Kettlebell Snatch

Young champion KB Snatch
Asia Champion Kettlebell Snatch. Rebel gym/Indonesia

The kettlebell snatch is a whole-body exercise which develops the entire posterior chain of the body (rear side-butt, hamstrings, back), while building strength, power, coordination, and cardiovascular fitness simultaneously. Because of its comprehensive nature, the Snatch is often referred to as the King/Queen of the Kettlebell lifts.

The Tutorial

Start with the kettlebell on the floor in front of you.

With feet approximately hip-to-shoulder distance apart (but not wider), sit back to load your hips and grip the kettlebell with fingers as you would for the Swing. The Kettlebell swings back between your legs as you begin to stand, further loading the hips.

Keep arm connected to body and extend your knees and hips, allowing the inertia of the Kettlebell to pull your arm forward. Just as the arm begins to separate from the body, accelerate the Kettlebell vertically as fast as you can by rapidly pulling with the hip, followed by a shrug of your trap. If you are Snatching with your right hand, push forcefully with your left leg and pull back with right hip, and shrug with right trap. As the Kettlebell is accelerating upwards, release the fingers and insert the palm deeply into the handle. Allow the momentum to carry the bell all the way to the top and lockout/fixate your arm into the fully extended elbow position, This overhead lockout position is identical to overhead position in Press or Push Press (thumb facing back, no or minimal rotation at the shoulder).

From the top lock-out position, drop the kettlebell back down by turning the palm towards you, and leaning the shoulders and upper body back into trunk deflection as you shift your weight to the opposite leg (if snatching with right hand, shift to left leg).

Keep your hips and torso extended maximally and bring your triceps to connect to your torso.

At the moment the arm connects to the torso, complete the movement by pulling the hand towards you to change back to the hook grip (pulling hand back to catch handle with fingers). Follow the kettlebell between the legs into the backswing. Repeat this rhythmic motion to continue performing snatch for desired repetitions.

To summarize these 6 stages of the Snatch movement:

  1. Low Inertia swing to get kettlebell moving
  2. Vertical acceleration pull with hip and trap while pushing with opposite foot
  3. Insert hand deep into handle with thumb facing back
  4. Fixate (lockout) KB overhead
  5. Deflect trunk back into hyper-extension
  6. Pull hand back and change grip into backswing


Exhale sharply out from the mouth upon the initial low swing, exhale again as the kettlebell reaches the top position, and exhale once again as the kettlebell swings back behind you. 3 breaths for 1 repetition. In the top position lockout, take additional breaths as needed to recover the breathing and slow the pace (speed) of the movement, so that you can sustain the effort longer and thus achieve more repetitions.

To develop more confidence in dropping the kettlebell from the top position, first practice the Half Snatch as a variation. The first portions of the Snatch is as previously described to the Overhead lockout position. However, in the Half Snatch, drop the kettlebell from the Overhead Lockout position straight down to the chest into Rack position, then drop the bell from the chest, identical to the lowering portion of the Clean. The Half Snatch reduces the range of motion and speed of the drop, giving you more time to learn proper control of the movement.

When confident with Half Snatch, try the full Snatch, dropping from the overhead position in one continuous movement into the backswing.

You will want to use a lot of chalk on your hands and fingers and the kettlebell handle, to prevent the kettlebell from slipping out of a sweaty hand.

Put these guidelines to practice towards developing a rhythmic Snatch movement, and you will soon understand why the Snatch is the King or Queen of the kettlebell lifts.

Continue Reading