Saturday, February 28, 2015

In my experience of training students and clients in preparation for not only mastering the 5 minute snatch test but actually understanding and perfecting their snatch technique in general I use a varied style of training that reinforces some of the major components in snatch technique. There are many ways to reach this goal of understanding and performing snatches well and of course mastering the 5 minute snatch test.

You see, many people do not understand that the snatch recruits the same powerful hip drive as the swings, the cleans, the high pulls. Many kettlebell enthusiasts actually treat it as a metcon movement rather than a strength movement. Many look at the snatch movement and think more about the use of the arm or upper body strength and do not utilize the lower body and hip drive as they should. When their bodies are linked together through proper positioning and muscle contraction correctly this movement becomes seamless. When the individual disconnects from the hip drive, disconnects the arm from the body on the hike pass, fails to pack the shoulder and straighten the rest at the top then they begin to move their body as a collection of parts instead of a solid contracted unit! This disconnect forces the individual to have to muscle up the bell by depending on upper body strength alone which in turn leaves them failing the snatch test and/or worse leading them to injury perhaps.

From that standpoint, I begin to drive home the importance of rooting through the floor with the feet. This is solid foundation from all kettlebell movements. After technique is in place for 2 Hand swings I take my students to very heavy two hand swings. This insures three main things: 1( A powerhip drive 2)Arm connection to the body in the hike passthink glueing the tricep to theinside of your legs or side of torso) 3) Stronger abs in the stand tall lock out position, knee caps pulled up etc. )

From there I progress to one arm swings. Working their way up to HEAVY 1 arm swings. And insuring that all swings are at chest height to begin with (chest height and finding the “float” of the bell is created by strong ab contraction and an explosive hip drive in a stand tall position. Once that is mastered I have them take that same heavy bell. Usually one up from the bell size they are trying to snatch test with and then perform  1 arm swings at eye level. The use of heavier I arm swings at eye level reinforces loading and driving with the hips, bracing of the abs and strengthening the whole base, so to speak.

Another drill I find extremely useful is to perform I arm swings with snatches like this:

Perform 3 one arm swings on the 4th hike pass snatch overhead. Perform left then right 5x then rest as needed perform 5 sets.

This kind of combination reinforces the fact that the hip hinge should look and feel the same regardless of whether the person is swinging or snatching.

I also use power cleans(Mark Reifkind introduced this some time ago, thanks Rif!) (single bell work)  from the floor. This kind of drill reinforces the proper load of the hips. It’s an excellent tool, by the way for improving hip loading in general and can be used with swings, high pulls, snatches.

In actual time spent training the snatch itself, I am very fond of doing ladder style snatch sessions.

This style of building volume with snatching not only allows for safety of the movement for the body, managing fatigue but also allows for safe hands with out trashing them. Because truth is, if the technique is off and you set out to do a high number of snatches you WILL end up with discomfort , torn hands or worse. That alone will compromise your form the more you try to train with trashed hands (or worse a trashed back or shoulder). So building volume slowly is the way to go. For example, your ladder might look like this to start:

L/R 7/7,6/6,5/5,4/4,3/3,2/2,1/1,. Rest as needed at the commas. When this can be done comfortably with little rest take it to ladders beginning with 10. I may actually use this as a finisher with my clients at the end of their normal training. I rarely have them snatch over and over again each session in preparation for the snatch test. Look at it like this, if you are going to run a marathon, you don’t TRAIN for it by RUNNING the MARATHON each time you train. Make sense?

So over the course of a few months I may only have them actually perform the 5 minute snatch test 2-3 times. That’s it!

In terms of completing the snatch test I have them perform it in ladder form like this 10/10,9/9,8/8,7/7,6/6,5/5,5/5. This is easy on the hands and easy neurologically. Because you are going down in number if FEELS more easily doable. I do have them get a base line of how long it takes for them to do this but after practicing these other movements and building adequate hip driven strength, and stronger lats and abs there usually is never a time factor to worry about.

Good luck and let me know if you need further advice.