Updated: May 3
If you’ve got limited time to get your fitness fix, or you just want a quick whole-body blast, this kettlebell snatch workout is the ideal training session for you. In just 15-minutes this snatch workout hits every major muscle group including your cardiovascular system.
But this kettlebell snatch workout does more than activate a wide range of muscle groups. Snatching also builds grip and Posterior Chain strength like no other exercise. In addition, if you incorporate this kettlebell snatch workout into your general training regime, you’ll also start to develop superior muscular endurance and explosive power.
It begs the question, though, can a single kettlebell exercise deliver all those fitness benefits?
Snatch | Tsar of the kettlebell compound exercises
In short, yes, the kettlebell snatch is a serious whole-body exercise that packs an unparalleled fitness punch. But if you don’t believe me, here’s what Pavel Tsatsouline, author of The Russian Kettlebell Challenge, has to say:
‘The one-arm snatch is the Tsar of kettlebell lifts, fluid and viscous. It will quickly humble even studly powerlifters. The forces generated by this drill are awesome. “How can it be if the weight is so light?” you might ask. – Through great acceleration and deceleration. Would you rather roll a 500 pound barbell over your toes or drop a 72 pounder from seven feet? I rest my case.’
In addition to the tremendous forces generated when snatching, the exercise transitions through a wide range of movements. In doing so the snatch engages all the major muscle groups as well as the smaller synergists and stabilising muscles.
Kettlebell snatch benefits
Great muscular endurance
Gorilla-like grip strength
Improved cardiovascular performance
Enhanced body coordination and improved technique
Kettlebell snatch workout
Organised around ascending pyramids, this kettlebell snatch workout is broken up into three 5-minute AMRAPs (as many reps as possible). The objective is to progress as far up the pyramid as possible in the allotted time.
But it’s not all about snatching! Between each snatch set, there is a bodyweight exercise that you are to complete before progressing up the pyramid.
The method is as follows: after starting a 5-minute countdown timer, complete 1 rep snatch on each arm followed by 1 press-up. Now just add another rep to each exercise. Continue in this fashion until you run out of time. Don’t forget to make a note of your scores at the end of each AMRAP as you can use this to compete against next time.
Kettlebell workout warm up
Suggested 10-minute warm-up: 250-metre row → 2 swings → 250-metre row → 4 swings → 250-metre row → 6 swings and 1 snatch (each arm) → 250-metre row → 6 swings and 2 snatches (each arm) → 250-metre row → 8 swings and 3 snatches (each arm) → 250-metre row → 10 swings and 4 snatches (each arm) → start the workout!
#1: 5-minute AMRAP: Snatch to Press-up
#2: 5-minute AMRAP: Snatch to Air Squat
#3: 5-minute AMRAP: Snatch to Burpee
How to perform the perfect kettlebell snatch
The snatch is a powerhouse of an exercise that confers a multitude of physical benefits. When snatching the muscles activated include:
All the muscles of the arm
So pretty much the entire body. Perhaps the only muscles that escapes unscathed from an onslaught of snatches is the pectorals. However, to ensure that no muscle is neglected this snatch workout includes a series of callisthenics.
If you’re new to snatching, you should know that there’s more to the exercise than meets the eye. From experience I can say that whenever I’ve seen this exercise performed, it’s been performed incorrectly. There are a number of technical nuances that typically slip beneath the radar of most lifters.
However, if the snatch technique is mastered, it makes the exercise far less unpleasant to perform. Furthermore, correct technique also improves movement efficiency and reduces fatigue. Below, you will find a step-by-step tutorial to mastering the snatch.
But it goes without saying that there’s only so much you can learn from a written description. To perfect the snatch technique, you should study the video tutorial by Ivan Denisov, perhaps the greatest kettlebell lifter of all time (see link below).
And finally, if you are new to snatching, ensure to start off with a light kettlebell and focus on the intermediate movements before piecing them together.
Kettlebell snatch teaching points
Centre your mass over a kettlebell ensuring to adopt a stance slightly over shoulder width.
Keeping your back straight squat down and grasp the bell . . . then squat back up again. (When your confidence grows you’ll be able to initiate the snatch from the floor.)
Initiate the movement by pulling the bell back between your legs.
Once you feel the bell push you back, your arm taught against your torso, fire through the glutes and core whilst simultaneously pulling with the back muscles.
Remember: you are not ‘lifting’ with your arms, but rather propelling the bell with your hips. The arm merely acts to control the trajectory of the kettlebell.
If you’ve put enough ‘umph’ into the bell it should sail up smooth and sweet. But you’re not swinging it out like you would with a single-arm swing. You must cut the swing short and aim to keep the bell close to your body.
As it carries on ascending higher and higher the bell should, just before reaching the top position, swivel round coming to rest on the back of your wrist. This positional transition ought to take place with the mechanical precision of Swiss watch. Basically, what I’m trying to say is the bell shouldn’t ‘flop’ over the hand slapping against the back of the wrist. But you’ll soon know if you’re not doing it right because the following day your wrist will be bruised and sore.
To recover the movement, rotate the bell back round the wrist and allow gravity.
Select a weight commensurate with your current ability.
Keep that back nice and straight.
Adopt a stance slightly over shoulder width: you do not want that bell thwacking into your kneecap as it does the big dipper!
Hold your unencumbered arm out to aid balance.
Do not snatch near your ma’s finest China.
Do not allow the bell to pull you down so that your torso becomes parallel with the floor. Performed properly, the snatch is quite a compact movement. The common mistake is to overemphasise the rotation at the hips as the bell bowls through the legs. When performed incorrectly, as has just been described, you’ll see a 90° angle form at the quads and abdominals. Yes, an angle should form but nowhere near 90°. I would say 45° at most.
Do not ‘swing’ the kettlebell out as you would a swing. Instead, after you’ve propelled it forward with the strong muscles of your glutes and transverse abdominus, pull it up. Comparative to the swing when snatching the bell should remain relatively close to your body.
Follow the link to see the snatch executed with flawless form.
Enjoyed this kettlebell snatch workout?
Get your hands on 80 more with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits & Workouts Volume 3.