The ONE Kettlebell Exercise You Should Master

kettlebell exercisesIt’s back-to-school day here in Toronto.  As I write this, I’m thinking about all the scheduling changes that we’ve had to make as a family as the kids start to get back into “school” mode.  The changes won’t be as crazy as some families as my kids are home-schooled.  This gives my wife and me some flexibility in terms of what we can do throughout the day with the kids and takes away a lot of the stress of pick-up, drop-off, school buses, etc.

In addition to the schedule changes with school, I’ve had to make a few changes in my daily workout routines to accommodate the kids schedule.  With them home during the day, I can afford to spend some time with them earlier in the day twice per week where I come home early and crack open a book with each one of them to read for 30-minutes or so.  Remember, I’ve got 5 kids with my 4 youngest at home (my oldest is at a special school that doesn’t require her to be at school – wish I had one of those when I was young!), so that’s 4 x 30 minutes = 2 hours of reading time before I start to make dinner.

As a result, I’m back in the gym 4 days per week and for at least the next 3 months I’ll be combining the BEST Barbell Exercises with the BEST Kettlebell Exercises.

=>Pick up the best Kettlebell Fat Loss Program with the best kettlebell exercises HERE

A year ago, I bought Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 Program and absolutely LOVED the simplicity of it.  Jim’s No B.S. writing really dares you to take a look in the mirror  and to stop making excuses.  5-3-1 is about getting strong and being smart about it.  No high-volume bodybuilding workouts.  His philosophy is about Getting in, doing your work, and getting out.

=>Read more about 5-3-1 by Jim Wendler HERE (this is NOT an affiliate link)

I’ve modified 5-3-1 slightly to accomodate for more kettlebell training by eliminating the bench press day and adding a Get-Up Day to start my week off.  I’ll be training 4 days per week and it will look something like this…

Sunday – Get-Ups, Chin-Ups, High-Rep Snatches
Monday – 5-3-1 Squat, Chin-Ups & Dips, Prowler Pushes
Tuesday – OFF (home early to read to the kids)
Wednesday – 5-3-1 Military Press, Chin-Ups, High-Rep Snatches
Thursday – OFF (home early again)
Friday –  5-3-1 Deadlift, Chin-Ups & Dips, Prowler Pushes
Saturday – OFF (Family Day)

You’ll notice that I’m doing a lot of chin-ups.  I’ll explain that in a separate article, but the gist of me doing them so much is just because I’m not as good at Chin-Ups as I used to be.

Practice, practice, practice.

I also don’t have a single-leg exercise in there mainly because I think pushing the Prowler will account for a lot of functional, unilateral work.

Another exercise that I’m doing a lot of are kettlebell snatches.  And when I write “High-Rep Snatches”, I mean I’m doing a lot of them.  I’ll be using them as a conditioning element at the end of my “Upper Body” day (if you even want to call it that).

Snatches have turned into my favorite kettlebell exercise mainly because they’re, well, perfect.

Perfect in the sense that snatches work everything.

When I do the VO2 Max protocol outlined in the Viking Warrior Conditioning, my heart rate gets elevated, my grip gets smoked, I get pulled into perfect posture, I explosively contract my hips to get the bell up, my shoulders get pumped, my glutes get tight (in a good way), I gain some dynamic flexibility in my hamstrings and I feel like I can jump out of the gym.

Performing snatches on a regular basis as kept me lean & athletic and has allowed me to keep up with my kids (and high-performance 20 year olds) all summer.  I know this because I’ve been doing little to no cardio or conditioning for the past 3 months other than my high-rep snatches.

The downside to snatches is that they are difficult to master.

Initially, they may cause you wrist pain, tear up your hands, and be very frustrating to understand.  Hopefully in video below, I can show you some quick tricks on how to master this PERFECT exercise…

Once you’re able to find your own groove with the snatch, you’ll be addicted.

It does take a lot of practice and patience to master and even with mine, there are still a few tweaks with technique that I can clean up to make them more fluid and athletic.

Nonetheless, I’ve eliminated the wrist pain, lost a few inches around my waist and feel more “in-shape”.

Start doing snatches.

It is the perfect kettlebell exercise.

Chris Lopez, RKC



  • Reply September 6, 2011

    Tim R

    Great to see a reference to powerlifting -Wendler is quite popular in the Crossfit community as is Rippetoe (Starting Strength – SS). In fact, I’d suggest SS as the start point for any novices as you don’t need to test your true 1 RM to get a starting number for your lifts.

    Good luck with the training program – how long will you run this?

  • Reply September 6, 2011


    The 5-3-1 is a great way to train some compact strength. I am just looking at your snatch video and I know you follow the RKC philosophy which is fine but very much flawed when it come to high rep training. I used to do RKC style snatches and destroy my hands, grip and forearms on a regular basis but once I switch for a more GS style I found my performance, strength and endurance sky rocketed and the injuries and tears decreased drastically. Any particular reason you keep up the RKC style snatch?

  • Reply September 11, 2011


    I’ve always wondered with kettle bells is it better to do reps to failure and do a circuit through your exercises or do it in the traditional way that you would with normal dumbbells… i.e. 3 sets of 10 reps for each exercise?

  • Reply September 20, 2011


    Question for Chris and MikeB -how do you each define “high rep”? Exactly what numbers are we talking?

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