Snatch vs Clean & Jerk Part 1: How Do You Stack Up?

The Olympic lifts have always been a staple in the CrossFit community. Thousands of CrossFit Affiliates around the world teach the classic lifts to a full spectrum of members, young and old, fit and unfit. As a result, BTWB is in a unique position to be able to capture weightlifting data from a wide variety of casual athletes who do CrossFit but may never participate in an actual Olympic Weightlifting meet. We are going to publish a series of data-driven articles looking at different aspects of the Snatch and Clean & Jerks. We will be breaking down the lifts by gender, age, bodyweight, etc. using data from over 100k athletes.

In Part 1 we are going to examine overall trends and ratios between the lifts for both men and women.

Distributions

For men, the average 1-rep max (1RM) Snatch is 71kg (156lb) and the average 1RM Clean & Jerk is 93kg (205lb). The distribution of the Clean & Jerk weights is shifted slightly to the right of the Snatch which is consistent with the overall Snatch to Clean & Jerk ratio for men of 0.76.

For women, we see similar trends albeit at lower weights (something we’ll explore more in a future article). The average 1-rep max (1RM) Snatch is 40kg (88lb) and the average 1RM Clean & Jerk is 54kg (119lb). The overall Snatch to Clean & Jerk ratio for women is 0.75.

Notice that the distribution is much tighter for the women compared to the men. This means that the female 1RMs are concentrated among a much smaller range of weights.

Percentiles

In this section we’ll take a look at how your lifts stack up against the rest of the CrossFit community. If you know your best Snatch and Clean & Jerk, you can find a rough estimate of what percentile you are in for each lift. You can also see in what percentile your Weightlifting Total falls.

For Snatch, 75% of male BTWB users can lift between 48kg (105lb) and 90kg (198lb). Snatching over 90kg (198lb) puts you in the top 15%. Snatching over 102kg (225lb) puts you in the top 5%.

For Clean & Jerk, 74% of the men can lift between 70kg (154lb) and 115kg (253lb). Clean & Jerking over 115kg (253lb) puts you in the top 15%. Clean & Jerking over 129kg (284lb) puts you in the top 5%.

Looking at the weight jumps between percentiles, you can see that small PRs on your lifts can lead to substantial bumps in your percentile. In many cases a 5kg (11lb) PR can mean a 10 percentile improvement. So celebrate every PR, no matter how small.

For women, the weight ranges are much narrower. 62% of female BTWB users can Snatch between 30kg (66lb) and 50kg (110lb). A 53kg (116lb) Snatch puts you in the top 15%, while a 62kg (137lb) Snatch puts you in the top 5%.

For Clean & Jerk, 72% of the women can lift between 40kg (88lb) and 70kg (153lb). A 70kg (153lb) Clean & Jerk puts you in the top 15%, while a 79kg (174lb) Clean & Jerk puts you in the top 5%.

The tighter distribution of weights for women means an even greater jump in percentile when you PR. For women a 5kg (11lb) improvement could mean a 15-20 percentile bump in some instances.

Ratios

So now you know how good your lifts are, but what about how they compare with each other? Is your Snatch weaker than it should be compared to your Clean & Jerk, or vice versa? To make that call, we can look at the ratio between your best Snatch and your best Clean & Jerk. According to veteran Olympic Weightlifting coach Bob Takano, the optimal ratio should be between .78 and .82 (possibly even up to .84). There are a number of factors that can contribute to a discrepancy in this ratio including speed vs. strength, mobility issues, technique issues, and suboptimal body weight for your height. If your ratio is outside of these ranges, Coach Takano goes into detail here and here about what you can do to remedy it.

To calculate your ratio, simply divide your max Snatch and your max Clean & Jerk.

For the men in our sample, the upper half had an average ratio of .78 while the lower half had had a ratio of .75. For the women, the upper half had an average ratio of .76 while the lower half had had a ratio of .73. Looking at the percentile tables, you can see that athletes with a higher Total generally had higher ratios compared to athletes with lower Totals. Generally speaking, as newer lifters get more proficient in the lifts their ratios increase, meaning their Snatch and Clean & Jerk get closer together.

Another easy way to compare your lifts is to look at the percentile of each lift and see which one is better. If you are a BTWB user, you can see this comparison for yourself under our “Analyze > Weaknesses” section. The idea behind this method is that you can see which lifts are more competitive compared to the rest of the CrossFit community.

Check out Part 2 of this series, here!

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Our Other Data Based Research

Jonathan Kinnick is a Co-Founder of BTWB as well as the owner of CrossFit Kinnick. He’s a Board Member on the CrossFit Trainer (CCFT) Certification Board and a CrossFit CF-L3 Trainer. He’s also completed the CrossFit Coaches Prep, CrossFit Competitor’s, CrossFit Olympic Lifting, CrossFit Endurance, CrossFit Mobility and CrossFit Nutrition courses. He is also a USAW Sports Performance Coach.

Filed under: SnatchVsClean

About the Author

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CF-L3 Trainer and CCFT Board Member. Owner of CrossFit Kinnick in Upland, CA (est. 2007). Co-founder of beyond the whiteboard(@btwb). Lecturer in Economics at Cal Poly Pomona.