[Training Plan] How To Snatch Heavy Kettlebells

 In The Everyday Athlete, Training Plans

Heavy snatches are the ultimate expression of power in the world of kettlebells. In order to snatch a heavy kettlebell, one needs to have a base of thousands of heavy swings under one’s belt. Unlike a swing, a snatch requires a greater emphasis on technique, grip strength, and grip endurance. Your hand must be able to decelerate and change the trajectory of a large chunk of metal that is moving at freefall velocity.

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The limiting factor in the SMK1 Swing Test (the reason why people fail) is a lack of ability to recover between sets, which translates to a lack of cardiovascular capacity. The SMK2 Snatch Test is a walk in the park as far as cardiovascular condition goes, but the limiting factor will be grip strength. Following this program, you will develop a grip like a vice, therefore, becoming stronger in everything you do.

Overview

Alternate between the following two sessions:

  1. Technique and Conditioning Day
  2. Heavy Day (for grip and power)

Ideally, do both sessions every week for quickest results. But one is sufficient. Keep going until you graduate to the next heavier kettlebell, which should take five to eight weeks if you’re doing both sessions.

How fast you progress depends your ability to recover between sessions (good diet, lots of sleep).

Heavy Snatches Are The Ultimate Expression Of Power In The World Of Kettlebells.Click To Tweet

What is your base weight kettlebell?

This is the weight with which you can currently complete the SMK2 snatch test using beautiful, explosive yet smooth reps that would make any Jedi Master proud. Only use increments of 4kg. 

Recommended Warm Up and Movement Prep Before Both Sessions

  1. 10-15 minutes dynamic joint mobility
  2. Get-ups: 3-5 per arm. Increase load per repetition. Final rep should be as heavy or heavier than the biggest kettlebell you’re snatching with that day
  3. Heavy swings. 5/5 x 1 or 2 sets

Session 1: Technique and Conditioning Day

Session 1 Part A: Snatch technique with base weight minus 8 or 12kg

Ten to 15 minutes of easy technique work using a kettlebell that’s 8-12kg less than your base. Video yourself and look for weaknesses.

  • If you struggle with the drop, practice your timing of the catch or practice the waterfall technique.
  • If your backswing isn’t great, practice the pendulum drill.
  • If your knees and hips don’t reach extension at exactly the same moment, also practice the pendulum drill (Check out my Instagram for a video demonstration)
  • If your insertion needs work, practice the clock face insertion drill or the hand-to-hand snatch drill (Check out my Instagram for a video demonstration)

If you’re happy with your technique, use this period to work on your timing. This is something even the greatest snatchers benefit from.

  • The arm should pull on the kettlebell, to change its trajectory. This shortens the moment arm and speeds up the kettlebell. This arm pull should occur at precisely the same moment as the hips and knees extend, for maximum power. Video yourself to see if this is the case and work on it if need be.
  • After the arm pull, the kettlebell should float all the way up to the lockout position without any further help from the hand. As the kettlebell floats up to the overhead position, the only thing the hand does is rotates the kettlebell handle around the center of mass and inserts through the handle.

Please note: Almost all snatch technique problems are either down to poor single-arm swing mechanics or a weak grip.

Session 1 Part B: Conditioning with base weight kettlebell

You’re already at the stage where you can perform 5/5 every 60 seconds x 5 rounds at this load with good reps. Over the coming weeks, build this up to 5/5 every 60 seconds x 8 rounds.

Set something to bleep every 60 seconds for 8 minutes. On session one, try 3/3 every minute. This should already be achievable. Then on the next session, ensure you do more than the previous. Your progress could look like this:

Number Of Snatches Per Arm, In Each 60 Second Period
Session 1 3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3
Session 2 3,4,3,4,3,4,3,4
Session 3 4,4,4,4,4,4,4,4
Session 4 5,4,4,5,4,4,5,4
Session 5 5,4,5,4,5,4,5,4
Session 6 5,5,4,5,5,4,5,5
Session 7 5,5,5,5,5,5,5,5
Session 8 Add 4kg: 3,3,3,3,3,3,3,3

 

Almost all snatch technique problems are either down to poor single-arm swing mechanics or a weak grip.Click To Tweet


Session 1 Part C: Overhead carry

Two to three sets. How much load? Carry as much as you feel like. If you’re still energetic, challenge yourself and grab a heavy kettlebell. If not, grab a not-so-heavy one. If you can walk for longer than 30 seconds, it’s too light. If you can’t hold it for longer ten seconds, it’s too heavy.

How much rest between sets? As much as you need, within reason. One to two minutes will do.

For a quick visual review of each session, check out my Instagram.

Session 2: Heavy Day

Session 2 Part A: Half snatches with base weight + 8kg

One rep of a ½ snatch looks like this: Snatch the kettlebell up to the overhead position, lower it to the rack position, send kettlebell back between legs.

Pre-swing, ½ snatch, change arms with a swing, ½ snatch, park it. 60 seconds rest. 5 rounds.

Session 2 Part B: Pendulum snatches with base weight + 4kg

3 x pendulum snatches on left side, 60 seconds rest, 3 x pendulum snatches on right side, 60 seconds rest. 5 rounds.

For clarity, one round of 3/3 is:

  • 3 pendulum snatches left, park it
  • 60 seconds rest
  • 3 pendulum snatches right, park it
  • 60 seconds rest

On session one, start with three rounds of 3/3. Over the coming weeks, progressively add load until you reach five rounds of 5/5.

Progression might look like this:

Number Of Pendulum Snatches Per Arm, Per Round
Session 1 3,3,3
Session 2 3,3,3,3
Session 3 3,3,3,3,3
Session 4 4,4,4
Session 5 4,4,4,4
Session 6 4,4,4,4,4
Session 7 5,5,5
Session 8 5,5,5,5
Session 9 5,5,5,5,5
Session 10 ADD 4kg – 3,3,3

If you’re feeling strong on any given day, feel free to progress faster than above by adding more reps/sets.

Session 2 Part C: Suitcase carry

A barbell or kettlebell will do. How much load? If you can walk further than 25 meters, it’s not heavy enough. If you can’t walk ten meters on the first round, it’s too heavy. Use a crushing grip, not a hook grip. Stay tall. Shoulders externally rotated. Park it under control at the end of the walk.

Walk as far as you can carrying the load with your non-dominant arm. Carry it back to the start with your dominant arm. Rest one to two minutes. Three rounds.

For a quick visual review of each session, check out my Instagram.

Recommended active rest between sets

  • Hand and finger flexibility
  • Wrist vents
  • Shake out the tension
  • Stimulate your Chapman points

Graduating to a heavier base weight

It is time to try completing the SMK2 Snatch Test with base weight + 4kg when you achieve both:

  1. Session 1, Part B, 8 rounds of 5/5
  2. Session 2, Part B, 5 rounds of 5/5

If you successfully complete the test with good, sharp reps, congratulations. Take a week or two off and start again if you need to advance further. If you’re not quite there yet, take a week off then go back a couple of steps and redo the final few sessions of this program before retesting.

Hand Care

Maintain flexible and elastic soft tissue on your hands, this includes the skin. Don’t allow calluses to build up. Use a pumice stone in the shower to rub them away. Avoid calluses in the first place by applying coconut oil daily.

The ripped skin could cripple you for two or three weeks. I strongly recommend buying a pair of cotton gloves (like magician’s gloves) and have them at your side during every training session. If at any point you feel like your skin is coming close to ripping, stop. Put on your cotton gloves, grab a kettlebell that’s 8kg lighter than the one you were using and continue with the session as if nothing happened. Training with cotton gloves makes the kettlebell more slippery. It’s a drill that world-class kettlebell sport athletes have been using for decades to build superior grip endurance.

FAQs

What else can I train while on this program?

Looking at what’s involved here we have a lot of hip hinging, anti-rotation and pulling, so go easy on those movements. Including squats, pressing, rotation and locomotion movements in your program won’t hurt.

Give your CNS at least three days to recover after the heavy day—so no other really heavy or explosive stuff during that period.

At least 20 minutes of joint mobility and 30 minutes walking should be a daily habit, regardless.

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Summary
[Training Plan] How To Snatch Heavy Kettlebells
Article Name
[Training Plan] How To Snatch Heavy Kettlebells
Description
Heavy snatches are the ultimate expression of power in the world of kettlebells.Discover how you can start snatching heavier today with this excellent training plan.
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Strength Matters
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Phil McDougall
Director of Athletic Performance for Strength Matters, Humble Welshman, Kettlebell Jedi and father to Henry of Cambridge. You can follow Phil here on Instagram or get in contact direct via his professional website
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