The hang snatch is one of the best snatch accessory exercises you can do to fix positions (staying over the bar for longer) and build strength (time under tension in the hang position). If done correctly, this exercise can boost your snatch number.
The Different Hang Positions
With five different hang positions, it's essential to specify which hang position the hang snatch falls under.
When referring to the hang snatch, I'm specifically referring to the hang or top of the knee position, which is the most common hang snatch variation.
How To Perform The Hang Snatch
The Starting Position
It's always important to make sure you pick the barbell up to the tall standing position with a tight back and activated lats. That way, when you bend down to move the barbell to the hang position, your position will stay strong, and you will have more strength and power to pull yourself under the bar with the snatch.
When standing in the tall position with the back straight and lats activated, you want to enforce a big chest (a great cue to use when the upper back is slouching or rounding a bit). Arms should be relaxed, and foot pressure should be on the whole foot.
You will then move down to the hang position, making sure you stay over the bar as much as possible (keeping the bar close to the body) and activate the hamstrings in the hang position (that’s also a great way to feel if you are doing the hang movement correctly).
Once you are in the hang position (hamstrings, upper back, and lats activated) with relaxed arms, you start driving with your legs and move into a fully extended position with the bar as close as possible to the body. You are shrugging the barbell up and pulling yourself under the bar.
Once you start pulling yourself under the bar, you will jump out slightly with your feet landing in a squat stance and punching/locking out the bar aggressively overhead.
Common Hang Snatch Mistakes
Scooping The Bar
Scooping of the bar happens most notably when you tend to go too heavy in this exercise and doesn't pause for a split second in the hang. Scooping is a way to create a shortcut in the snatch pull by using momentum instead of a good technique to perform the movement.
Pulling With The Back First
Pulling the back up first instead of staying over the bar and driving with the legs will have the knees push forward, and you will battle to complete a full extension in the lift. It's essential to stay over the bar as long as possible and drive with the legs to get the most strength and power generated in the lift.
Having A Different Hang Position Than You Snatch
It's very important to make sure your snatch assistant exercises like the hang snatch must have the goal in mind of where the position should be in the second pull of the snatch or classical snatch.
If your positions differ, then you won't be able to get the full benefit out of the exercise, and you will feel out of whack when you do the hang snatch and snatch because they will not feel the same. Make sure you are in the hang position (second pull position) where you want to be when you perform the snatch.
Crashing Under The Bar
It's very important with any of the Olympic lifts to pull yourself under the bar to make sure you are controlling the movement and not just falling under the bar and having the bar crash on you.
With the hang snatch, you can practice pulling yourself under the bar with the correct timing. Just falling under the bar and rushing getting into the squat could lead to you missing the lift forward or backward.
Why Use The Hang Snatch?
Reinforce Correct Bar Path
The hang snatch is a great way to teach you to keep the bar close to the body. If the bar path starts moving in the wrong direction, you will tend to miss the lift. The hang position also forces you to keep the bar close to the body.
Reinforces Second Pull Mechanics
Because the lift will take place from the second pull, this forces you to make sure they pull that bar aggressively in the second pull and aggressively pull themselves under the bar. If you battle with the speed in the second pull or miss lifts by not completing the pull, this is a great way to reinforce that second pull speed and build strength in that position.
Forces You To Keep Position
Suppose you tend to lose their position in the snatch or even start pulling with the back or forgetting to drive with the legs. In that case, the hang position is a great way to teach the athlete to get strong in position work.
Pausing for a second or two in the hang position with good form will build a tremendous amount of strength in the back. It will teach the athlete to stay over the bar as long as possible, drive with the legs, and not take shortcuts with the pull under the bar.
Build Back Strength
Reinforcing the hang position and keeping that position for a few seconds will help you to stay over the bar longer because now they will build strength in that position. It's a great exercise to train a weaker back to get stronger in the hang or second pull position.
When To Use The Hang Snatch
The hang snatch should be used as a strength-building exercise if you have a weak back or tend to pull with the back first and end up scooping the bar without reaching full extension.
The hang snatch should also be used when you aren't completing their your pull; you can use this exercise as an assistance exercise or even progression before learning the full snatch.
The hang snatch can also be used when you need to give the legs a rest if they have done a lot of movements from the floor. It's a great way to keep yourself fresh and focus on technique and speed simultaneously.
The hang snatch is a great exercise to teach beginner athletes the breakdown of the movement, especially if you are teaching the athlete from the top down (hip, hang, below the knee).
How Many Sets and Reps Of The Hang Snatch?
To perform the hang snatch, you can do 4-6 sets of 1-3 repetitions of the hang snatch. You can work anywhere between 65% to 100% of your 1 rep snatch max, depending on what you want to achieve out of the exercise.
Hang Snatch Variations
Different Hang Positions
- Snatch from hip
- Snatch from high hang (high thigh)
- Snatch from mid-thigh
- Snatch from hang below the knee
Pause Or No Pause
Both pause and no pause hang snatches are great; you want to at least keep the bar there for a second if you are not doing a long pause. If you reinforce positions and working strength and technique, I will hold the bar in a pause for 2-3 seconds.
The reason for at least stopping for a second will teach to not to use momentum and scoop the bar when you perform a hang snatch. When athletes perform the hang snatch for CrossFit, many bad habits can creep in from rushing the movement and not completing each movement correctly. This way, you will learn a bad technique or possibly injure yourself.
In conclusion, the hang snatch is a great exercise no matter what the level of athlete you are. There are also many variations of the hang snatch and be performed in different ways depending on the goal of what you want to achieve out of the exercise.