How To Do A Painless Kettlebell Snatch

A few weeks ago I asked what you guys needed help with in terms of your workouts… specifically kettlebells.

It was pretty much unanimous:

How Do I Do A Kettlebell Snatch?

Kettlebell Snatch Tutorial

Right after the swing, the snatch is the next move that people think of when dealing with kettlebells.

The problem? They aren’t easy to master and until you master them… They hurt.

The most common issue I see, and tell me if I’m wrong here, is flopping the kb over your wrist. It lands hard on the other side, but at least your arm is up to the sky, right? I thought about making a video to demonstrate, but to be honest the thought of purposely hurting myself did not sound like a good time.

Done properly, there is no reason the the kettlebell should land with a “Thud”.

That’s your first lesson… if it lands hard, you’re doing wrong. And that’s okay, we all have to learn. Trust me, it takes practice! Lots and lots of practice! And then more practice.

I’m a visual learner, so I’ve tried my best to break it all down for you in video. Listing out the dos and don’ts is one thing, but seeing them… that’s when it all clicks.

And trust me, it will click. When you perform that first snatch that doesn’t feel like a wrecking ball on your arm, you know it and you’ll put your kettlebell down (correctly) and proudly announce “OHHHH, that’s how you do it!”

For those of you completely new to kettlebells… let me introduce the snatch. It’s an entire body move that takes the kettlebell in one solid move from the ground (or swing) to overhead. Sounds easy right.

It just so happens to be my FAVORITE kettlebell exercise.

Let’s take a look at what it looks like:

How To Master The Snatch

A few things to stress before really breaking it down.

  1. You control the kettlebell. I know you want to just muscle it up and have the kettlebell flip over your hand at the top, but that would mean you’re letting the weight do the work. And that’s what gives you bruises. You’re in control. The kettlebell doesn’t go over your hand, but you push your hand around (or “through”) the kettlebell. <— Trust me, it will make sense in a minute.
  2. Don’t wear wrist guards. I purposely didn’t wear guards in the videos because I don’t want you to when you’re learning. I don’t want the pain of a flop to be covered up. I want you to experience the full repetition of the move so you know 100% if you did it right or not.
  3. Don’t go too light. Of course when you’re learning a move you want to naturally go lighter than what you can really use to get it down perfectly. And I do want you to go a tad bit lighter. But not much. Using a kettlebell that is too light can lead to imbalances and it’s far too easy to just toss it up… wrong. Don’t go too heavy either. For example, I normally use a 20-kg kettlebell for snatches, but if I were brand new or trying to show people, I go down to the 16-kg.
  4. Have fun with it. You’re going to want to get frustrated. It’s annoying to not be able to pick something new up immediately. But don’t. Realize that it takes practice and instead just have fun with it!

Okay, ready?

Step One

Step one… master the swing. But I’m going to skip over this. If you need help with your swing, make sure to check out this post. Do not begin working on moves like cleans and snatches until you’re swings are perfect.

Step Two

Step two… master high pulls.

Get this down and you’re so close to getting your full snatch. You want to get the elbow up nice and high as you pull the weight up. The kettlebell’s bottom pointing perpendicular to the wall in front of you. From there, use your muscles to push the kettlebell back out to continue into a swing. Then repeat.

Practice with it until you can successfully complete 25 reps per side without stopping.

Get that done and the next part is the snatch!

Step Three

Step three… go for it.

Your swing is good, your high pull is good, let’s add the snatch.

Here’s the full motion in slow motion so you can see each separate part:

From the high pull you’re simply going to “punch through” the kettlebell as you extend your arm up to the sky. That punch through, combined with grip is going to allow you to have complete control of the rotation as the kettlebell settles behind your hand. Not plopping on your forearm.

It’s the slight bend in your elbow at the top of your high pull that is key. Keep the elbow high like you practice, then drive the weight UP while you extend your arm.

I know that’s a lot to take in. But I promise, with practice, you’ll get it.

Again, I want to stress that I am assuming you have picked up a kettlebell before and have the basic moves down like swings and cleans. If so, awesome! If not, start there before getting into the snatch. Progression is key for safe training and since I’m not with you face to face, I want to make sure you follow protocol (sounds so formal). If you have a KB instructor around, have them watch your swing!

Or if you want, feel free to film yourself on Instagram and tag me (@FitnessTaylor)… I’ll be happy to look over your form and give pointers!

Sound good? Hope this helps! Happy Snatching!

Do you try to learn new exercises and skills or do you tend to stick with what you know?

Before kettlebells, I pretty much stuck to what I knew. Now, I love learning new moves!


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