Kettlebell Snatch Tutorial part V – Foot Position & Bell Flightpath

Not how you do it.

Not how you do it.

Welcome to part 5 of the Snatch Tutorial series.
In case you missed them, here are Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 and Part 4

In this episode we discuss two things, the path along which the bell will travel and also the addition of footwork to the lift.

The bell path has already been touched on with some of the drills in previous tutorials. By using the wall to restrict movement and also by swapping hands, we have had to adjust the path of the bell. But there’s still more to it.

Each lifter has a different body shape and history of training and injury. They also have differing training needs and goals. So with that in mind the Snatch is open to a fair degree of personalisation.

Some call these personalisations “Styles”

I tends to stay away from the whole styles debate, instead looking at the solid principles behind a lift. Once these are understood, you can add in whatever you need to make the lift fit your needs better.

For example, the changes in stance and flight path here give the lifter a very different feel to the snatch.

When a lifter initially learns to snatch they are taught to have the bell travel in a near vertical path, but it is clear from looking at the end position, this is not the most efficient track. For the bell to travel vertically would mean for it to finish directly overhead. This is not possible.
So there is a diagonal element to its flight, from below the groin to its terminus over the shoulder.
If we stagger our stance slightly we can make further use of this path by creating space for the bell to continue on its diagonal track unobstructed by the off side leg.
This also spreads the load away from the often problematic sacro-illiac joint taking it deeper into the rearmost glute. The angled hip also allows for a greater whip from the waist during the acceleration phase of the lift.

Have a look at this video clip as it discusses the stance work and bell path.

Now these techniques are best suited for competent lifters, spend time reviewing the basics as discussed in the first part of this series. And if you like these posts on Kettlebell Technique, please have a look at the Kettlebell Manuals available by clicking on the image below:

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Dave Hedges

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Kettlebell Snatch Tutorial part III – The Drop

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

Anton Anasenko, possibly the best pound for pound lifter in history begins the drop

Anton Anasenko, possibly the best pound for pound lifter in history begins the drop, he recently put up 207 reps in 10 minutes with 32kgs at a bodyweight of 85kg, and that’s with only 1 hand change

So we’ve covered the basic technique and gone into detail on the hand insertion. The next big stumbling block for most people is the drop.
This segment is often overlooked, it’s the non glamorous side of the lift. Everyone gasps in awe as you effortless throw that weight overhead, but few care about how you put it down again.
If you’re an Olympic Weightlifter, that’s fine as the weight is simply dropped to the floor after setting their one rep max. Kettles are different though, it’s not about lifting it once and going for a little sit down, no it’s about lifting it over and over. It’s about power endurance, work capacity and being able to demonstrate strength, stamina and staying power.

And for this to happen, efficiency is key.

Once we’ve snatched and locked out our kettle, we are now thinking about our next rep. To get this rep efficiently we have to control the descent of the bell so as to conserve energy and get the bell into the optimal position to relaunch it.

It’s where a huge amount of lifters fail.

To get the most out of the snatch as both a training drill and a competition lift, we must understand one key idea:

We must counterbalance the weight of the bell with something and that something is our head.

This is some thing I’ll go into more detail on in next weeks instalment, but for now I just need you keep in mind the importance of moving the head to counter the bell and keel the body balanced.

The very first thing a lifter will do in order to initiate the drop will be lean the head and torso back while they bring their elbow in towards their midline. Check out the image of Anton Anasenko above to see this in action, and I don’t care what school of lifting you come from, but anyone who can put up 207 reps with a 32kg in 10 minutes, while only changing hands once, has to be someone you can learn from.

So if your aim to get as many reps as possible, as quickly as possible, then you must not ignore this step.

By leaning the head and torso back you will be able to:

1 – reduce the height the bell must fall
2 – bring the bell into a position where it has the most efficient line to swing through the legs
3 – bring the upper arm closer to the torso so that the body can start decelerating the bell as early as possible.

All in all, we get a more efficient drop that is smoother and less taxing on grip, back and shoulder and therefore allows us to work faster for longer, or with more weight.

The video presentation here shows all that as well as some of the correctional drills we use to tidy up the drop.

Have a watch:

If you’re enjoying this series, don’t forget to grab yourself a copy of the Level 3 manual covering the Jerk & Snatch lifts in high detail:

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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 :