Are Snatch Grip Deadlifts Better Than Regular Deadlifts?

snatch grip deadlift
January 6, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “are snatch grip deadlifts better than regular deadlifts?”. Both the snatch grip deadlift and the regular deadlift have their place.

It is a rarity in most gyms to see people performing the snatch grip deadlift. Generally you see either sumo deadlifts or standard conventional deadlifts. The snatch grip variation is essentially a conventional deadlift with a very wide grip position.

Are Snatch Grip Deadlifts Better Than Regular Deadlifts?

It all depends on your goal. If you are an olympic lifter than the snatch grip deadlift will be better. This is because there is a lot more transfer to the snatch. You can go very heavy on snatch grip deadlifts and build up a lot of pulling strength in this position.

This is very transferable to the first pull and second pull of the standard snatch off the floor. Hence, olympic lifters can benefit greatly from this exercise. 

If you want to hit your upper back and traps harder, then the snatch grip deadlift is an excellent variation to try. Anecdotally, it does tax the upper back to a greater degree than the standard deadlift.

The regular conventional deadlift is arguably better at taxing the glutes and hamstrings compared to the snatch grip variation. In contrast, the snatch grip deadlift will hit the quads harder. This is due to the slightly lower position that your hips are in.

Overall, whether the snatch grip deadlift is better depends on your goals. If you are a powerlifter then obviously the standard deadlift would be better. 

Better For Olympic Lifters

The phrase “train how you play” is very apt. In olympic lifting the snatch is one of the key movements. Any accessory exercises you can do to help to increase your snatching strength will greatly benefit you.

The snatch grip deadlift is exactly that, it is an exercise that you can load very heavy and build a lot of pulling strength in the snatch position. When it comes time to do your regular snatches, you will find that you are able to be more explosive off the floor.

In contrast, the standard conventional deadlift with a narrower grip position doesn’t provide the same carryover. Specificity is an important concept when it comes to training and exercises that are more closely correlated will be more transferable in terms of strength gains.

Hits The Upper Back Hard

Both variations of deadlift hit the upper back to a good degree. Very heavy standard conventional deadlifts will certainly contribute to upper back and trap growth.

Anecdotally however, the snatch grip deadlift has worked the upper back to a slightly greater degree. I believe this has to do with the mechanics of the wide grip starting position. You can actively generate more tension in the upper back just based on these mechanics.

Therefore, the snatch grip deadlift would be a better choice for you if you specifically wanted to beef up your traps and upper back as much as possible. Heavy snatch grip deadlifts would be an excellent choice.

This is also the reason why doing weighted 45 degree back extensions while holding on to a barbell with a wider grip is so effective for building up the upper back. It is the mechanics of this position that helps to keep the upper back tighter and put more tension on the muscles during the range of motion.

More Quad Involvement

Both the standard conventional deadlift and the snatch grip deadlift target the quads to a good degree. However, the quads will be worked harder with the snatch grip variation.

This is due to the fact that your hips will be lower at the start on the snatch grip deadlift. When you initiate the deadlift by pushing the floor away with your feet, your quads will be forced to take on more of the work on the initial pull.

This makes higher volume snatch grip deadlifts a great choice for adding in extra volume work to build up the quads. Bodybuilders could benefit from performing this exercise for rep work to reap these benefits in their quad workouts.

Candito Case Study

I am now going to explore a quick case study – namely that of the well known lifter Jonnie Candito. Candito is a well respected lifter and is particularly known for his excellent squat.

The squat is one of his favourite exercises and he has excellent technique on this exercise. Jonnie made a video which can be seen below talking about why he loves wide stance snatch grip deadlifts.

He performs the standard snatch grip deadlift with a twist, as well as the wide grip he goes with a wide stance. He says that is is similar to a deficit sumo deadlift but better. Many advanced sumo deadlifters are not fans of doing deficit sumo deadlifts.

He says that doing the snatch grip deadlift in the manner he does allows good carryover to the sumo deadlift, while still getting the benefits of conventional. In essence, he is able to keep his hips in a sumo position but have a similar forward lean to what you would see on a standard conventional deadlift.

Final Thoughts

Are snatch grip deadlifts better than regular deadlifts? I just wanted to reinforce the point again – it all comes down to YOUR GOALS.

Olympic lifters can benefit greatly from the snatch grip deadlift. Snatch grip deadlifts would not be better for powerlifters. Since you should train how you play, powerlifters should concern themselves with the regular deadlift first and foremost.

For people who want to benefit from the extra quad and upper back work that the snatch grip deadlift can provide, they should make use of this movement. Bodybuilders for instance, could use this movement for volume work to reap these benefits. 

Overall, both the regular deadlift and snatch grip deadlift are excellent choices. At the core, the philosophy is the same. To pick up a heavy weight off the floor and stand up with it. Then put it back down and repeat.

If you have any comments on this topic please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

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