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Snatch vs Clean: What’s the Difference?

By Cristiana , in General , at June 29, 2023

Training for a CrossFit competition has seen a massive rise over the last few years, with both male and female athletes fighting for the title of ‘Fittest on Earth.’ However, competing in a CrossFit competition isn’t the only reason for a half-hour spin class.

Pilates is a great CrossFit for anyone needing to change their body composition, and it doesn’t have to be done at a gym. For example, performing Pilates in your own home, using nothing but resistance bands.

Snatch and clean are two essential compound lifts practiced and perfected at CrossFit centers. Performing a snatch and a clean with good form and technique can produce marvelous results.

However, there has been some confusion regarding the two different lifts. To help, we’ve put together a guide highlighting the difference between snatch vs clean.

Anatomy of Snatch and Clean Movements

The difference between snatch and clean movements is important for any lifter to understand. Anatomically speaking, snatch and clean movements have several unique components.

The most prominent difference between the two is that the snatch requires quick acceleration and deep hip flexion to bring the bar from the floor to the overhead position. At the same time, the cleaning involves a vertical thrust to get the bar from the floor to shoulder level.

The snatch requires much higher speeds and greater coordination of the legs, hips, arms, and upper back than the clean for proper execution. In addition, the range of motion is much broader and faster when performing the snatch.

Clean, on the other hand, is much more focused on the midrange stability of the body and core strength. It is important to understand both movements and their respective nuances to gain mastery of the Olympic lifts. 

For a new CrossFitter, a qualified personal trainer CrossFit can help create a plan that is tailored to all your goals!

Strength and Muscle Engagement in Snatch and Clean

Snatch and Clean are popular weightlifting exercises widely used to build strength and muscle engagement. They differ in terms of:

  • lift type
  • movement
  • technique

Snatch is a more dynamic, explosive lift, requiring an athlete to rapidly move the weight to its end-point above the head. Clean is performed with a slower, controlled movement, where the bar is held momentarily in a racked position at the shoulders.

Compared to Clean, the Snatch activates more muscle and requires greater balance, stability, and control when executing the lift. It also utilizes the lower half of the body to generate more explosive force. Thus, when used in workouts, the Snatch can elicit greater gains in power and musculature when compared to the Clean.

Explaining the Key Distinctions Between Snatch vs Clean

The snatch vs clean both require strong technique and power to complete; the snatch is a fast, explosive movement, while the clean is a slower, more steady execution.

One’s choice of CrossFit exercises can impact sports performance, but both will improve a lifter’s strength. For athletes looking to increase muscle and power, try incorporating both activities into your strength training program!

Are you interested in learning more? Take a look at some of the other articles on this site!


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