Build Athletic Power with Snatch and Clean Pulls

When working with athletes, my goal is to build power, speed, strength, and mobility. To accomplish this, I develop training programs that utilize the Olympic lifts and their variations. 

While I recommend every coach/athlete utilize the Olympic lifts for their strength and conditioning programming, I realize that it may not be practical in some circumstances. Performing snatches, cleans, and jerks requires dedicated equipment (weightlifting bars, bumper plates, platforms, etc.) that may not be available for some coaches/athletes. If this is the case for you, or you're just looking for some new exercises to develop athletic power, perform snatch and clean pulls.

Snatch and clean pulls are the first two pulls of the full lifts performed without dropping down to catch the bar (kind of like an explosive deadlift). They don't necessarily require the equipment mentioned above but are still effective exercises for building athletic power. As long as you have a barbell and plates, you're good to go.

Let's start with snatch pulls.

Snatch Pull

Start by gripping the bar with your snatch grip. If you don't know your snatch grip, stand with an empty bar and dip straight down into a quarter squat position. Your grip should be wide enough so that the bar goes into the crease of your hips while in the quarter squat position.


With your grip set and bar over the middle of your foot, squeeze (don't jerk or rip) the bar off the floor by pushing your knees back. Stay over the bar as it passes your knees and sweep the bar into your hips to explosively catapult the bar upward.

Be sure to keep the bar close to you throughout the lift to avoid it banging into your body. You want the bar to "brush" your hips when it makes contact, not "bang."

Clean Pull

The clean pull will be very similar to the snatch pull. The difference here will be the clean grip.

To find your clean grip, dip down into a quarter squat position with an empty bar like you did for the snatch. This time, the bar should be somewhere between mid-thigh and the crease of your hips depending on your individual limb/torso lengths.


The execution of the clean pull will be the same as the snatch pull, except you'll be using the different grip.

Remember that the goal with both of these lifts is power. We want violent hip extension to propel the bar upward. You should be using a weight that allows you to move the bar with a good amount of speed.

Sets and Reps

Since our focus with these exercises is power, we want to keep the reps low. I recommend performing 3-6 sets of 2-3 reps.

A sample 4-week cycle could look like this:

  • Week 1: 4 sets of 3 reps

  • Week 2: 5 sets of 3 reps

  • Week 3: 6 sets of 3 reps

  • Week 4: 3 sets of 3 reps at 10% less of last week’s weight