HANG IN THE BALANCE
Bob LeFavi articles:
CrossFit is renowned for challenging athletes with a wide variety of movements and training regimens. Most fitness enthusiasts in the average gym never experience the breadth of exercises common in any good box. So it's not that we can point to a movement and charge CrossFit coaches with neglect. But here's one opportunity -
The Snatch Balance is one exercise the best exercise most CrossFitters not only don't perform but in many cases also haven't even been taught.
The Snatch Balance is an assistance exercise to enhance performance in the Snatch lift, specifically to improve speed of movement and achieve greater stability in the catch position. Improved speed translates to better performance in many other movements (i.e., clean, thrusters, box jumps), as does a more stable catch (overhead squats, deadlift, wall balls).
Mike Burgener Snatch Balance:
Start with a barbell across the back of your shoulders as in a back squat. Your feet should be in the pulling position (the same placement as in the first pull of the Snatch), with hands at a wide, snatch-width grip. The weight on the bar should be similar to what you use in the Snatch itself. Athletes progress with weight in the Snatch Balance the way they normally would in the Snatch.
Start the move by popping the bar up by dipping slightly and driving upward y extending the knees, which unloads the spine momentarily and gets the bar moving up and off the shoulders - even just an inch - so space can be created between the bar and the shoulders/traps. The height of the bar is now the highest it should be throughout this movement.
As soon as the bar leaves the shoulders immediately extend your elbows to press your body down against the bar. As you do so, look straight ahead, move your feet into the landing position (usually a bit wider than the pull position) and drive yourself into the bottom of the catch. The elbows should lock out just as you hit the bottom position - never after.
Sounds easy, right?
It's not. And the reason this exercise is difficult is because it requires mental effort to perform it correctly and benefit from it (which is one reason the Snatch Balance should be performed early in a training session). That is, the real challenge of the Snatch Balance is between the ears.
The mantra of athletes executing the Snatch Balance reflect these coaching cues:
- Short, quick, dip and drive.
- Create space.
- Press under bar and drive body down as fast as possible.
- Tighten up; bones stacked!
- Lock out as you hit bottom.
The focus should always be on speed of movement. As you push up against the bar and quickly descend into the landing position, the speed of descent should be so fast that the bar drops from its maximal height following the dip and drive.
But the Snatch Balance doesn't only develop speed; it also develops confidence. When an athlete has a one-rep max Snatch of 80 kg but can Snatch Balance 90 kilos, imagine what that does to her confidence a) when she approaches a heavy Snatch, and b) when she ponders continuing to improve in the Snatch.
Contrary to what one might think, the 'Heaving Snatch Balance' is not performed over a bucket after you've done too many Snatches. This is a true variation of the Snatch Balance except for the extent of the dip and drive. In this variation, you dip lower - as you would during a Jerk. This enables the bar to rise to a higher level and may be best used when an athlete has not quite developed sufficient speed to lock the elbows out when the hips hit bottom.