Let’s Break It Down: Here’s How To Actually Do a Dumbbell Snatch

The dumbbell snatch is a true full-body move. It works your lower body, upper body, and core with every rep. It will strengthen your muscles and get your heart pumping. What’s not to love?

Well, the complexity can get a bit overwhelming. It’s a compound movement, which means it combines several exercises into one. That’s part of what makes it so effective, but it also means there are a lot of ways that you can end up unknowingly doing it wrong.

“The snatch is a really awesome, explosive, and powerful full-body movement,” Session trainer Kat Atienza says. “But it does have a lot of complicated parts to it.”

Experts In This Article

According to Maillard Howell, owner of Dean CrossFit and founder of The Beta Way, a dumbbell snatch involves three separate elements. "The snatch is a dynamic movement that requires a highly-developed sense of proprioception, technique, and explosive speed that results in the weight going overhead," Howell previously told Well+GoodProprioception means having a sense of understanding where our bodies are in space, technique refers to proper form, and explosive speed, well, you get it.

But never fear! A lot of complicated parts means you just have to break the dumbbell snatch down, step by step. In the latest The Right Way video, Atienza will show you where people can go wrong with this move, and what you should be doing instead.

Here’s how to do the dumbbell snatch

1. Hinge, don’t squat

The first segment of this move resembles a dead lift. That means to get your hand to the ground so you can pick up your dumbbell, you’ll want to hinge at your hips, not bend at your knees (though you should keep just a small, soft bend in your knees). Atienza recommends mastering this hinge section first. You should feel the hamstrings activate if you're doing it correctly.

2. Pull, don’t curl

You might be tempted to enlist your biceps for the second part of this move. But actually, to get the dumbbell to its next position by your collar bone, you want to pull the dumbbell straight up your body so that your elbow extends out to the side of your shoulder. The work should be in your core, not the biceps.

3. Straight, not leaning

When people start pulling the dumbbell above their heads is where Atienza sometimes sees things get really wonky. To hoist it up there, some people will press the weight overhead and lean to the side. Instead, you want this to be a continuation of the pull in part two, so you’re pulling it straight above your head. This move contains a bit of speed but you should still always be able to keep the weight under control.

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