With Tactical Strength Challenge training underway now at Breakthrough, we’ve been focusing a lot on safe and strong technique for the kettlebell snatch. This lift is very detailed and nuanced, so we thought we share a few of our favorite reminders to get the most out of your practice time with this lift:
A strong lockout at the top - One of the best ways to get where you are going efficiently is to know where you want to end up. The completion of a kettlebell snatch ends with the bell safely overhead, the joints of the body stacked on top of each other and a strong contraction of the core, glutes, quads, and lats (think vertical plank). Some of the common mistakes that often happen at the top of the snatch are letting the elbow and/or wrist bend, catching the bell with the arm out in front of the body rather than in line with your body, letting your focal point be down on the ground causing the head to be out of alignment, and not holding the tight plank. A great way to practice owning the end position is to get the kettlebell overhead safely, make sure you are joint stacked from the heels of the feet through the fingers on the flexed shoulder, and make sure you can maintain tension while holding this overhead position in either an isometric or a slow walk.
A great backswing- To generate enough power to get the bell overhead without using too much force from your arm and shoulder, you need to be able to hinge your hips back and load the bell behind you. If the descent of the bell falls down rather than back, your kettlebell snatch will be less efficient, could overtax your shoulders, and possibly cause hand tears. As the bell descends, guide it into a deep hinge behind you - your upper arms will make contact with your ribcage, and your forearms with the top of your upper inner thigh, just like a swing.
A tame arc - The shorter the distance the bell has to travel on the way up, the less chance of a crash landing into your forearm at the top. Practice letting your elbow bend on the way up and down to create a shorter arc for the bell to travel. Another tip to help minimize the forearm bonking and hand tears is to make sure to relax your grip on the handle, especially on the way up.
Kettlebell snatches are very technically demanding and can take years to master. But patient practice is definitely worth it to experience the exhilerating power of the “tsar of lifts”.