The Muscles Used During a Snatch Exercise

Snatches can be done with a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell.
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The snatch exercise is an explosive weight-training exercise that targets the entire body. The snatch has been used by weight lifters for years to develop strength and power, but it is more than a weight-lifting exercise. The snatch ramps up your heart rate as well, making it a complete workout including strength and cardiovascular.

How to Perform a Snatch

    To perform a snatch properly, your entire body must be involved. Although the movement is simple, only experienced exercisers or those who have a trainer to monitor their form should perform them. To begin, straddle either a barbell, kettlebell or dumbbell with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. For a kettlebell or dumbbell, grab the weight with one hand and for the barbell grab it with both. Squat down to grab the weight and pull the weight off the floor by extending the hips and knees. Then in one fluid movement, vigorously swing the weight overhead. The weight should stay in front and close to your body throughout the entire movement. Knees should be slightly bent and arm should be straight above the shoulder. Rise out of a the squat and straighten arm toward the ceiling. Reverse the movement to complete one repetition.


    The quadricep muscle is worked most intensly during the snatch movement. Almost all of the power comes from the quadriceps, including the initial pull movement of the snatch to the final push through the legs to stand up. The quadriceps help to stabilize the knees and the body throughout the exercise, keeping you balanced as you drive the weight up overhead.


    The gluteus maximus is the largest out of the glute muscles and is the primary influence on the hip extension during the snatch exercise. The glutes are worked during the initial squat and pull of the exercise, with the glutes being used to pull the weight off the ground. The glutes are again engaged at the end of the movement when the exerciser pushes through the legs to stand up straight.

Delts and Traps

    The upper body, especially the delt and trap muscles found in the shoulders and upper back and neck area, are used throughout the snatch exercise. The initial pull of the weight off the floor brings the traps and delts into play. These muscles are targeted once again with the final catch and push of the weight overhead.

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