07 Feb Struggling With The Kettlebell Snatch Test? Try This

(*If you’re struggling with kettlebell snatch test or simply want to make it a better experience, this article offers 2 great solutions.)

One thing is certain. High rep kettlebell snatches will get you in great shape and forge a leaner, stronger, and more conditioned athletic body.

The truth is, the kettlebell snatch test is not my favorite thing. I’d much rather do heavy deadlifts or clean and jerk a loaded barbell. With that said, building strength-endurance is a very important quality because it allows you to “do more” and perform better over a longer period of time.

While there are many qualities of strength, strength-endurance is the ability to produce force over time, it’s the ability to continue to produce force over a given time period. That is essentially what the snatch test is – sustained force over a given time.

Snatching a *24 kg kettlebell (see below) in 5 minutes or less can be very grueling for most people, but it’s outstanding for building a high level of conditioning, improving strength-endurance, developing explosive hip power and dynamically enhancing shoulder and upper body strength.

It’s a wicked exercise and explosive movement.

The current StrongFirst kettlebell snatch test requires most men to snatch a 24 kg kettlebell and most women to snatch either a 16 kg or 12 kg kettlebell (depending on bodyweight). You can see specific requirements here.

In this article, I’ve got 2 simple ways to help you complete your first snatch test or improve your snatch test performance and overall experience.


EMOM (plus Recovery Breathing)

The EMOM (every minute on the minute) technique is something that many kettlebell enthusiasts use and it works very well.

Here’s specifically how I use this technique – with a slight nuance.

With the 10/10, I snatch the kettlebell 10 times on the right, then 10 times on the left – then set the kettlebell down.

I do this every minute on the minute (EMOM).

I discovered it takes approximately 15 to 20 seconds to perform 10 snatches. This means I’ll have 20-30 seconds of rest in between the 10/10 snatches.

Here’s the nuance to this.


One of the keys with this technique is “recovery breaths” between the work sets (10/10).

A recovery breath simply helps you to speed up recovery for the next work set.

There are probably different ways to use this, but during a snatch test, here’s the simple explanation of what I do:

  • As soon as I set the kettlebell down, I take a long, slow inhalation through the nose
  • Then, exhale slowly out through the mouth
  • I get in a few recovery breaths to accelerate recovery before snatching again
  • I repeat this simple process as long as I can in between my works sets

Note that this will get more challenging as the sets progress. But the longer you can use this, the better it will be for your performance. You’ll end up doing 4 bouts of recovery breathing (see below).

(*I highly recommend to practice “recovery breathing” before using this during a snatch test. Once you get a feel for the breathing technique, practice it during sets of 10/10 with one handed swings before you snatch. Once you feel how it works, then see how it works with a snatch test.)

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Just to recap, here’s what it looks like with the EMOM:

  • 10/10   Rest 20-30 seconds, use “recovery breaths” during rest
  • 10/10   Rest 20-30 seconds, use “recovery breaths” during rest
  • 10/10   Rest 20-30 seconds, use “recovery breaths” during rest
  • 10/10   Rest 20-30 seconds, use “recovery breaths” during rest
  • 10/10   Done!



I’m calling this the “work your way down” method.

This is a technique I learned from Betsy Middleton Collie a few years ago and it’s been one of my favorites. This one has a major psychological advantage since it uses a descending rep scheme.

Here’s how it works and this is the specific way I like to use this technique:

  • 10/10    total reps = 20
  • 9/9        total  reps = 38
  • 8/8        total reps = 54
  • 7/7         total reps = 68
  • *I LIKE TO REST HERE (as needed)
  • 6/6        total reps = 80
  • 5/5        total reps = 90
  • 5/5        total reps = 100 – Done!

The advantages of this technique?

As I mentioned, the psychological benefit of working down in each set is huge. You only have one set of 10/10 and then you know that each set from then on is going to be lower reps.

The other advantage is “front loading” your first 7o or so reps (68 to be exact). You can steam roll through the first 68, then take a break and knock out the last 32 reps with the “6-5-5″ work sets.

After experimenting, the “work your way down” approach is a little tougher than the EMOM (depending on your conditioning), but it’s still a great way to perform the snatch test and make it a better “user experience.”

In summary…

These are 2 of my current favorite ways to perform the kettlebell snatch test and make it a better experience and also improve performance.

  • EMOM plus “recovery breathing”
  • The “Work Your Way Down” Method

If you struggle with snatch test, experiment with these and see what you think.

Happy snatching!

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Scott Iardella, MPT, CSCS writes about strength training methods to optimize health and performance. If you enjoyed this, join a strong community of passionate fitness enthusiasts and subscribe below to get a ton of cool, free stuff! Subscribe at RdellaTraining.com/join and get your FREE Report and Resource Guide.
  • John B
    Posted at 07:06h, 16 April Reply

    Great article on high rep kettlebell snatching and preparation for the snatch test . The advice on recovery breathing helped me tremendously with successfully completing a half marathon. In fact I used your advice with using EMOM’s to get me to my goal! Love the content you provide. Thanks for posting.

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