Benefits and Safety Tips for Snatch Grip Deadlift

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

When powerlifters and weightlifters want to take their strength level up a notch, they often turn to the snatch grip deadlift.

The snatch grip deadlift stands out as one of the most flexible deadlift variations. It involves a wider grip compared to regular deadlifts, focusing on upper back muscles and grip strength. In addition to that, it makes the lifter move the barbell a bit farther.

Even though you might not see it often in your local gym, the snatch grip deadlift is more useful than you might think.

In the article, we will learn more about this effective form of deadlift, its benefits, and some important safety tips.

Disclaimer: It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

What is a Snatch Grip Deadlift?

The snatch grip deadlift stands as a variation of the conventional straight bar deadlift. What sets it apart is the wider grip employed during the lift, introducing added challenges to the muscles of the upper back.

Notably, the snatch grip deadlift triggers increased muscle activation compared to the regular deadlift. Due to the wider grip, the lifter needs to squat down further to grasp the bar. Upon standing, they lift the barbell a few inches higher than in the conventional deadlift.

This makes the snatch grip deadlift a more demanding variation because of:

  • Better mobility in the ankles, knees, and hips
  • Increased upper back strength
  • Improved grip strength

Benefits of Snatch Grip Deadlift

The snatch grip deadlift brings forth numerous advantages compared to its regular counterpart. Let’s look at some key benefits of this variation below.

1.      Muscle hypertrophy

The snatch grip deadlift targets the same muscle groups as the conventional deadlift but with a distinct emphasis. Engaging the legs, back, and core intensively, this variation places a heightened demand on the upper back, courtesy of the wider grip.

While you might not lift as heavy as with the conventional deadlift, the snatch grip deadlift remains an excellent muscle-building exercise. Going for moderate to higher reps proves equally effective, offering versatility in training intensity.

2.      Better range of motion

The snatch grip deadlift involves a deeper range of motion compared to the traditional deadlift. The wider arm positioning necessitates driving the hips back to execute the movement fully, effectively engaging the trapezius muscles, hamstrings, and upper back on a deeper level.

This extended range of motion has additional benefits, potentially enhancing performance in other exercises, including the traditional deadlift. By working through a broader range, you contribute to improved muscle activation and overall functional strength.

3.      Focuses on upper body

Traditionally considered a leg exercise, deadlifts also play a significant role in targeting the back. The snatch grip deadlift, however, holds a distinct advantage over its traditional counterpart by placing a greater emphasis on back engagement. The wider grip demands increased effort from the back muscles, particularly the upper back, making it a valuable addition for those seeking to intensify their back-focused training.

4.      Improves hip mobility

The deeper starting position of the snatch grip deadlift not only enhances back engagement but also offers potential benefits for hip mobility. Improved hip mobility is crucial for everyday functional movements such as bending down to pick up objects. If you incorporate the snatch grip deadlift into your routine, it may contribute to better overall hip flexibility, ensuring you stay limber for various daily activities.

5.      Improves grip strength

Snatch grip deadlifts, demanding a firm grip on a wider load, serve as an excellent tool for cultivating robust and enduring grip strength. Introducing fat bar grips can further enhance this aspect, proving particularly valuable for individuals engaged in Olympic lifts or CrossFit exercises that involve snatch grip positions. Strengthening your grip through these exercises not only contributes to overall hand strength but also boosts performance in activities that require a secure and controlled grip.

Safety Tips for Snatch Grip Deadlift

Here are some safety tips that you can follow while performing snatch grip deadlift to prevent injury.

  • PVC Practice Precision: Utilizing a PVC pipe for snatch practice, commonly seen in CrossFit gyms, serves as a valuable technique. Despite its weightlessness, the PVC pipe exposes form faults, making snatches more challenging and emphasizing the importance of focusing on precise technique.
  • Coach’s Watchful Eye: Especially for beginners in CrossFit, weightlifting, or exercise, practicing snatches under a coach’s supervision is advisable. A coach’s guidance ensures a watchful eye on your form, offering cues for improvement and minimizing the risk of injuries until you feel confident in executing snatches independently.
  • Technique Over Weight: Rushing to add weight to the bar is cautioned against in snatch training. Given the complexity of the movement, prioritizing perfecting the technique is essential. Achieving a consistent and safe snatch execution should precede the inclination to increase weight, emphasizing the importance of near-faultless form to avoid potential injuries.