And then . . .
At this point you have completed all the conditioning necessary to enable you to learn the squat style snatch. You have loosened and strengthened your shoulders, learned the correct bottom position for the lift, improved your balance, and increased the driving power of your legs. You are now ready to begin practice on the form of this lift.
First, a few important reminders. Inspect your shoes; if they are run down have them fixed or replace them. Never try lifting with shoes that have rounded heels, as this is an invitation to a sore back and sore knees. When you are learning the correct form of the squat snatch do not wear a lifting belt. You will have more leeway in catching the weight. I advise you to use your belt on 120 pounds or over.
Learn to use the hook grip. Regardless of how strong you think your grip is, you will be able to lift more with your thumbs locked. Many of the lifters I have coached claimed that their gripping powers were not at all obstacles to heavier lifting since the bar had no tendency to slip from their hands while executing any of the lifts. They were, however, very surprised to find that they had made substantial increases on their lifts immediately after switching to the hook grip.
This is accounted for by the fact that when a lifter is executing a heavy quick lift, before there is any tendency for the grip to loosen he will unconsciously ease up on his pull. You may have noticed, if you are an advanced lifter, that if your grip felt particularly strong some day you had a great deal more confidence in your lifting ability on that day. This is accounted for by the above explanation.
Use the hook grip to receive the maximum from your pulling power.
To get the maximum results from the hook it is necessary for you to spread your hand so that the skin in the palm of your hands is stretched tightly, then pushy your palms down on the bar, now wrap your thumb around the bar after which you will wrap your fingers around the bar and over your thumb. Keep this grip very tight throughout the lift. If you let up on the grip even a little your thumb will holler for mercy. To start with, your thumbs might get a little sore, but don't let this bother you. Keep using the hook, and it will pay off in higher poundages.
Just one more important reminder before we begin the form on the squat snatch. You must do the lift exactly as it is written here. You may say so-and-so doesn't do it that way. Remember, we have spent many years studying this lift scientifically. We have not only examined every variation of this lift ever used, but have determined according to the laws of science why they were or were not successful. If you are already using the squat style, and find in this book that you have been executing some points incorrectly you may not be able to do as much as first in the correct way as in your present style. This is for several reasons.
You must go through the often difficult process of unlearning the wrong way before you can start learning the correct way. Then, too, when you go through the proper form after using an incorrect style you will be using a different set of muscles which will probably not be as strengthened as the muscles that you used on your earlier form. So you may at first do less in the proper method, but after accustoming the right muscles your lift will begin to rapidly increase.
In explaining the correct method of squat snatching, I will go through it rapidly at first, then take each motion in detail.
Address the bar with the cap of your shoes directly below the bar. Lower yourself with your legs and a little forward bend at the hips. Clamp on to the bar. Start the bar up with a leg motion, continue to a completed dead lift, pull with your arms, raise on your toes as you curl your wrists up and inward. (Keep an inward pressure on the bar throughout the whole lift, even after you have completed the lift.) Now you are ready to drop down and make the catch, but you must do more than drop. You must force yourself down by flipping the bar back and pressing yourself down and away from the bar. Push up and out with your arms, even to the extent of shrugging your shoulders. As soon as the weight hits in. drive up to the standing position; never hesitate at the bottom. When you have become proficient at driving out of the snatch you will find that you will rarely, if ever, miss any weight that you can throw in.
Now take an empty bar so that you may be ready to go through each motion correctly. First read the above explanation again. Take the first motion (leg start dead lift), do it several times with a hook grip. Why waste time on practicing this simple motion? Because the perfect squat style snatch follows the low of science to the letter, and if you do not memorize and automatize each and every part of it you can not hope to approach your zenith.
How about the arm pull? Is there anything special about it?
There certainly is. At the end of the dead lift your arms and trapezius muscles must be hanging loosely. Then as the arms and trapezius pull the weight up you must keep your elbows forward to the fullest extent while keeping the bar as close to your body as possible. The elbow motion is essential if you are to get a good wrist curl. A strong wrist curl permits you to flip the weight back and insures a perfect catch.
Why go up on your toes with the arm pull?
There are several reasons for this. The rise on toes will obviously add several inches to your pull. Also, your legs must be ready to drop you with the speed of greased lightning, so you must drive with you toes to get your knees in a relaxed position. Then, too, a strong toe drive gets the feet off the ground permitting you to jump them out into a solid position for the catch. An extremely important point to be stressed here is never land on your toes. Always make sure that your heels are flat on the floor when in the squat position.
Well, the leg drop is only a fast squat, isn't it?
No, you must pull your knees up vigorously and actually fly down. Slap your feet against the floor. Whenever you can not hear your feet as land you can be sure that you are not dropping as fast as you can Make a bang with your feet. At the completion of the drop, grip the floor with your feet. Make certain that your heels are down and the rest of your feet alive. There is no chance to be solid if your feet are dead. By "alive" I mean your feet should be conscious that every bit of them is pushing down on the floor. The rules state that a press-out is not permitted in the snatch, but that does not mean you are not allowed to push on the bar to hasten your descent. In order to attain the maximum poundage it is necessary to apply as much power as you can every inch of the way. So make sure that you force yourself down with all the driving press that you have.
Your bottom position is the same as it was in the overhead squats exercise (see link above), but it is very important so I will further stress it here. Remember while in this position your body should not be perpendicular to the floor; it should lean forward approximately 45 degrees from the vertical. This position will allow you a great deal of motion for your head and hips to counterbalance the weight. In the vertical position you may have very little leverage in your favor to help you place the weight in the proper spot if you failed to put it there on the first attempt.
It is important not to hesitate in the bottom position. As soon as the weight is in the proper spot drive immediately with the legs. If you have practiced your preliminary just as they were written you will have no trouble with this portion of the lift.
When you drive up from the catch position to an erect finish, be sure that you keep the pressure on the bar. Do not relax your arms or your grip for an instant. I have seen many lifters get weights up in different lifts only to lose them near the completion of the lift by relaxing one or more parts of their anatomy. So never ease up on a weight just because you may feel that you are over the toughest part. Keep your strongest pressure on until the judge says down.
After you have completed the lift and the judge has said down, set the bar down easily and walk away from the bar erect. It is disgusting to see a lifter make a lift only to let it come crashing to the floor then slouch away from it as if it took everything out of him. This not only irritates the audience at a meet, but will often influence the judges in close decisions. Next time you lift, have the manner in which you set the bar down and the way you walk away from it indicate that you were complete master of the lift. You may be surprised to notice that this will also increase your confidence in your ability. Then, too, it is good exercise to resist the bar on its way down.
Should I keep my head up or down while squat snatching?
This is an important question since the position of the head has a great deal to do with the balance on this lift. Force your head up and back as the weight travels up. Lower the head as you drop under the weight. The farther you have to drop to catch the weight the more you must lower your head. If the weight is in danger of falling behind you, pull down with your head; if it is too far forward you must look up. These are general rules, but you must, through arduous practice, learn to find the exact places to set your head.
Practice the foregoing form with an empty bar (a long one) until you get the feel. Add 5 pounds on each end, and do 5 snatches in succession. Add 5 more pounds on each end, and repeat. Continue adding 5 pounds on each end after each series of 5 repetitions until you miss, then start with the empty bar and work up again.
When you have worked your way up to 65 pounds for 5 consecutive reps, it is time to learn how to miss a lift without undue stress or strain At this point you may think that I have gone one step too far. You may feel that there is no need to know how to miss the weight. Such is not the case. There are several reasons why you should learn to miss a weight correctly. While you are learning and sometimes later when you may be a little sloppy on your form, you might get the weight too far back and will want to get rid of it behind you without popping yourself in the head or stretching a muscle or a joint.
Take an empty bar to start with and do a full squat snatch. Keep your arms extended to their fullest, and let the bar fall behind you. Do not try to sneak out from under the weight, but push it away from you. Do not release the bar until it has dropped to hip level. Now that you have the idea, do it a little more ambitiously until you are sure that you know how and can do it anytime with any weight that you can throw up.
Another good reason for learning the right way to miss is so that you will become acquainted with the various degrees which the bar goes through before there is a danger of it falling behind you. There is a certain position at which the weight seems to be in a solid groove. Some lifters who have unsuccessfully tried the squat snatch have never found this position because they feared the consequences of letting the weight back too far. Once you learn to flip the bar into this groove and are able to drive with the legs as soon as it drops in, you need not be concerned about missing weights that you can throw up.
If you have all the foregoing down letter perfect, you are a master of the split style snatch. Now you can work up in weight as fast as you wish.
If you experience any difficulty however small, reread this book. All the answers are here, but they will do you no good unless you get them out of here and put them into your head and body.
Enjoy Your Lifting!