December 28, 2011
January 1, 2012

Apparently there were some raw hands after Thursday’s class? I honestly can’t imagine why – I mean, it was ONLY 25min of KB snatch progression practice followed by 8 minutes worth of AMRAP KB snatch…oh, and I guess we can include the additional 4 total minutes of games-style push-ups.

 In all seriousness, the goal was to avoid the quads for a bit in a week of front squats, clusters, snatches, and, for those of you working out today, heavy back squats. Instead, we took a good portion of class to review the KB snatch before letting people loose on a KB snatch based workout.

KB Snatch

The above progression is taken from a Russian KB web page, and you can clearly see the KB rotating around the outside of the wrist as the model brings the KB down from the overhead position into the swing, and then repeats the same rotation in reverse as he swings the KB back overhead.
 A few important points when performing the KB snatch:

  • Remember, the KB Snatch is an entirely different movement from the DB Snatch or Barbell Snatch;
  • Grip the KB slightly off center, with the thumb side closer to the inside of the horn (i.e., towards the side of the handle); 
  • Use your hips to start generating force, just as you would a KB swing; 
  • As the KB travels upward, rotate the hand so the thumb points towards the ceiling; 
  • Allow the KB to rotate around the outside of your forearm and finish off by pressing the weight up and into the overhead position; 
  • At lockout, palm is facing forward (hand can be open), and the wrist and elbow are straight; 
  • On descent, the KB should follow the same path down, rotating outside the arm; 
  • As shown:

  • The goal in rotating the KB around the wrist is to avoid bringing the KB straight up and over the top of your hand so that it flops against the top of your forearm! This is a recipe for injury:

NOTE: there is an alternative method which involves taking the KB straight up and punching through so that the KB doesn’t flop against the wrist. When executed properly, this can be effective, but sadly, it’s rare to see it executed properly, and most end up simply banging the ever-living-sh!t out their wrists as pictured above. We teach the rotating method because we believe it to not only be friendlier to the body, but just as efficient, if not more so. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

KB Snatch Progression Review

To help everyone grasp the KB snatch as discussed above, we used the following progression to step everyone through the movement Thursday night:

  • 1 x 15 x 2-handed swings;
  • 1 x 10 x 1-handed swings/arm;
  • 2 x 5 x 1-handed swings with a pull at the top/arm;
  • 1 x 5 x top-down rotations into 1-handed swing (to execute, press the KB overhead in one hand, and then lower the KB in a smooth motion by pulling the elbow across the chest and allow the KB to roll around the forearm and into a 1-handed swing);  AND, finally,
  • 1 x 5 KB snatches/arm (reversing the same rolling motion used for the descent in order to get the KB overhead on the snatch)

4 x 
1′ AMRAP KB Snatch (Weak Side); 
1′ AMRAP KB Snatch (Strong Side); 
1′ HR Push-Ups; 
2′ Rest 

 KB snatches can be tricky, and throwing technical movements like this into a workout isn’t an all the time thing. However, sometimes, it can actually help to reinforce a movement pattern, so long as the rest of the workout isn’t overly complicated or daunting. Thus, the KB snatches were paired with games-style, hand-release push-ups.

For the workout, the KB Snatches were scaled to 1-handed swings to allow athletes to concentrate on using the hips to generate momentum while keeping the shoulders pulled back and down to avoid rounding. Scoring was done Tabata-style, taking the lowest number of KB Snatches achieved with either arm (so, most likely, athletes were limited to numbers produced by their weak arm) and lowers number of push-ups. 

It was awesome to see those new to the KB snatch start to get the hang of things as the workout carried on. Remember, it’s still about the hips: don’t get so caught up in the rotation that you forget to start moving the KB with the hip pop. Also, be mindful of your back position, as it’s easy to allow the shoulder to pull forward as you swing the KB through your legs, rounding out the back.

Sebastian showing some great form on the swing through. 

 REMINDER: There will be class this Sunday (both a 9AM intro/Elements class and a regular 10AM class). I would encourage all of you to dedicate yourself to coming Sunday morning, which will hopefully keep everyone smart Saturday night. Of course, if we don’t see you Sunday, Happy New Year!



  1. Julia says:

    Tough skill, good practice, great class, thanks guys!

  2. Steph says:

    Saw some big improvements in kb work last night, whether it was sticking to single arm swings or doing the snatches. Great job everyone. It looked like a rough one.

    I attempted to do class but the back tightened up really quickly after the first 2 rounds of swings.

    Chris is coaching tonight and I’ll be there at 6. Feel free to join me!

    Really looking forward to Sunday. Happy New Year to the people that are going to be sleeping off the booze!

  3. Steph says:

    Oh, this is the last blog entry of the year!

    Thank you Chris for taking over the blog this year and providing entries that are always informative and entertaining. Looking forward to another year of great reads!

  4. SaltyHat says:

    I swear I didn’t pay for that shameless bit of promotion. Honest.

  5. SBV says:

    Thursday’s class was a nice complement to Tuesday’s lower body beatdown. I feel fortunate to have learned kettlebell snatch technique from Tom many moons ago at City Fitness. I concerned myself last night with maintaining a pace that would allow me to keep the bell in hand for the entire minute. That proved to be too difficult toward the end of the last few rounds, but I’m happy with my effort.

    Push-ups (and other pressing endurance movements) continue to be my goat. But, I’m working really hard by practicing lots of dips and handstand push-ups outside of class, and hoping for a breakthrough in the near future.

    So, what’s the New Year’s workout going to be? My first guess was 1 RM deadlift, but that’s probably not satisfying enough for most people. “Murph” is always a possibility, but I don’t think we have enough pull-up bars at Balance to pull it off. “Cindy” and “Helen” present the same issue. Therefore, I’m predicting “Fran.” Although there’s pull-ups in “Fran,” the time is sufficiently short that we can run through heats. That’s my prediction . . .

  6. Sara says:

    I worked with a 16kg kettlebell and I know I was a bit off with this workout. It took at least the first round for me to get a rythym going with my left (weak) hand. I also made sure to take many rests as I am still recovering from an overload of high volume gripping exercises. I had 12 snatches/arm and 12 push-ups through each round. Numbers aren’t great but they were definitely consistent.

    Although I don’t flop the kettlebell and bang the shit out of my wrists, I always still end up with non-visible bruises on my forearms from KB Snatches.

    Erica – I hope your hands are doing better.

  7. edgy reggie says:

    I thought the blog title would read something like “Swinging into 2012,” “Last Chance to Snatch 2011.” or some variation of that. 🙂

    This was a great class because I haven’t performed kettlebell snatches in a while.

    I used a 45# (~20 kg) kettlebell for the workout. My kettlebell snatch and push-up rounds were 18/25, 18/20, 15/20, and 15/17. Needless to say, my forearms were burning post-workout.

    I do need to remind myself to (a) fully extend my arm on the “pressing” portion of the KB snatch, (b) keep my arm close to my ear (or head), and (c) not drop my shoulder on the kettlebell’s descent.

    After class, I hopped in my vehicle and went to Winnie’s Iyengar yoga class. My shoulders were already taxed from CrossFit. Guess what we worked on in yoga? 🙂 My handstands, headstands, and “wheels” sucked.

    I would like to echo the earlier comment about Chris’ informative and entertaining blog posts. Thanks for all of the hard work, Coach Salty. Never apologize for lengthy blog entries; sometimes, being informative requires long explanations. 🙂

    @SBV: I predict “Lumberjack” (but I bet that I am wrong).

    On to 2012…

  8. TomandAmi says:

    Missed class but kudos as well to Chriss on the blog formatting and posts, It would be great if going to would take one directly to the site rather then having to go through blogspot.

  9. Tom Brose says:

    I also want to echo the comments on Chris’ writing. We’re getting a ton of info on here turning this into a valuable resource as well as virtual community.

    The KB Snatch is a tough one for many to master. The key is not to apply more force, but learn how to relax while working at a high output. Efficiency of movement and controlling the breath will get you farther than just gutting it out.

    Predicting what were going to do Sunday is tough. Do we change if you guess right? Go with all of them? Don’t worry (or do), we have a plan!

    Tom, were hoping to have the website revised and linked to the blog in early ’12. Great suggestion.

  10. Erica says:

    My hands were killing me last night in the snatches, used the 12kg for e drills and 8 I think for the metcon. I hit 23 snatches and 17-20 pushups (unmodified).

    What does “be smart on Saturday night” mean exactly? Either way, the plan be there Sunday morning. Amazing blogposts Chris, great coaching Tom and Chris (and everyone else who helps), and all around thanks to the CFDC family for making 2011 th year of Crosfit in our house 🙂 I’m so excited for the year ahead.

  11. Ben says:

    Great workout on Thursday! Thank you Tom and Chris for a great year of Crossfit! Kinda concerned about class on Sunday after reading the prediction from SBV……Fran!? Can I just get sick now and call it a day?

  12. Dian says:

    A last minute babysitting request meant I missed the fun on Thursday. Looking forward to working on this skill.

    I would like to add my thank you to Chris for his excellent work on the blog. I look forward to each new post. When I was in London, I checked for the blog update before checking the news or heck, even my email. Your hardwork on the blog is appreciated Chris.

    Thank you Tom and Chris for the amazing coaching this year. I really appreciate how much work you obviously put into planning each class and how you keep classes moving along even when there are a heck of a lot of folks to manage. Well done!

    I’m ready for whatever you got planned tomorrow. My smart Saturday night includes the Twillight Zone marathon on the SciFi channel (I live a wild life I know).

    See y’all tomorrow. I have about 20lbs of gingerbread and brioche to work off.