Most new lifters have trouble with the overhead position in snatches and overhead squats.

Mobility gets the blame more often than not but mobility might not be the whole story. In this Weightlifting Wednesday we’re going to start at the top and address the grip, arm, and shoulder position for these lifts.

First, your overhead squat grip and snatch grip should be the same. The overhead squat is a just a portion of the snatch and should be treated as such.

Start here: place your hands wide enough that the bar sits in the bend of your hips with arms straight hanging down relaxed. Like everything in weightlifting there will be some variation due to arm length and shoulder mobility, but not much.

taylor OH 1

When standing up and the bar is overhead, you will have a slight forward lean, head through, with the bar over your shoulders/base of the neck.

Second, weight should be balanced over your mid foot, with your whole foot on the ground. PLEASE FORGET about being externally rotated, or “shrugging up”. Both of those will de-stabilize the joint. Instead, squeeze your shoulder blades together and punch up into the bar.

When I say “punch up” I mean elbow extension. Locked elbows is very important. Especially in the snatch. If you don’t aggressively punch up on the catch, you’ll have a very hard time snatching any heavy weight. Not only will your catch position be more stable, you’ll push yourself under the bar faster.

taylor oh 2

His traps are better than mine

His traps are cooler than mine

Third, Let go of the death grip! We want a strong grip but relaxed enough for your wrist to open up into a “shelf” position. The bar is still in your palm but not with a stacked wrist like you would on a bench press. If you do this, you won’t have to force your arms back as far to keep the weight balanced over your mid foot. It also allows your bones (locked elbows) to support the weight as opposed to your tense muscles.

taylor oh 4

Don’t always scream ‘shoulders!”. Hips, T-spine, and ankles all play a major role. Strength gains will (obviously!) also help. It’s hard to have a good overhead position with a weak upper back, triceps, delts, or core.

Last but not least, practice. Keep grinding until that weakness is a strength.


Coach Taylor.