A Solid Game Plan for Acing the Snatch Test

If you’ve heard of Pavel and follow his teachings, it’s likely you’ve heard of the 100-rep snatch test. The snatch test is a core element in the SFG curriculum and passing it takes preparation. If your goal is to become a certified SFG Level I Instructor, then you must be able to perform 100 kettlebell snatches in five minutes or less.

When people ask me about the SFG Level I Certification weekend, they almost always bring up the snatch test. And I’m not going to lie—it’s a bit intimidating the first time around. Often, even mentioning the words “snatch test” around an SFG candidate brings on anxiety and nervousness.

But don’t stress! The test is very passable if you have a solid game plan. If you are signed up for your SFG Level I Cert and are worried about the snatch test, I’ve got you covered. I’m sharing a program I designed that has helped people pass the 100-rep snatch test with confidence.

The Snatch Test Standards

Below are the requirements taken directly from the StrongFirst website. As you can see, the only exception to the standards for the 100-rep snatch test is if you’re in the Seniors class where the requirement is 50 reps in 3 minutes. Click here for a full description of the testing, standards.

SFG I snatch test weights
Click on the image to enlarge.

For inspiration and an example of excellent form, here is Hector Gutierrez, StrongFirst Certified Senior Instructor, StrongFirst Elite, performing the snatch test:

100-Rep Snatch Test Training Protocol

Prerequisite: Before starting this program, the girevik must be able to perform 100 reps in 8-10 minutes with the prescribed snatch test-sized kettlebell.

Phase 1:

  • :20 work/:40 rest for 5 minutes.
  • The goal is eight snatches per 20-second interval.
  • The girevik should complete 5 minutes of these intervals to total 40 snatches in 5 minutes. I suggest performing each set with one arm. Alternate arms each set.

Once you successfully complete the phase 1 workout twice, proceed to phase 2.

Phase 2:

  • :30 work/:30 rest for 5 minutes.
  • The goal is 11 snatches per 30-second interval.
  • The girevik should complete 5 minutes of these intervals to total 55 snatches in 5 minutes. I suggest performing each set on one arm. Start on your non-dominant hand.

Once you successfully compete the phase 2 workout three times, proceed to phase 3.

Phase 3:

  • :40 work/:20 rest for 5 minutes.
  • The goal is 16 snatches per 40-second interval.
  • The girevik should complete 5 minutes of these intervals to total 80 snatches in 5 minutes. If you need to switch hands during the work period, that’s okay—just make it quick!

Once you successfully complete the phase 3 workout three times, proceed to phase 4.

Phase 4:

  • :50 work/:10 rest for 5 minutes.
  • The goal is 20 snatches per 50-second interval.
  • The girevik should complete 5 minutes of these intervals to total 100 snatches in 5 minutes.

Once you successfully complete the phase 4 workout three times, try to perform the 100 rep snatch test as quickly as possible.

This protocol normally takes anywhere from eight to twelve weeks to complete. The length of time will vary depending on the person and their overall preparation, conditioning, and technique. If you feel like you need more work, give yourself twelve weeks to work through this protocol. It never hurts to be over-prepared.

Most candidates feel comfortable completing phase 1 and 2, but phase 3 starts to get tough. If you have done a fair amount of heavy one-arm swings, you should be able to train this protocol one time a week leading up to the Certification weekend. If you are concerned that you haven’t prepared enough for the snatch test, I would suggest training with this protocol this two times a week leading up to the Cert.

Note: This plan will integrate nicely with the plan outlined in the SFG Level I Certification Prep Guide by Brett Jones, StrongFirst’s Director of Education. You could plug this protocol into the Snatch Prep Day 2—Volume Work.

The SFG I snatch test

Tips for Passing Your Snatch Test on Test Day

The snatch test is only five minutes, but it’s a tough five minutes. Here are some helpful tips on how to pass the test safely and efficiently:

  1. Stay Relaxed: Remember that kettlebell training is a delicate balance of tension and relaxation. When attempting the test, try to conserve your energy at first and keep your pace. Find the sweet spot and stay in your groove. Leave some gas in the tank for the last minute in case you need to increase speed to accumulate reps. Don’t come out of the gate too quickly!
  2. Take Care of Your Hands: Leading up to the Certification weekend, it’s important to take care of your hands. This means flattening calluses, healing up any blisters or wounds, and training smart. It’s not fun dealing with blisters and ripped calluses for a full three days, so come into the weekend healthy.
  3. Get Plenty of Rest: You will need to be at your best to pass your Certification, so it’s important you get plenty of rest. This means fueling up with healthy meals and getting plenty of sleep at night. Remember: no drinking and read your manuals!

As always, we suggest you work with a StrongFirst kettlebell instructor to make sure your technique is dialed prior to Certification weekend. Click here for a list of instructors. Best of luck and we look forward to seeing you at one of our Certifications! Power to you!

Michael Perry
Mike is the founder and owner of Skill of Strength, a performance-based training facility located in Chelmsford, MA. In his twelve-plus years as a personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach, he has trained clients of all ages and abilities including several collegiate and professional athletes in the MLS, NFL, MLB, UFC, Bellator MMA, and various mixed martial arts organizations in New England.

Mike began his career at a medically based training facility where he worked closely with physical therapists, Certified Athletic Trainers (ATCs), acupuncturists, and chiropractors.

Mike holds the following certifications: Certified Personal Trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, StrongFirst Certified Senior Instructor, StrongFirst Elite Instructor, USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach, USA Track and Field Level 1 Coach, Functional Movement Screen Certified, and Certified Kettlebell Functional Movement Screen Specialist. In addition, Mike works as an assistant staff instructor for Functional Movement Systems.
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9 thoughts on “A Solid Game Plan for Acing the Snatch Test

  • With regard to phase 1, are we supposed to switch hands with every subsequent set, equating to 3 sets with the left hand and 2 sets with the right hand ?

  • but in phase one if there are 5 minutes/sets and if you suggest to change hand every set, are you not doing 3 sets L vs 2 sets R?

    • Hi Marco,
      I am eager to get an answer as I am in the same state of confusion as you are. I hope we get an answer soon!

      • Andrew,
        I did not received answer.
        For the SFG prep I used for 15 weeks the Brett Jones’ program and the last 7 weeks the peaking one of Dan John.
        Those worked gratly. I passed the SFG I in a very “confortable” manner.

  • Craig- On phase 1 it is 8 reps per hand.

    Machete- it’s really about volume. I just want to be sure people understand what 100 reps feels like. I agree the volume is higher but the progression needs to start somewhere.

    Felipe- yes it’s :30 on, :30 off

  • Sorry, but I don’t understand the “Prerequisite”:
    If I should be able to perform 100 reps in 8-10 minutes as a prerequisite, then it seems to me that this load is higher than Phase 1 of training (40 in 5 mins) and almost at Phase 2 (55 in 5 mins)…

    Thank you for your help!

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