Within two sessions, a new client called me out as a “butt” guy. She finds anterior pelvic tilt to be home, so we’re focusing lining her hips up beneath her ribs, and with that comes the reminder to check that her glutes are on. After our last session, we were discussing that for most exercises, she’ll want to feel that her hips and upper back are active.
These are under-strengthened muscles in most of us, and it made me think about more demanding exercises that can be used to strengthen the hips and upper back at the same time. Enter the snatch grip Romanian deadlift.
For posterior chain aficionados like myself, the snatch grip deadlift allows integration from the traps to the toes; it hits everything on the back side of the body. The wider snatch grip lets you start with a higher bar, meaning you can do a lower deadlift. The lower descent is a distinct difference if you’re used to a more traditional grip or traditional deadlift, as I am. Here’s an example:
It looks like a regular old Romanian Deadlift, perhaps more so because you can’t exactly see my hand position in this video. If you were to step 90˚ in front of me, you’d see that my hands were outside of the rings on the bar. For the visual learners out there:
We’ll naturally pull with hands at shoulder width, which is typically called a clean grip. That’s the bottom photo. The wider hand position of the snatch grip can reduce the range of motion necessary for Olympic lifters to complete the snatch, but we’re using it for the opposite reason. We want to increase the range of motion. This means more range of motion for your hips and hamstrings, and it happens to tax your upper back more than a traditional deadlift as well.
In my particular circumstances, I want to increase the range of motion at my hips, and the snatch grip allows me to do so. The inclusion of upper back work isn’t something that I’ll complain about, but that may be your motivating factor for using this snatch grip variation in your own lifting. There are very few people who wouldn’t benefit from the additional upper back work, or hip/hamstring work for that matter.
I wouldn’t program this exercise to move maximal loads, be it for 3, 8, or 27 reps. Instead, I like it because it allows for some quality time under tension. If you’re including this gem in your program, consider between 2-5 sets of 6-15 reps, shooting for approximately 30 reps total. Based on your previous training volumes and intensity, you can balance that with other hip dominant and upper back intensive exercises in your training.
If you give this a try, let me know how it goes. If you’d like help integrating it into your program, drop a comment below and I’ll be happy to help!