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The Kettlebell Snatch
October 8, 2018

The Snatch is one of the quintessential kettlebell movements; the combination of strength, power, stability, and cardiovascular fitness embodies kettlebell lifting perfectly. Whether you want to build power or strength endurance, the Snatch is a great exercise to add to your training. Another reason to love the kettlebell Snatch is that the movement is accessible to a larger population than the barbell Snatch; the mobility requirement is less stringent, with many of the same benefits.

Since the Snatch is a highly technical movement, take plenty of time to practice with a light kettlebell. The neuromuscular system needs time to coordinate the movement and build muscle memory. The shoulder also needs time to build stability in the overhead position. A great way to start is to practice the Half Snatch. This allows you to focus on the upswing of the movement before tackling the more challenging drop into the backswing. Once the upswing is mastered, you can work on the drop, making sure that you allow the bell handle to skip the center of your hand on the way down so there is no pulling on your palm, which can cause blisters and tears.

There are two variations in technique you can use on the Snatch. The first is a Snatch that uses a hinge motion, which is great for building strength and power. The second is a Snatch that uses a pendulum leg action, which is ideal for endurance work. Choose the variation that suits your goals, or simply the one you enjoy more!

  1. Start in a standing position with feet about hip width apart and a kettlebell in front of your feet. Grab onto the kettlebell with hook grip (bell handle in the fingertips, and thumb locked over the fingers).
  2. Pull the bell into the backswing, then drive with the legs to bring the kettlebell up. For the hinge-based power swing, use a hinge motion and extend the hips forcefully. For the pendulum-based endurance swing, use a slower pendulum leg action that follows the motion of the kettlebell.
  3. When the kettlebell reaches the “float point” (somewhere between hip and shoulder level), redirect the kettlebell into the overhead position as you punch the hand up and through the bell handle to meet the kettlebell in the overhead position. For the power swing, the arm and the kettlebell should stay tight to the body on the way up. For the endurance swing, the bell should be allowed to follow its natural path (which will be farther from the body) before redirecting into the overhead position.
  4. After stabilizing the kettlebell in the overhead position for a couple seconds, turn the bell and allow it to drop; give the kettlebell a head start before following it into the backswing with the torso. The arm should hit the hip before the torso folds forward.
  5. Once the kettlebell completes the backswing, go into the next repetition.

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