Grip Endurance For Kettlebell Snatch

Grip Training

A look at probably the most important part of kettlebell snatch training in competition - endurance for higher numbers.

I have always realised the importance of grip training for success with kettlebells. However, as a strength athlete that mostly put my training at the heavy side of the resistance scale and rarely training with light weights for reps. While I have done many endurance kettlebell marathons in the past, none of these were completely grip determined and took me to absolute failure where you simply cannot hold the weight for another rep. There is always merit in training specifically for the sport. For example, if you want more reps in the snatch – train the snatch more and work volume with occasional tests to failure.

However, as a coach there is also dynamic correspondence that replicates part of the action (in this case the weakness – high rep grip endurance) and can address it in isolation. From the anterior superficial view on the left - or supinated position - we can see that flexion of the fingers will relate in concentric actions of the following muscles - Palmaris Longus Flexor Carpi Radialis Flexor Carpi Ulnaris Flexor Digitorum Superficialis

When training to failure you will often see that the last few reps have a few things in common to dramatically change the downward force and grip requirements of the snatch -

The knees now bend into a squat to decelerate the weight

The thumb faces forwards and the elbow is slightly bent - this could be to incorporate brachioradialis which is a powerful elbow flexor and rarely engaged when the arm is extended other than to a very low degree isometrically as a synergist.

The slight elbow bend will recruit this muscle and transfer some of the load from the forearm flexors. However, by this time they are often so fatigued that additional reps are only few in number There is a deeper squat after the snatch pull. Having to travel less distance to lockout means less force is required and the lifter may add a few reps based on extended work capacity. The part of the kettlebell snatch which leads to grip fatigue is the transition between the eccentric and concentric phases as the kettlebell is free-falling and you are required to grip tightly in order to decelerate and pull it up again.

The grip action for this will always be more than the weight of the kettlebell based on gravity and acceleration. As this directly correlates with crush grip it can easily be replicated with a good pair of hand grippers. Moreover, hand grippers can be chosen that will replicate the amount of PSI required for a specific kettlebell weight. No grand machines or calculations are required. If you understand hand grippers you will know what I am talking about. Basically, the heavier the kettlebell, the harder the crush action for the snatch and therefore the stronger the gripper you train with.

To take dynamic correspondence a stage further we can add 3 components to further enhance the carryover of this methodology – The repetitions are performed at the same tempo as your snatch set training speed The crush is held for around 1 second to mimic to time under tension required for the eccentric/concentric switch and allow the weight to be effectively pulled for the next repetition The hand gripper is never fully open, or relaxed, and this will correlate to gains in the slight isometric wrist tension required to avoid hyperextension in the lockout phase Similar to kettlebell training progress there should be a direct relationship between the number of snatches you can perform on a kettlebell and the number of repetitions you can achieve on a gripper that is a similar resistance to the snatch pull of your training weight. At the lighter weight Vo2 max and isolated muscular fatigue is rarely a problem and most people simply burn out in the forearm not having worked for a very high rep capacity.