Exercise You Should Be Doing: Snatch Grip Row

I’m not a big Olympic lifting guy. It’s gotten incredibly popular as of late, and I have all the respect in the world for the people who do it. But it’s just not my thing.

However I do think there’s something we can all learn from various athletic pursuits, especially Olympic lifting. Aside from their impressive athleticism and explosiveness, we should start paying attention to their hand placement.

Especially when it comes to the snatch*, and apply that to back training.

*Can we all pause and laugh at the fact that snatch is a ubiquitous lifting term?

Building a big back takes a lot of time and effort, an inordinate amount of time and effort, really. The back is such a large group of muscles that in most bodybuilding programs it deservedly has it’s own entire day. You can’t skimp out on back training, or else your entire physique will suffer.

For many bros out there, the back is that muscle group that when developed properly, becomes a complete game changer. You start getting stronger at other lifts, you start filling out clothes better, you look bigger, and you have more of a v-taper.

There’s really no reason at all not to focus on building up your back muscles.

Proper back training also requires you to hit the back with a few different stimuli. You need to hit it with a number of angles, different exercises, play with tempo, etc.

Why? Because the back is used to taking a beating; it responds quickly to stimulus, and because of this you’ve got to outsmart it via training.

The row, revisited.

One of the all time hall of fame back exercises is the barbell row. It’s a badass choice for back development because it allows you to pull the heaviest amount of weight possible, in turn leading to more muscular damage and adaptation. All good things for growth.

On top of that, barbell rows are notorious for kick ass back training because when you start to fatigue you can start working in a little momentum to help complete the reps. This isn’t an excuse for using cheat reps at all. But let’s not get it twisted; at times cheat reps can be beneficial to building muscle. Especially with moves like the barbell row.

Today I’m taking an old classic and putting a new twist on it. The snatch grip row:

The snatch grip row is one of those moves that few people do in the gym, because quite frankly, it’s fucking hard. It’s a humbling exercise to try for the first time, because your grip is going to be a seriously limiting factor, and your lats aren’t used to pulling weight from this angle.

It’s hard, but it works.

Aside from the obvious benefit of building grip strength, the snatch grip row is one of my favorites for back development because of it’s ability to help widen the back.

When you place your hands so far apart on the barbell your lats no longer get any sort of break. They go through a drastic stretch shortening cycle during each rep, which forces them to adapt by growing.

When your lats grow, your back widens. When your back widens, your waist looks smaller. Leading to that badass v-taper that bros want, and women want to see.

Start working in snatch grip rows on your back day bros. I’d suggest leading with it in your workouts so your forearms aren’t completely fatigued, and there’s no shame in using lifting straps either. Your back development will be better because of it.

Tanner is a fitness professional and writer based in the metro Atlanta area. His training focus is helping normal people drop absurd amounts of fat, become strong like bull, and get in the best shape of their life.