Translations

Optimum Width of the Grip in the Snatch

Optimum Width of the Grip in the Snatch
A. P. Bykov, Y. I. Smagli,
B. Donyets Polytechnical Institute
Weightlifting: Sbornik Statei
63- 67:1970
Translated by Andrew Charniga, Jr.
Sportivny Press©
2007

The width of the hand spacing in the snatch is associated with a series of discomforts and difficulties. For instance, since only the large, index and middle fingers are grasping the bar, the increasing tension require additional force during the separation of the barbell from the platform, in the explosion and in holding the barbell overhead; the arms virtually do not take part in the dynamic work; the force generated by the muscles of the legs and trunk cannot exceed the strength of the grip; there is a discomforting sensation in the fingers during a limit lift.

So, it is important to establish the optimum width of the hand spacing for each athlete, such that the sportsman will not experience discomfort and the greatest height of lifting can be achieved.

We conducted a study to determine the optimum width of the hand spacing for the snatch, which in effect was to have athletes lift 90% of the maximum snatch a number of times. The width of the hand spacing was altered each time. The height of lifting determined was recorded with a special device. The results showed the angle between the hands and the bar was 49º to 63° for the successful attempts.

The strongest athletes in the world and the USSR have the following angles between the hands and the bar with a limit weight in the snatch: G. Kochiev 49°, Y. Smirnov and V. Kolotov 51°, I. Kalachnik and Y. Yshchenok 52°, A. Kalinichenko, Y. Talts and V. Kurentsov 53°, B. Selitsky 56°, L. Zhabotinsky 57° (Zhabotinsky’s angle is restricted by the length of the bar between the collars). It is obvious the angle between the hands and the bar of the top lifters in the world and the USSR does not exceed 57°.

It has been established that the height of lifting depends on the angle between the hands and the bar: the smaller this angle, the lower the height of lifting, and vice versa. We determined the height to which it would be necessary to raise the barbell in order to fix it in the snatch relative to a specific angle between the hands and the bar with the help of regression equation (y = 1.64 x – 24.3, where x is the angle between the hands and the bar) {table 1}.

Table 1.

Angle arms& Bar Min. Ht. of lifting % Ht. Med. Ht. of lifting % Ht. Max Ht. of lifting % Ht.
49º 52.5 56.1 59.7
50º 54.1 57.7 61.3
51º 55.7 59.3 62.9
52º 57.4 61.0 64.6
53º 59.0 62.6 66.2
54º 60.7 64.3 67.9
55º 62.3 65.9 69.5
56º 63.9 67.5 71.1
57º 65.6 69.2 72.8
58º 67.2 70.8 74.4
59º 68.9 72.5 76.1
60º 70.5 74.1 77.7
61º 72.1 75.7 79.3
62º 73.8 77.4 81.0
63º 75.4 79.0 82.6

When you know the angle between the hands and the bar and the required height of fixation as a percentage of the athlete’s height for this angle you can calculate this height in centimeters with the following formula:

H = yP/100,

Where, H is height of lifting in the snatch necessary for fixation (in cm from the starting position of the bar); y is the height of lifting as a percentage of the athlete’s height; P is the athlete’s height in cm.

For example, the angle between the hands and the bar for A. Kalinichenko is 53°; his height is 178 cm. In order to determine the height the athlete needs to lift the barbell to fix it in the squat position, you need to find the height (percentage of the athlete’s height) in the table to which the barbell needs to be lifted if the angle between the hands and the bar is 53°, and then use the formula to find this height (in cm).

For A. Kalinichenko this height would be an average of:

H = 62.6 x 178/100 = 111.5 cm

In actuality he lifted the barbell to a height of 110.5 cm with a limit weight. If you take into account the height of lifting from the platform then the calculated height will be 134 cm (111.5 + 22.5), and in actuality this was 133 cm (110.5 + 22.5). Well then, the calculated and actual data coincide.

Presented in table 2 is a comparison of the actual height of lifting with the calculated.

Data Y. Talts A. Kalinichenko l Zhabotinsky
Athlete’s Ht. 174 178 193
Ht. lift bar level 110.5 110.5 132.5
Ht. lift platform 133 133 155
Angle of grip   53º   53º   57º
Min. Ht. bar level 103.0 105.0 126.5
Min. Ht. Platform 125.5 127.5 149.0
Med. Ht. bar level 109.0 111.5 133.5
Med. Ht. Platform 131.5 134.0 156.0
Max Ht. bar level 115.0 118.0 140.5
Max Ht. Platform 137.5 140.5 162.5

A comparison of the actual height of lifting with the mean calculated will allow one to determine the quality of snatch technique. For instance, if the actual height conforms to the maximum, you know the exercise technique is imperfect. If on the other hand, the actual height of lifting is below the mean you know the athlete possesses excellent snatch technique and flexibility.

Naturally, to perfect the snatch the sportsman should be able to fix the barbell at the minimum height. This makes it possible for him to lift a bigger weight for a given level of strength.

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Charniga photo.

One should bear in mind when selecting the width of the grip that along with the diminishing angle between the hands and the bar that the height needed to fix it diminishes. For example, by reducing the angle between the hands and the grip by 2°, the height of lifting for an athlete 174 cm in height can reduced by 5.7 – 6 cm.

For the most part the strength of the grip determines the effectiveness of lifting the barbell in the snatch. Therefore, it is very important to strengthen the grip (the flexors of the fingers).

In order to improve the grip in training and especially in competition we recommend the use of resin dissolved in alcohol. Research shows that the force applied to the bar is 15% stronger (an average of 33 kg) with the use of resin than with the usual method.

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