Snatch Cycling & Bar Muscle-Up Tips for 19.4
Contributing Authors: Tino Marini, Hunter Britt, Nichole Kribs & Michele Vieux

Week 4 of the Open and we see more classic CrossFit movements that can be done at lightening speed – burpees and barbell cycling – in the first of two couplet workouts that make up 19.4. The second couplet won’t be as welcome to many as bar muscle-ups make an appearance. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back for all of it whether you’re figuring out how to cycle those snatches or if you’re looking for your first bar muscle-up!

Let’s start by reviewing the different variations and strategies for snatch cycling to help you create your own game plan for 19.4. You can test out each version, find a rhythm with them, then decide which you like best.

While you’re playing around with the snatches, keep in mind that in this first three rounds of the workout, the bar facing burpees will be taking a lot of wind out of you (as will the rapid-fire snatching) so you should make sure to hit a couple sets to see what it feels like when you are already breathing hard.

Muscle Snatch

Generally speaking, the muscle snatch would be used for a workout that calls for high reps and low weight. But lucky for you, the Open 19.4 calls for LOW-ish reps AND low weight!

The primary benefit of the muscle snatch in a workout like this, with an extremely light load, is that it allows you to achieve the movement standard – knees, hips and elbows extended with barbell supported overhead – as soon as the barbell reaches its apex. There is no re-dip, no additional extension of the hips or elbows needed. To that extent, the movement becomes the “fastest” way to achieve the movement standard and begin the next rep.

The primary downfall of the muscle snatch, however, is that it is expensive. It requires you to pull the barbell higher than a power snatch, forcing you to use more posterior chain and more of the smaller rotators of the shoulder (the ones you might need for those bar muscle-ups) to get the barbell overhead. To this degree, the movement is less “efficient” in terms of mechanical advantages.

Power Snatch

The Power Snatch is a natural barbell cycling progression when the weight is too heavy, or there are too many total reps to sustain a muscle snatch.

A great example of when this movement would be best utilized is in the CrossFit benchmark workout “Isabel” – 30 reps of 135/95 lb. Snatches. The weight isn’t necessarily heavy, but for most people, the weight and rep scheme is enough to merit power snatching for the workout.

To move the barbell quickly for cycling the power snatch, set up with a wider stance. You want to set up in your landing position. This does a couple of things for you: (1) it allows you to move quicker than if you were jumping and landing for every rep; and (2) it reduces the range of motion on the travel of the barbell.

Squat Snatch

The last progression of barbell cycling snatch variations would be the Squat Snatch. This would be used, generally, only when the workout standards require this movement, or the weight is so heavy that one would need to receive the barbell in a full squat position in order to make the lift.

3-Minute Rest

During the 3-minute break, besides catching your breath and composing yourself for the next couplet, try to get in some sort of forearm or grip stretch. You’re going to need all the grip you got for those bar muscle-ups!

Also use this time to make any sort of equipment changes like hand tape or gymnastics wraps, changing out of Oly shoes, etc. and rinse your mouth out with water (don’t gulp too much down). Three minutes is a lot of time so don’t feel rushed!

Bar Muscle-Ups

Shooting for your first bar muscle-up in 19.4? Awesome! Check out: Tips for Getting Your First Bar Muscle-Up and The Bar Muscle-Up – Tips & Tutorial by Invictus Gymnastics Coach, Travis Ewart. For those of you who already have bar muscle-ups and are looking to become more efficient for this workout, check out this tip: Knees Up! 

Looking to take your training to the next level? Check out Invictus Athlete where there is an online program that suits your needs whether that be supplemental work for your gymnastics or Olympic lifting, or personalized training to help you reach your competitive goal.

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