Kettlebell Snatch Tutorial part IV – Correct Breathing Patterns

Welcome to part 4 of the Snatch Tutorial series.
In case you missed them, here are Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3

b-w snatchIn this edition we look at the breathing patterns behind successful snatching.
Kettlebell lifting happens best of we follow the anatomical breathing pattern. In simple terms this means that as the body expands, you inhale, as it compresses, you exhale.

This is contrary to the majority of lifting practices, but has solid reasoning behind it.
For most lifting, a heavy barbell lift, say a squat or deadlift, you take a breath in to lower and exhale to lift. In other words you compress the body with a bellyful of air and only let it out as you fully expand. This is known as paradoxical breathing but it serves to keep the intra-abdominal pressure high in order to create stiffness through the torso and keep the spine safe. Ideal for maximum effort or high threshold lifting but no good for endurance.

Kettles are not maximal weights. Well, not usually on the Snatch, and certainly not if you’re only using one kettlebell (we’ll cover the double snatch in a future post….)

So the need for maximal intra abdominal pressure is greatly reduced once good form and good technique is learned. And to be fair, if you learn to swing properly, you should be already swinging bells heavier than you can snatch.

If we switch to using the anatomical style of breathing we will be able to get more air in and out, you’ll even manage more breath cycles per rep and in doing so will be able to work for much longer.

If you plan on taking on the “Hard Style” secret service snatch test or compete in a kettlebell sports event, then you’ll want as much oxygen going through you as possible.

This video goes into a good deal of detail on the hows and why’s of breathing for maximum efficiency in the snatch:

I’ve written about breath control techniques before and talked about how extra breath cycles, with an emphasis on the exhale, are the key to both power endurance and fast recovery. You can read that one HERE

And if you like these posts on Kettlebell Technique, please have a look at the Kettlebell Manuals available by clicking on the image below:

Click Image for more info

Click Image for more info

Next week we discuss the flight path of the Kettlebell and also footwork for the snatch.


Dave Hedges

There are only a couple of spots left for the Bodyweight & Kettlebell Workshop in Tramore. More info & booking details HERE

Kettlebell Snatch Tutorial part II – “Hand Insertions”

snatchWelcome to Part 2 of the Kettlebell Snatch Tutorial, if you missed part 1, click HERE

I have to say a big thankyou for all the positive feed back from last weeks post, including one guy telling me that the video was the most informative one he’d seen on the subject.
Well, just wait for this and the following posts!

In this instalment we look at one of the most difficult aspects of the lift to get right, the hand insertion.

The hand insertion is where you transfer the bell from the hook created by the fingers during the swing portion of the lift, to the heel of the hand in the lockout on the way up and reversing it on the way back down.
Get this wrong, especially on the drop and you:

  • Increase the likelihood of tearing the hands
  • Fatigue the grip
  • Fatigue the shoulder
  • Drop the bell
  • Will become unstable in the lockout
  • End up working far harder than necessary!

Fortunately there’s a drill for this.

This drill serves to teach you the timing on the hand insertions, as soon as you’ve mastered this, the drill becomes defunct. So use this until you can do it, then bin it and just get back to training the snatch.
All too often people get tied up in these kind of supplementary or “attribute development” drills and lose sight of the bigger picture.  Don’t be that guy!

Although, this does look cool!

Essentially we change hands halfway through the lift. As we swing the bell up with one hand, we will swap it to our other hand to lock it out. This requires the development of:

  • A good, dynamic swing
  • An accurate swing that follows the correct path (more on this next week)
  • Development of the confidence to let go of the bell in mid flight.
  • Timing on the release from one section of the hand to the other.

Simply getting this drill working smoothly is one of the most all encompassing self teaching methods for smoothing out your snatch technique.

Enough words, here’s the video:

As I already stated, don’t spend your life being distracted by this drill, no matter how cool people think you look tossing a bell from hand to hand. But always remember, there is a risk of dropping the bell, make sure you don’t drop it on you or anyone else!

Next week we’ll cover both the drop and breathing patterns.

All this info and more can be found in the Level 3 Kettlebell Manual available by clicking the image below:

Click Image for more info

Click Image for more info


Dave Hedges

Kettlebell Snatch Tutorial Part I



Welcome to the first in a series of posts covering the Kettlebell Snatch.

The Snatch is a incredibly deceptive lift. Initially it seems fairly simple, but as you get into it you will find it like the rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland, it just gets deeper and deeper.
It is a lift that requires hard work but rewards technical precision.
To get the most out of it you must demonstrate patience and persistence.
Failure to delve into this rabbit hole of technical mastery will lead to frustration, lost skin and potential injury.

So in this series of articles, each with video presentations I’ll offer insights and technical corrections that you can add into your training to get the most out of this incredible lift.

Before we begin, you should not be snatching until you have your swing dialled in tight. If in doubt, check out these tutorials on the Kettlebell Swing.
I’d also advise reviewing the Kettlebell Clean tutorials because the hand insertion on the clean is the same as on the snatch.

For ALL tutorials and more click here!

So now you’ve done that and you’re swinging and cleaning with proficiency, lets have a crack at the Snatch.

In this first video we go over the basics, what I refer to as the “rough snatch” and how we tidy it up to minimise the potential damage to the hands and wrist.
The clip is a bit blurry, it seems my kids have been messing with the camera when I wasn’t watching!

Here’s the first clip:



Next week we’ll go into refining the hand transition and also the drop, two areas that most people struggle with.


Dave Hedges

For details of upcoming Workshopsplease click HERE



From the Platform to the Pitch, How Kettles Can Round Out Your Athletic Training Program

2 Junior lifters making it look easy with the 32's

2 Junior lifters making it look easy with the 32’s

Well, I’m still reeling from last weekends adventure at the European Kettlebell Championships, even though it’s business as usual here at WG-Fit, I can’t get the performances of those Russian Athletes out of my head.

To see these guys do what they do is magic. The strength, the power and the endurance on display was staggering.

I was especially blown away by the Juniors, they were incredible. Lads aged 18 and under stepping up and banging out reps with 32kg bells and making it look easy.

And then Ksenia Dedyukhina, a 22 yr old Russian girl steps up to the platform for the womens snatch event. Ksenia weighed in at 60.5kg and looks like butter wouldn’t melt.
Then she starts.

Ksenia: making GS sexy

Ksenia, a very sexy Snatch

10 minutes later she stops. She puts down her 24kg bell, nice and gently after only 174 perfectly identical reps of the snatch.
I’ll reiterate that for you.

174 snatches with a 24kg kettle in 10 minutes with only one hand change, by a 60kg female who walked away after the set as if she’d just spent the last ten minutes polishing her nails rather than throwing an accumulated 4176kg over her head in a mere ten minutes!

Here’s a video of her in Russia where she actually scored higher than she did here in Ireland and set a new Russian record:

Anyhow, that enough of me gushing about the awesomeness of these specialists.

Can we take anything away from them and apply it into our own athletic development?

For sure!

Most strength and conditioning coaches at the moment tend towards either Olympic Weight lifting or Powerlifting for their athletes strength development.
And this is fair enough.

An athlete doesn’t need a double or triple bodyweight Snatch like you see in the Olympics. Neither do they need an Andy Bolton like 1000lb Deadlift.
But they certainly can take from these feats and use similar training techniques and lifting protocols to develop their strength and power levels.
It’s exactly what I do with my guys. The barbell in WG-Fit is used to perform Deadlifts, Squats, Power Cleans and High Pulls, nearly always for three or less reps.

So that’s maximal strength covered.

What about Strength Endurance or Power Endurance?

This is where the Kettle lives. This is what the Kettlebell Sports guys do best.
In fact the Russians coined the term “Strength-Power-Endurance” to describe the special kind of fitness needed to survive the 10minute set.

It’s the ability to remain strong and to repetitively develop power in the face of fatigue. To just keep on pumping. To never lie down and die.

This is what makes a kettlebell lifter and it is this that we can take from them and apply to our athletic training.

Kettlebell lifts fill a gap in people’s training that can be hard to build. Most explosive type lifts are dangerous to perform for higher reps. Think Olympic lifts and Plyometric drills.
The kettlebell lifts are very similar to the Olympic lifts but are cyclical in nature. The all utilise the stretch shortening cycle, similar to a plyometric drill, but without the impact of repetitive jumping.

correct swing technique loading the posterior chain and activating the stretch reflex

correct swing technique loading the posterior chain and activating the stretch reflex

Develop power and power endurance with bodyweight training

Broad jumps use the same force vectors as the swing

Training the stretch shortening cycle is a massive area of importance to any athlete, especially if their sport requires rapid direction changes, the ability to absorb, redirect and reissue force and be generally awesome.

This weekend I’ll be down in Dolan Fitness, Tullamore where I’ll be teaching the core kettlebell lifts and complimentary bodyweight training drills to help develop all round athleticism.
That means by the end of the day you’ll have the tools to develop strength, power, endurance and agility using the Kettle and your own bodyweight.

Drop me a line for further details on booking into the workshop.


Dave Hedges

A Refined Display of Power

Yes, before you ask, the title of this post is a poor play on the title of Pantera’s iconic album.


But it’s pretty apt after the weekend’s excitement down at the Irish National Kettlebell Sports Championships hosted by Tramore kettlebells.

If you’ve never come across Kettlebell sports then I’LL give you a very quick overview.

– It sucks
– It is brutally hard
– It requires a degree of mental focus and tenacity that is unlike anything else.

The sport requires a lifter to put up as many reps as possible in a ten minute time period as possible.
The lifter who does the most reps with the most weight wins. Simple.

At least on paper.

The events are:
Biathlon- a set of jerk followed by a set of snatch
Long cycle- a single set of Clean & Jerk

Most amateur male lifters compete with 24kg bells, a pair for the jerk, a single cor the snatch.
During single arm lifts the bell can only be swapped to the other hand once.

At no point in the set sure the bells allowed to touch the floor, rest on the shoulders or pretty much anything that takes pressure of the lifter.

Like I said, it sucks.

Yet people are flocking to the sport.
On the weekend I had two lads lifting in the biathlon event. Matt, a first time competitor and Phil who’s becoming an old hand having represented Ireland in international competition last year and has once again qualified for the Irish squad with a personal best on the jerk.

Here’s Phil’s personal best performance on the 24kg Jerk:

Young Matt stole the show though.
He’s a young university exchange student over from the U.S.
He’s no stranger to training with kettles but had never done the sport. Kind of like someone who lifts barbells but has never done power lifting or weightlifting competition.
Matt was both the youngest and the lightest of the men lifting. He weighed in at 65kg and stood on the platform with a pair of 20kg bells
He put up 62 reps, at 68.7kg bodyweight. He followed this by snatching the 20kg bell for 105 reps.

It was awesome seeing this young man put his soul into those two 10 minute periods, stepping of the platform fit to collapse both times. I received several comments complementing his spirit and tenacity from other coaches.

Kettlebell sport is a test of a person’s mental endurance as much as it is about the physical demands.

If you think you have, or if you wish to find out if you have what it takes to survive in Kettlebell Sport, and in doing so wish to build a near bulletproof physique and “old man” strength, come see me.

There are several short 5min events being run around Ireland with the next major open event taking place in Kilkenny in July.

Dave :

A Physical Demonstration of Mental Fortitude

I often talk about mental strength on this blog.
It’s a topic that is important to me, after all what use is physical strength without the mind to back it up?
It’s one of the reasons why I enjoy working with the guys over at RehabCare HOPS, the mental health support group/charity. Seeing them progress in the self defence and fitness training I give them is awe inspiring.

But when it comes to the rest of us, what does mental strength look like?
Usually we hear about it in stories and adventures, people doing amazing feats like climbing Anapurna, running the Sahara etc, stuff we can’t really comprehend because it’s so far out of our point of reference.
But if you’re reading this blog then I’d say you’re a little familiar with lifting heavy things over your head. At least I’d hope so.

Over the weekend just passed I was down in Wexford at Mick Kelly’s gym Total Fitness Systems on the Westpoint industrial estate. I was down to support 6 of my athletes all of whom were taking part in the Cup of Ireland Kettlebell lifting competition.
While every lifter did an incredible job and I’m extremely proud of my guys for taking part, I want to show you the two sets performed by Phil Roche.


Because these clips sum up what mental fortitude is all about. Both videos are around 10 mins long, but if you wish skip to the last 4 mins of each. This is where those 24kg bells really start to feel very heavy.
Phil only weighs 71kg, this is his first competition lifting the 24’s, last year he was using 16kg bells. He’s been training with the 24’s for 14 weeks, prior to that he’d never lifted them.

If you watch the clips see how he wavers and almost quits but then that switch in his head flicks and he digs deeper, drops a gear and just goes for those final few reps. Reps that earned him not only a place on the Irish squad for international competition, but the respect of every person in the room.
Check it out:

1st, the Jerks, 73 of them:

Then the Snatch, all 130 reps:

Well done Phil, and thankyou for demonstrating what mental strength looks like.



Kettlebell Jerk Tutorial

Over the last few posts I’ve been talking about the Kettlebell Clean which for those in the world of Kettlebell Sport serves as a precursor to this, the kettlebell jerk.


What a fantastic lift.

It is one of my all time favourite lifts. In fact that gives me an idea for a future post, a top ten of my favourite kettlebell lifts……
Anyway before I go off on a tangent, lets look at the Jerk and it’s component parts.

First, what is a Jerk and how is it different to a press?

When I teach a kettlebell workshop, or if you follow my Workshop series, I have the Jerk as the last step in a continuum. The continuum opens with the “Hard Style” or high tension military press, then relaxes into a Push Press and the more relaxed and efficient military press techniques untill finally we get to the Jerk.

On one end of the continuum all the strength and power comes from the upper torso, particularly the upper chest, shoulder and triceps.
As we move along the continuum we are integrating more and more of the body, adding in more and more potential for force production and power, assuming of course all the links in the chain are working right.

If we take a strict press and say that 100% of the force is generated by the upper torso. We can say that a push press, with its added leg drive, spreads the load to maybe 50% upper and 50% lower body. The Jerk then is closer to 80% lower body with the arm and shoulder merely finishing the lift.

Good news then for beaten up idiots like myself who have recurring nagging injuries around the shoulders.
Good news also if you’re involved in any sport that requires the integration of the entire body to generate force to be expressed by the upper body (think throwing, punching, batting etc…)

So how does it work?
Well in the Level 3 Kettlebell manual where the Jerk is detailed it takes over 1500 words and 26 photographs over 6 pages to give the full overview. If you think I’m repeating all that here….well….

Level 3 Kettlebell Manual - Snatch & Jerk

So what I have done is made a video. In fact it’s two videos, part one is 10 minutes detailing the launch section of the Jerk, part 2 is another 10 minutes detailing the Lockout, drop and breath.

Yes, the Jerk is that technical.

But it is well worth the effort, especially if you’re a combat athlete or any athlete that requires full body coordinated strength and power.

So without further ado, here’s part 1:

And here’s part 2:

Using the Jerk in your training is highly dependent on your training goals. I love heavy jerks for multiple sets of low reps for power.
I also hate doing but really appreciate higher rep sets for the endurance factor. They’ll do more for your ability to hold a high guard and hit hard than any amount of push ups.

Precede each jerk with a clean and you’re now doing the best lift ever, the clean and jerk or “Long Cycle” as it’s known in the kettlebell world.
Long Cycle truly is a total body lift. The posterior chain does the Clean, the anterior chain does the Jerk while the heart and lungs pick up the slack.
One moderately weighted bell is all you need to smoke your cardio with Long cycle, one or a pair of heavier bells will develop strength and power of mind and spirit.

Or they’ll make you simply hate life.

Take your time with this, learn it slow, develop it, nurture it and it will reward you.