MTB Strength Tip

Date Apr 27, 2010

Increasing Leg Power with the DB Snatch

Getting more leg and hip power will change how you look at the trail. When you can stand up and quickly get up to speed you can get more aggressive and overcome mistakes more easily. When you can pop your hips to gain momentum at take off you’ll be able to bunny hop higher and jump more consistently.

While there are a lot of great exercises for developing power, the Olympic lifts are some of the best. The Clean and the Snatch are excellent exercises that teach you how to develop power in the legs and how to develop timing between the upper and lower body. However, both of them are technical lifts that require some good coaching and understanding to gain the benefits while minimizing the risks.

This leaves a lot of people with a huge void in their training program. They need the benefits of the Olympic lifts but lack the skill to use them safely and effectively. Enter the single arm DB snatch.

This exercise is a great way to introduce Olympic style lifts into a routine without having to spend a lot of time learning all the technical aspects. The benefits from the Olympic lifts come from how they teach you to coordinate your body into a single explosive effort. The single arm DB Snatch will get you most of the same results in a much simpler package.

Here is a video demo I shot on how to get the most out of this exercise while minimizing risk. Here are a couple of pointers to keep in mind:

– Remember that anytime you start throwing weights around you increase the risk factor. Stay strong and focused when using this or any other explosive exercise.

– Pay attention to how fast you are moving, not how “tired” your muscles are. You are not going for the burn and should not look to exhaust yourself. As soon as you start slowing down you need to stop the exercise.

– You are not using your arm to get the weight up, you are using your hips, legs and back. You are looking for it to float to the top with minimal effort from your arms. “Throw” the weight up, don’t “press” it up.

– Start with your butt back, knees slightly bent and your chest up. Catch the weight in the same position.

– Pay more attention to the quality of how you move than how much weight you are moving. It is better to have perfect form with less weight than be flailing around with a weight that simply feeds your ego.

– If you have any shoulder issues then this is probably not the best exercise for you. If you feel any pain with this or any other exercise you should stop the exercise until you can figure out why.

I recommend doing 2-3 sets of 4-6 reps on each arm with this exercise. Adding it in 1-2 times a week at the beginning of your workout (after the warm up but before any other strength training) will really get you moving more explosively on your bike.

James Wilson is the owner MTB Strength Training Systems, the word’s only company dedicated to developing strength and conditioning programs for the unique demands of mountain biking. His clients include the current US National DH Champ Aaron Gwin. James currently owns a training facility in Grand Junction CO and is the strength coach for the Yeti World Cup Team. You can find more tips and training info at his blog

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