Allow me to introduce you to one of my all-time favorite killer kettlebell combinations: The Kettlebell Snatch + Lunge.
The kettlebell snatch by itself is an awesome technique that works everything from head to toe, but by combining lunges with snatches I get to keep things interesting while drilling the basics. Additionally, it’s a whole lotta fun.
Other benefits include:
- The addition of the overhead lunge is great way to slow someone down who tends to cut their snatches short of a true vertical lockout.
- The snatch and lunge are a great way of pairing one explosive movement and one grind.
- The lunge adds an increased balance challenge.
- Because the overhead lunge is a component of the getup, this combo is a great way to drill part of the getup or use as a seamless transition into the getup.
- This combination can be progressed in various ways by changing the timing, adding a jumping lunge or even using two bells at once.
Here are several variations of the Snatch to Lunge combination that I like to use in my own training that range from simple to advanced.
LEVEL I: Snatch then lunge
Snatch the kettlebell overhead, pause motionless in the lockout, then perform either a forward or reverse lunge. Return to standing and repeat. This is the obvious starting point for individuals who have demonstrated competence in both the snatch and the lunge separately.Q: “Which knee goes in front?”
A: It doesn’t matter, just get good at both. When performing multiple reps per arm I sometime alternate legs with each lunge. The only exception to this rule is when you use the lunge to transition into a getup you must have the same leg in front as the overhead arm.
LEVEL II: Snatch as you drop into a lunge
As you perform the snatch, step forward and time it so that you catch the bell in the overhead lockout either just before or at the exact moment you reach the bottom of the lunge. Obviously, this is a more advanced variation that allows you to move at a faster pace and requires a slightly higher degree of timing and coordination. The knee should touch the floor softly and quietly. Crashing the knee into the floor is forbidden and a definite sign that you’re not ready for this exercise.
LEVEL III: Snatch as you jump into a lunge
That’s right, jump! Ok… more of a hop really.
Start the snatch and as the kettlebell floats immediately jump into a lunge and catch the bell as you reach the bottom of the lunge. Once again… no knee crashing allowed! The trick here is to not use as much power as you would to snatch while standing or the bell can go out of control. Since you are dropping under the bell, you only need to snatch with as much power as would be required to perform a “clean” or make it float to shoulder height. From the kneeling position, I like to jump back up as the bell drops into the hike phase of the next snatch.
LEVEL “M”: Double Kettlebell Jumping Snatch into a Lunge
Yes, I went there.
This is the same as Level III with one additional bell.
Since both snatches and lunges lend themselves to double kettlebells… I figured “Why not?” and I immediately fell in love with these. I have never had a client perform these, but they are something I feel safe to use in my own training.
Safety is always first and foremost so I recommend only using bells that you can safely drop from the overhead lockout into the next snatch. For this reason I personally prefer to use 16kg or 20kg bells. If I felt the need to go heavier (and I don’t) I would recommend lowering the bells to the shoulders between snatches.
There are quite a few levels of difficulty between this move and the last.. so hopefully, naming it “Level M” (the Roman numeral for 1000) gets the point across. Again, obviously not for everyone… but if you have the necessary skills it’s about as ninja-like as a kettlebell move gets.
Some examples of how to integrate the Snatch/Lunge combo into your workouts.
- 5-10 Snatches + 5-10 Lunges, switch arms, repeat x 3 to 5 rounds.
- (1 snatch + 1 lunge) per arm, (snatch + lunge)x2 per arm, (1 snatch + 1 lunge) x 3 per arm… climb as high as you want, then start over at 1 & repeat for 5, 10 or 15 minutes.
- 1 snatch, 1 lunge, 2 snatches, 2 lunges, 3 snatches, 3 lunges…etc, switch arms & repeat. Climb as high as you want, then start over at 1 & repeat for 5, 10 or 15 minutes.
- (1 snatch + 1 lunge) x 6, switch arms & repeat. ( goal = 50 to 100 total reps)
- 1 snatch + 1 lunge repeat for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds, repeat with the other arm. x 3 to 5 rounds per arm.
- 1 snatch + 1 forward lunge. Step forward as you stand up & repeat across the floor. Switch arms & come back. Repeat for rounds, reps or time.
- 5 snatches + 5 lunges into a reverse getup. Switch hands when you return to standing and repeat for reps or time.
SNATCH + OVERHEAD LUNGE PRE-REQUISITES
Before you consider adding this movement to your routine understand that this movement is uncommon for a reason.
It’s only recommended for for individuals who meet the following criteria:
- No pain, and symmetrical 2s or 3s on the following components of the Functional Movement Screen
- FMS Active Straight Leg Raise
- FMS Shoulder Mobility
- FMS Trunk Stability Pushup
- FMS Rotary Stability test
- FMS In Line Lunge
- No Pain on the following clearance tests”
- Spinal Extension Clearance Test
- Shoulder Clearance Test
- Spinal Flexion Clearance Test
- Technical Competence in the following movements
- the kettlebell deadlift
- the kettlebell swing
- the kettlebell getup
- the one hand kettlebell swing
- the kettlebell snatch
Before you jump into any advanced kettlebell technique… consider this:
If the answer to any of the following is either “No” or “I’m not sure”, then this combination is not for you.
Does this exercise support your goals?
Have you mastered the fundamentals first?
Don’t even think about combining snatches and lunges until you rock at lunges and snatches. This should seem obvious.
With the help of a competent instructor you can regress one or both movements to get the same benefits in a safe and appropriately challenge manner.
Is the risk to reward ratio acceptable?
Can you accomplish the same thing in a simpler or safer way?
Tight rope walking between two skyscrapers will teach you balance, and juggling live chainsaws on fire will build great hand eye coordination, but there are simpler and safer ways to get the same benefits without the risk.