A dynamic movement that combines strength with mobility, the kettlebell snatch is an important exercise to get right and incorporate into your training.
The kettlebell snatch is considered one of the most important kettlebell exercises to master given its benefits for development of the whole posterior chain. From hamstrings to glutes, core and quads — this movement will test them all. However, it’s an advanced kettlebell exercise that requires a little practice to get right.
Using a single kettlebell, the movement involves swinging the weight between your legs and lifting the kettlebell up above your head in one swift motion, then dropping the weight back down to repeat for the prescribed amount of reps.
The following article will cover how to complete the exercise with the right form, what muscles are worked, and why you should incorporate kettlebell snatches into your workout routine.
How To Do a Kettlebell Snatch
It is recommended that you practice your skills with a kettlebell for several months prior to putting them together in a kettlebell snatch. A kettlebell snatch is a fairly technical movement that involves throwing around a heavy weight at speed, so you might need to start off with some lighter weight as you get a feel for it.
Kettlebell exercises to get comfortable with when building up to the snatch include a Turkish get-up, kettlebell cleans and kettlebell swings.
Swing the kettlebell between your legs with your thumb pointing back. Bend your knees and move the weight into the hips. Keep your core and back braced. Using the momentum of the swing, bring the kettlebell up to the shoulder with your four fingers pointing upwards and your thumb and palm hooking the handle. The movement should look strong, with no bend in the wrist.
The next step is to push the kettlebell up overhead. This will be the final point of the snatch. Once again, there should be no bend in the wrist, but allow your elbow to bend as you lift the weight upwards. When you reach the top lockout your arm. The kettlebell weight should be resting on the back of your wrist, with your fingers pointing straight up. Make sure you breathe throughout the movement.
Now that you’ve mastered the kettlebell clean and press, you can move into the snatch. This is essentially the same movement, but you skip the pause at the shoulder; instead swinging your kettlebell up and over your head from between your legs in one swift movement.
Avoid bruising your arm repeatedly at the top of the exercise by rotating your wrist as you lift your arm up. You want to maneuver the weight around your hand in a controlled manner, with your palm rotating the kettlebell to keep it stable, rather than hitting the back of your wrist with each rep.
Benefits of the Kettlebell Snatch
While this movement is a tricky one to hit perfectly, the payoff in doing so is high. The kettlebell snatch is a full body exercise; meaning it builds strength, mobility, explosivity and helps burn calories as you work up a sweat.
- Supports all muscles in the posterior chain
From your hamstrings, glutes, calves, lats, rotator cuff muscles, and erector spinae muscles; your posterior chain is what keeps you upright, moving and lifting heavy which is why it’s so important to look after.
In CrossFit and other functional fitness, building the muscles in your posterior chain is important for lifting weights, running fast and avoiding injury. Certified strength and conditioning coach Alena Luciani, founder of Training2XL, explains that:
“In CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting, you’re doing movements like the snatch and the clean, which require a lot of power. Strengthening your hamstrings will help you become more explosive in those movements.”
Kettlebell snatches combine weight training with mobility to keep all the muscles in your back and legs working towards an even more powerful posterior chain.
- It’s great cardio
The kettlebell snatch truly is a full body workout. Throughout the movement you’ll be hitting many of the body’s major muscles, and this exercise can be done with a lower weight for a high amount of reps meaning you’ll get your heart rate up — especially if you do up to 200 reps on each side!
This movement offers a high calorie burn as you’re working so many muscles at once. You’re using up much more energy than you would narrowing down on just one muscle group.
- Development of flexibility and mobility
Lifting a heavy weight from the floor up over your head in one smooth movement requires more than just strength. Each rep involves a number of extensions and flexions throughout the exercise, plus the unevenly distributed weight of the kettlebell will engage your core muscles and increase stabilization.
It’s important to warm up before getting into your kettlebell snatches because the movement requires the engagement of so many muscle groups.
Kettlebell Snatch: Workouts
You can tackle the kettlebell snatch one of two ways; low reps with high high weight (like in traditional strength training) or a higher number of reps with lower weight. Here are some workouts that incorporate both.
1 “Sgt Barros“
AMRAP in 12 minutes:
- 12 Wall Ball Shots (10/6 kg)
- 12 Kettlebell Swings (20/16 kg)
- 12 Kettlebell Snatches (20/16 kg)
- 100 meter Sprint
2 “Ahmaud Arbery“
4 Rounds for Time
- 400 meter Run
- 2 minute Plank Hold (cumulative)
- 23 Box Jumps (24/20 in)
- 20 Alternating Kettlebell Snatches (50/35 lb)
With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written for 4 rounds. Accumulate 2 total minutes in the plank hold position per round. Break from the plank hold as needed but do not count rest time toward the 2 minutes.
Score is the time on the clock when the last round of Alternating Kettlebell Snatches is completed.
- 45 Left-Arm Overhead Kettlebell Lunges (24/16 kg)
- 45 Toes-to-Bars
- 45 Goblet Squats (24/16 kg)
- 45 Pull-Ups
- 45 Alternating Kettlebell Snatches (24/16 kg)
- 45 calorie Row
- 45 Right-Arm Overhead Kettlebell Lunges (24/16 kg)
With a running clock, as fast as possible perform the prescribed work in the order written.
Score is the time on the clock when the last round of overhead kettlebell lunges is completed.