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Kettlebell Snatch

The kettlebell snatch is one of my all time favorite exercises. I don’t know what it is about it but its near the top of my list. The snatch involves swinging the kettlebell from under your body up into an overhead position with one arm.

Some of the benefits of the kettlebell snatch include:

  • It’s a full body exercise including the grip
  • It can strengthen your stabilization and overhead lockout
  • It’s a phenomenal endurance builder
  • It heavily works the posterior chain which many people neglect
  • It builds mental toughness if you do it hard
  • Its explosive

For RKC’s the kettlebell swing is the center of their universe, so they say. And for good reason. The swing is a fundamental exercise from which the snatch is built. If you can’t swing you can’t snatch. The snatch is going to offer all the benefits of the swing plus some more. However, having the lockout does change up the move. Suffice to say that both are great exercises.

For me personally, I’ve always taken to the snatches or kettlebell juggling.

There are many ways you can approach the kettlebell snatch.

You can work up to a heavy weight. Back when I was still relatively new to kettlebells one of my goals was to snatch the beast, the 106 lb. kettlebell. I worked up to it and hit that goal which was great for the time. For most people though, maxing out with a kettlebell snatch is not the best goal. For the most part, kettlebells don’t get big enough. Plus with the offset center of mass you have to be more careful then with barbells or a dumbbell.

There’s also the double kettlebell snatch. This move is a little closer to an Olympic snatch done with a barbell, although there are still many differences. This is a phenomenal explosive power builder. If you can do two heavy weights you’re doing quite well. Even just two 24kg’s is impressive to most people.

The best use of kettlebells, in my opinion, is as an endurance tool, especially for the ballistic exercises. Enter the kettlebell snatch test. The snatch test comes in several forms which I’ll describe below.

The first is what’s done in competition, also known as girevoy sport. The standard weight for men is 32kg and it is done for max reps in a period of 10 minutes. Only one hand switch is allowed during that time. This makes the test even harder on the grip, which tends to be the weak point.

Then there is what’s known as the SSST, the secret service snatch test. This test is for 10 minutes but multiple hand switches are allowed. Easier on the grip, although still the weak point for most people, this allows you to really push the conditioning aspect. This is why this is my preferred snatch test method. Unless you plan on competing there is no reason to limit your conditioning artificially by imposing a single hand switch in the test.

As is listed in Pavel’s Enter the Kettlebell, a good goal for men is to work up to 200 snatches in 10 minutes with the 24 kg kettlebell. For me personally I think this is just a starting point. You can go much further. Below is a video of me doing 251 snatches in 10 minutes.

This video is a bit old. Much has changed in how I snatch since then as I push my numbers up even higher. Look for more information and videos coming soon but this one does give you an idea of what it takes.

Of course the 10 minute number is not required. To pass the RKC you need 100 reps in 5 minutes in the same manner. Any time limit can be used. John Brookfield once did 1200 snatches with the 24kg in an hour. That’s the Rite of Passage goal from Enter the Kettlebell six times over in one go. Now that’s endurance!

Also any weight can be used. One useful training tip is to cycle the weights a bit up and down around what your current goal is. You can go faster with a lighter bell and build more strength with the heavier one.

And of course there is much variation in technique from a girevoy sport relaxed pace to a fast and explosive hardstyle swing. Both are good to know and to be able to do. How you use different techniques matters on your goals and what you’re seeking to accomplish.

With dedicated work you too can put up some big numbers. The kettlebell snatch is one of my favorite exercises so I’m working to take it far. If you enjoy it too, go after it.

For more information check out Kettlebell Snatch Domination which is the system I used to do 301 snatches with the 24kg in 10 minutes.