Breaking Down the Snatch

The kettlebell snatch is referred to as the "Tsar of the kettlebell lifts."

It's earned that name because of it’s amazing ability to build full body strength, flexibility, power and conditioning, all in one movement.

Like the swing, the snatch teaches you how to generate power with your lower body and transfer it through your core and into your upper body.

A word of warning though, the kettlebell snatch is not a beginner lift.

You need to make sure you've spent a lot of time with your bells and your 1 arm kettlebell swing is dialed in before you start training the snatch.

I'd say that a good benchmark for learning the snatch is when you're consistently training the 1 arm swing with a 20kg bell.

The snatch is a complex movement so when you first start training it, it's important to view your training as practice.

I like to set a timer for 15 minutes and practice snatching in sets of 3 - 5 reps each hand.

Don't just rush through it to get a "work out", practice perfecting your technique.

A good beginning weight is 12-16kg for men and 8-12kg for women.

Two quick notes before you start snatching...

1) Like the clean, when you first start snatching, the kettlebell may bang your forearm. As you practice, your technique will smooth out and it won't happen any more, so be patient.

2) High volume snatching can chew up your hands if you're not careful. Don't worry, over time, your hands will get used to it and they'll toughen up.

So ease into snatching and be smart, don't bang the crap out of your forearms and if your calluses are starting to burn or rip, save it for another day.

Bruising or ripped up hands is not a sign of toughness, it's a sign of stupidity and leads to lost training time.

Be smart, keep your volume low (20-30 snatches per hand) in the beginning and practice perfecting your technique.

The Snatch

  • 1
    The snatch is a swing that ends up overhead, so set up like you would for a 1 arm swing.
  • 2
    Take a big sniff of air in through your nose and hike the kettlebell back, high in your groin.
  • 3
    Drive your heels into the ground and snap up into a standing plank.
  • 4
    Keep your upper arm against your body as long as you can and guide the kettlebell straight up overhead.
  • 5
    Tame the arc - keep the kettlebell close to your body as you pull and punch into the overhead position. You should not bang your forearm.
  • 6
    In the overhead position - stand up tall, lock your legs out, squeeze your glutes, brace your abs and pull your shoulder blades back and down. Your bicep should be behind your ear and your wrist should be straight.
  • 7
    Flip the bell over your hand and  get your upper arm against your ribs as quickly as possible as you hike the bell back into the backswing. Make sure the kettlebell stays close to your body on the way down.
  • 8
    Keep your arm loose as you drop the bell back down into the backswing. Make sure the bell goes high in your groin, staying above the knees.

The snatch is one of my favorite lifts and has so many benefits, but it's also a complex lift that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Don't be in a rush to start snatching, take your time mastering the 1 arm swing and when it comes time to learn the snatch, it'll be an easy transition.

In Strength and Health,