By: Paul Minter
Doing two years of CrossFit has changed the way I view movement and body mechanics. Basically, a lot of physical activities share the same traits and the snatch is king.
Imagine you’re about to try for your biggest ever box jump. You’ve progressed up from smaller challenges and now the mound of bumper plates is intimidating. Nonetheless you know that with an aggressive jump and quick feet you’ll do enough to land it.
At the set-up of the box jump you lower your hands, hinge at the hip, and bend your knees.
Then you take a deep breath, head up, and jump like a madman.
Quick as a flash your knees are up, you stick the landing, and you stand up slowly with a triumphant smile. Welcome to your new 1RM box jump.
Now as a thought experiment re-read the above but swap “box jump” for “snatch”. Go on, do it, I’ll wait for you.
Same same huh? A bit of a tweak for the importance of the hands but the close-open-close of the hip hinge is exactly the same. In more technical terms this is the body moving through global flexion – global extension – global flexion. I’m sure you have been drilled on the importance of opening and closing the hip hinge and that’s because it’s everywhere in CrossFit. Let me give you some examples…
The close-open-close of the snatch has obvious commonality with the close-open-close of the squat clean and kettle bell swing. Equally the close-open-close of the box jump is obviously common to a standing broad jump. But what if we’re not using weights or jumping, so the pattern is less obvious?
The muscle up is a demon of many. Multiple MUs without a false grip are a demon to all that rely on their shoulder strength. But watch a proficient crossfitter do multiples and you will start to see the close-open-close pattern. The feet swinging in front of the athlete closes the hip angle. The pop open of the hips generates height and brings the athlete’s chest to the rings. The aggressive sit up through the rings closes the system and (save for half a ring dip) finishes the MU.
Have a look at someone on a rowing machine. The recovery begins with the hands then shoulders travelling forwards to close the hip angle. Next the knees bend to fully close the system before an aggressive opening on the drive phase. The hip angle is then closed again as the sequence is repeated.
What about some wilder examples? Watch a back flip in slow motion and you will see a close-open-close pattern with similar explosive properties as the snatch. Same applies for the butterfly swim stroke in a pool.
Once you consider movement in this light you can see the pattern everywhere.
What about something much more mundane? Next time you are walking up stairs take them two at a time. Then think about how you are repeating the close-open-close mechanics of your hips as you propel yourself upwards. Are there any others you can think of?
I believe the commonality of the snatch movement pattern to so many areas of CrossFit, sport, and life in general make it the most important lift. It’s not easy, it requires coaching and mental aptitude but it’s worth it. By training your ability and power in the movements of the snatch you will find yourself making leaps and bounds in a multitude of areas, some you haven’t even considered yet. And that’s awesome. As they say in Thailand, same same but different.
Post Questions for Paul in the comments!
Workout of the day
A: Push Press
5 sets of 5 reps
B: Open 11.6
Do 3 reps of each in round 1, 6 reps in round 2, then 9, 12….and so on.