Researchers in China analyzed the movements of six elite weightlifters and six sub-elites to figure out what they did differently. The pros had significantly faster angular velocity of the knee joint than the amateurs, meaning that they moved more quickly from squat to standing, according to the study.
In an ideal snatch, you want your knee to flex as quickly as possible during the initial pull so it can activate the stretch reflex, which helps you rise out of the squat. The secret to that power is knee joint strength, explains study author Yaodong Gu, Ph.D., professor of sports science at Ningbo University in Ningbo, China.
Since you use your knees for pretty much every compound lower-body exercise, it’s always a good idea to work those joints, says Adam Duthie, a Tier X coach at Equinox Columbus Circle in New York City.
Seasoned lifters hoping to improve their snatch should bolster their knee flexors with movements like deadlifts (aim for 5 sets of 5 reps at 85 percent of your one-rep maximum), kettlebell swings (use weights heavy enough to do 5 sets of 10 reps), and stability ball hamstring curls (to fatigue), Duthie says. Incorporating them into your routine twice a week for four to six weeks will help speed up your snatch.