The first five movements of the Warm-Up move you through the most critical positions of the Snatch. All movements should be performed with a snatch grip on the PVC or barbell, all pulling movements should be performed with a hook grip. Without putting the PVC down perform three reps of each movement and repeat the full cycle three times. This should take about 1-2 minutes when performed quickly.
After each movement you’ll see some text in “quotations”. These words are a simplification of the main priority of this movement. They are intended to be said out loud while performing that part of the warm-up. This will help to link a specific thought process to the specific goal of the movement; creating a link between your brain and body highlighting what the goal is and what it feels like. This is a critical tool to have in troubleshooting lifts and visualizing success.
1. Down and Finish “Bar Speed” (speed through the middle)
This is the most critical movement of the warm-up and it’s mastery will help you to understand the basic tenant of Olympic Weightlifting - power is generated from the hips and lower body, not the shoulders and upper body. The goal here is to generate explosive power through the full extension of the hips. Shoulders and arms should remain relaxed throughout this movement and the torso remains vertical the entire time.
Start with a snatch grip and feet hip width apart, this should be the same as your comfortable jumping position. Perform a controlled vertical dip (about 2-4”) keeping the shoulders directly above the hips and the hips directly above the ankles. The PVC should remain in the hip pocket and not travel down the thighs. This is essentially the same dip that initiates a jerk. As the knees bend corkscrew them out (clockwise for the right knee, counter for the left.) When you reach the bottom of the dip accelerate back up with explosive force; coming to triple extension of the hips, knees, and ankles.
The goal here is “bar speed” or “speed through the middle.” How quickly can you accelerate that bar from the bottom of the dip to full extension? Remember that the shoulders should remain relaxed throughout the movement. They will shrug at the end but this is do to the momentum of the explosive extension of the lower body, not because of a pull with the upper body. Keep the bar close to your body throughout the movement and do not let it swing out with the full extension.
2. Elbows High and Outside “Bar Close” (keep the barbell close)
Start by performing the Down and Finish. Once you've reached full extension of the lower body, carry on the momentum generated by pulling with yours arms. The elbows should bend and remain high and outside. At no point should the wrists be above the elbows and the bar should always remain close to the body.
The height of the pull is not overly critical, but aim for somewhere between your lower chest and under your chin. Do not hit yourself in the face (disclaimer: at some point everyone hits themselves in the face! Don't be too embarrassed when it happens.)
3. Muscle Snatch “Turnover” (strong turnover)
This builds on from the Down and Finish and the Elbows High and Outside movements. Now at the top of the pull of the Elbows High and Outside continue the upward movement of the PVC until the bar finishes overhead with the elbows locked out. The should be a good/solid overhead position with the elbow pits pointing upward and the armpits facing forward. Once they reach full extension, the knees, hips, and elbows should not re-bend. This is a great one to do with weights, feel free to work up to a heavy load. Concentrate on a quick turnover.
4. Snatch Lands at ~2”, 4”, 6” “Foot Speed” (footwork)
Start with your feet in the pulling position (hip width apart, the same as the first three movements) and the PVC overhead. Quickly pick your feet up off the ground and drop into a power squat landing. Perform three repetitions each dropping 2” (just a minor bend of the knees) 4” (about halfway down to parallel) and 6” (just above parallel.)
Concentrate on quick footwork and dropping into a solid power landing. Think about the bar moving straight up and down. Hold the bottom position until you’re stable and then stand up to full extension.
5. Snatch Drops “Foot Speed” (footwork, speed, strength in bottom of snatch)
This is the same as the Snatch Land but now you will drop to a full squat landing. The same goals apply and on both of these make sure you’re dropping to the landing position. It should be like falling through a trap door.
Skill Transfer Exercises:
These are exercises that can be performed in addition to the Burgener Warm-Up. Maintain the same rep/set scheme of 3 sets of 3 reps each (unbroken.) All movements are performed with a Snatch width grip on the PVC or barbell.
1. Snatch Push Press “Overhead Strength”
Start with the barbell resting on the traps, behind the neck. Initiate the movement with the same dip/drive as the “Down and Finish.” Upon reaching full extension of the lower body continue the momentum of the PVC by pressing up on the bar, quickly, to full extension of the elbows. Concentrate on quick bar speed and overhead strength and stability.
2. Overhead Squat: “Core Strength”
Perform a slow overhead squat (approximately 2-3s on the descent) concentrating on core stability and moving the bar straight up and down. Keep the core engaged throughout the full movement.
3. Heaving Snatch Balance “Arm Speed”
The next three movements combine a little bit of everything else we’ve done, culminating in the Snatch Balance.
This movement highlights the dip and drive of the lower body prior to dropping into the bottom of the squat. At this point we remove footwork from the equation to simplify the movement. Start with your feet in a squat position and leave them connected to the ground the entire time. The PVC should be sitting on your traps like the “Snatch Push Press.” Dip and drive just like the “Snatch Push Press” and when you reach full extension of the lower body press up on the PVC while simultaneously dropping into a full squat position, think of pushing your body down rather than pushing the PVC up. It’s important on this movement to reach full extension of the knees and hips before dropping back into the squat.
4. Snatch Balance without a dip “Foot and Arm Speed”
Also known as the ‘Drop Snatch’ - this movement simplifies the Snatch Balance by removing the dip/drive portion from the beginning of the movement. It’s essentially the “Snatch Land” from the Burgener Warm Up combined with the “Snatch Push Press.”
Start with your feet in the pulling position (hip width apart) and the PVC on your traps. Without a dip/drive simultaneously press up on the bar as you drop into a full squat position. Again, think of pushing your body down rather than pushing the PVC up. Concentrate on the quick footwork - think of yourself as falling through the trap door.
5. Snatch Balance “Foot and Arm Speed”
Now we put everything together! Start with your feet in the pulling position (hip width apart) and the PVC on your traps. Dip and drive just like the “Snatch Push Press” and when you reach full extension of the lower body press up on the PVC while simultaneously picking up your feet and dropping into a full squat position. Push your body down into the squat. Again, it’s important to reach full extension of the knees and hips before dropping back into the squat.
The Snatch Balance is a great movement to perform with weights. It gets you comfortable moving under the bar and you should be able to do over your 1RM.
For the final three skill transfer exercises the timing of the landing of the feet should coincide with full lockout of the elbows. Make sure that you are not getting in the habit of a delayed lock out, by pressing up on the bar after the feet land - AKA a “Press Out.”
Your brain and thought process are a huge part of performing the olympic lifts. Thinking about the lifts, visualizing the lifts, troubleshooting issues, etc. are all huge components of progressing. That said, the worst time to think about a lift is when you’re trying to do it! You don’t have enough processing power/space/time to perform multi-level thinking while also firing all the synapses required to get that barbell off the ground. Do your thinking with your hands off the barbell, in between reps. When it comes time to perform the lift clear your head of all but one specific thought or mantra. What the one thing that concentrating on will help your lift the most? Keeping the bar close? Explosive hip extension, speed through the middle? Footwork or foot speed? This is where those verbal queues you’ve been practicing come into play! Don’t be afraid to use out of our Tripods to video yourself and watch it over, using these tips to self correct.
The Burgener Warm-Up was developed by Coach Mike Burgener. If you'd like to learn more you can read this article in the CrossFit Journal.