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The Bend and SNATCH: Why You Should Be Training Kettlebell Snatches

The kettlebell (KB) snatch is a movement that has been programmed quite a bit over the past few weeks. You may also have noticed that there has been a lot more instruction and critiquing with this movement than with some of the other KB movements; that’s because the KB snatch is quite a technical movement that has, literally, many moving parts. It is critical to train the snatch pattern correctly in order to keep the involved structures healthy and the athlete injury free. Between training KB snatches multiple days during both conditioning and strength classes and the abundance of instruction that comes with them, it can start to feel like this is a movement that is just destined to be difficult. But what if we told you that’s not the case?

Part of the reason the KB snatch is such a technical move is because while it targets the shoulders and upper body, it’s a total body movement that requires stability, mobility and power from different parts of the body. The glute, hamstrings, core, hip flexors, and quads bring the body into a swing position at the bottom of the KB snatch while the lats, trapezius, and deltoid muscles activate during the high pull and eventual push through. Additionally, the calves, wrist, hands and forearms work together to stabilize the KB during the movement. Lastly, arguably the most important muscle the KB snatch trains is your heart; according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, high-intensity KB snatches significantly improved aerobic capacity in college-aged female athletes and was recommended as an alternative way to maintain or improve cardiovascular conditioning. In other words, KB snatches are not only good for developing strength, power, stability and coordination, it’s also a great way to improve cardiovascular conditioning!

So, now onto the million dollar question: how are KB snatches performed? Watch the video below for a breakdown!

In this breakdown, you can see a few steps:

  1. Setting up for a single-arm KB swing: in the above video, Coach Jesus starts in a hinged position with a single hand on the KB. This set up is the same set up as a single-arm KB swing-- in other words, start the movement in a hinge position.

  2. Pull back & stand: again, similar to the single-arm KB swing, Coach Jesus pulls his KB back and stands up tall, pushing through the feet.

  3. High pull: instead of letting the KB fall back between the legs like you would in a KB swing, pull the bell up towards the head using the momentum of the swing to activate the traps, lats, and delts. Remember to maintain a straight wrist

  4. Push Through: at the end of the high pull, tilt your forearm so it is more vertical than horizontal. You're using the momentum from the high pull to "spear" your hand through the KB and into the top position. Over time and with practice, this movement should become fluid.

  5. Drop Down: At the end of the movement, Coach Jesus finishes his snatch by flipping the bell over his hand and letting it drop close to his body and back into a hinge position to begin his next KB swing that will lead into another snatch.

If you'd like any help with your snatches, join us in our Strength Class on Wednesday/Thursday OR schedule a 1-on-1! We're here to keep you *snatched*!


Falatic JA, Plato PA, Holder C, Finch D, Han K, Cisar CJ. Effects of Kettlebell Training on Aerobic Capacity. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Jul;29(7):1943-7. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000845. PMID: 26102260.

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