Muscle Snatch vs. Power Snatch: What’s The Difference?

May 18, 2022

The power snatch and the muscle snatch are two of the most popular snatch exercises for beginners to advanced level athletes. They are both snatch accessory exercises, but the one is performed with power and speed. In contrast, the other is performed purely with strength.

The main difference between the muscle snatch and the power snatch is the catch position when you receive the bar overhead. The power snatch is a powerful movement caught with bent legs, whereas the muscle snatch will be caught and received with straight legs.

But the differences extend further than the catch position. And both exercises are used for different reasons relating to the snatch.

Muscle Snatch vs. Power Snatch: What’s The Difference?

The muscle snatch is precisely what the name says. A muscle and strength-building exercise that focuses on elements like completing the pull, high elbows, fast turnover, and staying over the bar. The goal is to keep the feet flat on the ground with no explosive movements under the bar.

However, the power snatch also focuses on completing the pull and high elbows in the pull. Still, you will aggressively and explosively pull yourself under the bar with the power snatch while jumping out with your feet.

Beginner-level and elite-level athletes will do both the muscle snatch and power snatch.

The power snatch is a great way to teach beginners to complete the pull and land in a power position (thighs higher than parallel with the floor) without fully squatting down.

The muscle snatch will either be done with no contact or with contact on the hips, but you will not be pulling yourself under the bar. That is why the muscle snatch emphasizes strength compared to the power snatch.

With the muscle snatch, you will be starting with bent knees in your normal start position as you would start with a snatch; you could also do this with no hook grip for extra grip strength work.

You then drive your legs into the ground. Once your legs are straightened, there's no leg movement after your extension, focusing on a high pull and high elbows, fast turnover, and a solid lockout with the elbows.

With the power snatch, you will start with the knees bent precisely as the muscle snatch. However, you'll extend in the pull and make hip contact with the bar, then aggressively pull yourself under the bar, landing in a power position and blocking the bar overhead.

Muscle Snatch vs. Power Snatch Muscles Worked

The muscles worked in the muscle snatch will predominantly be the upper body and, even more specifically, the arms. The other muscles worked in the muscle snatch include the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and the lower and upper back.

With the muscle snatch, you will often do this movement with a no hook grip, which means it's a great exercise to develop extra grip strength. That also means it will put a lot of emphasis on building muscles and strength in the forearms.

The predominant muscles worked in the power snatch are the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and the lower back, arms, shoulders, and upper back.

With a power snatch, you will aggressively pull yourself under the bar. Because you are blocking the bar overhead in a squat stance above parallel, the glutes, hamstrings, and quads have to work together explosively to block the weight in the power position.

Although you will work more upper body and strength in the muscle snatch, you will be able to go heavier in the power snatch than the muscle snatch. The power snatch is an explosive movement. With accelerated speed using your whole body, you can generate more power and strength in this movement.

Benefits Of The Muscle Snatch

Reinforce Correct Bar Path

A benefit of the muscle snatch is working on the bar path and ensuring the bar stays as close as possible to the body. You can do the muscle snatch with hip contact or without hip contact. With both muscle snatch variations, you will still be working the bar path and keeping the bar as close as possible to the body. The muscle snatch is a great way to practice the technique before doing your classical snatches.

Emphasizing High Elbows

The muscle snatch emphasizes high elbows. If you are not pulling the bar high enough when extending at the top of the pull, this will help fix it. You will feel very quickly if you drop the elbows in the extension of the movement before you straighten the arms and block the bar overhead. If you find that your elbows are dropping in the muscle snatch and you cannot keep the high elbows, the best thing you can do is reduce the weight and work lighter until you have mastered the technique.

Develop Arm Strength

Because there's no leg movement after you've reached the full extension in the pull of the muscle snatch, it's an excellent way to develop arm strength and muscle. You will find that when you do the muscle snatch with no grip and no hip contact, you will build the greatest arm strength.

Technique

Suppose you are a beginner-level weightlifter learning the snatch movement and the snatch technique phases. In that case, the muscle snatch is a great way to learn the fundamental movements before adding the other parts like the explosive jump out with feet and the pull under the bar.

Benefits Of The Power Snatch

Power Snatch vs Muscle Snatch

Aggressive Pull Under The Bar

The benefits of the power snatch include working on an aggressive pull under the bar. The power snatch is a swift and explosive movement and a great way to work on speed. The high power catch forces you to pull the bar higher, thus practicing an aggressive turnover in the pull with a solid block overhead.

Completing The Pull

The power snatch is a great way to help teach you to complete pull before pulling yourself under the bar. You will catch the bar in a power position. You have to pull the bar as high as possible, making sure you reach that full triple extension before you aggressively pull yourself under the bar.

With the power snatch, you will also be working with a lighter weight than your snatch. So it's a great way to emphasize technique if you are battling to complete the pull with heavier weights.

Develop Speed

The power snatch is a great exercise to work speed. Like your classical snatch, patience is critical to start your pull. Then start accelerating your pull and aggressively pulling yourself under the bar, catching the bar in a power position while locking out the arms overhead. With a power snatch, you will be working with a lighter weight than the classical snatch, which means you can emphasize speed when moving the barbell from the ground to the overhead position.

Should You Muscle Snatch or Power Snatch?

Depending on the goal of the exercise, the muscles and power snatch are both excellent exercises to help your snatch. The muscle snatch and power snatch have different goals regarding the outcome. Depending on your training program and how far along you are from the competition will determine when you will use the muscle snatch or the power snatch in the program.

The muscle snatch and the power snatch are great assistant exercises. They both have a time and a place in your training program. You can use the muscle snatch and power snatch for beginner-level to advanced-level athletes when working on specific technical aspects regarding the strength or speed of the movement.

About the Author

Mona is a Bronze Medalist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She has been competing Internationally for 20 years in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting and has also been African Champion, Commonwealth Champion, and the youngest South African Weightlifter to compete on the International stage.

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