Different Forms of Kettlebell Snatch Tests

Guest post for you today from new friend of mine and “physical culture renaissance man” Logan Christopher.


Different Forms of Kettlebell Snatch Tests

by Logan Christopher, co-host, June 15th  FVT Kettlebell Workshop


If you’ve been lifting kettlebells for awhile, it’s likely that you’re familiar with one form or another of the snatch test.

The kettlebell snatch is one of the premier kettlebell exercises. It’s tested in Girevoy Sport (GS)as one of the main lifts. It’s also one of my favorites.

Lots of beginners want to move into it quickly. But it is quite a bit more technical than the swing, which is it’s foundation. I recommend that you spend a few months of consistent work building your technique and foundation with the swing before moving onto the snatch.

That doesn’t mean you can’t practice the snatch. Far from it. But a good foundation should be in place before you pursue snatching at a higher level, which any form of the snatch test will do.

So let’s talk about different forms of the kettlebell snatch test.


GS Style

In GS you are allowed a single hand switch over a span of ten minutes and attempt to get as many reps as possible.

The limitation here will almost always be the grip and it becomes very technical as you work to spare the hands from the weight as much as possible. Because of this the technique is done in as relaxed of a manner as possible and is often quite slow, with time spend waiting in the lockout.

Great for a sport, but I don’t think it’s the best thing for the average person since its requirements are quite specific.


USSS Snatch Test (Multiple Hand Switches)

That stands for the United States Secret Service Snatch Test, as that’s how this form first came into popularity. I don’t know if many people call it that anymore, but it was a big thing when kettlebells first became popular.

In Pavel’s Enter the Kettlebell, its still one part of the Rite of Passage. For a man you need to work up to 200 reps in 10 minutes with a 24kg kettlebell.

The difference between this and the GS test is that multiple hand switches are allowed. You can even set the kettlebell down and rest. But once the clock starts it runs, and here again you go for 10 minutes.

Often times for people the hands will still be the weak point. But here the focus is more on speed and conditioning.

I made it my goal to break 300 reps on this which is almost as fast as possible the full time. Some people say I wasn’t locking out every rep so it doesn’t count, but no matter how you cut it, the endurance needed for this is crazy.


Higher or Lower Minutes

Just because the main time frame used is 10 minutes doesn’t mean you can’t change that up.

I will tell you a five minute test feels like nothing compared to ten. Those second five minutes are the really hard ones. This will make it less of a test of endurance and generally more of speed.

You can also go longer. I haven’t done this one much, as 10 minutes of the same thing is about the limit of what I want to concentrate on before I get bored. This of course would make it more of an endurance game and less one of speed.


Beast Snatch Test

The typical weight for men is 24kg. If you’re competing in GS men will have to work up to 32kg to compete at the elite levels. For women its usually a 12kg bell or something a little higher.

There is a version of the USSS Snatch Test done with the 32kg for guys. This is brutal. In the near future I plan to beat 200 reps in this. But lets take it even further.

Snatch tests are not typically done with heavier weights. But I want to change that and issue a challenge out to anyone reading this.

By heavy for men I mean 48kg aka The Beast. That is the heaviest kettlebell I own though, if you have heavier you can go for it too. For women I propose a 32kg kettlebell.

Once again the time frame is 10 minutes. Of course this will have to be built up to. (So will snatching the beast for most. I remember many years ago how happy I was when I snatched the beast for the first time ever.) This is done in multiple hand switch, and rest allowed, style.

Here is my first attempt at a 5 minute version of this test. I managed 34 reps in this time. My goal in the future is to break 100 reps in a 10 minute time frame so I have a little ways to go.

For this I propose some small changes to how snatches are usually done. Since the weight is quite a bit heavier you’ll likely end up with some dip at the lockout, especially in later reps. This is fine, as long as it gets locked out overhead, and you stand up fully with it.

Secondly, because it’s a heavy weight, and the potential for injury is higher, as the weight can pull you out of place, instead of bringing it all the way done from the top, the kettlebell can be lowered to the shoulder, swung down and then snatched again. You’ll have to figure out the pacing that works for you best on this one as it will certainly be different than the other kettlebells.

Forest and I will be holding a Beginner and Advanced Kettlebell Training Workshop coming up on June 15th in Sacramento. Its your chance to build up the foundation you need to move onto advanced training like this. Limited spots are available.

Logan Christopher has been called a physical culture renaissance man for his wide range of abilities in strength and fitness. One of his specialities is kettlebells in doing the snatch, and his favorite, kettlebell juggling. But that’s only a small part of what he does which includes bodyweight training, heavy lifting and feats of strength. Check out Legendary Strength for more ideas and signup to receive 5 special reports as your free gift.

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