Kettlebell Snatch Overview
The QUEEN to the Kettlebell Swing KING or why not, the holy grail of full body exercises is the Kettlebell Snatch.
Many people struggle to master kettlebell snatches.
It’s daunting having a heavy weight above the head and the speed at which it gets there can be off putting too. There are also timing issues necessary for the Snatch to avoid banging the wrists and jerking the arm.
The KB Snatch works the entire body from head to toe and is considered a pulling movement. Taking the kettlebell from the top position, absorbing the weight and then changing momentum at the bottom takes a lot of energy.
KB snatches are certainly a cardiovascular exercise although not as much as the High Pull because you can grab periods of rest at the top of the movement.
Watch a full demonstration and progressions of the Snatch:
5 Kettlebell Snatch Benefits
1 – Huge Fat Loss Exercise
The snatch uses hundreds of muscles in just one movement. The more muscles you use the more energy required and subsequently the more carbohydrates and fat you burn. When it comes to fat burning the snatch is one of the most demanding exercises out there.
2 – Great Cardio without Moving Your Feet
If you want to really push your cardio then the snatch will really elevate your heart rate without the need to even move your feet. The snatch uses so much force and energy during every repetition that snatching a kettlebell gets the heart and lungs working very hard, very quickly.
3 – Develop Strength and Power
The snatch requires you to absorb and regenerate force at speed during every repetition. The ability to produce force at speed is what we call power. Power is very useful for many things but in particular for sports and martial arts. If you want to develop a competitive advantage in your sport then the snatch could help.
4 – Connect the Body
The one thing that the snatch does very well is connect the body from head to toe. The snatch takes the kettlebell from overhead to close to the floor and back again in a matter of seconds. The ability to connect movement patterns from head to toe is hugely beneficial for natural movement skills.
5 – Improves Stability and Mobility
In order to snatch the kettlebell the chest needs to open up and the shoulder needs to be supple enough to allow the kettlebell overhead. Poor shoulder and thoracic mobility will be highlighted during the snatch and demand attention. As well as being mobile the shoulders also need to be stable so they can support the heavy load overhead.
Muscles Worked Using the Kettlebell Snatch
There are not many muscles that are not used during the KB snatch. We are talking the quads, hips, glutes, core and hamstrings are all certainly worked very hard just like with the Kettlebell Swing.
Unlike the swing you get a little more muscle activation at the top of the body due to the fact that the kettlebell goes overhead. The shoulders, arms, mid-back and upper back get worked well during the movement.
It is also important to note that the upper back (thoracic spine) will be opened up and the overhead shoulder mobility taken back.
Poor shoulder and thoracic mobility could lead to problems but I’ll address that issue in a little while.
Once you start practicing the snatch, one area that you will notice gets worked hard is the grip. There are ways to take emphasis away from the gripping muscles, which I’ll reveal later, but bringing the weight down from the top position will certain test your grip strength.
Kettlebell snatches cannot be loaded as heavy as the swing and so for pure leg development the swing is slightly better
Similar to the swing the only area that does not get that much attention is the chest.
So adding a push up to your snatch routine can be very beneficial.
Let’s call it, the Mother of All Kettlebell Exercises—even the Queen. The snatch is a beautiful, explosive movement that gets the posterior chain firing and core engaged, and it helps to stabilize the shoulder. It increases your heart rate, engages the whole body, and trains up your weaknesses.
How to do a Kettlebell Snatch- Step by Step
Step 1: Stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart,
And holding a kettlebell in your right hand at shoulder level. The handle should rest diagonally in your hand just above your thumb—not near your fingers.
Step 2: With your shoulders drawn back and downward (think: proud chest),
Press the bell straight overhead, locking out your elbow. This is the finish position of the snatch, and if you can’t get into it properly, it’s an indication that you shouldn’t be snatching yet. Your ribs should be down, core braced, and pelvis level to the floor.
Step 3: Lower the weight back to the rack position,
Where the bell is shoulder level and your forearm is vertical.
Step 4: Now bend your forearm inward toward the midline of your body while simultaneously extending your elbow.
Gravity will take over and pull the bell toward the floor—control its descent. When the bell lowers to just in front of your thighs, hinge at the hips, bending them back and hiking the bell between your legs. Maintain a long spine, keeping your head and pelvis aligned. Core still braced. Maintain your proud chest position as the bell hikes back, so that your shoulders are square to the floor.
Step 5: When your hips are fully bent, extend them explosively to stand tall again.
As you rise, pull your elbow straight up vertically and, when it can’t rise anymore, allow the momentum from your hips to help you punch your fist straight to the ceiling. The bell should wrap around your wrist as your elbow extends. You shouldn’t need your fingers to finish the lift.
If you time it right, the kettlebell won’t smash into the back of your forearm.
When first learning the snatch, begin every rep from the arm extended position, lowering the weight down into the rack position and then hip hinging as described above. As you get comfortable with the movement, you can begin the snatch from the rack position, and then by simply hiking it from the floor (as shown in the video above).