Sunday, February 1, 2015

Assistance Work for the Two Hands Snatch - Norman Morris (1953)

Tommy Kono

Ronald Walker

The man who desires greater all-round power, increased stamina and much finer chiseling of his muscular contours, can scarcely do better than specialize for a few months on the Two Hands Snatch. Used in its various forms and allied to a routine of capacity-inducing movements, it will produce almost a physical transformation. 

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"Hammer away at the back and legs until improvement is shown," said the great Louis Abele . . . and he should know. Look at his colossal performance on the Dead Hang REPETITION Snatch . . . 10 consecutive dead-hang reps with 235 and no pause between them. An incredible feat of power and stamina. Only superlative strength in the back and legs and an abundance of energy could enable such an exhibition of endurance. There . . . we have our clue.

If a bodybuilder did NOTHING ELSE but two hands snatching, he would become very powerful and his physique would grow more muscular throughout. If muscle-men would only realize this, the lift would, I am sure, feature much more dominantly in their schedules. Those who do use it, as with the Press, DO NOT WORK HARD ENOUGH ON IT and its kindred motions. The Egyptians and the Americans do an incredible amount of snatching . . . and the records prove it. The Americans issue Merit Certificates for repetitions snatching, which is a very practical means of encouraging greater ability and a more GENERAL devotion to the lift. 

Promotes Coordination

The Snatch is preeminent among weight-lifting movements for promoting coordinated action between heart and lungs. This is a FUNDAMENTAL OBJECTIVE in the quest for greater physical power and endurance. All bodybuilding programs must aim at the establishment of such physical rhythm . . . before any substantial muscle growth can accrue. 

It is a lift that greatly stimulates breathing capacity. It beneficially influences the blood quality, by accelerating its circulation and inducing free perspiration . . . both factors being of vital importance in creating high bodily tone. We MUST have free perspiration during a workout if we are to get utmost benefit from our training. Any exercising that fails to stimulate this eliminative activity of the skin is failing largely in its purpose. Top-rate boxers know that fact well and will never quit a training session until they have "worked up a sweat."

Far too many non-athletic persons seem AFRAID to sweat . . . and I mean SWEAT. It is more than likely that MUCH of the indifferent physical condition so prevalent is due in large measure to this restraint.

Great Internal Benefits   

Quite apart from its virtues in the creation of magnificent legs, back and shoulders, the benefits of the Snatch on all the internal and metabolic processes of the body is very pronounced. Digestive powers are strengthened. The appetite improves considerably. The assimilation of all food becomes more efficient. Thus are the muscle and power building capacities of the body consolidated. 

Internal and external physical condition must keep in step. Each must act and re-act upon the other and only vigorous bodily activity can satisfactorily produce this desirable interrelation with MAXIMUM adequacy. 

Snatching, SNATCHING, and more SNATCHING, with gradually advancing poundages, will do more to establish the ACME of physical condition than almost any other single athletic activity. Once the rhythm of the lift has become automatic, great increase in general physical power is fostered by adding bit by bit, week by week, to the poundages handled. This means reps must be kept low and more sets worked through. For stamina increase, use higher reps and fewer sets.

That brings us to another point. When we come to examine the instantaneous, explosive nature of the Snatch, we are confronted with another problem . . . the production and maintenance of adequate energy. Otherwise, we cannot cope with the demands that sustained training on the lift makes upon the body. Many seem to rather overlook this vital consideration.

ENERGY . . . we all need it. Bags of it. We require it in vast  and boundless quantity. Energy gives zest to all activity. Its presence ensures freedom form the annoying restraints imposed by fatigue. So, what we EAT and what we DRINK are two of the great keys to the provision of surging vitality. The bodybuilder, no less than the lifter, MUST step up the intake of foods, supplements and various elements that assist greatly in the generating of an unusual fund of energy.

Now we can get down to the problem of POWER PRODUCTION. This month's exercise section aims at building up fundamental physical power . . . and although it is designed to strengthen you for the Snatch, you will as a result become stronger all over. But to do this, you must strive to handle the HEAVIEST weight for the reps quoted. It is also most important that you observe adequate rest periods between each group. Greater output of effort must be BALANCED by taking slightly longer rests and will do much to prevent any chance of working beyond one's individual capacity.


1) The TWO HANDS SWING is a great power builder. (See Figure 5, above) So, by using the FIRST part of the movement as we do here, unusual strength is built up in the back, with attendant ability to tear heavy weights fast from the floor.

Stand astride two equally loaded dumbbells, the heels being just a little in advance of the front discs. The bars should run parallel with each other. Squat. Grip the bells firmly, with the hands bang up against the front discs, BACK FLAT.

Keeping the ARMS LOCKED, straighten the legs viciously and come erect, leaning well back and shrugging the shoulders high, as in Fig. 5. Drop the bells again ALMOST to the floor and let them swing well under between the legs and repeat the action. Do this for 3 sets of 5 reps. Breathe deeply as you come erect and exhale as you "fold up" again. Start off with each dumbbell about the weight of your best Dumbbell Press. Protect the forearms, by the way, from the bite of the discs at the finish of the movement.

2) This movement is designed to assist the man who always seems to fail in getting the weight HIGH enough to enable proper exploitation of the split (or squat). Let us call it the STATIONARY HIGH PULL-UP (see Figure 6).

Squat low and grip the bar as for the Snatch proper, feet parted about 12 inches. Breathe deeply and with a very powerful concerted action of the back, legs and arms, pull the bar to the level of the eyes as in Figure 6. Lower to the floor and repeat 5 times. Rest. Then do two more sets of 5 reps. USE AS MUCH WEIGHT AS YOU CAN HANDLE, CONSISTENT WITH SPEED OF PERFORMANCE . . . and with getting the ELBOWS HIGH and WELL BACK. Watch that you DO NOT MOVE THE FEET and that the legs are rigid at the finish of the action.

3) STRONG LEGS . . . capable of fast action in the split. This movement, which I have taught for many years, uniquely combines POWER building with the establishment of extreme splitting speed.

Stand erect, with the bar held firmly down across the shoulders, behind the neck. Now, split the feet rapidly, as wide as the weight will permit and keep the back erect. Then, without the slightest pause, change foot positions . . . the front one coming right back to the rear and the rear foot shooting well forwards.

Continue the rhythm of swiftly interchanging foot positions until speed starts to slacken and the legs noticeably lose their resiliency. Perform 2 such sets of splits and take a good rest in between. Try and get as much air into the lungs as possible the whole time. Also, don't overload the bar, if it disturbs the speed and the rhythm.  

I suggest about two-thirds of your best Press weight as a basis for starting of with. This will DEFINITELY put real spring into your legs, such as few other movements can impart. Specialization on this is definitely worthwhile.

4) Any exercise that helps to build pulling power is vital to improving performances in the Snatch. This particular variation assists in increasing the power of pull that occurs in the stage between the thighs to overhead. It also improves the general coordination necessary for a strong "second pull" follow-through. The tendency of letting a weight ride forward as it approaches eye level is favorably counteracted by its regular practice. 

Rest the discs on two boxes (See Figure 7), so that the legs bend just a little as you grip the bar. The back must be erect and the arms straight. Now breathe deeply straighten the legs with vigor to lend slight impetus to the bar, then FIERCELY "snatch" it overhead, using a wider and deeper split (or squat) than usual . . . indeed, YOU WILL HAVE TO. It needs tremendous snap to get a reasonable weight moving in this manner. Use a poundage that will permit of no more than 4 sets of 4 perfect reps. You will need to experiment a little here.

5) For men who show good style on the Snatch at all times and who have no outstanding weaknesses, snatching from the hang is one of the best means for increasing all-round ability of the lift proper. 

Load a bar up to about 75% of your best Snatch. Grip the bar normally, come erect and let it rest across the upper thighs. Arms straight. Feet should be parted slightly. Now, KEEPING THE BACK FLAT, squat slightly and lower the bar to within 3 or 4 inches off the floor. At this point, breathe deeply and with terrific concerted action from the back, legs and arms, snatch the weight overhead as usual. You may have to split wider than usual . . . if so, all the better. Recover, lowering the weight to the starting position across the thighs as in Figure 8. Do 3 sets of 3 repetitions. Add 10 lbs and do 2 sets of 2 reps. Add 10 lbs and do 3 single reps. Rest between sets. 

For a change at times and to give greater benefit to the man weak on the finish of the lift, snatch the bar from the position illustrated in Figure 8, WITHOUT LOWERING THE BAR ONE FRACTION OF AN INCH. This gives greater power to the shoulders . . . but a much lighter weight will be needed than the similar exercise from the boxes. THERE WILL BE NO BEND OF THE LEGS OR FORWARDS LEAN OF THE BACK TO HELP. Repetitions as above.

Figure 8 gives the correct STARTING stance for all hang snatches . . . this is essential for perfect 'directional' lowering of the bar.

6) As you are now beginning to realize, collective strength in the back, legs and shoulders is requisite for effective snatching. Without it, progress does not go far. THE LEGS AND BACK MUST SUPPLEMENT EACH OTHER TO THE LIMIT. There is no simpler way of achieving this unified strength than by RAPID HIGH DEAD LIFTS. And RAPID it must be . . . since it is by this particular means we duplicate the approximate starting motion of the Snatch. But, at the same time, we can use weights far in excess of anything likely in the Snatch itself. Handling plenty of weight like this makes our own limit Snatches seem relatively light.

Squat and grip the bar as for the Snatch . . . NOT reversed grip as for the orthodox Dead Lift. Breathe deeply and vigorously erect your body with powerful leg and back action, and as the bar approaches the upper thighs, pull it even higher by bending back and exerting the arms to their limit. GET THE BAR AT LEAST TO THE LINE OF THE LOWER RIBS. Make it one flowing movement. Lower to the floor and repeat. Do 3 sets of 5 repetitions. You will need to experiment a little to get correct poundage on this one. The last rep of each set should be about as much as you can do in the CORRECT HIGH PULL STYLE. 


This brings us to our training plan for this month and since we are getting quite a few exercises together, we must start to eliminate, to make our programs workable and make sure we do not overtax the physique. 

1st Night - 
Do your Press Routine and two 'Power Inducer' movements for the deltoids. Rest. Then follow this with Exercises 2, 1, and 4 from this month's exercise section . . . IN THAT ORDER.

2nd Night - 
Press Routine with advanced poundages and two DIFFERENT 'power inducers' for the weak points in your shoulders. Follow this, after resting, with Exercises 5, 3 , and 6 from this month's exercise section. Again, in the order given.  

If you do no pressing at all these nights and wish to SPECIALIZE on Snatch power building, work through the ENTIRE exercise selection given this month. It will prove an ample workout. Keep them in the order laid down.

3rd Night - 
Press Routine . . . but no 'Power Inducers'. Work up to within 10 lbs of your limit. Start your snatching with the EGYPTIAN SNATCH to warm up. Follow this with your Snatch routine proper, working up in stages to within 10 lbs of your present limit. Finish off your night's work with 10 reps of HEAVY Seated Shrugs (see last month). 

Keep repetitions and sets CONSTANT for all Power Inducer exercises but add to the poundages involved, whenever you find it possible, however slight the increase. To get the best from this particular program, it would be advisable to follow it EXCLUSIVELY for AT LEAST TWO MONTHS. 

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