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What the Heck Is a Shrug Snatch?

Published: 2021-02-08
What the Heck Is a Shrug Snatch?
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We always try to figure out the best ways to make our current or aspiring weightlifters the best that they can be. That includes working on weak areas that have become their limiting factors for optimal performance.

When performing a snatch, we always stress “faster, faster, faster!” That means fast up, but also, fast under. That top pull has to be explosive and powerful, but often speed and timing going under the bar is lacking. We want lifters to aggressively pull themselves under the bar and receive the bar overhead when it feels weightless. 

This is a skill that can be learned. It’s not just pull like crazy, dive under, and hope like hell you catch the bar overhead where you need it to be. One of the best exercises we have found to work the speed and timing going under the bar is something called the shrug snatch. Years ago, USA Weightlifting’s first coaching education materials cleverly referred to this movement (and the clean version) as the going under the bar exercise. We have brought it out of retirement and actually use it a great deal. As with our previous blog about the snatch balance, we find it to be very useful.

Check out the video I put together explaining the how and why of the shrug snatch. 


Here are the technique pointers we are looking for in performing this exercise:

  • Use a snatch grip on an empty bar or very light weight
  • Feet are in a pulling width with knees straight and arms straight
  • Perform two slow shrugs keeping the arms straight, knees straight, and bar close to the body
  • On the third rep, perform a fast shrug and pull under the bar into the receiving position
  • This fast shrug should be without any knee kick at all and keeping the bar close to the body
  • When going under the bar, shuffle the feet quickly to a squatting position to receive it


The primary purpose of this exercise is to work the speed and timing going under the bar, so a light weight is utilized. With too much weight, speed is compromised, and the lifter tends to use a bit of a knee kick. (Note: the red plates in the video are 2.5kg, not 25kg.)

Do your athletes either jump their feet too wide for the catch, or maybe don’t move their feet at all? This exercise quickly fixes these faulty foot movements.

We typically perform four or five sets of three repetitions (two slow shrugs, plus one fast shrug and go = one rep).  This makes for a great dynamic warmup, particularly leading into a snatch workout.