Arguably the most visually intimidating olympic lift, is the snatch. The snatch movement, requires a starting position of a maximal width grip on the bar (snatch grip) and a finishing position of the bar directly over the head. A daunting thought for some, not just because of the co-ordination required and musculature that’s challenged throughout the motion, but rather the mobility aspect of the lift in it’s entirety.
The overhead squat is the main component of the lift. This part alone requires optimal mobility and strength from the lifter, combine these considerations with the explosive nature of the lift and you have three prime reasons why this and all versions of olympic lifting are considered advanced. Of all exercises in training, these lifts in particular aren’t ones to be negligently instructed or mis-purposefully placed into programmes (cough, cough Cross Fit).
The overhead squat is fantastic at developing trunk stability, base line strength levels and mobility if programmed correctly. Before attempting the snatch or overhead squat, a competent ability to squat is a necessity (refer to my previous two blogs on squatting for reference). Most suffer from rounding of shoulders or general postural considerations, this will seriously limit your ability to perform this lift, make sure you regress in order to progress if this is a problem for you. General posture/remedial based exercise will help correct these problems, use an unloaded overhead squat with a stick or empty bar as a form of testing to track your improvements, I have previous blogs that will guide and assist this training also.
Regarding reps and sets, the same rules typically apply across all olympic lifts. Reps between 1-5 and sets that compliment the desired training effect will benefits lifters the most. The isometric nature of holding the bar above the head is likely to be the limiting factor in this movement, if excessive reps are performed. Again, I urge you to employ the common sense mantra of “DON’T LIFT HEAVY STUFF ABOVE YOUR HEAD, WHEN TIRED!”.
To fully reap the neurological, musculature developing and mobility improving aspects of this lift, learn how to do it from a qualified S&C coach, not your mate, not somebody who does it topless for Instagram likes or certainly not anybody that performs this movement for the fastest time and reps possible. Training correctly can be a very health benefiting and life improving skill, make sure you learn from solid foundations first if this is something you intend to build on for a lifetime.