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Kettlebell Snatch Vs. Dumbbell Snatch, which is better?

The Snatch is an iconic lift which has been a staple of athletic training programs for generations and source of wonder watching every four years when the world sits and watches the Olympics.

It’s also been brought very much into the public eye now that there is a Crossfit affiliate on every street corner.

But the Barbell Snatch is also unsuitable for the vast majority of people training for fitness, or taking up strength and conditioning for sports later in life.

Unilateral Snatch exercises with Dumbbells and Kettlebells are a much safer, less technical (at the basic level) and more accessible lift for most people.

It takes only a few sessions to build the skill level with these exercises to get a training effect, whereas you could potentially be talking months for the barbell version.

And if the training effect is power endurance / repetition strength, then unilateral is unquestionably the way forwards.

In Wg-Fit we use the Kettlebell as our primary tool of choice, we have a small but strong Kettlebell Sports team that train Snatch to a level that the everyman never needs to acheive.

Maria Snatching her way onto the Irish National Squad

But for our online Wild Geese, they may not have access to our selection of kettlebell weights, so I get asked for alternatives.

When I suggest Dumbbells, I always get the online equivalent of a raised eyebrow.

Is the Dumbbell Snatch as good as the Kettlebell Snatch? Is it better? Is it worse? or is it just different?

This video explains all that:

So to summarise:

One isn’t better than the other, although they are different.

The Dumbbell Snatch is less technical than the kettlebell snatch as the handle doesn’t rotate in the hand, there’s no torn calluses, no bruised wrists.

The Kettlebell Snatch has greater posterior chain activation due to the backswing, the more you follow the bell back, the more you stretch load that posterior chain.

The Dumbell Snatch involves more Quad and Trap, but places less stress on the lower back, which may be good for some. Not as good for others.

Should you use one and not the other?

Not necessarily.

They both have their place, and if you have outgrown all the Kettlebells in the gym and don’t want to invest in buying your own, I bet there’s dumbbells that go heavier. Meaning you can still get in some heavy snatches, and save the kettle for higher rep conditioning.

So as usual we come the only concrete answer we can give to any question in the fitness world when asked if one thing is better than the other.

And that answer is:

It depends……


Dave Hedges

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