Are snatches hard on rotator cuffs?

I started Meltdown II, and almost killed my shoulder trying out the snatch-grip exercises for the first time at 90% RM. Dumb, I know. Had to switch to a 5x5 program and recouperate.

Does anyone whether snatch movements endanger the rotator cuffs? In a recent Q&A on Poliquin’s site, Art McDermott dumped on one-armed DB snatches for high reps. Are there precautionary measures to take–like staying in a certain rep and load range, or rotator cuff exercises before executing the snatch?


Yes. They are. Just look at mine. With your hands spaced wide you assume a position that pinches the shoulder. If you do not get solidly under the weight, well you can imagine. At a meet once I saw a shoulder dislocation during a 300 pound plus snatch. I alos have seen first hand an elbow forced out of the joint.
This being said, I still preform power hanging snatchs with moderate weights. Nothing building and maintains my traps upper better.
Best of Luck.

I’ve just started meltdown II and also find the snatch very uncomfortable on the shoulders. I’m sure that I have flexibility issues that need to be addressed.
To be quite honest I’m thinking of putting off this program until I visit a qualified instructor at our olympic center.

Coach, can we have your input here. How do we protect our cuffs?

I injured my shoulder when it dislocated during a relatively light snatch. Ever since, I’ve followed a warmup program to strengthen the cuff that has prevented recurrence of my injury. I do three “supersets” of light dumbell L-flyes alternating with the following exercise:

Hold a medium-weight dumbell in your hand, bend over at the dumbell rack and support your upper body with your other hand while bending at the waist. Hold the dumbell with an overhand grip, all it to dangle and rotated the dumbell in small circles, ten times each clockwise and counterclockwise.

Then I go so a set of L-flyes for ten to twelve repetition with light to medium weight. After that, my shoulders are warm and I’m good to go. Hope it helps!

See his Man of steel program look for the shoulder capsule section, issue 197.

How do you know what your 1RM is if that was you first time? Anyway. Most Renegades train in the 50-75% range with varying levels of intensity with very few “Heavy” days. As for Poliquin and McDermott- Ask them about Bicep training and old ladies on treadmills, that is what they do. Renegade’s are constantly evolving themselves into sharper stronger warriors. Look up shoulder capsule and “Cuban Press” in the search. The snatch involves a ton of proprioreception, so enjoy it for what it is, then move up in weight methodically.

OK, I read that Man of Steel article, which was illuminating. It lays out the preventative exercises, but I don’t know where Coach Davies places them before or after the snatch work. Would this depend on the load and rep scheme of the snatch exercise? Anyone know?

I normally do my rotator cuff exercises at the end of my work out. My reasoning is: if I exhaust my supporting muscles before I go heavy I stand a greater chance of causing damage due to weaking of the supporting structure. That not to say that I don’t warm-up. I also use MSM cream before and an ice cup after.
Best of Luck.

We do an extensive amount of pre-hab work. Please review the “Man of Steel” article and that will assist greatly. With the general training programs the initial lifting component is dedicated to our “Focus” Lifts (which Snatch’s fall into). From there assistance and pre-hab work is done typically with a similar total set count. I think this protocol has assisted my athletes greatly as I have never had a injury occur when performing a Snatch or Clean. I hope that assists. In faith, Coach Davies

Thanks, Coach! And thanks everyone else too.

In anyone here suffers from a lack of external rotator strength it is essential to build up RC strength in order to restor the balance between this and internal rotators (as the latter often gets exercised far more frequently than the former). My brother had this problem with his left rotators and could not position his arm point at a 90 degree angle with his upper at at his side. I got him on a program to correct this problem (although one could say I annoyed him till he did it. hehe) and now he no longer suffers from this.