Kettlebell Snatch – How To Do The Kettlebell Snatch

by Caleb Lee on June 2, 2009

kettlebell-snatchWho doesn’t love the snatch? Err … the Kettlebell Snatch :)

The snatch is the evolution of the swing, press, and clean, a sort of hybrid super baby hulk that will whip your ass and then screw your girlfriend, and then eat all your peanut butter, right in front of you. Pay attention, ye of meek heart and soul.

Why You Should Kettlebell Snatch

Because it’s manly, and made of awesome & win! Further:

  • Strength - You develop a sort of limit strength with this movement (what does that mean? I dunno, but it sounds cool!)
  • Speed - you’re learning how to accelerate a heavy object up off the ground over your head, the movement demands speed!
  • Explosiveness - you’re training your body to not only be strong, but to show that strength explosively (perfect for all sports!)
  • Tendon Strength – the repetitive jarring of the weight being spread out over your body builds an odd level of tendon strength throughout your joints (much like the repetitive hitting of stuff by martial artists builds tendon strength!)
  • Posterior strength/power/conditioning – once again, it’s a major “back side” movement!
  • Safer - than trying to learn how to do a proper barbell snatch & you can use a weight that builds strength even though it’s not all that heavy.
  • Conditioning - high rep snatches will make you a “never quit” beast
  • Fat loss – high rep snatches are one of the most metabolically challenging exercises there are — the fat will melt off!
  • Time Saving – why do strength training, explosive training & conditioning work when you can cram it all in with one exercise?

If you can’t tell already, I’m a HUGE fan of the snatch! In fact, I think I love the Snatch more than anything else …

How To Set Up The Snatch

kettebell-clean-1You start it like this (this should look familiar):

  • Feet shoulder width apart
  • Toes pointing out 30 degrees.

It’s familiar, because I copy and pasted it from one of my other articles. You start the same, and even incorporate a clean motion into it. You will be using a weight that is less than what you can swing, by the way.

Simply stated, a snatch is a swing that starts with a clean and ends with the end of a press (arm extended with the bell). BUT…you are not PRESSING it, you are not CLEANING it, and you are not SWINGING it.

You are SNATCHING it.

How To Start The Snatch

Begin the movement by initiating your hip drive. This needs to be FORCEFUL and POWERFUL. You are literally blasting the kettlebell up by will of hips alone, your body is merely a vessel for this godly force. Zeus would be proud.

So, your hips are driving, and you want to get the bell up above your head, so why not just swing it up there? Because what goes up, must come down. In a swing, your arm is the lever, and the bell is at the end. You generate enough force to swing it all the way up above you, sure. There are only two problems:

  • That bell is gonna be swinging around something fierce and WILL impact your forearm as it rotates at the top
  • It’s just plain inefficient

That huge semicircle swing you just did to get the bell up there? WASTE.

How To Finish The Snatch

So, think of the clean: you are going to keep the bell close to the body. You are going to have a bend in your elbow when you are swinging the bell up. In this manner, it is similar to the clean, in that you are staying tight and keeping that power contained…but not for the whole movement.

Because you are using a lighter weight (for now, tough guy), your explosive hip drive will allow the movement to continue up–the “clean” like movement (keeping it close to you) just initially reigns the kettlebell in and directs it up, instead of outward.

Remember how with the clean, I said think about cleaning it to your stomach as a cue to get it to the right position? With the snatch, think about cleaning it to your god, and you will get it high enough.

At the top, as the bell begins to rotate, your arm should still be slightly bent (if its straight already, the weight is either too light, or your timing isn’t right just yet).

As the bell is rotating over your hand to the back of your forearm, think “PUNCH” and punch that sucker. Now when you do this, it will help with the shock absorption, as you are moving the handle of the bell into the rotation of the bell itself.

At the end, you will be in the exact same position as the end of a press. Then you simply reverse the movement to get it down to the ground.

Check the picture below for the full progression (I know, I know … it’s not a hot chick … I’m just as pissed as you are — trust me!)


Let me try to make up for not having a picture of a pretty lady’s snatch …

Here’s a Video of Yoana Snideman’s Beautiful Snatch!

She’s is going to give you some tips to increase the reps’ on yo snatch dog. The switching hands at the bottom is an advanced move, but her form is great on the snatch. Observe:

Respect The Snatch!

To recap this beast:

  • Movement starts the same as a swing/clean: initiate movement with hips
  • Keep it close to the body but keep the momentum moving upwards. You’re taming the movement, but also transferring the power up
  • As the bell rotates over your hand, PUNCH your hand up to extend
  • TIGHT!

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WOD 011310 « A spartan journey…
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Rambodoc June 3, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Hi. I am coming in to the US and Canada this month. where would you advise me to get KBs from? And how many should I buy?? I think I could handle around 35 kgs for swings.


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