Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Kettlebell Snatch

Kettlebells,  I love them but I hadn’t used them in months.  

Several years ago I used to train with kettlebells on a regular basis, with SC. I even bought some of my own because the gym I went to didn’t have their own (and they have since purchased two complete sets, although I have yet to see more than one or two people, including most trainers use them correctly).

I love the power I feel from kettlebells, swinging that heavy, round, cold bell just gives me a thrill. Some of the movements are slow, like the Turkish Get-Up, but most have some momentum behind them.

The Swing is the classic and probably the easiest; it is also the one that everyone does wrong. I see the a trainer at Gold’s show people incorrectly all the time.  A Swing is where you hold the bell with two hands, and it is “swung" between your legs, and you crouch down in a semi squat as it passes through and behind you, then you use the hips to thrust forward, the arms are only holding onto the bell, they are not “lifting” it or providing the power as it swings in front of you and up to chest level. It’s all in the hips and the glutes.  Hence the name “swing” and not “lift”.

This is not to be confused with the way you may see some Crossfitters "swing", they bring it up above their head, I know there is a method to their madness, but I am not a Crossfitter, don't want to be a  Crossfitter and cannot speak to the sport. 

I believe someone once told me their style is "American Style" but Kettlebells originate from Russia, and that's the style I am discussing. I am not here to get into a debate about which is better, so if you want to form your own opinion, here is an article that does a good job explaining the differences (although I think it is slightly biased.)

What people do wrong is they think the power comes from their arms. They try to move the bell with the power of their arms and not their hips and glutes.

The Snatch is my favorite, this is a one armed move almost like a swing, but the bell is brought over the head and the arm locked out at top.  Just watching someone perform kettlebell snatches is exciting! It’s a true all over body exercise. Snatches are a great way to burn calories while still using weights, in other words, an “approved” form of cardio in my book!

Kettlebells require you to use your hips, glutes and core. This is why I stopped, every time I would try to do some swings or snatches, the ripping and searing pain in my hip flexors, running down the front of my hips would instantly stop me.  If you do them correctly you will immediately feel it in your hips, glutes, hamstrings and abs.  

If you are doing them incorrectly, it doesn’t matter if you have tight hips (like I did), nor does it matter what shape your glutes are in, you will not understand the power of the bell because all you will be doing is a little dip with the knees and then attempting to pull a heavy iron ball up with your arm and shoulder. You will probably feel it in your back, shoulder and face due to the contortions you will make attempting to wrestle the beast up. 

Saturday I was feeling good, each day I feel better and better, so I decided to try a few snatches as my post lifting burn out, something just to get me huffing and puffing.

I have some old tube socks that have been cut into bands, I slip then over my hands to help protect them so my thick calluses don’t rip with the bells, and they also work like chalk to absorb the sweat, otherwise those things can go flying! 

Here is a video I took in my backyard demonstrating the Kettlebell Snatch, this was taken in February of 2011. 

As you can see, the only effort on my arms is when I lock them out at the top of the snatch, I am not using the power of my arms to propel the bell up and over my head, it  flows easily from the hips and posterior chain.