Kettlebell Snatch - Kettlebell Gym

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Kettlebell Snatch

The Kettlebell Snatch is probably the most mentally and physically rewarding lift you can do for a total body workout!

I’ve mastered the basics, take me to the next LEVEL!

The kettlebell snatch is my favorite exercise. It can be performed from the dead position or from a swing, called a circular snatch. The snatch is a full explosion of hip strength combined with deep bracing in the core to drive a weight from the ground to overhead in one movement. Before you begin training this exercise, I would recommend that you practice deadlifts with at least three times the weight you are going to swing, with virtually flawless technique. You should be able to refer to my videos not only for deadlifts, but also kettlebell swings, which are a precursor to the snatch we are going to learn today. I hope that by now you have also taken the time to learn the general principles behind kettlebell training so these concepts aren’t completely foreign to you. “These are the general principles to developing the kettlebell snatch from a swing, begin your swing pendulum, feel free to swing the kettlebell once or twice at first to get the feel for it if need be.”

Taming the arc with a backward shoulder shrug during lift

As you swing the bell upward, shrug the shoulder backward, this pulls the bell closer to your body, making it feel lighter when it reaches the punch-point. Shrugging your shoulder backward as opposed to upward is the magic ingredient when it comes to snatching safely and at your maximum potential – there is actually a second magic ingredient to snatching super heavy weight with ease that I will talk about at another time.

To get the shoulder to shrug backward instead of upward, at the end of your hip explosion, your hips should be in front of your body (hip extension). Do this with a tightly flexed abdomen and you will tilt your pelvis up in the front and down in the back the same moment that you hip-snap and shrug back. That tilt in the pelvis will angle your upper body backward, pulling the weight towards your bodies line of neutral gravity. This results in your shoulders being slightly behind, and the kettlebell being slightly in front, of your pelvis at the point of the hip snap, as opposed to the shoulders above the hip and the bell way out front. Now, aligning those three points (hips, shoulder, kettlebell) over your feet doesn’t require you pulling the bell to your body, but bringing your upper body forward, over your pelvis. Keeping the weight closer to the plumb line of your body like this will make it feel much lighter. It will require and create excellent mobility in your hip flexors, and get those glutes using every last bit of their potential. ”

Align the kettlebell and torso over your hips at overhead

As the bell reaches waist height, it begins to float upward, you punch through the bell, at around the ten o’clock mark, or just over shoulder height. Move your hand around the bell, instead of letting the bell move around your hand. It is similar to the motion of cracking a whip, their should be no banging on the back of the wrist whatsoever. That said, it isn’t a bad idea to wear sweat bands on your wrists while you develop the technique to prevent bruising. Align your upper body over your hips as you punch through and feel the bell reach the plum line at the same time as your upper body. Exhale sharply through the mouth. Load your shoulder blade down your back, into your lat, lock your elbow and ensure your fist is straight up and down. The weight shouldn’t feel heavy here, it should be resting in neutral, sinking down your back. Tight lats and shoulders will force it off of its plumb line and make it feel heavy, if this is you, the turkish getup is your best friend. I will be teaching that very soon.

Control the drop and decelerate the weight in your hips

You will want to tame the arc on the way down the same way you did on the way up, move your body slightly back from the plumb line and shrug the shoulder backward as the weight falls slightly out front. Inhale through the nose into the stomach. Sit back into your hips, the way you learned in the kettlebell swing, and decelerate the momentum of the bell with a flat back into your glutes and hamstrings. Make sure the knees don’t move backward and forward as you snatch the weight, this lift should happen only in your hips, keep your feet planted flat, weight back, toes gripping lightly down. Make sure your back stays flat in the backswing and try not to crane your neck up and down with each swing, keep your head in neutral alignment regardless of the position of the swing.

The kettlebell snatch is the pinnacle of power and technique and probably the most mentally and physically rewarding lift you will ever do!

As with everything, practice until you get it right, don’t make any substitutions. Use my videos, pictures and written words to guide you until you know you’ve nailed it, then keep practicing until you can’t get it wrong! Take a full week to practice short but frequent sessions with this lift and you will improve immensely. If you are feeling any sign of pain or discomfort (beyond normal muscle burning and soreness) revert back to more basic lifts, or talk to a doctor if it feels serious. If you are doing all of your progressions properly, this should not be a problem.