A few weeks ago, the lovely Amanda Salas of Dragon Door TV asked me to record a 1-2 minute clip for a Fit Tip on the upcoming Dragon Door TV episode, and specifically wanted it to be for the incoming RKC candidates at any of this year's coming RKC certifications. I thought a while about what advice I should give them, and ultimately decided to dole out some advice on the wheat-from-chaff entrance exam that the RKC is (in)famous for: The Snatch Test. Check out the video here.
(For those of you not in the know, the snatch test (age and weight permitting) is 100 snatches with the 53 lb kettlebell for men or the 35 lb kettlebell for women)
Here are my top four recommendations for acing your test. From experience I can tell you these will help because I didn't apply any of these often enough. And as a result, though I passed on day one and with 15 seconds to spare, my snatch test was as awful as a lot of people probably imagine theirs will be. That sort of thing is usually a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is why you must do what I didn't in order to make sure that you don't feel like dying once the test is over.
1. Swing heavy, swing often
You can, without a doubt, pass the RKC by following Pavel's Rite of Passage in his book "Enter The Kettlebell". In it, he has you practicing your snatches only one day a week - on your light day - and swinging for the rest of the week. This should emphasize the importance of practicing your swings often, and swinging heavy will really help you to summon an otherworldly hip drive that will have massive carry-over into your snatches. Snatching more than you need to really won't help you much and swinging more than you need to is...well, impossible. Everyone needs more swings.
2. Own your technique
The Hardstyle snatch technique is a thing of vicious, heart-racing beauty. However, it's called "Hardstyle" for a reason. It's hard enough as it is. Power leakages, inefficient movement and immobility are all gleeful contributors to turning you into an also-ran faster than you can say "no count". Making your last rep look like your first ain't easy at first, but with practice it is. And as is written above, swings will charitably donate more to your snatch technique than just having a lot of heart. If you can't swing well, you sure as hell can't snatch.
3. Pace yourself
My coach, Comrade Scott Stevens, RKC, CK-FMS, completed his 100 reps in just 3:30 at the CK-FMS. He did 30/30, 20/20. I have little doubt that he used his extra minute and a half to kick back and relax as he watched those around him suffer for a little while longer. The point? You have five minutes. That's obviously more than enough time to do 100. Relax, pace yourself, and don't bother setting the bell down. Unless, that is, you want to mash your body's proverbial pedal to the floor to make up for lost time.
4. At least once a week, work with a heavier bell overhead.
For the gentlemen, that means using a 70 lb bell (ideally) and ladies, a 44 lb or 53 lb bell. To put it simply, it'll make holding the weight you need overhead a much easier affair.
That's it! These four things will take your Snatch Test from gut check to no sweat. Why train harder when you can train both harder AND smarter? The latter will elicit epic results, the former will put you alongside the average gym goer, and if you're interested in being average, you're in the wrong business.
Until next time, lift heavy and eat clean!