Kettlebell snatch

Categories: strength training

The kettlebell snatch is one of the classic Girevoy Sport competition lifts, and the one with most variations in execution. The kettlebell is “simply” swung in one smooth motion to an overhead lockout, and dropped into the next rep.

It is considered a total workout as it hits most of the body’s major muscles.

Apart from the feeling you might drop a lung while snatching, the fluid and repetitive nature of the lift can put you in a meditative trance, just like when swinging Indian clubs.

Short of throwing the kettlebell, this lift moves the kettlebell over a greater distance rep for rep when compared to other single lifts.

If Distance * Force is the definition of Work, you can achieve a lot of work in a short time by snatching a kettlebell at a fast tempo, making this exercise a blend of weight lifting and cardio.

The only downside is that if your technique is less than perfect, you could end up with shoulder injuries, bruised forearms or ripped calluses…

Anyway, if you have been struggling to master the kettlebell snatch, I have condensed most of the tips I typically cover in a workshop into a 30 minute video.

Why you should include the kettlebell snatch in your routine

Pavel Tsatsouline says in his book, The Russian Kettlebell Challenge: “The one-arm snatch is the Tsar of kettlebell lifts, fluid and vicious.”

The snatch is a ballistic exercise, and can help develop good explosive power.

Explosive power is best seen expressed when jumping and throwing, or basically coiling/ uncoiling at a fast tempo, something known as the stretch reflex. The athlete relies not only on his muscular strength, but on  the strength of his tendons, where elasticity can be stored and used for rapid bursts.

Power exercises are essential to a well rounded strength program!

We know that power is one of the first attributes to disappear as we get older, while we can maintain good muscular endurance relatively easily.

The downside to many power exercises is that they can be tough on the joints. The kettlebell snatch is less stressful.
It is also more practical, especially if you live in a city.
Jumping is best done on forgiving surfaces, not concrete, and not everybody can throw implements like a shotput or a javelin on a regular basis. Neighbours tend to complain when throwing a slam ball against the walls… The kettlebell snatch is silent, and does not require much space.

High reps or low reps?

When training for power, you have to perform fast repetitions. Like when sprinting, this tempo can only be sustained for a short while before you must rest.

The swing portion of the snatch is used to generate maximum power and elasticity from the lower body.

The way to perform the snatch for this purpose is demonstrated in the video as well.

Your lockouts must be solid! If the kettlebell has a tendency to wobble around when you are in the lockout, by going fast you are very likely to injure your shoulder.

If you are new to this exercise, or are still having issues with it, learn to go slow first, and master the techniques I demonstrate. You will still increase power with Girevoy Sport, and will avoid bruises and blisters along the way.

The essence of Girevoy Sport is being as smooth and efficient as possible to last the 10 minute limit without putting the kettlebell on the floor. You may only rest in the overhead position, and are only allowed 1 switch of hands.

Kettlebell marathons go from 30 minutes up to 6 hours and more. You may switch hands at will, but must not put the kettlebell on the floor before your time is over, as it voids your achievement.

These 2 sport disciplines involve high repetition and require pacing, which means going at a slower tempo, performing an even number of repetitions per minute.
If you start too fast, you are guaranteed a poor performance. Pacing is a way to manage your heart rate and breathing patterns.

In the sports technique, the swing portion of the snatch is longer than when done for power, and used to conserve energy. This is done by relying on the most efficient way to use weight shift and lever arm principles.

In both approaches, proper breathing is of utmost importance, and as much as possible, breathing should be through your nose to lower the heart rate.

All about the kettlebell snatch

In the video I cover grip, stance, techniques, variations, programming etc…

Video time stamps

0:00 Intro
0:29 the grip
2:49 the stance
5:55 the swing
7:13 the pull
10:27 the catch/ insertion
16:30 the lockout
18:08 the drop
22:27 snatch sprints & power
26:31 variations
27:54 assistance exercises
29:07 programming
30:50 breathing


I have covered efficient breathing in way more details in a previous video.

Programming the kettlebell snatch

I cover this in the video, from endurance training to snatching heavier kettlebells. Watch it!

Check out our kettlebell ebook section, you can even get my GS manual for free!

To Save25% off videos and ebooks, use the promo code: 25HS22

Better overhead lockouts with Indian clubs

I have personally used club swinging to improve the mobility and flexibility required to compete in kettlebell sport.

How to assess overhead mobility

Take this quick test, and address the issues!

Improve overhead mobility

Get yourself a set of Pahlavandle and check out the best exercises for kettlebell athletes below.

To save 10% off the Pahlavandle, use the promocode GEN9
The code does not apply to items on sale.

Results backed by studies

To analyze the fitness benefits of kettlebell training, ACE, America’s Workout Watchdog, enlisted the research experts at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science to conduct a full-fledged training study.

Twice a week, the subjects participated in an hour-long kettlebell class led by a pair of certified trainers. Each class began with a 5-minute active warm-up before moving on to 30 to 45 minutes of kettlebell exercises, including one- and two-handed swings, snatches, cleans, presses, lunges and Turkish get-ups.

Each class concluded with a 10-minute cool-down period. At the beginning of the study, the trainers encouraged participants to use a kettlebell weight that felt manageable and then progress to heavier weights as they felt more comfortable with the movements.

In addition to the predictable strength gains, kettlebell training was also shown to markedly increase aerobic capacity, improve dynamic balance and dramatically increase core strength.

Core strength and dynamic balance

Researchers also point to the positive implications of being able to increase core strength by 70 percent, especially for the aging population. “I think that’s huge because the stronger people are through the core, the less low-back pain they are going to have,” Porcari says. Similarly, the gains in dynamic balance have major positive implications. “Older people who are doing some sort of kettlebell-like training are going to be more likely to avoid dangerous falls,” he says. “And on the other end of the spectrum, for athletes, the better your dynamic balance, the better your ability to balance when you’re moving and cutting and doing other athletic movements.”

Read the study here:

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