Kettlebell Snatch

Daniel Brown
• Sunday, 20 December, 2020
• 16 min read

It trains the commonly weak posterior chain muscles (glutes, hamstrings) like no other exercise, and it strengthens the core. The snatch is a beautiful, explosive movement that gets the posterior chain firing and core engaged, and it helps to stabilize the shoulder.

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(Source: mensfitnessmagazine.com.au)


Step 1: Stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart, holding a kettle bell in your right hand at shoulder level. Step 2: With your shoulders drawn back and downward (think: proud chest), press the bell straight overhead, locking out your elbow.

Step 3: Lower the weight back to the rack position, where the bell is shoulder level and your forearm is vertical. Step 4: Now bend your forearm inward toward the midline of your body while simultaneously extending your elbow.

Maintain your proud chest position as the bell hikes back, so that your shoulders are square to the floor. Step 5: When your hips are fully bent, extend them explosively to stand tall again.

As you get comfortable with the movement, you can begin the snatch from the rack position, and then by simply hiking it from the floor (as shown in the video above). Beyond the posterior chain conditioning, the snatch is a brilliant exercise for the shoulder girdle.

As mentioned in the directions above, if you have an unstable or misaligned overhead lockout position, then you are not ready to embrace the snatch. These muscles extend the hips, and are responsible for generating the power and quickness you need in virtually all sports.

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(Source: www.stack.com)

While you don’t press the weight overhead to finish the movement, flinging it up with the power of your hips and then having to “catch” the bell and decelerate its upward trajectory forces your stabilizer muscles to clamp down hard. This builds stability in the shoulder joints, which is needed for any pressing or pushing you do, in the gym or out.

The movement also bypasses the AC joint, so if you have pain due to impingement in this area, the one-arm snatch shouldn’t aggravate it. Much like the kettle bell swing, the kettlebellsnatch is a magnificent movement for developing your aerobic capacity.

It is a good alternative to traditional aerobic activities because there is no impact on the joints, as there is with running and jumping rope. A recent study examined 17 female NCAA Division 1 soccer players who undertook a snatch program for 4 weeks.

Starting the snatch from the floor will build incredible upper-body pulling strength and core stability. However, it requires you to own the dead lift position, picking the bell up off the floor, and that means a greater range of motion.

Step 2: Get your shoulders in a proud chest position and hinge your hips to grasp the kettle bell with your right hand. Step 3: Explosively extend your hips and pull the kettle bell up, keeping it close to your body.

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(Source: www.youtube.com)

Step 4: As it passes head level, allow the kettle bell to rotate around the forearm as you punch through at the top. If the basic snatch is too challenging, regress to this version, which allows you to focus on the hip action and punch-through more safely.

Step 3: Pack your shoulders into the proud chest position and hinge your hips to grasp the kettle bell with your left hand, wrist slightly flexed. Step 5: As it passes head level, allow the kettle bell to rotate around the forearm as you punch through at the top.

Tips and Safety: Avoid rounding your back in order to pick up the kettle bell. This snatch variation is excellent for building rotational power as well as shoulder strength and flexibility.

Step 3: Rotate back to where your shoulders and hips are square, rack the weight, and repeat. Tips and Safety: Exhale at the point of exertion and maintain a long spine throughout the movement.

This means unraveling the bell and straightening your arm quickly to allow the swing across the body to be smooth. The double snatch builds tremendous upper-body pulling strength as well as core and posterior chain power.

snatch kettlebell
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Step 2: With a shoulder-width stance, hinge and grasp the kettle bells while keeping a straight back. As they start to pass your legs pull up hard while keeping the bells close to your body.

Step 5: As the bells pass your chest, start rotating so that the kettle bells will be put into position to punch through at the top. Tips and Safety: Exhale at the point of exertion and maintain a long spine throughout the movement.

Targets: Total body movement, quadriceps, hips, gluteal muscles, core, hamstrings It develops the entire posterior chain of the body (rear side-butt, hamstrings, back) while building strength, power, coordination, and cardiovascular fitness simultaneously.

You should develop your kettle bell skills and strength for six months before you put them together in the kettlebellsnatch. Preparatory kettle bell exercises include the swing, Turkish get up, and high pull.

Because of its comprehensive nature, the snatch is often referred to as the king (or queen) of the kettle bell lifts. The kettlebellsnatch develops power, so it can be a good exercise for sports and martial arts.

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(Source: deansomerset.com)

When practicing the kettlebellsnatch you will learn to connect your movements and you will develop core stability. With your feet approximately hip-to-shoulder distance apart (but not wider), sit back to load your hips and grip the kettle bell with your fingers as you would for the swing.

The kettle bell swings back between your legs as you begin to stand, further loading the hips. Just as the arm begins to separate from the body, accelerate the kettle bell vertically as fast as you can by rapidly pulling with the hip, followed by a shrug of your trapezoids (traps).

If you are snatching with your right hand, push forcefully with your left leg and pull back with right hip, and shrug with the right trapezoid. As the kettle bell is accelerating upwards, release the fingers and insert the palm deeply into the handle.

Allow the momentum to carry the bell all the way to the top and lockout/fixate your arm into the fully extended elbow position, This overhead lockout position is identical to the overhead position in press or push press (thumb facing back, now or minimal rotation at the shoulder). From the top lockout position, drop the kettle bell back down by turning the palm towards you, and leaning the shoulders and upper body back into trunk deflection as you shift your weight to the opposite leg (if snatching with your right hand, shift to left leg).

At the moment the arm connects to the torso, complete the movement by pulling the hand towards you to change back to the hook grip (pulling your hand back to catch handle with fingers). Repeat this rhythmic motion to continue performing snatch for desired repetitions.

snatch kettlebell ultimate guide overview teaching points
(Source: kettlebellsworkouts.com)

Perform a vertical acceleration pull with hip and trap while pushing with the opposite foot. Insert hand deep into the handle with thumb facing back.

A looser grip will make it easier to flip the kettle bell during the exercise. Lack of good skills often results in bruised wrists as you don't know how to control the kettle bell.

This will help absorb the impact at the top of the arc as well as keeping the kettle bell closer to the body. In addition, if you raise with a straight arm the kettle bell will whack you in the wrist and you will get bruised.

Take additional breaths during the top lockout as needed to recover the breathing and slow the pace (speed) of the movement, so that you can sustain the effort longer and thus achieve more repetitions. Don't jut your head forward when the kettle bell reaches the overhead position as this can risk injuring your neck.

Avoid this exercise if you have any injuries, inflammation, or chronic pain in your neck, shoulders, or wrists. The final progression and the holy grail of full body exercises is the KettlebellSnatch.

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(Source: www.reddit.com)

You need to ensure you have an excellent Swing and have also mastered the Turkish Get Up before even contemplating this exercise. There are also timing issues necessary for the Snatch to avoid banging the wrists and jerking the arm.

The KB Snatch works the entire body from head to toe and is considered a pulling movement. KB snatches are certainly a cardiovascular exercise although not as much as the High Pull because you can grab periods of rest at the top of the movement.

If you want to really push your cardio then the snatch will really elevate your heart rate without the need to even move your feet. The snatch takes the kettle bell from overhead to close to the floor and back again in a matter of seconds.

Poor shoulder and thoracic mobility will be highlighted during the snatch and demand attention. As well as being mobile the shoulders also need to be stable, so they can support the heavy load overhead.

The quads, hips, glutes, core and hamstrings are all certainly worked very hard just like with the Kettle bell Swing. Unlike the swing you get a little more muscle activation at the top of the body due to the fact that the kettle bell goes overhead.

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(Source: thewholeway.wordpress.com)

Poor shoulder and thoracic mobility could lead to problems but I’ll address that issue in a little while. Once you start practicing the snatch, one area that you will notice gets worked hard is the grip.

Before you attempt the KB snatch it is vital that you have mastered a number of other kettle bell exercises first : The hip hinge is one of the most important components and enables you to drive the kettle bell upwards and absorb it on the way down.

During the snatch the kettle bell is overhead and this requires both good shoulder stability and also mobility. The Turkish Get Up teaches good static stability and conditions the small stabilizing muscles that are needed to maintain this top position.

The Turkish Get Up will also give you the confidence to hold a kettle bell safely overhead I usually wait at least 6 months, usually much longer, before teaching the kettle bell snatch to clients and my kettle bell classes.

Can you hold your arm overhead in line with your ears without leaning backwards from the lower back? If your overhead mobility is not good then I suggest you work on improving this before you continue with the snatch or you'll risk injury sooner than you think.

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(Source: swfas.org)

Once you have mastered the Swing, Turkish Get Up, been training for 6 – 12 months and have good Shoulder and Thoracic Mobility it's time to learn how to kettle bell snatch. As you can see from the tutorial video above the snatch is a combination of the Swing, High Pull and Press.

Don't overwork the snatch at the beginning, just practice 10 – 20 reps per day with a comfortable weight You will find performing the Kettle bell Snatch is tough on the hands and rolls the skin.

At the overhead position keep your chin back, don't push it forwards or you risk injuring your cervical spine. If you struggle to keep your chin back then you probably need to address your shoulder and thoracic mobility as mentioned earlier.

If you do not bend your arm and just continue the swing all the way over the top you will bang your wrist and forearm with the kettle bell. Another reason for wrist and forearm damage is usually down to bad timing at the top of the movement.

Keep your weight on your heels and load the powerful muscles at the back of the body. If you feel your weight moving towards your toes then you know that you need to load the rear of the body more.

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(Source: whole9life.com)

It is important to open up the chest at the top and finish the movement with the kettle bell overhead. If you stop the kettle bell too short then the shoulders will get tired very quickly because you are not providing a rest at the top of the movement.

The classic snatch technique is to throw the kettle bell up and over from the top position leading with the elbow. The Over the Top variation will test your grip strength and also increase the load on your core, hamstring and glutes at the bottom of the movement.

However, you can work a little more on your power generation by practicing the snatch from the floor and directly up and into the top position. The hang snatch will require powerful hips to drive the kettle bell overhead without using the swing momentum.

I like the way that as you fatigue the numbers reduce so you always feel like the desired repetitions are manageable. The only area that doesn't really get any attention during the snatch is the chest and the Push Ups in this workout take care of that.

The kettle bell swing will produce similar results but with a lot less chance of injury to the shoulders. One you have been training for 6 – 12 months and have mastered all the basics, including the Swing and Turkish Get Up, then it could be time to have some fun and to take on the snatch.

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(Source: www.optimyz.com)

The kettle bell snatch should only be used once you have mastered the basics including the swing and Turkish get up. Try the classic workout of 10 minutes of snatches changing hands as many times as needed but without the kettle bell touching the floor.

Whether you’re trying to improve your strength and power, or you’re an endurance athlete looking to build some serious muscular stamina, the kettlebellsnatch is a brilliant move for you to learn. Endurance athletes will get high-intensity cardio training and increases in muscular power without risking the repetitive stress injuries that often accompany distance running or cycling.

And strength athletes will also reap the benefits of high-intensity cardio (because let’s be real, we avoid it like the plague) while developing power that’s going to help dominate on the lifting platform. Whether you’ve got plantar fasciitis or you’re just generally on the hunt for high-intensity exercises that won’t require slamming your joints around, kettle bell snatches are going to work wonders for your cardiovascular endurance while remaining relatively gentle on your joints.

If you power (pun intended) through the first two, with the bar moving relatively easily and quickly, you’re probably going to feel more confident heading into your last two. Jacob Land/ShutterstockLook, the faster you’re able to move a loaded bar, the more physically powerful you are at that given lift.

But the amazing thing about this lift is that to do it right, your body needs to develop both spectacular mobility and excellent stability. Stability, because your glenohumeral joint needs to be stable enough to support the rapid transitions the movement takes your shoulders through, controlling both the press to the top of the lift and the sudden descent back down.

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(Source: www.livestrong.com)

Practicing this lift will therefore greatly increase your kinesthetic awareness, a.k.a. your ability to know where your body is in space and how to effectively move through it. Poor kinesthetic awareness will improve with practice, and you’ll be able to tell you’re getting better at it when the bell stops smacking your forearm at the top of the lift (a glorious day it will be).

Which is saying something, considering that I spent much of my childhood with broken fingers due to, well… rough and tumble clumsiness. According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, kettlebellsnatch training was more effective than free weight and body weight circuit training at improving the maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) of seventeen young women athletes’ maximal oxygen uptake.

The swing part of kettle bell snatches is absurdly effective at activating your glutes, hamstrings, core, hip flexors, and quads, while the high pull and eventual push through at the end are spectacular for your upper lats, traps, and Delta. And finally, whether you want to improve your grip strength to bring your dead lift to the next level or efficiently bring in all your grocery bags in one trip (absolutely no one is trying to make multiple grocery trips in this house), the kettlebellsnatch is great for your grip strength.

You want to press the bell overhead, with your grip offset so that the web between your thumb and index finger meet the curve of the handle. Your hand should be woven through the bell such that it is resting comfortably, with your wrist straight, on the back of your forearm.

), drive the bell up along your rib cage, making sure your elbow doesn’t flare out in the process. The infamous wrist flop is understandably a dreaded part of both kettle bell cleans and snatches.

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(Source: kettlebellsworkouts.com)

The twist is, instead of bringing it down slow and controlled (which you do with regular presses), you’re going to flip the bell straight over your hand, using momentum to let the bell swing down from the press into the end of a kettle bell swing. Complete this process several times, sinking it into your muscle memory, so you’ll have one less thing to think about when you start integrating more steps.

To do this, use the last bit of momentum to activate your upper lats, traps, and Delta, performing a high pull with a straight wrist and a deep exhale. At the end of the high pull, tilt your forearm up (converting your angle from roughly horizontal to more vertical) to initiate the final momentum-influenced push to the ceiling.

Nina Take/Shutterstock The kettlebellsnatch is all about power, so even if you’re using it primarily to boost endurance, you don’t want to overdo it with the reps. If you already have a programmed day when you do intensive kettle bell work, you’ll want to integrate the kettlebellsnatch into the beginning of your workout.

If you’re looking for a timed workout, do 15-seconds of kettle bell snatches per side (with a 30-second rest between each full set) for three minutes. If you’re primarily looking to build muscular strength and power with the lift, use the moderately heavy rep scheme (three sets of 4-6 per side) after you’ve warmed up for a day when you’re emphasizing horizontal pushes (chest and triceps).

John Woolworth/Shutterstock Once you’re super accustomed to regular old kettle bell snatches, but you want to level-up the badasses, go for a double kettlebellsnatch. In terms of bell path, the dumbbell snatch more closely resembles a kettle bell clean: you’ll stay tighter and closer to your body with the dumbbell snatch, rather than engaging in a swing like you do with a kettle bell.

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(Source: www.muscleandfitness.com)

In terms of muscular and cardiovascular engagement, total-body mechanics, and low-impact full-body power, the kettlebellsnatch is a lift that keeps on giving.

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