When it comes to working out at home, one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can own is a kettlebell. You can do exercises varying from presses to swings all with the use of one tool. For those looking to really improve their exercise intensity and increase performance, try adding in the Kettlebell Snatch! Today’s workout will consist of movement preparation, with the ultimate goal of performing your first Kettlebell Snatch!
What is the Kettlebell Snatch?
For those who have never heard of Kettlebell snatch before, it is an exercise based on an olympic lift. The olympic snatch involves a barbell and is very technical. The goal of the movement is to increase explosive power. This is perfect for anyone looking to jump higher, runner faster or simply be stronger. However, the barbell snatch is very complicated to learn. A kettlebell snatch is easier to master, while also being safer for the majority of the population. You can perform either a single arm kettlebell snatch, which is the most common, or a bilateral version!
Why Kettlebell Snatch?
For those looking to get more explosive, the snatch is the way to go. Every high level performance team uses the movement in some form. The reasoning behind this is due to the impact it has on the body. By using this exercise, you will be increasing power or stability throughout the entire body, specially at the following muscle groups by:
- Glutes- Used during the extension phase of the snatch for stability
- Hamstrings- Also used in extension to create power
- Core- Maintaining stability throughout the entire movement
- Back- Increases stability to avoid injuries
Benefits of the Kettlebell Snatch
There are many kettlebell benefits and a huge variety of kettlebell workouts to choose from. The kettlebell snatch in particular is a great way to improve your performance output, muscular output, and self-confidence.
Increased Performance Output
For anyone looking to improve their sports performance or even daily life performance, increasing your power output can be huge. Correctly overloading and performing a single arm snatch will help you run faster, jump higher and hit harder. So whether you are playing a contact sport or simply just wanting to improve your mile time, this exercise can help get you there.
Improved Muscular Output
When looking to put on muscle, there are several ways to achieve this result. Some will recommend high reps and low weights. Others will present a more moderate approach. However, for those looking for true muscular definition, performing explosive movements can greatly improve your aesthetics. For example, when comparing an olympic sprinter to a marathon runner, there is a clear difference between their body types. A factor in this is the threshold they train at. Sprinters work in the explosive power range, which is the same area that a snatch will train.
Although it is not always highlighted in exercise benefits, being able to perform tough tasks has a way of improving a person’s mindset. Overcoming tough obstacles helps to build a rigid mind. With this move having a higher level of technical skill than most, it can greatly help someone improve this aspect of fitness as well.
While there are many versions of the kettlebell snatch, the most commonly used one is the single arm snatch. This exercise increases the challenge for the core, as it has to stabilize one side of the body to not fall over. In addition, for most people, it is easier to focus on moving one limb at a time versus two. Today’s workout will show you a step-by-step progression for performing your first single arm snatch!
Common Kettlebell Snatch Mistakes
Before we get into how to do a kettlebell snatch, let's first look at the most common mistakes. This will help prevent injury, as well as increase the effectiveness of the exercise.
Not Enough Kettlebell Experience
For any exercise, form is important. Form needs to be clean in order to avoid injury. So if you have never used a kettlebell before, start with some basic movements. The tool is much different than a dumbbell or medicine ball. For that reason, it needs to be treated with respect. Begin with feeling how the load is different. The load is centered under the handle, as opposed to on either side. Also, with any pressing movement, take care not to let the weight snap against the wrist. Be sure to take your time performing simple movements first to get comfortable with the kettlebell.
Forgetting to Breathe
Lack of oxygen can be extremely dangerous for any exercise. Forgetting to breathe can cause you to pass out during any movement, especially an explosive one. For a single arm kettlebell snatch, be sure to breathe at specific points in the movement. It is always recommended to inhale before beginning a lift and exhale as you perform the work. For a snatch, the work begins during extension, when you pop the kettlebell up into the air. As you are exploding up, you should also be breathing out. By exhaling at this point, not only are you performing the movement safely but also generating more force as well.
The final mistake people tend to struggle with is the “pull” of the exercise. This part of the movement refers to getting the kettlebell from the loaded hip position to overhead. The biggest mistake here is letting the kettlebell sail out in front of you, meaning that you are lifting with more of a straight arm than a bent elbow. By using a bent elbow technique you can increase the weight you use, as well as prevent injury to the shoulder and elbow.
How to Do a Kettlebell Snatch
Step 1: Setting a good base
The foundation of any good snatch is in your starting position. Try to keep the feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. From there, push your butt back so that your hips are slightly hinged forward. The Kettlebell should start as close to the ground as possible while keeping a neutral spine.
Step 2: Initiating the motion
The first movement you make in a snatch is pushing your feet into the ground, then exploding the kettlebell up. Think about driving your hips forward as you pull the kettlebell.
Step 3: The Pull
As you are pulling the kettlebell, try to keep your elbow in line with the kettlebell. It should be nice and high. From there, keep the kettlebell tight to the body until reaching the overhead position.
Step 4: Receiving Position
Press the kettlebell above the head, making sure the knees are softly bent at the bottom. Think about trying to press the kettlebell to the sky, to force the stabilizer muscles in the shoulder to activate. You should finish in a squatted position with the elbow next to your ear.
Step 5: Returning to the Starting Position
Slowly bring the kettlebell down from the head and back into the starting position. Take care not to drop the weight for your safety.
Note: We have listed 5 steps, but feel free to remove or add as many steps as needed to properly define the workout process.
Time to Level Up: Kettlebell Snatch Workout
Squat to High Pull - 15 reps per side
Today’s workout is designed around performing the snatch. Any good workout that involves power will have a lengthy warm-up period. This is to prepare the body for the upcoming demands. In this workout, we will break the snatch down into several parts so you can feel safe and confident by the time you are performing the movement.
Step 1: Establishing a Base
Start with the feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Bend the knees slightly, pushing the hips back to start in a hinged position. The kettlebell should be on the ground or as close as you can while maintaining a neutral spine.
Step 2: Push the Ground Away
Similar to the snatch, you want to push your feet into the ground, creating a ground reaction force. This will help activate the correct muscles for the exercise. Then, come out of the squat keeping the chest vertical.
Step 3: The Initial Pull
As you are bringing the lower body up, pull the kettlebell to about shoulder height. Keep the kettlebell close to the body, with the elbow nice and high. The elbow should be closely in line with the kettlebell.
Single Arm Shoulder Press - 15 reps per side
Step 1: Starting Position
Start with the Kettlebell close to the shoulder. Feet should be close to shoulder width.
Step 2: The Dip
Drop the hips, allowing you to use your legs in the movement. After you dip, push the body upward, including the kettlebell.
Step 3: High Press
Your goal here is to finish in the same position that you would finish your snatch in. So press the kettlebell as high as you can, finishing with your elbow close to the ear. Think about trying to push the kettlebell up even at your end range, to activate the posterior side of the shoulder.
Single Arm Muscle Snatch - 6 reps per side
Step 1: Starting Position
As opposed to the traditional snatch, the starting position for a muscle snatch is a slightly higher hip angle. You will still start with a slight knee bend, and the hips hinged. However, you will not be as low.
Step 2: “Muscle it Up”
The difference between a regular snatch and a muscle snatch has to do with the force you create from the ground. In a muscle snatch, you want the movement to be primarily from the upper body, with minimal help from the ground. You will still pull the same, but the demand will be more on the upper body.
Step 3: Return to home base
Use as little momentum as you can to reset back to home base. Make sure you safely bring the kettlebell down, avoiding any injury to the shoulder in the process.
Single Arm Snatch - 5 reps per side
The single arm snatch is all about creating power. This means that you can take a little time to breathe between each rep. Focus on being as explosive as possible, as opposed to trying to finish the workout quickly. Take your time.
Step 1: The Movement
As mentioned earlier, this movement is all about the fundamentals. Establish an athletic base by having your feet just wider than shoulder width. Some people will flare their toes out so they can get deeper into the catch. Push through the ground and pull with a high elbow until the kettlebell is fully extended overhead.
Step 2: Explosion
The snatch, both single and double arm, are designed to be explosive. You want to do this exercise with viscount intent. So be quick during the movement.
Step 3: Rest
Take about 5 or 10 seconds between each rep to really establish your base. You are trying to be quick while performing the movement, not in between. Take your time and be explosive.