You Overhead Squat WAY More Than You Snatch, So What’s the Problem?
Written by Jared Enderton
This is by far one of the most popular questions I get. “I don’t get why I can overhead squat 245, but I can only snatch 165. I don’t get it. I should be able to Snatch close to 245 right?”
In 90% of cases, ABSOLUTELY NOT. In coaching most beginner, intermediate, or below-average-mobility athletes – this is a SLAM DUNK – NO! I know this seems counterintuitive, but let me explain. In an overhead squat (OHS) – We are in a “static” environment. Meaning we can get the bar overhead – then slowly stretch our muscles as we descend into the bottom of our OHS. We have the bar stabilized the entire time and our muscles have all the time we want to acclimate to the new lengthening demands our body is asking of it.
In a snatch, we are in a “dynamic” environment. Meaning, we go 0 to 100 mobility wise. For moderate-level-mobility athletes – we are asking our muscles to get stretched to their FULL capacity in a split second. This is why it’s common for these athletes to have a weight where they always start to power snatch. “Gosh, I swear, it’s always right at 145 where I start to power snatch.” That’s when your body is telling you that it’s being stretched with too much load on it, too quickly.
An analogy: Think about when you’ve fallen on ice or slipped in a bathtub – your muscles got stretched super fast and your body maximally contracted/reacted in order to protect you. It tried to reject that super fast stretching by contracting in order to restore the muscle to a safer state. This is similar to what happens in a snatch!
For these athletes: Building a bigger snatch will ALWAYS lead to a bigger OHS, but building a bigger OHS will not necessarily lead to a bigger snatch at all. Let’s focus on staying right around those weights where our body starts to tell us to power snatch it and ride that line. We have to keep getting our body comfortable with the idea that it’s OK to be stretched in a dynamic environment with those loads. Focus on doing a LOT of snatch reps around that tipping point – don’t focus on overhead squatting in this case as it’s not giving you any carryover to your actual snatch!