Snatch Grip Deadlifts | The Ultimate Guide!


deficit snatch grip deadlift

Are you curious about snatch grip deadlifts? 

Do you want to know how to use the snatch grip deadlift to build a strong posterior chain, and a massive upper back?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, I will teach you exactly how to use snatch grip deadlifts to build size and strength.

Introduction

The snatch grip deadlift is one of the best exercises you can do to build size and strength. No other exercise even comes close!

This isn’t just my opinion, though.

Many of the world’s greatest strength coaches (past and present) including Pierre Roy, Charles Poliquin, Wolfgang Unsold, and Ian King use this exercise extensively with their athletes to produce superior results in record time!

So what is a snatch grip deadlift?

A snatch grip deadlift is a variation of the conventional deadlift. The key difference is you use an ultra-wide grip. Your goal is to grip the barbell as wide as possible!

Here is a perfect video demonstration of the snatch grip deadlift:

This wide grip increases the range of motion of the exercise, and increases recruitment of all the major muscle groups, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and upper back.

Charles Poliquin says this is the single best exercise you can do for building size and strength. Check it out:

“If you told me you were going to jail and only had a barbell and didn’t want to get raped in the showers and could only do one exercise to put mass and strength on, then I’d tell you to do the snatch deadlift on a platform.”

Talk about an endorsement!

Proper Exercise Technique

The snatch grip deadlift performed from a deadlift is a very demanding and highly technical exercise.

I am sure you all have seen someone in the gym approach a traditional conventional deadlift with a “grip it and rip it” attitude.

Well, you have to abandon that attitude with this exercise!

In reality you have to consciously think about many aspects of the exercise while you are doing it, from keeping your butt down and torso erect to tensing your lats and drawing the barbell close to your body.

Let’s take a look at a video example:

There are technical aspects of this exercise that immediately stand out to me:

  • Item #1: He is using a very wide grip
  • Item #2: The starting position resembles a full squat
  • Item #3: The lower and upper back are arched
  • Item #4: The butt stays down throughout the exercise

This exercise really is quite different from an old-school conventional deadlift! Let’s examine each of these points in a little more detail:

Item #1: He is using a very wide grip

This is why the call the exercise a “snatch grip deadlift” – it resembles the starting position of a snatch from the sport of Olympic Weightlifting!

The snatch grip accomplishes a few things: first of all it helps to increase the range of motion of the exercise. You have to squat down further to reach the bar vs deadlifting with a shoulder-width grip. Although this reduces the amount of weight you can lift, it increases the overall effectiveness of the exercise.

This wide grip also makes your upper back (including your lats and scapular retractors) work MUCH harder during the exercise! This is a good thing, so long as you are not afraid of a little pain!

Item #2: The starting position resembles a full squat

Because of the platform and the ultra-wide grip the trainee has to squat down very low to achieve the appropriate starting position. In fact, his starting position practically resembles a full squat!

This is absolutely critical for increasing the recruitment of the quadriceps muscle and the vastus medialis.

Item #3: The lower and upper back are arched

Some powerlifters such as Konstantin Konstantinovs will round their back during deadlifts in order to lift more weight. This may be appropriate for a competition-style deadlift but it is not a good idea on this exercise!

In order to get the most out of the snatch grip deadlift you should maintain an arch in your lower and upper back throughout the entire movement.

You should also seek to actively contract your lats prior to initiating the first rep.

Item #4: The butt stays down throughout the exercise

This is another important point to understand. At no point during the exercise should you let your butt shoot up!

If your butt shoots up too quickly on the first rep, the weight that you have selected is too heavy. If your butt shoots up towards the end of your set, then you should immediately terminate the set.  Not only will the training stimulus be sub-optimal, but you will increase your risk for injury.

You may need to drop your ego down a notch or two to complete this movement with the appropriate form and weight. So be it! Remember: garbage reps gives you garbage results!

Now that we’ve covered the technique required to perform this movement, let’s dive into three major advantages of the snatch grip deadlift performed from a deadlift.

Snatch Grip Deadlift Variations

There are several variations of the snatch grip deadlift that you can perform in your workouts. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Option #1: The Deficit Snatch Grip Deadlift
  • Option #2: The Snatch Grip Rack Deadlift
  • Option #3: The Snatch Grip Deadlift With Bands

Let’s take a closer look at each of these options.

Option #1: The Deficit Snatch Grip Deadlift

The deficit snatch grip deadlift is performed while standing on a small platform 1-4 inches high.

The deficit increases the range of motion of the exercise even more. The bottom position of this exercise is almost like the bottom of a back squat!

This increased range of motion is very helpful for strengthening the lower back, as well as building slabs of functional hypertrophy all over your body.

The strength coach Charles Poliquin was a HUGE fan of this exercise. In fact, it formed the foundation of many of his training programs.

Option #2: The Snatch Grip Rack Deadlift

The snatch grip deadlift can also be performed in a power rack, with the plates elevated several inches above the ground.

This variation has the same advantages and disadvantages of the regular deadlift. You are performing the snatch grip deadlift through a shorter range of motion.

This means you can use more weight to overload the backside of your body.

However, the decreased range of motion means your quads and hamstrings will receive less stimulation.

Option #3: The Snatch Grip Deadlift With Bands

The snatch grip deadlift can also be performed with resistance bands. The bands make the exercise much more challenging at the top of the movement vs the bottom.

The bands also increase the speed of gravity on the exercise, which is a very powerful way to stimulate size and strength gains.

Overall, the snatch grip deadlift against bands is my favorite variation of this exercise. However, the other two options are also fantastic.

Sample Training Routines

By now I am sure you are eager to add this exercise to your exercise library. But how would an exercise like this fit into a normal routine?

I am glad you asked!

Let’s go ahead and examine 2 incredible training routines featuring the snatch grip deadlift. The first routine will be a higher-rep accumulation phase workout while the second routine will be a lower-rep intensification phase workout.

Note: if you have any difficulty reading these workouts then check out my article “How To Read A Workout Routine!” It will answer all of your questions 🙂

Sample routine #1

  • A1: Snatch Grip Deadlift (4 inch deficit), 4 x 10-12, 4/0/2/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: 45 degree back extension (barbell on back), 4 x 12-15, 2/0/1/2, 240 seconds rest
  • B1: Rear foot elevated split squat (DBs), 4 x 10-12, 2/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B2: Side step up, 4 x 10-12, 2/0/1/0, 180 seconds rest

Here are the training videos: exercise A1, exercise A2, exercise B1, exercise B2.

This is an awesome accumulation-style workout. It utilizes supersets to create more muscular damage than would normally be possible using straight sets.

After 3-6 exposures to this routine you can expect to pack slabs of muscle onto your legs and back!

Lower Body Sample Intensification Workout

  • A1: Snatch Grip Deadlift (2 inch deficit), 6 x 5,3,2,5,3,2, 3/0/X/0, 240 seconds rest
  • B1: Drop lunge, 4 x 5-7, 2/0/1/0, 90 seconds rest
  • B2: Lying hamstring curl (feet pointed out / plantarflexed), 4 x 5-7, 2/0/1/0, 90 seconds rest
  • C1: Reverse Hyperextension, 3 x 10-12, 1/0/1/0, 90 seconds rest

Here are the training videos: exercise A1, exercise B1, exercise B2, exercise C1.

This workout utilizes 5/3/2 wave loading to coax your body into making gains.

It is no surprise that I am a huge fan of wave loading protocols. I find they are one of the best ways to train for strength and functional hypertrophy.

Even many individuals have a hard time recovering from lots of lower-rep work seem to do AWESOME on a properly designed wave loading protocol.

This workout is much tougher than it looks. You’ve been warned!

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Conclusion | Snatch Grip Deadlifts!

The snatch grip deadlift is one of the most powerful exercises you can do to build size and strength.

Many legendary strength coaches including Charles Poliquin believe it is the single best exercise you can perform. Talk about an endorsement!

If you are looking for a new deadlift variation to shock your body into growth, then you have to try the snatch grip deadlift.

It could be just what you need to take your training to the next level!

“All I know is that the first step is to create a vision, because when you see the vision – the beautiful vision – that creates the want power.”

Thank you for reading and best of luck on your strength training journey!

 

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

What's going on! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen, I'm the creator of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to take your training to the next level, then you've come to the right place... My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world!

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