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Perfecting the Kettlebell Snatch with Amanda Bauer

How To Train for and Pass the SFG Kettlebell Snatch Test

amanda bauer breathing exercise form kettlebell strongfirst Jun 20, 2023

Take control of this dynamic endurance move to build strength and confidence.


“You looked like a metronome!”


After successfully completing my first Strongfirst Snatch test, those were the words Annie Forest used to describe my attempt. She was right, I was a metronome. Everything was clockwork and I completed the effort exactly how I had planned it. Double sharp exhale of breath for each snatch and a strong in-breath and brace.  12 right. 12 left. 2 slow breaths for a short break. Repeat 4 times and perform the 4 last snatches with a smile.


Rule #1 for the Kettlebell Snatch: Perfect Your Form & Breathing

The snatch test is often referred to with a loud groan and a heart flutter- but I promise, this does not have to be the case! The kettlebell snatch test is an endurance exercise- it just so happens you get to do that with the best lift ever. So first things first- Perfect. Your. Form. 

  • Snatch with your hips not your shoulders
  • Reach through at 11:00
  • Goose neck down
  • Protect your calluses 
  • Practice the double exhale and full in-breath during the lift.  


Let’s talk form first- The snatch is *not* a swing that ends up overhead. It is a clean that ends up overhead. Your pull down is as important as the overhead component. Let gravity take the bell and your hips guide that movement. Too much energy in the pull down will cost you over the course of the 100 repetitions.


1. How to Practice Your Kettlebell Pull Downs 

  • Every time you park the bell after every lift you do, practice a “drop” from the rack with a deep hinge. 
  • “Pour” out the bell, keeping your thumb closest to your chest, Palm down, not palm up!
  • Park soft and silent


Second, tame the arc. An excessive arc will slam on your wrists and add more strain to the shoulders than necessary. Remember, endurance work is about doing more with less and conserving energy. I like to practice this in front of a cement wall. I’m joking. Please don’t do that. 


2. Always Tame Your Arc - Protect Your Wrists! 

  • Drape a towel over a pull up bar, or even better a tall tree branch because kettlebells are mobile and you can practice outside. Get close to the towel and practice your snatches, but don’t touch the towel! 
  • Catch the kettlebell at an 11:00 position. Your arm is not fully overhead at this moment- however, your body is in plank position and catching the bell here will prevent that nasty forearm slam. After you catch the bell here, pull yourself into your final overhead position.
  • Focus on increasing overhead mobility during lighter training sessions. Thoracic glides, thread the needle, lat pull overs etc…




3. Practice the double exhale and full braced inhale

This will allow you to get more air in during the hinge as well as expel more C02 during the Snatch test. 

  • Inhale and brace as you hinge, exhale once and sharp when the hips extend and the bell is about your hip height. This will help propel the bell up and is also your bio-mechanical breathing match.
  • Exhale a second time as you pull the bell into a momentary stillness overhead. 
  • Pull down and inhale deeply while keeping tension in your core. 
  • During rest periods with the bell parked, exhale completely and fully, encouraging  your heart rate to slightly lower. 
  • Incorporate breathwork into *every* training session. 


High competency in creating a steady breathing rhythm and pattern allows the rest of your body to follow suit. Just like a metronome sets the beat, let your breathing set the rhythm of your snatch test. 


If you found the video lesson useful and are looking for an at-home way to learn new, or upgrade your kettlebell skills and breathing practice, check out our 4 Week Breathing Transformation Course.

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