Dumbbell snatches might sound more like a nickname for a weight thief, but they're actually a highly demanding, ultra-effective fat burning, strength-building exercise. You won't see them in your average commercial gym, as they're more of an athletic-type exercise, but in strength and conditioning facilities they're commonplace -- and for good reason too. Dumbbell snatches work every muscle group to a certain degree, and the more muscles you work at once, the more calories you burn, and the leaner you get.
Learning the Dumbbell Snatch
The dumbbell snatch isn't any old exercise that you can pick up in a matter of seconds -- it's a little more technical, but don't let that put you off, the benefits are worth it. It's actually a variation of the Olympic snatch you might have seen in the weightlifting events at the Olympics. It involves lifting the dumbbell from the floor to overhead in one swift movement. Start in a squat position, holding the dumbbell with one arm between your legs. Pull the dumbbell up explosively. As it passes your shoulder, drop your knees slightly and catch the dumbbell overhead with your arm straight and knees still bent, then straighten your knees and stand tall to finish. Don't be afraid to incorporate a jump, advises Sally Moss, strength coach at Ultimate Performance in London, on the Gubernatrix website. You want the exercise to be as powerful as possible.
A plyometric exercise is one that involves maximum force exertion -- basically anything that requires a ton of explosive effort. Typical plyometric exercises include jump squats, broad jumps, single leg hops or jump squats. However, if you don't want to look like the gym nutcase, leaping around between weight benches and gym-goers doing their situps, dumbbell snatches are a far more inconspicuous way to train with plyometrics. Plyometrics are extremely demanding and burn a high number of calories, claims trainer Mark Dilworth of HerFitnessHut.com. Pair dumbbell snatches with box jumps, lateral hops or clap pushups for the ultimate plyometric workout or activation warm-up to prime your muscles before a heavy strength session.
If you want a true full-body movement, you can't go wrong with dumbbell snatches as they work a little of everything. However, the main muscles they hit are your hamstrings, glutes, upper back and shoulders. The hamstrings and glutes kick in when you rip the weight from the floor, while your upper back and shoulders are responsible for bringing the weight over your head and finishing the move forcefully. You could put dumbbell snatches in a lower-body workout, or in your shoulder or back sessions. Place them near the beginning of the workout. They're a technical exercise and require a greater degree of coordination and balance. Do them until your muscles are fatigued. Use a challenging weight and perform three to five sets of five to eight reps per side.
An exercise that can build strength and increase fitness sounds like the holy grail of training, but the dumbbell snatch is such an exercise. You'll find that just a few snatches with a heavy dumbbell can leave you red-faced and panting. Moss, on the Gubernatrix website, recommends trying the "Magic 50" circuit. It comprises five dumbbell snatches on each arm, five dumbbell swings on each arm and 10 burpees with pushups. Complete five rounds in as quick a time as you can and aim to get faster each time.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.