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Kettlebell Snatch

There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there are many ways to snatch a kettlebell. But why do things differently? I like to know the intricate details of the things I do, I experiment and try everything when it comes to kettlebell training. Following are some of my findings on the different ways to snatch a kettlebell.


Kettlebell Snatch Differences Defined

  • Leaning back to maintain even weight distribution
  • Elbow straight on down phase
  • Elbow bent on down phase
  • Thumb back on down phase
  • Thumb forward on down phase
  • Torso coming lower to the ground during down phase
  • Keeping the torso more upright during down phase
  • Hip hinging to create the pendulum
  • Quarter squat to create the pendulum
  • Going with the flow of the kettlebell
  • Creating resistance with the kettlebell
  • Breathing in on the down phase
  • Breathing out on the down phase
  • Keeping the feet flat/planted
  • Lifting the heel
  • Leaning to the side and coming under the kettlebell
  • Using the leg/hip to generate more drive
  • The angle the kettlebell comes down and through the leg
  • Palm facing forward on the lockout
  • Palm facing towards the head on the lockout
  • Full snatch
  • Half snatch
  • Squatting/falling under the kettlebell
  • Pulling the kettlebell up rather than swinging
  • Letting the kettlebell corkscrew around the hand for the insert
  • Letting the kettlebell flip over the fist for the insert
  • Snatching the kettlebell dead from the ground
  • Snatching the kettlebell from a hang
  • Snatching the kettlebell from a swing

One thing is the same no matter how or what snatch you perform, and that’s the lockout.


Thumb Back

Having the thumb back (going through the legs first) during the down phase makes the insert easier on the up-phase for people new to the movement. Yes, there is more work to be done, but with the thumb back, the action of the insert/corkscrew starts to happen early on in the up-phase, and becomes a continues motion which requires less thought.


Thumb Forward

Having the thumb forward during the down phase can make the insert more complicated on the up phase, but creates a more natural position for the arm and shoulder. I found that it requires more thinking, initially the bell was banging my wrist more as there was less of a build up to the insert and only half of a corkscrew motion which had to be initiated more rapidly. The thumb forward allows the triceps to rest on the chest/rib cage.


Hip Hinging

Hip hinging requires more pulling force on the up phase. See definition of a hip hinge below.


Quarter Squat

A quarter squat movement on the up phase creates more momentum and makes it easier to get the kettlebell up. My definition of the hip hinge is where the knees bend but stay above the ankles, the hips go back but never below the knees, focus is on the posterior chain muscles, torso comes down towards the ground more, creating more resistance on the erecor spinea. My definition of a squat is where the knees travel past the ankles and the hips down, hips can come past the knees, focus is on anterior chain muscles, torso stays more upright, creating less resistance on the erector spinea. I mention this definition because I’m sure people will say “what is done in GS is not a quarter squat”, that’s fine, please provide a name for what is done and correct my definition above.


Leaning Back / Elbow Straight

If you keep your elbow straight (locked out) on the down phase you should be leaning back to create a good centre of mass. If you would not lean back all the weight would be pulling you forward and off balance. The angle you lean back in depends on your body weight and the weight of the kettlebell, a lighter kettlebell requires less of an angle, and a heavier kettlebell requires more of an angle.


Elbow Bent

If you let the kettlebell come down as close to the body as possible the elbow needs to be bent. I personally find it hard sometimes to get the pendulum going when my trajectory on the down phase is down rather than forward, the trajectory is forward when you lean back and keep the elbow straight or straightish.


Generate More Drive With The Leg/Hip

This is where the heel of the foot on the side you’re snatching the kettlebell comes off the ground and your hip comes forward more to generate more drive. I like this, but find I have to get into the rhythm, i.e. doing high volume to get into it. This is not possible when snatching two kettlebells.


Torso More Upright

Keeping the torso more upright during down phase reduces stress on the erector spinea.


Squatting/falling under the kettlebell

This is actually a legal way to get the kettlebell up in Kettlebell Sport, it’s usually used when the shoulders or grip is fatiguing, the kettlebell does not come up that high so the body needs to come lower.


Pulling the kettlebell up rather than swinging

Again, a valid technique in Kettlebell Sport, but not something you’d want to start out with, it happens when fatigue sets in, the swing is no longer performed and the quads become more dominant.



Unlock the video below.


More to come.

I will be writing more, but in the meantime, feel free to add your comments below. This will be added to The Snatch – Ultimate Explanation and Definition. You can also add your comments in our FB group Kettlebell Snatch www.facebook.com/kettlebell.snatch.



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