What Are the Benefits of Dumbell Overhead Snatch?

The overhead snatch exercise is considered an Olympic lift, along with the clean and jerk. Completing the overhead snatch offers a variety of benefits, some of which are especially important to athletes. Using dumbbells instead of an Olympic barbell as your weighted implement in the exercise adds additional elements and benefits.

A woman is doing an Olympic barbell to perform a snatch. (Image: Ammentorp Photography/iStock/Getty Images)


According to Peter Melanson of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the overhead snatch exercise is effective at preventing injury, increasing performance, building core stability, improving balance and increasing explosive power and speed of movements. For the snatch to be effective, it must be completed as explosively as possible. To complete the dumbbell overhead snatch, begin in an athletic stance, with your knees bent, butt out, back straight and head up. Allow the dumbbells to hang by your side, with your palms facing each other. Explode upward, attempting to jump as high as you can. Use the power coming from your legs to propel the dumbbells upward, guiding them over your head with your hands. Drop your body underneath the dumbbells and land with knees soft and your arms extended directly upward.

Using Dumbbells

The overhead snatch is typically done with an Olympic barbell, but using dumbbells to complete the exercise requires a greater amount of balance and coordination. Although it's primarily your lower body that produces the power throughout the snatch, when using dumbbells, each of your upper limbs must work independently. When using dumbbells, you can complete repetitions lifting both dumbbells or complete the repetitions lifting one dumbbell at a time. As a result, more of your surrounding stabilizing muscles must become involved when using dumbbells in order to control the weighted implements.

Athletic Benefits

The increased power, coordination, balance and core stability from training with the dumbbell overhead snatch is especially of importance to athletes. The explosive nature of the dumbbell overhead snatch matches the intensity of movement that is typically required during sport. According to Melanson, the Air Force Academy athletes utilize the dumbbell overhead snatch to increase their power and improve their performance. Because your limbs work independently when training with dumbbells, the exercise is more similar to the unilateral movements that an athlete must handle during competition.


Using dumbbells during the overhead snatch offer a variety of benefits, but according to Allen Hedrick of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, it's important that you incorporate variety to your power training regimen. Consider mixing both dumbbell overhead snatch and regular overhead snatch into your training regimen to add variety to your training. According to Melanson, however, completing the overhead snatch with dumbbells can be safer than completing the exercise with a barbell.

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