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Evolving the Kettlebell Snatch

Hello everyone. If you love kettlebell training, then I’ve got a post for you!

I’m going to show you a few ways to modify the kettlebell snatch to make it more challenging and grip strength intensive. And then I am going to ask you what ways you modify kettlebell lifts in your training.

There are almost endless ways that you can vary your kettlebell training to provide yourself with a new stimulus.

Using a heavier bell…

Doing more reps per set…

Using a kb in each hand…

Holding two kettlebells in one hand…

The list goes on and on.

A few weeks back I put together a short clip on how you can vary up the starting position and orientation of the kettlebell when performing kettlebell snatches to make them more challenging.

You’d be surprised how much changing the location of the kettlebell can effect the force production involved in the snatch.

Before we get into the variations, I think we can agree that the standard manner of starting a kettlebell snatch is by placing the kettlebell between the feet, performing a partial swing, initiating a controlled eccentric phase, and then snapping the hips to propel the bell overhead.

Here is a series of stills to illustrate this:

conventional1 conventional2
Starting Position and Mini-Swing Phase

conventional3 conventional4
Eccentric Loading and Concentric Explosion to Lock-out

Now, here are just a handful of ways you can easily modify the starting position of the kettlebell snatch to make it more challenging.

To begin, the first thing we are going to do is eliminate that first mini-swing, altogether.

Instead, we will begin with the kettlebell out in front of the feet, this time. This position still allows for somewhat of an eccentric phase, albeit an abbreviated one, in order to load the hips for the snatch.

Kettlebell in Front of Feet
Kettlebell in Front

Next, we will position the kettlebell slightly behind us. This will completely eliminate the mini-swing and by doing so, we are taking out the eccentric phase of the lift, and beginning the lift with an elongated concentric portion.

kettlebell behind the feet
Kettlebell Behind

Don’t let the simplicity of these minor adjustments fool you into thinking that they do not make much of a difference. By decreasing or eliminating the eccentric portion of the movement prior to the snatch causes noticeable increase in difficulty.

But that’s really only the beginning. I have one more thing that you have probably never seen before and never thought about trying in your kettlebell training. This is a technique that we introduced in our Advanced Kettlebell Training eBooks. It is going to hit your grip like few kettlebell movements can and force you to truly focus on generating speed and power from the get-go if you mean to get the bell all the way up in the snatch.

This challenging, yet simple modification involves turning the kettlebell over on it’s side without straightening it prior to the lift.

Starting with the Kettlebell Tilted
Kettlebell Tilted

In the following video, you will notice right away how dynamic the initial pull of the kettlebell snatch becomes when you start of the lift in this manner. The kettlebell immediately pulls straight once it leaves the ground and if you are not able to positively respond against this force, you may just have trouble completing the snatch.

Well, there you go, another chapter in your kettlebell training playbook. So what ways do you modify kettlebell lifts?

How many other variations can we come up with? Which ways are you kinetically altering the kettlebell snatch these days?

Post them below in the comments section. I always like hearing about how all of you in the Diesel Universe are using your imaginations and thinking up crazy ways to train.

Thanks and all the best in your training.

-Jedd-

We have lots of other Kettlebell posts – Check them out below:

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16 Responses to “Evolving the Kettlebell Snatch”

  1. Rob Says:

    Hey fellas, the video is private! Am I missing something?

    Cheers
    Rob

  2. Matt "Wiggy" Wiggins Says:

    The video is private for me as well.

    As far as ‘modifying’ my KB (or DB) work, I like to alternate sides with each rep. This is esp true of DB versions of the lifts (esp the snatch – which I tend to pull in a more ‘straight’ fashion, ripping it off the ground, instead of a swinging fashion). I find it ends up keeping me more ‘honest’ and makes me do more overall work with the same overall volume, as I’m starting from the ground with each rep. I find it’s good for conditioning with heavier weights as well.

    Great stuff as usual!

    Wiggy
    http://www.workingclasscardioworkout.com
    http://www.workingclassfitness.com

  3. chris warden Says:

    Also experienced the same with the video.
    Thanks

  4. Mike Rinderle Says:

    The handle on my 60 pounder is on the thin side, so I have been doing them with winter gloves on to increase the difficulty. Same prob with the vid being private.

  5. Sean Dickinson Says:

    Try snatches and C$J’s or C$PP’s from the ground without a swing at all. I usually refer to these as olynpic style snatches. Place one or two bells between your feet somewhere even with your instep and clean or snatch them straight up as you would with an oly bar, keeping the bells close to your body. Either snatch them or C$J/PP them. After lockout, drop them to your shoulders, then return them to the ground, let go of the bells, stand up a moment then reset yourself and repeat. High rep or low rep is up to you. When you drop them from your shoulders to the ground don’t just let gravity take them down, push them down to the ground to help protect your back. You can also do these high pull style. Instead of cleaning or snatching them, stop once you’ve reached the top of the high pull (elbows high like an upright row) then drive them back to the ground and repeat. (I like to stand up momentarily and reset myself between each rep to make sure my abs are braced and starting postition is correct so as not to injure my back). You can usually use more weight and sweat out a few more reps. Either alternate hands after each rep or do a set number of reps with one hand before switching to the other. Or do doubles. Another variation I like, which will really smoke you, is do burpee snatches, C$J/PP’s, or highpulls. Place 1 or 2 KB’s between your feet in the above fashion, do a burpee to the down position, make sure when you bring your feet bask up under you that they land in the proper position with the KB/’s between them. Grab the bells, instead of just returning to the staning position of the burpee, do either the oly style snatch, C$J/PP, or highpull, then repeat. You can either place your hands on the ground next to the KB’s on the down position of the burpee, or grip the KB handles. Many of you may already do some of these, but if you haven’t, try them, you’ll like it.

  6. Sandy Sommer, RKC Says:

    Couldn’t see the video but I will say this. IMHO the kettlebell snatch shouldn’t be toyed with. No reason to trick it out. Most don’t do it correctly to begin with so adding various movement patterns to something typically done with average skill at best is asking for trouble.

  7. Jim Smith Says:

    Sandy,

    Definitely good points.

    But I would also offer that modifying any movement, be it the tempo of any phase, the implement, the range of motion, the direction, the end point acceleration – provides many benefits.

    Of course you are correct in your assessment that any modification should be restricted until the movement becomes proficient.

    Smitty

  8. Jedd Says:

    Sorry everyone for not changing the video to “Public.” It is updated now, so you can check it out for sure!

    Sandy, great point. I totally understand where you are coming from on this. I have seen way too many inexperienced kettlebell lifters butchering kettlebell snatch technique.

    However, I don’t think there is anything wrong with building on the movement, once you master the basic form and function.

    Sean, that sounds like a great circuit right there. Thanks for posting it!

    Sorry again everybody for leaving the video “Private.”

    -Jedd-

  9. Troy Anderson Says:

    Jedd

    Good stuff

    That side-ways start looks really gnarly.

    I think one of my favorite twists on the kettlebell snatch is to go into the split snatch finish position.

    Nice Work

  10. Matt Wichlinski Says:

    I agree that perfecting ones technique should be the primary goal. But, once that technique has been satisfactorily achieved, toying with foot placement, hand placement, the use of gloves, etc. can be an extraordinary supplement to ones training, not to mention loads of fun. I’ve toyed with 180 degree swings, which have a profound effect on ones grip by the way, and they seem to me to be a great exercise for throwers of all types, utilizing the rotational work of the torso and practicing footwork coordination. So, before you go gettin all jiggy with your snatch (which really is perfect the way it is), make sure it is perfect, then have some fun and see if your performance enhances. If it does, you’re on to something, if it doesn’t, lose the shenanigans. We are all looking for a better way, which is a beautiful thing, but sometimes the original just can’t be beaten. As far as mixing burpees and swings, snatches, high pulls, or even pull ups, they can be a lot of fun. But, in my mind, you are wasting a lot of time transitioning from one movement pattern to another, therefore losing power. I am all about agility (watch any one of my videos), but these “hybrid” movements are more of a parlor trick and better left for fun days rather than your main training days or movements.

    Pause, adjust, proceed…

    Matt

  11. Jedd Says:

    Again, technique needs to be honed in before moving on. I also suggest making sure the k’bell you use for these variations be on the lighter side at first and not necessarily a 95-lber like the one I am using.

    Wearing gloves is cool. I have a video somewhere on the site that I did not add to the list of links at the end where I snatch the beast with wool gloves on. Pretty good challenge.

    Matt, do you have a video fo the 180 degree snatches that hit your grip? I’d like to see them and give them a try.

    Thanks.

  12. Adam T Glass Says:

    Sandy

    Diesel is known as being leaders in innovation, and they have proven to be the leaders in kettlebells, look how much of Jim and Jedds material has bene jocked by other organizations…so when they put out KB material like this- know that your seeing men who know a thing or two about lifting KBs.

    If you guys have never seen the advanced KB ebooks you are missing the boat. They are amazing.

    Adam

  13. Guy Jones Says:

    Hey Jedd,

    When spring comes round and the tempo needs to pick up I like to use what i call a ‘Snatch Cross Over’. I generally use a lighter Bell and go for higher reps as a warm up or finisher. It consists of initiating in the normal manner, then switching hands at around chest height. Coming to finish the rep above the head and in the opposite hand. It involves a lot of core rotation and stabilisation plus it requires a bit more oxygen. Always a good one for alternate cardio.

    Guy

  14. Jedd Says:

    Guy,

    That one sounds good man! Got a video?

    -Jedd-

  15. Matt Wichlinski Says:

    Jedd, here is the 180 degree swing/snatch, among other shenanigans, older video, but you’ll get the point.

  16. Matt Wichlinski Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Spp8OehdyQ

    sorry forgot to paste it…

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