This total-body exercise loved by CrossFitters is impressive—and crazy effective for building strength
Let’s call a spade a spade: This exercise is badass. To hoist weight from the ground and throw it up and overhead, like the Hang Power Snatch requires? That takes strength, coordination, and fierce determination—all of which you're at the gym to improve on, right? (Check out 8 Reasons You Need to Punch Up Your Workout Routine.)
But perhaps the biggest benefit of adding this move to your routine has to do with the power it yields. You’ve heard of plyometrics—and this move just might be king of that category of exercise. “Think about this as jumping with weight, and then catching the weight overhead with the arms straight, knees bent, and the hips shifted back,” says Pat Davidson, Ph.D., Director of Training Methodology at Peak Performance in New York City. (Try this Plyometric Workout: Jump Away the Jiggle.)
You’ll also strengthen your entire body—not just your arms and shoulders—while shoring up your agility, balance, and overall fitness, so other exercises will suddenly feel way easier. (Win-win!)
But, unlike some of the other moves we’ve covered in our #MasterThisMove series, you shouldn't attempt this one on your own at first. “The benefits of performing an exercise like this are high, but only if it is performed properly,” says Davidson, who recommends seeking out a qualified trainer or coach to walk you through the exercise, since it’s such a technical movement. But you can work on some prep work on your own now (and don't worry, we're still going to show you how to master it!). Try the overhead squat and the Romanian deadlift (RDL) to get the movement pattern down.
When you're ready to attempt the full movement, read up on the steps below—and try it with a PVC pipe if you don’t have a coach to help you through it. Work three to five reps of three to five sets of this move (or one of the prep moves) into your routine two to four days a week.
A Position your hands wide apart on a barbell. To find the right width, spread hands—with straight arms—until the barbell is at a height that is halfway between where the bottom of your pants zipper would be and where the waist band of your shorts/pants would be. Shift your knees back so the bar is just above the knees in the start position. Keep the chest lifted, and do not arch your back. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings in the start position.
B You need to generate enough force to get the bar from the start to the finish. To accomplish this, you need to try to jump, which will extend the hips and knees while pointing the toes. This movement is called triple extension. The ability to get the bar from down by your knees to overhead requires you to use your legs. This part is not slow and controlled in the least bit. The force you create with your legs should drive the bar vertically. This will cause the bar to move via momentum—avoid the temptation to pull the bar vertically with your arms and hands. Let the arms guide the bar along the path that the legs started. Let the elbows float towards the ceiling after you jump.
C You want to catch the barbell in a slight overhead squat position. Try to land with flat feet and the weight on the heels, knees bent slightly. The arms should be locked out at the elbow. You should be actively reaching the bar straight towards the ceiling with your shoulders shrugging towards the ears. To return to start, slightly bend in your knees and lower the barbell to your quads, keeping the bar close to your body and your back as straight and upright as possible.