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How to Do the Kettlebell Snatch - Technique, Muscles Worked and Benefits

by RitFit Sports 15 Mar 2023 0 Comments

You must have seen people in the gym, swinging their kettlebells effortlessly. This swinging action where you bring the kettlebell overhead and then back to the bottom is known as a kettlebell snatch. It is an advanced full-body workout that engages your entire body to build strength and endurance.

Performing this workout requires proper posture and adequate knowledge as it is a demanding lift. A slight mistake can lead to serious injury. This article will tell you everything you need to know about the kettlebell snatch including a step-by-step guide, the focused muscles, the benefits, and some frequent mistakes to avoid. So let’s dive right into it!

What is a Kettlebell Snatch?

What is a Kettlebell Snatch

Kettlebell snatch is a famous kettlebell lift that targets all the major muscle groups. A person swings the kettlebell in the air to reach a straight overhead position and then swings it back down.

It is a mixture of weightlifting and cardio. This makes it suitable for people with varied workout goals. Several sportsmen and martial artists also master the KB snatch as it develops power and improves body movements.

Kettlebell Snatch Form and Technique

How to Do a Kettlebell Snatch (Step by Step)

The snatch is a complicated exercise that requires full attention and knowledge. But yu don’t have to fess too much about it. Simply, follow the steps below to get started:

Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the kettlebell between your legs.

Step 2: Hinge the hips and flex the knees slightly to be in a bending position. And pull the weights up in the air

Step 3: Push the weight over the head while swinging it to hold it with the wrist. At that point, your body would be straight and the arm would be in the air without bending.

Step 4: Reverse the movement to bring the weights down. You will now be in a reset position to start the next rep.

Kettlebell Snatch Common Mistakes to Avoid

Keeping the Arms Straight

Unlike most exercises that require trainers to keep their arms straight throughout the session, the snatch requires you to bend it at a 90 degrees angle. Not bending the arms at the right time can lead to serious injury as this puts excessive and unnecessary pressure on the wrist and forearms.

The Grip is Too Tight

Kettlebell is heavy and that inclines weightlifters to hold them as tightly as possible so that it doesn't slip. This can get rough for your arms and slow you down. It is a good idea to first master the right grip and then start with the workout. Try to practice your hook grip until it feels natural.

Swinging Slow

Lifters often start with slow movement to build momentum. However, keeping the movement slow can hinder the smooth swing and act as a resisting force. Punch confidently and quickly to ensure the swing is perfect.

Holding Breath

People often hold their breath while doing this workout thinking that it is the right way to do it. There are three breaths per rep and doing so helps you manage the exercise better. Inhale and exhale at least once when the kettlebell is overhead and when you are in the starting position.

Kettlebell Snatch Muscles Worked

All the muscles worked with the KB snatch


KB snatch muscles worked Glutes

The glutes are a group of 3 muscles that makes up the buttocks. It is widely used in most weightlifting exercises. This variant of snatch also puts pressure on the glutes for efficient performance, especially when going down and swinging the weights.


KB snatch muscles worked The lower back muscles

Another major muscle group targeted by this exercise is the back muscles. Since they are the focal point of the exercise, your lower back becomes both strong and flexible as a result.


KB snatch muscles worked shoulders

The shoulder muscles are used to pull the weights up. These muscles are highly focused in a snatch workout and also help in stabilizing the weights when it is over the head.


KB snatch muscles worked Triceps

The triceps and wrist keep the weights closest to them and that’s why they are probably the most worked-out tissues in this exercise. The arms are engaged to keep the kettlebell in control.

Benefits of the Kettlebell Snatch

  • Cardiorespiratory fitness: The mix of lifting and cardio helps build cardiorespiratory fitness.
  • Improves stability and mobility: KB snatch requires balance and smooth movement that helps build overall stability.
  • Builds strength: It develops the ability to build force fast and quickly that in turn leads to the increased power of the lifter.

Kettlebell Snatch Variations

Double Kettlebell Snatch

The double snatch is a highly advanced exercise and doing it before practicing complete control over kettlebell movement is foolish. Since you have weights in both arms, this leaves zero room for error as consequences could be severe. The stance is similar to the regular snatch but the trainer holds both kettlebells between the legs. The motion resembles the conventional snatch as well. However, for effective performance, both hands should move at the same time.

Single Arm Kettlebell Snatch

Before moving to the double snatch, lifters perfect the single-arm snatch first. Regardless, this variant also requires a good understanding of the one-handed swing technique. Projecting force upwards is an important component of this full-body workout. According to a study published in the JSCR, this leads to improved cardiovascular and metabolic effects. 

Kettlebell Half Snatch

Half snatch is an excellent starting point for people who want to incorporate KB snatch into their workout routine. As the name suggests, it is an easier variant of the regular snatch which requires less power and control. The main difference between a half snatch and a regular snatch is that in the half snatch, the lifter does not swing the weights down in a smooth momentum. Rather they bring it down to shoulder height, also known as the rack position, and then swing it back down to initiate the next half snatch.

Kettlebell Split Snatch

The split snatch is another advanced variant that combines lifting with aerobics to offer a full-body workout. When performing a kettlebell split snatch, start with a regular stance and body position. Next, as you raise the kettlebell, thrust the leg that is holding the kettlebell forward and the other leg backward into a lunge position. Bend beneath the kettlebell by using hip flexion. Then hop back into the starting position as you smoothly return the kettlebell to the ground. Now start the next rep.

Safety and Precautions

This snatch exercise is pretty tempting, especially for beginners. You will also find people doing it and want to start doing it. But keep in mind that starting it without proper knowledge can lead to serious injury.

Learning the principles of this exercise as well as the appropriate stance and posture is the ideal point to start. Even then, start by performing it with lighter weights and under the supervision of a trainer. Performing the movements, without weights, in front of the mirror will help you improve the posture and movements.

Kettlebell Snatch Alternatives

Kettlebell High-Pull

Kettlebell Snatch Alternatives High-Pull

The alternative is for intermediate lifters that focus on similar muscle groups such as shoulders, quadriceps, and gluteus. It also requires a similar level of body coordination, making it a great alternative.

Barbell Hip Thrust

Kettlebell Snatch Alternatives Barbell Hip Thrust

Another alternative is barbell hip thrust. Even though it does not involve a swing, it helps in strengthening the glutes. It is also relatively simpler, making it an ideal alternative for beginners who have not yet built their fitness for a snatch or have smooth momentum.

Kettlebell Snatch FAQs

The snatch is a rather difficult exercise. So, you must only try it out after you have mastered other basic strength training routines. It is preferred by people wanting to increase power along with mobility.

It can be done by beginners, but only when a trainer is present to supervise them. Maintaining the proper posture is essential since the benefits depend on it.

Weightlifters do include snatches of some kind in their workout routine. It is an exercise that helps with body coordination while assisting in building muscle mass.

It is a good blend of cardio and strength training and that’s why it is preferred by people interested in either workout.

What Body Part Should I Focus on During a Kettlebell Snatch?

During a kettlebell snatch, you should focus on several body parts to perform the exercise correctly and safely. It images several major muscle groups as it requires coordination and balance. Following are the primary muscles you should work on:

  • Hips - Glutes generate power to lift the kettlebell and push it overhead. It should be further involved to maintain momentum for the swing.
  • Core Muscles - The abs and lower should be engaged the entire time as they balance the body and keep your position intact.
  • Legs - maintaining lower body balance is crucial in this workout and that’s why using your legs properly to stabilize is a major part of this workout.

Apart from these primary muscle groups, the KB snatch uses almost all other muscles and that’s why it is a head-to-toe workout.

How Often Should I Do Kettlebell Snatches?

The frequency of snatches depends on the goals and fitness level of the individual. Beginners should aim for one to two snatches per week and this should not be done on consecutive days. Experienced lifters should target three to four snatches per week. Regardless of your experience, adequate recovery time should be allowed for your body to rest and prevent injuries.

How Many Reps And Sets Should I Do For the Kettlebell Snatch?

The answer to this question depends on your workout goals and how experienced you are. 

  • Those who are looking for a cardio finisher should try to perform eight reps per side with light weights.
  • People who want to build body strength should do four to six reps per side with heavy weights.

Increasing the reps will not necessarily bring added benefits as it can lead to the breakdown of form and potential injury. Do only as many as you can do accurately.

You can perform three to six sets depending on the weights and workout goals.

  • If you are interested in a cardio workout and want to lift weights as part of it then you should do 3 sets of light weights.
  • Experienced people with a focus on weightlifting should do 3 to 4 sets of heavy weights.

The sets and reps are interdependent. So, balancing them is crucial. If at any point you think the workout is becoming too easy and you can do more than that, go for it.

How to Add the Kettlebell Snatch To My Routine?

Allowing one activity to take up your entire training routine is not a good idea. Be sure to mix the snatch with other cardio and strength-training exercises like the overhead press. Start by devoting a small portion of your routine to it, then gradually increase it as you feel the need.

How Do I Progress with the Kettlebell Snatch?

To progress with the KB snatch, allow yourself enough time to learn about it and practice without weights before starting.

  1. Learn the technique - start by first gaining knowledge about it and then practicing the stance and movements to master it.
  2. Decide weights - Start with light weights and gradually increase them depending on your performance levels.
  3. Increase the reps and sets - once the current frequency seems easy to achieve, increase it over time.
  4. Include variations - Try out different kettlebell snatch variations, such as one-arm snatch, double snatch, and split snatch.

To master the snatch and reach your fitness goals, you must make slow, consistent progress.


KB Snatch is a complex exercise you can look forward to in your workout routine for improved muscle mass, strength, and body coordination. This article involves everything you need to know about kettlebell snatch to do them right and get the most out of your efforts. Now all that is left to do is to finally begin doing it.

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