If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding exercise that works your entire body, you might want to try the flex snatch. The flex snatch, also known as the squat snatch, is a technical and advanced weightlifting movement that requires power, speed, balance, and coordination. It is a popular move among CrossFit and Olympic athletes, but anyone can benefit from learning how to do it properly. In this article, we will explain what the flex snatch is, what muscles it works, how to do it correctly, and what benefits it offers.
What Is a Flex Snatch?
A flex snatch is a variation of the snatch, which is one of the two Olympic weightlifting events (the other one is the clean and jerk). The snatch involves lifting a barbell from the ground to overhead in one fluid motion. The flex snatch adds a squat at the end of the movement, which increases the difficulty and the range of motion.
The flex snatch is not only a test of strength, but also of explosiveness, agility, and flexibility. It requires you to generate enough force to lift the barbell above your head, while quickly dropping into a deep squat and stabilizing the weight with your arms and core. It also demands a lot of mobility in your hips, ankles, shoulders, and wrists.
What Muscles Does a Flex Snatch Work?
The flex snatch is a full-body exercise that engages almost every muscle group in your body. The main muscles that work during a flex snatch are:
- Quadriceps: The muscles at the front of your thighs that help you extend your knees and drive your legs into the ground.
- Deltoids: The muscles at the top of your shoulders that help you raise and hold the barbell overhead.
- Trapezius: The large muscle on your upper back that helps you shrug your shoulders and stabilize your spine.
- Glutes: The muscles in your buttocks that help you extend and rotate your hips and support your lower back.
Other muscles that assist with the flex snatch are:
- Hamstrings: The muscles at the back of your thighs that help you bend your knees and pull the barbell up.
- Calves: The muscles at the lower part of your legs that help you push off the ground and balance your body.
- Rectus abdominis: The muscle at the front of your abdomen that helps you brace your core and protect your spine.
- Erector spinae: The muscles along your spine that help you maintain a neutral posture and prevent rounding your back.
- Latissimus dorsi: The muscles on the sides of your back that help you pull the barbell close to your body and keep it in line with your center of gravity.
- Biceps: The muscles at the front of your upper arms that help you bend your elbows and control the barbell.
- Triceps: The muscles at the back of your upper arms that help you extend your elbows and lock out the barbell overhead.
- Forearms: The muscles in your lower arms that help you grip the barbell and prevent it from slipping.
How to Do a Flex Snatch Correctly
The flex snatch is a complex and risky lift that can cause injury if done incorrectly. Therefore, it is important to learn the proper technique and practice with light weights before attempting heavier loads. You should also warm up thoroughly before doing any snatches to prepare your muscles and joints for the movement.
Here are the steps to perform a flex snatch safely:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place a barbell on the floor in front of you. Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Use a hook grip: wrap your thumbs around the bar and then wrap your fingers over your thumbs. This will help you secure the bar better and prevent it from rotating in your hands.
- Squat down with your shoulders slightly in front of the bar, keeping your core tight and back straight. Your eyes should be looking forward or slightly up. This is the starting position.
- Drive your legs into the ground as you pull up on the bar and begin to rise to stand. Keep the bar close to your body as it passes by your shins, knees, and thighs. Your arms should be relaxed as you use mainly your legs to generate power.
- When the bar reaches your hips, explosively extend your hips, knees, and ankles (triple extension) to create more momentum for the barbell. At this point, shrug your shoulders and pull the bar up with your arms. The barbell should be at your chest level or higher as you reach full extension.
- Quickly drop your feet to the sides, about shoulder-width apart, and bend your knees to catch the barbell in a deep squat position. Your arms should be fully extended and locked out, holding the barbell directly above your head. Keep your chest up, core braced, and back neutral. This is the flex snatch position.
- Stand up with the barbell still overhead, keeping your arms and legs straight. This is the end of one repetition.
- Lower the barbell to the floor in a controlled manner, or drop it if you are using bumper plates and a platform.
Flex Snatch Benefits
The flex snatch is a challenging but rewarding exercise that offers many benefits for your fitness and health. Some of the benefits are:
- It improves your strength and power, especially in your lower body and shoulders.
- It enhances your explosiveness and speed, which can help you perform better in sports and other activities that require quick and powerful movements.
- It develops your balance and stability, as you have to maintain your posture and control the weight throughout the movement.
- It increases your mobility and flexibility, as you have to move through a large range of motion and stretch various muscles and joints.
- It burns calories and fat, as it involves multiple muscle groups and elevates your heart rate and metabolism.
- It boosts your confidence and mental toughness, as it challenges you to overcome fear and doubt and push yourself to your limits.
Flex Snatch Mistakes to Avoid
The flex snatch is a difficult exercise that requires a lot of practice and attention to detail. To avoid injury and improve your performance, you should avoid these common mistakes:
- Starting with too much weight. The flex snatch is not a lift that you can muscle up with brute force. It requires finesse and timing, which can only be learned with light weights. Start with an empty bar or even a PVC pipe until you master the technique, then gradually increase the weight as you get more comfortable and confident.
- Rounding your back. This is a common error that can lead to serious injury, especially in your lower back. Keep your back straight and neutral throughout the movement, from the starting position to the catch position. Engage your core and squeeze your shoulder blades together to support your spine.
- Pulling too early or too late. The timing of the pull is crucial for a successful flex snatch. If you pull too early, you will lose power and momentum for the lift. If you pull too late, you will not have enough time to get under the bar and catch it in a squat position. The optimal time to pull is when the bar reaches your hips, as this is where you can generate the most force.
- Jumping too far forward or backward. This is another common error that can cause you to lose balance and drop the bar. Ideally, you should land in the same spot where you started, or slightly behind it. To achieve this, keep the bar close to your body throughout the movement, and extend your hips vertically rather than horizontally.
- Catching the bar with bent arms. This is a sign of weak or fatigued shoulders, or poor coordination. You should catch the bar with straight arms, locked out at the elbows. This will help you stabilize the weight overhead and prevent it from crashing down on you. To improve your arm strength and lockout, practice overhead presses and push presses with light weights.
The flex snatch is an advanced weightlifting move that can take your fitness to the next level. It works your entire body, improves your strength, power, speed, balance, mobility, flexibility, calorie burn, confidence, and mental toughness. However, it also requires a lot of skill, practice, patience, and caution. To perform a flex snatch correctly and safely, follow these steps:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and grip a barbell on the floor with a hook grip.
- Squat down with your shoulders slightly in front of the bar, keeping your core tight and back straight.
- Drive your legs into the ground as you pull up on the bar and begin to rise to stand.
- When the bar reaches your hips, explosively extend your hips, knees, and ankles (triple extension) to create more momentum for the barbell.
- Quickly drop your feet to the sides, about shoulder-width apart, and bend your knees to catch the barbell in a deep squat position with straight arms overhead.
- Stand up with the barbell still overhead, keeping your arms and legs straight.
- Lower the barbell to the floor in a controlled manner.
Remember to start with light weights until you master the technique, avoid common mistakes like rounding your back or pulling too early or too late, and warm up properly before doing any snatches.
If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding exercise that works your entire body, give the flex snatch a try