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What are the Clean and Snatch?

Hi there, this is coach, Tatsuro!

Today I'd like to explain the terms "Clean" and "Snatch".

The Clean and Snatch are weightlifting disciplines that some of you may have never heard of until you started CrossFit.

Since they are similar movements, it may be difficult to tell which is which. I'll explain the differences between the clean and snatch so that you can understand the movements.

◆What are the Clean and Snatch?

The Clean and Snatch are classified as Olympic lifts. (In Japan, they are also called the quick lifts.)

I'll explain each of them using the videos below.

The Clean

The clean is a movement in which the barbell is lifted off the floor and received on the shoulders, we stand up completely to finish the lift.

In weightlifting competitions, after the clean, the bar is lifted over the head by jerking the bar off the shoulders. (By the way, I like the jerk, but it's sad that it's not as popular as the clean and snatch. Guys! Let’s try the Jerk too!

The Snatch

The snatch is a movement in which you use the power of your entire body to raise a barbell from the floor all the way up above your head in one movement and finish supporting the barbell with your elbows fully extended.

If your hands are too narrow, it is difficult to perform the movement due to flexibility issues, especially keeping the bar overhead in a full squat, so your hands are generally wider than in the clean.

The technique for moving the bar in the clean and snatch is very similar, the major difference is how far you raise the bar.

Clean: receive the bar on your shoulders.

Snatch: finish with the bar above your head.

If you are new to CrossFit and don't know which is which, you can simply remember the above.


Olympic lifting is the sport of raising a heavy barbell quickly,. It trains a variety of fitness domains such as ‘strength’, ‘speed’, explosive ‘power’ for the whole body, ‘coordination’ to transfer power from the legs to the barbell through the trunk, ‘accuracy’ to control the barbell, and ‘balance’ which is necessary to stand up while holding a heavy bar. In addition, you need to be ‘flexible’ to perform the movements correctly with safety and efficiency, so you need to work on flexibility as part of your stretching and mobility drill training before and after working out.

Do these fitness domains sound familiar to you? Yes, they are part of the "10 Fundamental Physical Skills of CrossFit".

Olympic lifting is a complex movement, but as you can see above, it's a great workout that can improve many of the physical skills required in CrossFit!

(For more information on the 10 fundamental physical skills, please read the excellent article in the blog linked above.


The clean is a full-body effort to lift a barbell off the floor and onto your shoulders.

The snatch is the technique of pulling the barbell from the floor to above your head in one movement.

Do you understand the difference between the clean and the snatch now?

If you have to do a clean or snatch in your next class, please do it with confidence!

Next time, I'll explain the different phases of the clean and snatch!




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