While not the ultimate or only exercise there is, I still really like kettlebell snatches. Mainly because so few moves aside snatching can so consistently give me such a strenuous sweat. Sprints can, I’ll admit that, but I don’t enjoy them and am always worried someone will think less of me once they see how I run. Christine says I look like an ostrich, actually, when I run – “too upright”, and “like a little asshole.”
People snatch for different reasons but all tend to enjoy their work. There is a kinship with the movement, a bond you feel once you land those first, very few, cool, couple of reps after days, maybe even weeks of frustration. It’s like changing a tire. There is so much animosity at first, because nothing is ever easy going, but once you get it on, it’s cool – and you’re cool. You’re actually proud of it, even though you punched the car a few times in the process and freaked the hell out of your friend.
All this because the snatch is not an easy move to wrangle in. It takes time. You will be frustrated. And that’s OK. Because it’s all those bad reps that ultimately make for some good ones, so long as you take the time to learn a little something from each of them. Maybe you gripped too tight, didn’t lock out enough or failed to power through with your hips. Whatever the reason, figure it out and fix it.
Now, when it comes to snatching, some people just want to get their numbers up – and I get that. I remember a time that greatly appealed to me, the lust of attaining 100 reps in five minutes or fewer, completing the Snatch Test, as it were. I had to do that many times for various, scattered certifications over the years. And if I remember rightly I believe one of my better times was around 3:47. If I remember rightly. It may have been 4:47. No. It was 3:47. Yes? No. Yes – 3:47, I’m sure of it now.
Others, however, only want a hard-hitting, calorie-crushing, adrenaline-junkie style of workout. They like the snatch because it burns. And I get that as well. Such is why the snatch is an unremovable and binding object in any of my plans for keeping a lean, wiry, and somewhat scrappy look. Because I’m Irish and am not interested in acting opposite of what God gave me, and neither should you be.
And while being ripped is kind of my scene – WARNING: SELFIE IMMINENT – I still like this whole idea of having “hidden strength”, of being stronger than I look.
I also drive a Porsche, guys, I just felt I should mention that.
Snatching Technique, Training Ideas, and Workouts
What you’ll find here are a few ways to improve your snatching cadence, grip strength, power and endurance, while burning a large sum of calories. But first, and just so we’re on the same page regarding technique…
The Kettlebell Snatch – In Slow Mo
Hips are back (not down)
Loose grip on the bell
Hand “spears through” around eyebrow heigh
Elbow is “quiet”, the arc is tamed.
For Gripping and Endurance
Snatch ladder (as high as you can) with one, one arm swing between. Switch sides and repeat. Men use 24-32kg; ladies 16-24kg. AMRAP in 10-15 minutes.
This will do a lot to build grip strength and staying power.
Snatch ladder as high as you can (alternating sides) until “one bad rep” – explanation in video. No one arm swing between. This drill is pretty fancy as it lets newcomers practice at low reps and veterans at high reps.
Some ideas for timed sets may involve 15 seconds ON; 15 seconds OFF for anywhere between 10-30 minutes. This is more about using a light bell and finding a rhythm – classic V02. For guys that may mean anywhere between 12-20kg; ladies between 8-12kg.
Negative rest sets are also an option, for a more anaerobic approach, and much shorter bouts overall. 40 seconds on, 20 seconds off. Switch sides every minute. Same weight, but push until you can do no more rounds.
Tabata, too – don’t forget about that. 20 seconds ON; 10 seconds OFF, for 4 minute – let’s call them “segments.”
For Strength and Power
To make higher rep snatching easier, do more heavier lower rep swings, one arm swings, and double snatches – because think it through. Who will have a more relaxing time snatching a 24kg for 100 reps, the man who can snatch a 24kg, a 40kg, or two 40kg? The answer, I hope, is so obvious it doesn’t need any elaboration.
Now you can do these moves by themselves, in low-rep, 3 x 3 or 5 x 5 sets or ladders, or as a complex. It’s your call. But here’s at least one idea.
Double swing, double clean, double snatch, see-saw press, and front squat. Cycle through as many times as you can until a noticeable change in rep speed occurs. Rest, and repeat when recovered. AMRAP in 10-15 minutes. Men use 2 x 24kg; ladies 2 x 16kg.
Start-Stop Swings, One Arm Swings, and Snatches
While this video is of a two hand, start-stop swing, which is where you start, heavy one-arm start-stop swings, and heavy one arm, start-stop snatches are where you want to wind up. “Start-stop” simply implies parking the bell between between reps.
The reason for start-stop swings and snatches is to work on producing as much power as you can with every individual rep, and from a dead stop. Go heavy.
Got Any Ideas?
For those of you heavily into snatching, having either trained for the snatch test, and passed it, or failed – doesn’t matter – I would be glad to hear from you.
What drills helped get your snatching numbers up? What about your endurance? Grip strength?
Or how about just your all time favorite snatching workout? Because that I’d really like to know.
Leave a comment! , and…
PS – If you like short, intense, little, fat-stripping workouts like these, it is very likely you would then LOVE my Pocket Sized Workouts program. On sale now for just $7 for the first 30 days – but that is ending soon.
More on that HERE.