Master the kettlebell snatch in 5 steps

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Learn how to do a kettlebell snatch in this definitive guide

The kettlebell snatch is usually the most feared movement in the kettlebell realm. There’s something about explosively delivering a kettlebell to an overhead position that usually causes reluctance. If we look at the basics of the kettlebell snatch, it usually only comes down to a couple of key factors that will dictate your success.

What does a kettlebell snatch do?

The kettlebell snatch is a great conditioning tool and it also can help with your explosive strength development. If you’re someone who cannot barbell snatch, the kettlebell snatch is a great alternative that you can use to develop over head strength and endurance without the risk or time it takes to learn with a barbell.

The types of kettlebell snatch

Depending on your shoulder mobility, confidence and the amount of kettlebells you have available you have the following variations you can try:

  • Single arm kettlebell snatch
  • Double kettlebell snatch
  • Snatch into lunge (with a single or double kettlebell)
  • Snatch into loaded carry
  • Snatch into overhead squat

Be sure you take the time to master the basic single arm snatch before you try some of these more advanced variants.

Minimum Strength Standards Before You Start

When learning how to kettlebell snatch you need to make sure you are ready for it. With the kettlebell you would like to snatch you should be able to:

  1. Press for 10+ reps and complete 5 perfect get ups in 10min
  2. Complete 100 reps each side of your single arm swing in 10min

If you can’t pass these standards, start there. By being able to complete these standards in the press, get up and single arm swing means you will most likely have the skills and requisite strength to start your training the kettlebell snatch.

Pavel Tsatsouline’s Program Minimum from Enter The Kettlebell and phase one of kettlebell66 will help you achieve these standards.

What is a good kettlebell snatch weight?

If you’re still in doubt at this point, go heavier on the press, get up and single arm swing to give you the confidence to attempt the snatch. Once you’re ready, you should be aiming for:

  • Men: 24kg (20kg if you’re a lighter guy)
  • Women: 16kg (12kg if you’re lighter also)

Step #1 – The Pop

We’ve dealt with the pop in the kettlebell snatch by hitting the reps and standards in the single arm swing. If we struggle with that hip pop, the snatch becomes much more difficult to achieve as we don’t have that momentum to drive the kettlebell to the top of the movement.

Step #2 – The Pull

Master the pull and you master the snatch in my books. When we finally transition from the single arm swing our ability to maintain control of the kettlebell through a different direction of movement can highlight shoulder stability and overall confidence with a kettlebell.

Unlike the kettlebell clean, the pull phase of the kettlebell snatch requires to you still drive through the pop but tame the arc to around forehead height with a bent elbow. This can be counter intuitive as we’ve been drilling the swing for some time. As we get more confident, allowing the bell to hit a “float” point to allow the punch to occur.

Step #3 – The Punch

Punching the bell into the top position will draw on your overhead stability from the kettlebell press and get up. Once we hit the float point of the pull, you should simply be able to punch your hand through the bell into the overhead position.

If this feels unnatural or unachievable, focus on driving the pull as high as you can until the punch feels right to avoid forearm pain during the snatch.

Step #4 – Pop, Pull & Punch Drill

Putting all three movements can be done by stages to practice each stage. Complete 1 single arm swing, 1 pull and one snatch. Simply return to the single arm swing when you complete the drill and continue. You can also add more swings or spend more time at each movement until you hit a point of confidence.

Step #5 – Top Down Snatch

The final drill you can use to build your confidence around the kettlebell snatch is top down snatches. Clean and press the kettlebell and practice the fall phase of the movement. You can either place the bell on the floor after the hip catch or re-snatch the bell. Repeat this as many times as needed to build your confidence and polish off the final phase of your snatch.

Sample: Kettlebell Snatch Workout

If you’re new to the snatch or looking for a workout that you can do with minimal time, a simple EMOM format is a great way to practise technique and improve fitness at the same time. Set a timer for 10, 15 or 20 minutes and then complete:

10 Snatches each side

This should leave roughly 20-30 seconds rest before the next minute starts. Be careful, it will creep up on you!

Finally, your snatch is only as good as the amount of time you put into the basics and the drills provided. When you’re progressing to these types of advanced kettlebell movements you need to use patience, hit the requisite standards and only practise when you feel fresh or in small reps.

Time is your best friend when it comes to the kettlebell snatch, take the journeymen approach and you should be able to avoid a lot of the common issues that people encounter.

Want to take on the kettlebell snatch? Check out our 66 program to get access to 66 days of at home kettlebell workouts!

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