Clean & Jerk vs Snatch

Discussion in 'Masters (50+ years old)' started by KIWI5, Mar 31, 2018.

  1. KIWI5

    KIWI5 More than 300 posts

    I have no interest in learning the snatch- on the other hand, the C&J has got me seriously fired up. This move, compared to the snatch, mimics 'real life' lifting for me. I never, for example- pick up a 20kg sack of (feed, coal, flour..etc) and move it directly overhead. I always, as it is a natural move (for me) lift heavy items to my chest- then overhead (ie when stacking the aforementioned products). I understand that the snatch has near mythical status in the Strongfirst world- and I respect that. My question is: both moves originate with a swing and end overhead- for an older lifter, or 'masters athlete'- the C&J would appear to have less risk and equal to or greater strength benefit. So- I am planning on replacing the snatch with the C&J on some of the programs I am planning to do this year. Am I missing 'something'- or is my approach logical?
    ShawnM likes this.
  2. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    Interesting question. As far as the strength and power aspect, they may be similar when you do them heavy. Even for the conditioning aspect, they may be similar when you do them lighter and longer. So yes, I think that approach is logical. Interested in what others may think about this.

    Having said that, I'll add that I'm about your age (50) and have found from my experience that the snatch isn't risky, and may be slightly more beneficial overall.
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  3. Harald Motz

    Harald Motz Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    the snatch demands and builds more Power. Power = Work/Time = (Force x Distance)/Time. Looking very simplified for an example comparing just a clean to a snatch, same bell weight: in a snatch the bell travels from backswing to lockout I would say more than double the way than from backswing to the rack in the clean. The time it takes for the bell is in my opinion is a fraction of a second longer, I guess far from double the time than the clean takes. Far more way in just a little bit more of time with the same bell is more Power. In that regard, in my opinion the double bell high pull would be the most powerful move to be done for repeats. A lot of weight can be moved for a good amount of distance in a short period of time.

    From my extensive kind of heavy one arm snatch experience over the last two years or so, I find it surprisingly safe, especially for the shoulders. Hands may feel different about it.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  4. Al Ciampa

    Al Ciampa Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    So why not just do real life work then?
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  5. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    Neither move grooves very well with real world application. This is actually true of many very good exercises - they are intended to improve overall strength, stamina by developing the body.

    Use of very heavy loads with the C&J might generally be a closer match, and the hip pop of the Jerk as well, but probably not enough to apply relative to specificity.

    You would have to switch to sandbag lifting to get better linear correlation to picking up heavy sacks of stuff.

    In your day to day do you ever heft heavy items to a lock-out over your head?
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  6. Maine-ah KB

    Maine-ah KB Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    to me its a time and place thing. there both full body expressions of power. they both get weight over your head (source of happiness) and the both produce pretty stanch what the He@# effects.

    Clean & Jerk starts with a hinge and ends up squarely in the over head press family, its a useful conditioning tool and as fare as a full body hypertrophy tool it pretty darn good.

    the Snatch is a HINGE or Big Pull. I expression of power when I do them. also a useful conditioning tool and if you want a bigger back well snatch away.

    Figure out what your goal is and then chose the right tool for the job. Don't saw a log with a screwdriver as my father is liable to say. :)
    KIWI5 likes this.
  7. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    For me, there are two reasons why I don't use the C&J in my training at all.

    One is that catching the weight overhead in a partial squat is not friendly to my shoulders or lower back, especially with doubles. If you have the requisite mobility, such as if you can overhead squat with no problem, then this doesn't apply to you.
    For the reason mentioned above, this has not been my experience, whereas I find the snatch to be a very low risk drill. After rotator cuff surgery (basketball injury) I was able to return to snatching long before even holding a bell comfortably in the rack.

    Two is that dropping under the weight to catch it doesn't feel good to me and is counterproductive to my goals. I want to focus on explosive extension. Dropping under the weight doesn't necessarily preclude maximal explosive extension, but in my experience it can distract from it.

    The snatch is a mainstay in my training, both for its benefits and because I find it a very enjoyable and satisfying movement, which is a big factor in my choice of drills.

    When I want to do something akin to a C&J, I do double push presses with weights light enough to propel ballistically to lockout without having to press them out much or at all. This way, I am only dipping with the bells in the rack, not overhead, and I feel like it is a sweet spot for maximum power (subjective impression; mechanical reality may or may not be different) -- less mass, but higher acceleration/velocity, the dip and drive is very quick, and I can really focus on powering through full extension without having to think about a second dip. This style of push press also seems to have a lot of carry over to my main recreational sport of basketball.

    I also do a lot of double cleans as a stand alone drill, one that I think is very underrated and underutilized.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
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  8. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    What you prefer counts for something - if the choice of lift means you'll better adhere to your program, do the lift you want. OTOH, the lift you don't want may be the lift you don't want because it's the lift you need - that's a question worth asking.

    Substitution isn't always a simple thing - I wouldn't necessarily try to match, set-for-set and rep-for-rep if you change the lift. It's also not clear to me from your message if you're planning on short or long cycle, and the one- or two-handed version. C&J usually means long cycle, so a clean before every jerk.

    Again, what's natural may or may not be a good indicator of what's most beneficial, if doing the lift that's most beneficial overall is, in fact, a goal of yours. It isn't for everyone - for many, just doing something that they like is the priority, and that's OK, too.

    I don't think one can say there is less risk with the C&J, or that there's greater strength benefit. Lower risk comes with intelligent program design and weight selection; greater strength, the same. Both goals can be achieved with either lift.

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  9. KIWI5

    KIWI5 More than 300 posts

    I should have noted that I was referring to doubles-and long cycle. I'm hooked on doubles now. NorthCoastMiller- in the last month I have had to move large sections of fallen trees off the back roads and tracks we use at work- both times I needed to achieve full lockout overhead- serious workouts on both occasions! I also have to stack items above my head height on a regular basis. ACiampa- my work requires me to spend most of the day driving around NZ on ATV's trapping and poisoning possums- I need all the strength I can get to keep up with the lads! SteveFreides; I get it now, both movements could be equally risky (in the hands of the untrained!)- my brain seems to understand the Dbl. C&J better than that 'wild flailing' of the snatch (kidding, I know it is a controlled power movement....but it still looks weird). I have excellent shoulder mobility- which is improving daily now that I train with double kb's- so I am fortunate in this sense. I would think one could lift more weight with a double C&J than with a double snatch?
    SteveFreides- if (for example) a program called for 4 double snatches with a pair of KB's that you could DSN 6-8 times, would you replace the 4 DSN with 4 DCJ+JK, or would you go up one rep with the DCL+JK as this movement allows for more weight to be moved? I am assuming that the DCL+JK allows you to lift more weight than the DSN.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
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  10. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    Yes, at least for most people, IMHO.

    I think I'd adjust the weight so that the rep count stayed the same.

  11. KIWI5

    KIWI5 More than 300 posts

    Thanks Steve!
    Steve Freides likes this.
  12. KIWI5

    KIWI5 More than 300 posts

    NorthCoastMiller- I've been performing loaded carries (mainly with my KB's) and tire dragging for about the last six months, these have helped greatly at work. It is especially fun carrying the 20ltr fuel cans from my truck to the storage shed now- they used to be annoying, now they just give my body a nice little warm up.
  13. KIWI5

    KIWI5 More than 300 posts

    I just watched a Steve Maxwell video- he talks about the KB high-pull as a safer and viable alternative to the snatch. When I look at his video of the high-pull- I can see how this movement is very similar to the snatch- more so than the DCL&JK. There is still a nice hinge and the bells go above the head. I hear a ringing sound...we have a winner- the Dbl KB high pull. I'll still train the DCL&JK, but it's now, "sayonara snatch- kia ora high pull!"
  14. Oscar

    Oscar Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    It seems to me that C&J requires weightlifting shoes in order to become a confortable movement, doesn't it? In order to let the knees travel forward in the catching position. If done barefoot, it appears to me that the butt would be too back in the cathing position, requiring a lot of curve of the spine and also a lot of mobility in the shoulders. Same applies to the jerk with a barbell I suppose.
  15. Kettlebelephant

    Kettlebelephant Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I never thought about this, but you make a good point.
    Look at Geoffs body during the double jerk on the KB Strong cover (without lifting shoes). That's a hip/spine/shoulder ROM that I'd consider extreme and not achieveable for most people.
    Steve W. likes this.
  16. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @Oscar, no - the movement becomes a little different with Oly shoes, but if we can use the barbell front squat as an example, you can do that either way, and I have. The catch of a kettlebell jerk is hardly a bend in the grand scheme of things - I think I'd characterize it as softening of the knees compared to a front squat.

    StrongFirst Level II standards, at about the 1:30 mark

    Oscar likes this.
  17. Oscar

    Oscar Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Yes, thats exactly what I mean. Take a look at the catching with lifting shoes, from a Denisov video:


    The knees are forward and the hips are below the shoulders, below the KB. Looks much more comfortable to me.
    Steve W. likes this.
  18. Oscar

    Oscar Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @Steve Freides , I think we posted at the same time. I see what you mean, the dip is not that much in the SF video, and it allows to keep the hips below the shoulders, not backwards. I guess that the exercise requires a weight light enough that lets you drive it almost all the way to lockout, requiring very little dip, right?
  19. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    Yes. When performing the jerk, one has to "tune" the amount of drive to the weight you're using in order to still need the dip at the end. As the weight gets heavier, this changes, of course.

    Oscar likes this.
  20. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    In my experience (and I'm a big Maxwell fan) in using the High Pull, it did/does not replace the snatch in terms of effect. I experimented with bringing the swing up to a 45° incline, sort of "Bellamy salute" swing and that worked better. But, high pull may be just the thing for you.

    Valery Fedorenko demonstrates the swing with less hip acceleration that drags more upper back into the move - at least when I attempted to mimic his technique it sure did for me.


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