Monday, January 5, 2009

Kettlebell Snatch - Programming Obstacles

There are a lot of ways to Snatch.

When I say KB Snatch, I am probably talking about this:

When you find someone that does this better, ring me up. Until then, I am going to place a lot of weight in what Valery Fedorenko says.

I think that one of the most beneficial things about KB lifting, that most American practitioners probably never discover, is the incredible cardio benefits of doing 5 to 20 minute sets of swings, cleans, jerks and especially snatches.

One reason I suspect that no one gets to a level where they start to appreciate this are the many barriers to high repetition KB training. I see these as some of the worst:
1. Ignorance
2. Technique
3. Grip Endurance
4. Discipline
5. Quality Kettlebells
Given that most Americans excel at ignorance and fail in discipline, it's not a huge surprise. But then again, some of the best gireviks in the world (Iron Kate and Kelly Moore) are Americans. And Crossfitters. So we can't be that bone-headed, right?

Let's look at some of the pitfalls and see if we can't overcome them.

Ignorance: Most casual KB lifters never realize that the traditional way of using them was for max reps in extended time periods. They just are never told that for the last 50+ years, the measure of a man was how many straight snatches he could do with one hand switch in a ten minute period. And how could you win without going the whole ten minutes? That's right, the ticket price is lasting 10+ minutes folks. Until you can, you are not a serious KB athlete.

Technique: If you want to do more than about 15 or 20 reps, without giving yourself a contusion or ripping your hands to shreds, you're gonna have to have pretty good technique. That means a coach and regular practice.

Grip Endurance: Comes with time. Do 100+ snatches a day? Then you're grip is sure to improve. As anyone who has tried to close a Captains of Crush, tear a phone book or hold the Rolling Thunder knows, grip performance is highly specific. If you are not doing lots of swings, cleans and snatches, do not expect to be able to hold on to the handle for lots of swings, cleans and snatches.

Discipline: Is easy when you want it. Do you want to do 150 snatches in 10 minutes? All you got do is 15 snatches a minute for 10 minutes. It can be done. You just have to train smart and hard. Now will you? I can't really offer too many secrets there, except to say it's always easier to stay on course when you can tell you're headed in the right direction or when you're held accountable for getting there... that means coaching.

5. Quality Kettlebells: These don't have to cost a fortune, but if you've got a kettlestack, or some home-made contraption or a PowerMax from back in the day go ahead and just forget about 20+ snatches. You've seen my recommendations before. MuscleDriver is good value, AKC and RKC bells are top of the line.


Melissa Byers said...

This is something I have yet to put on my fitness radar, but at some point, I want to give the 10 minute test a go. My issues are going to be points 2 and 3. Luckily, I've got no issues with 4, which means I should be able to overcome, once I put my mind to it.

Jason M Struck said...

you already have the first step that I tool towards this:

the RKC prep program, cycling volumes daily.

James said...

Can you talk more about the correct grip? I have seen Scott Sonnon talk about this extensively. I have been working on my grip for a couple of weeks now. I can now hold the kettlebell with the thumb over the index finger and tuck the remaining three fingers under. This works great for double kettlebell jerks which I have added to my workouts in reps of five building up to 10 sets.

However for the snatch, the AKC technique has a roll over with the wrist that I am still working on. Any suggestions?

Jason M Struck said...

i am not sure what you mean by 'roll over', maybe the corkscrew?

but the grip... most gireviks leave the three fingers on the handle, just not exerting much force or they stick out straight, like a tea-cup grip.

these are all very specific questions. I hate to say it, but my best advice is seek out an AKC certified coach for these issues and train directly underneath them.

gtrgy888 said...

I've managed very well with the concentric portion of the lift, but no matter how I pitch, drop, throw, or catch the bell, it always seems to rip my palm as it descends. I assume more practice will remedy the problem, but it's annoying in the meantime to ruin my grip before I'm even tired.