Variations to the Kettlebell Snatch
The Kettlebell Snatch is quite deceiving; it looks fairly simple, but as any lifter can attest, progressing to heavier loads for prolonged sets can get tricky. Traditional Kettlebell Sport involves a 10-minute set with one hand change, at the pace dictated by the lifter. Slight adjustments to technique can make a significant difference in endurance and efficiency, allowing the lifter to get better results.
In the past eight years of sport training and competing I’ve practiced many different approaches to the Snatch, some which worked for me and many that didn’t. This article will show the varieties I’ve considered so you can try them for yourself, to discover what to keep and what to discard. You’ll notice many of these approaches used by your peers as well.
Everyone admires a lifter who can achieve high reps, but beware of trying to emulate his or her entire style. Lifters move differently for various reasons and typically find their best personal style by experimenting with options as opposed to attempting to mold themselves to a specific pattern demonstrated by another lifter.
Offered here are not technical specifics or right/wrong, but examples of different applications. To avoid confusion, it’s recommended that lifters have a basic understanding of Snatch technique (fixation, use of hips and legs, etc) prior to playing with variables.
These examples are by no means a final list as there are yet undiscovered subtleties used by lifters all the time, causing one to think, “Hmmmm…” But they’re meant to save you time in the process of your training, so have a GO!
Besides having a favorite brand of bell, lifters can choose to wear wrist guards and use chalk on the handle and/or hands.
Visit YouTube for many videos on how to chalk a bell’s handle.
Footwear is also a personal preference. While most lifters wear lifting shoes (on right) for Snatch, some prefer sneakers with or without a thick base.
- Immediate Drop
- Turn then Drop
- Delayed Drop
- Elbow out Drop- allows lifter to catch bell earlier
Hop on Drop:
Allows lifter to absorb arm on the trunk on catch phase
- Before Fixation
- After Fixation
Undersquats allow lifter to shorten the distance the bell travels.
Options for Footwork:
- Same-side Heel Lift on Drop
- Same-side Heel-Toe-Heel
- Double Toe Lift on Backswing- best done in sneakers
- Opposite Toe Lift on Backswing
- Opposite Heel Lift on Backswing- allows for greatest weight shift
Hand in Backswing:
- Internally Rotated
- Externally Rotated- Creates shorter backswing
Coming to Fixation:
- Bell Over Top
- Corkscrew- Allows shorter distance for bell to travel
Using the Free Arm:
- Sagittal- Helps trunk come to extension
- Cutting- Helps if using acceleration pull through shoulders
- 2 Cycles- Exhale at backswing and at fixation
- 3 Cycles- Exhale at backswing, beginning of upswing and at fixation
Where Eyes Look on Backswing:
- To Side- For those with large rotation at backswing
- To Front Corner
- Straight Ahead- For those with less rotation at backswing
- To Heels
- From Hips
- From Arm
Feel free to share and comment on what works or doesn’t work for you.
About Lorna Kleidman
Lorna is a 3-time World Champion, World Record holder in Veteran's 24kg Snatch, and Master of Sport through American Kettlebell Alliance (AKA) Ranks, certified personal trainer, former massage therapist in private practice, and author, with Bachelors in Sports and Health Science. Lorna, who lives in NYC, is the founder of KettleX® Fitness and Education and founder/co-creator of SPRY® Yoga.