadlift, my recommendation to you is the single leg deadlift. Using these two moves in the same workout may not seem correct since they are both types of “deadlift,” but the single leg deadlift is an excellent single leg exercise to correct any imbalances that are created through bilateral movements.
The single leg deadlift requires a greater level of balance and coordination than the snatch grip deadlift, which is precisely why they are perfect exercises to pair together.
Being able to deadlift 500lbs is great for a power lifter, but it can have adverse effects on your body if you are an athlete. As an athlete, you need to be strong and stable on each leg, not just on both legs at the same time!
This is not to say that the snatch grip deadlift or other deadlift variations are bad, just that they can be more limited in effectiveness than their single leg “cousin.”
Posterior Chain and Core Strength Activation
Your posterior chain muscles are almost always underdeveloped, and this is certainly an area that the snatch grip deadlift works on.
Pairing the snatch grip deadlift with the single leg deadlift is an excellent way to make sure that you are targeting the posterior chain muscles enough!
According to one publication in the US National Library of Medicine, female athletes who show a combination of reduced hamstrings size and strength, and high relative quadriceps size strength, may be exposed to the increased risk of non-contact ACL injury.
Meaning, over-dominant quadriceps can cause movement imbalances, causing very serious injuries!
I personally suggest doing the single leg deadlift first, before your snatch grip deadlifts. This allows you to prime the movement pattern so you can attack heavier weights with your snatch grip deadlift.
One example of a way to make this stability movement even better, is by performing it on a BOSU ball!
This obviously won’t be a movement that is meant to add any discernable amount of muscle mass, but it will certainly help you with muscle activation.
Together, your glutes and hamstrings will be stronger than ever before!
Conclusion of Snatch Grip Deadlift Benefits
The snatch grip deadlift is great, it really is. I am all for pushing towards goals, and right now one of mine is to pull 500lbs from the ground, and being a 6’ 10” basketball player I believe this is pretty respectable! I have worked my way up to 480lbs on a few occasions before finally bailing out (note, I’ve also never used any type of assistance i.e a belt or wrist straps), and am committed to reaching this!
As an athlete though, I also need to be focused on working my body the way that it needs to be worked to be successful on the court. It’s not all about the Instagram videos!
If you are looking to increase your vertical jump or bolster your vertical jump training program, run faster, build more stable legs, or perform better in your sport; the snatch grip deadlift is for you! Likewise, if you want to build a wide and thick upper back with massive traps, the snatch grip deadlift is for you! Lastly, if you are a female and wanting to build a perfectly shaped backside; the snatch grip deadlift is for you!
Find a way to add this movement in to your program, because the benefits are real!