Fitness tip - Snatch-grip deficit deadlift

Fitness tip - Snatch-grip deficit deadlift

by Evigan Xiao 03 Jan 2018

Nothing matches the deadlift (except the squat) when it comes to building full-body strength and muscle. It’s also as honest as an exercise can get: you either make it or you don’t. The deadlift is also one of those exercise held in high regard by strength sports coaches when it comes to increasing their athletes’ base strength during the off-season. So, how do you make such a kick-ass movement even more effective?


Some of you may be familiar with variations of the deadlift such as the deficit deadlift and the snatch-grip deadlift. Both excel at building both general and deadlift-specific strength, but combining the two pushes the range of motion to the extreme, resulting in a tremendous muscle-building stimulus. No wonder the snatch-grip deficit deadlift is a favourite of strength guru Charles Poliquin when it comes to putting on slabs of muscle within a short window of time!


Performing the snatch-grip deficit deadlift is as exactly how you’d expect to when blending both the constituent exercises together. Standing on a small podium or riser (feel free to use plates to that effect), grab the barbell with a snatch grip and deadlift it up and lowering it back down to the floor.

Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit


Done correctly, the snatch-grip deficit deadlift will work practically every msucles in your body, from head to toe. Your neck extensors and traps will be subjected to a huge amount of loaded stretching while your upper back works to keep the barbell close to your body. Like any deadlift variation, your hamstrings, glutes and lower back will also be the centre of attention when it comes to extending the hips and getting that weight up. Let’s not forget about your forearms working overtime just by hanging on to the bar!


In order to perform this movement safely, one must be able to maintain a tight and neutral spine at the bottom range of the movement. Given that the mobility demands of this exercise is higher than most, one should not attempt to force-feed this movement if it comes at the expense of postural integrity,


Finding the ideal snatch-grip width will require some trial-and-error. While it is essentially a wide grip, the exact width will differ between individuals. To determine your grip width, start by taking a comfortably wide grip on the barbell and standing up with it. Now, bend slightly at the knees while keeping your torso upright and pulling the barbell slightly into you. The barbell should be firmly nestled in the crease of your hip – that’s your ideal grip width. If it isn’t, make the necessary modifications.


If grip strength becomes a huge limiting factor, lifting straps can be employed to keep progress ongoing. You can also experiment with tempo training to elicit a greater training effect; extending the eccentric (lowering) portion of the lift is a great way to increase the number of micro-tears in the muscle which is useful for hypertrophy purposes. Be sure to start light in the beginning though: your body will definitely thank you the next day!