Snatch Grip Deadlifts

Posted on 12 Apr 2009 00:24

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By Eric Troy, Ground Up Strength

The name snatch grip deadlift is actually somewhat of a misnomer. It would be more accurate to simply call them Wide Grip Deadlift to avoid confusion. The reason they are called snatch grip is that they employ the wide grip that many Olympic lifters (most) employ in the Snatch Lift. But a snatch is still a snatch regardless of what grip is employed.

Most lifters use a "snatch grip" in the snatch lift because it means they do not have to lift the bar as HIGH and it is easier to get under the bar. However the trade-off is that the total weight that can be lifted is reduced. Thus lifters find the best compromise. It is the lift itself that makes it a snatch and not the grip.


An important point that MOST trainees miss and, in my experience, most trainers, is that a deadlift is not the same as an Olympic pull only done slow. The initial setup of the deadlift will be slightly different for most lifters as the deadlift is ONE lift from the bottom up, whereas Olympic lifts are separated into discreet phases, or "pulls". The take home point is that the name Snatch Grip Deadlift only describes the wide grip used and has no bearing on the performance, except for the obvious mechanical difference involved in using a wider grip, which increases the distance the bar must be lifted.

However, we will stick to the term Snatch Grip Deadlift because it is widely known and used.


The wider grip increases the distance the bar must travel. It places more emphasis on the upper and mid back especially since upper back extension is made much more difficult. It also challenges the grip. The emphasis is brought out toward the smaller fingers.

The exercise can be used in any way that a regular deadlift is used, both as a supplement or as a main lift. Although singles are probably not going to be employed by many!

If your purpose is to lift heavy then use straps if necessary and don't be hesitant to employ straps when needed otherwise. Snatch grip deads are a great grip trainer but the punishment to the smaller fingers can be a detriment rather than an advantage if over-trained.

You will not be able to lift as much as your conventional deadlift but you can probably manage at least 85% of your conventional, if not more.

Another idea is to do snatch grip deads off racks. It has the same advantages as stated above and is especially good if you are stuck with one rack position that is too high.

How to Setup the Snatch Grip Deadlift

The setup procedure is the same as for the conventional deadlift except of course the position obtained will be different because of the wider grip. The hips will be lower.

For grip, having the index fingers on the rings is a good starting place. A good way to find your grip is to match it to the distance between your elbow. Standing centered to the bar, you can bend down to the bar and grip it with your elbows bent at 90 degree angles. The place your hands end up is about where you will want your grip to be during the snatch grip deadlifts. This is a do it yourself version of the method seen here.

From here the setup is the same.

1. Shins should be very close to the bar. Within 2 inches. Never more than 4 although 4 is usually too far away. Feet should be underneath the bar and shoulder width or a little less than shoulder width. Most will NOT want a wider foot placement than this and narrow will tend to be the best option. If you take a wider stance then you will simple be contending with your knees coming inwards during the lift.

2. Shoulders should be forward of the bar so that the the bar lines up underneath the scapulae.

3. Hips should be as close to the bar as possible without sacrificing rule one or two.

4. Lower back should be set in it's natural, slightly arched (lordotic) position. No round of the back forward (flexion). And there is no need to exaggerate the natural curvature.

5. Shoulders should be back, scapula retracted, neck in a neutral position (chin tucked). Never put the head "down". Some people seem to think of a tucked chin position as being the same as "head down" but it is not.

6. Don't look down. Keep the chin slightly tucked and the neck in a neural position. You can look straight ahead at a neutral point approximately 6 feet away (this can be an imaginary point) but it is advantageous to look up. Just remember to look up with the eyes ONLY. Never by extending the neck. So, the neck stays in a neutral position but the eyes do the looking.

Snatch Grip Deadlift Video


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