While the kettlebell swing is the workhorse of kettlebell training, the snatch is definitely the king.
Multiple studies have shown that for cardiovascular capacity, the kettlebell snatch is the big boy on the block. Nothing really compares with it, especially in the kettlebell world.
Unfortunately, it’s also a very technical movement. While it’s easier to learn than a barbell snatch such as they do at the Olympics, it’s still not exactly a “Day One” movement.
But why am I spending the next little while focused on the kettlebell snatch above all other movements?
Well, the conditioning element, for one.
Let’s be honest, the conditioning element is a big one. If you can burn that many calories in one shot, why the hell wouldn’t you?
Especially when you consider the Max VO2 benefits involved.
The truth is that nothing is going to condition you like the snatch. After all, when a study argues the only thing remotely close to it as far as exercise goes is to cross-country ski uphill, who am I to disagree?
But the truth is that conditioning with a kettlebell can be done pretty much anywhere you’ve got enough space for the arc and backswing of the kettlebell. This is great if you’re not always in a position to go for a run or hit the rowing machine at the gym.
There’s also the strength element.
The kettlebell snatch isn’t just a conditioning movement. It’s also a strength-building movement as well. Since it starts from a swing, it also is going to have a lot of those benefits, particularly with regard to the glutes, abs, obliques, and back.
However, part of the snatch also involves a high row-like movement, which will engage the lats and posterior deltoids. Then you thrust your hand upward with the weight, which may utilize some of the anterior and lateral deltoids (though this is probably minimal due to various factors to be discussed another time).
Like any lift, the heavier, the better for strength benefits.
I shouldn’t have to tell you all that much about why resistance training is good for you. It is. More importantly, though, you know it.
But if you can train strength and conditioning at one time, why the hell wouldn’t you? With the kettlebell snatch, you get to do a bit of both.
It builds power.
Strength and power are often thought of as being the same thing, but they’re not.
Power is basically the ability to use strength quickly.
Despite the name, powerlifting doesn’t really require power. You can take forever to complete your squat so long as the bar keeps moving upward. It’s about strength, not power.
But Olympic weightlifting is about power. You take a heavy weight and you move it as quickly as possible. Power is the key in most sports. It’s also a key in being able to keep your butt safe from harm.
Yet Olympic weightlifting isn’t easy and few places have people who are competent to teach these lifts to you. Many gyms don’t have trainers who know them, nor do they have the appropriate weights or space for you to use. The exception is CrossFit, but not everyone wants to go to a CrossFit box to train.
But doing the kettlebell snatch lets you build that power in a much more accessible way.
It also provides an important lift to your arsenal of options.
There are a lot of movements available to the kettlebell practitioner, but that only applies if you know how to do them. Doing the snatch will make any other lift seem ridiculously easy.
While the same could be said about barbell snatches, the difference here is that you can actually practice and learn how to do a kettlebell snatch at home after watching a few videos on YouTube.
In fact, the kettlebell snatch is a great option even for people don’t really do much in the way of kettlebell training, simply because it’s an Olympic-style lift that can be learned on one’s own if need be.
Plus, once you can do the snatch, there’s not a whole lot out there left for you to learn, except maybe the jerk.
I’m spending a lot of time on the snatch going forward. I’m not afraid to admit it.
For now, I’m doing swings with the 24 kg kettlebell to keep my conditioning and core strength high while also doing the military press to keep my pressing good to go.
But I spend part of my time between sets working on the kettlebell snatch. There are just too many good reasons to do so and absolutely no reason I can fathom not to.