Tuesday, January 6, 2009

High Rep Snatch - First Steps

If we decide that none of the aforementioned obstacles are going to stop you; ie you've secured a coach, a good kettlebell, practice time and a goal, where should you begin?

No one wants to hear this, but with the swing. Maybe the press.

You need two highly developed skills:
The ability to do A LOT of one handed swings
The ability to press a moderate weight for moderate reps, and to comfortably hold it overhead in the lock out position

The one handed swing is essential for several reasons, not the least of which is that the grip is specific to later work with the clean and snatch. Additionally, any swing variation will aid in the development of the anaerobic endurance necessary for your 10 minute set. You get to practice the specific posture and specific source of power (fast extension of the hips) relevant to the clean and snatch.
The goal with the one handed swing should be to mimic or exceed the reps that are currently being developed in the GS snatch, but NOT the time. If you can do 20 reps on each hand in the snatch, you should strive to complete 30 on each hand with the swing. This, like the 40 snatches, would be a max effort. You don't normally do max efforts in regular training. You do 3 sets at 75% or something like that. So a sensible training plan for our example might be 4-5 sets of 12-15 reps(on each hand) of the snatch, and the 2-3 sets of 22(each hand) of the one hand swing.

For the press, you should begin working with the snatch weight as early as possible. For men, that means 24kgs and 32kgs. You need to be able to complete 4-8 reps with these weights in order to comfortably lock them out for 20+ reps on each arm.

Work on these two elements first as you refine your technique. As your snatch gets better, and you get stronger on these two lifts, your snatch reps will go up very fast. You will not need to do anything special beyond this to get to the 'intermediate' level, where you are completing 12+ reps on each hand with a serious weight (16kg for women, 24kg for men). These numbers will vary some by bodyweight and overall size and strength.

When I began training for the RKC certification a few years ago, I realized I had to complete 24 reps on each hand without stopping. A straight set of 48 reps. With the 24kgs bell. This was the rep total assigned to someone that weighed 160lbs or less. Not having trained high rep snatches before this point (2006) I was sure that it was impossible. I found it easy enough to achieve about 10 reps, especially on my good arm. After that I was stuck. It was at that point that an RKC from Australia came to my aid. He forwarded to me an excel program that trained the snatch 3 times a week, always with the 24kg bell, simply periodizing the volumes. It took me from 10 reps to about 27 reps in about 6 weeks.
My second big break through was reading the AKC materials for the first time. Valery was obviously well versed in how to do long sets of snatches, cleans and jerks, and so I gave it a try. While I credit Valery (his systems) it was actually Catherine Imes who exposed me to the programs. With this info, I started doing sets of 40-50 reps on each hand with the 16-20 Kg bell 3-5 times a week. 1-3 sets of 80-120 reps, 2-3 times a week. At least 500 snatches a week. In order to do so, you'll need a quality bell. If price is no object, the RKC bell is a good general product. The AKC bells are competition bells, and the MuscleDriverUSA bells are cheap versions of the RKC.

We'll look at both of these basic concepts in the coming days.


James said...

The 2009 RKC requirements have changed.

"An RKC candidate is required to put up the number of reps matching his or her weight in kilograms, up to 100 repetitions."

So, if you weigh 160lbs or 72.7kgs you would need to complete 72 reps with a 24kg kettlebell.

Herman said...

In RKC we teach the snatch after the high pull. This is the way to the snatch not a swing.