Yesterday marked Day 1 of a new program for me. These days, I've been cycling my programs in 6 week phases to make sure that I “master” the exercises that I'm doing, and so every time I start a new program, I get really excited.
One of the elements of this phase's program that I'm excited to start again are High Rep Snatches.
I've noticed that when training using high-rep snatches – both for myself and my clients – that in addition to grip strength and upper back strength improving, fat loss results go through the roof. This is why I recommend training for higher reps every now and then to break things up and to really initiate a change in your physique.
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It's been a while since I've done the RKC Snatch Test. For those of you new to the blog, the RKC Snatch Test is one of those Rite Of Passage evaluations that you have to go through in order to be certified with the very prestigious RKC Governing Body of Kettlebell Instructors.
It involves snatching a 24kg kettlebell 100 times within a 5 minute period. A tough practice for anybody who attempts it and an incredible workout in itself.
Training for the snatch test, for me, involved really building up the work capacity for a couple of months and refining my technique to make the snatch look more athletic and fluid.
Having practiced the snatch for a few years now, one of the things that I've noticed is how my technique improves the longer I am into my set.
After a lot of deliberation, I'm pretty sure I understand why and I can almost guarantee that if you pay attention to your technique, you'll notice that it will improve during the later periods of your set as well.
The reason is because the snatch is a movement that should be dominated by the hips (the powerful thrust that comes from driving your glutes and hamstrings).
The problem is that with a lot of kettlebell practitioners, the initial tendency at the beginning of a set of high rep snatches is to really use your arm to “pull” the weight up.
As your set continues, your arm begins to fatigue and your body tries to find ways to get your kettlebell overhead because “muscling” the bell up with your already fatigued arm is becoming more and more difficult.
The result is a more powerful hip thrust where you are creating a greater float in the bell and thus only guiding the kettlebell up to the overhead postion with your arm.
This creates a more esthetically pleasing snatch where your hips are the prime movers (as they should be) and your arm acts in a secondary role.
This completely explains why technique improves with fatigue when it comes to the snatch. Your body has no other choice but to use the correct muscles – the bigger, stronger and more dominant hip prime movers – to perform the exercise leaving the guiding muscles – your arm – to do its job of just guiding the bell up.
One of the tricks I suggest you do to improve your snatch technique is to practice your snatches with your weaker arm and take notice of how much your hips come into play when “pulling” the bell isn't so easy. Ideally, this would be how the natural flow of the snatch should feel like.
In the end, to master your technique, you really need to simply just pay attention and be aware. It's almost a Zen-like approach where being present and constantly just being in the moment when you're training can lead to breakthroughs in your kettlebell practice.
Try it and see if the same happens for you.
Chris Lopez, RKC
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