The SFG II Snatch: A Test Prep Program

“Only he deserves power who everyday justifies it”—Dag Hammarskjold, Swedish Diplomat

Ain’t no two ways about it, friend-o: if you’re training for your SFG II Kettlebell Certification or recertification, probably the last thing you want to think about is preparing to tango once more with your long-time arch nemesis: the SFG Snatch Test (100 snatches in five minutes).

Yet think about it you must, since it’s not unheard of for, otherwise strong and fit, SFGs to miss the mark and fail their Snatch Test come SFG II weekend.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous article on snatch test prep, “4 Tips to Make the SFG Snatch Test Easier”, you’ve already got enough overhead work on your plate—nine different movements in all. So, the typical recommendation of “just do a bunch of snatchesis very possibly a recipe for disaster—not just for your recovery, but also your shoulders.

Case in point:

One of my online SFG II students—who has a very physical day job to begin with—told me she once worked with an instructor who told her to do 300 snatches with her snatch test kettlebell once a week in addition to all the other overhead kettlebell prep work she was doing. The result was a pair of busted up shoulders. Maybe you can relate.

A Better Option

Train the way we teach at StrongFirst with a focus on forging brute strength and explosive power rather than just banging out endless, mindless, half-hearted reps. I’ll show you how.

Obviously, this method will require that your technique be top-notch, but I’m going to assume that if you’re already an SFG II or an SFG II candidate, you’ve probably got that locked down. But just in case, be sure to read my article mentioned above before you read this to make sure the key elements of your snatch are already in good working order.

Pay particularly close attention not just to the technique tips, but also the segment on double breathing. It will make your life a lot easier with this program as well. Go on, read it, and come right back.

Finished?

Great. Let’s look at the SFG II Snatch Test Prep Program.

Aleks Salkin performing the kettlebell snatch

The Program

First, this program is designed to be done in conjunction with whatever other program you are doing. I’ll only be covering the kettlebell ballistics side of the equation, so you’re on your own with everything else. Just get a reputable trainer to design a program for your half bodyweight/one-third bodyweight press and other techniques and you’re in business.

Second, you’ll be focusing on three movements:

  • Double Kettlebell Snatch with a pair of kettlebells you can snatch for 8 picture-perfect reps. The ideal circumstance is that these be your snatch test kettlebells.
  • Double Kettlebell High Pull with kettlebells one size heavier than the kettlebells you’re double snatching.
  • Single Kettlebell Snatch with a kettlebell ideally one to two sizes heavier than your snatch test kettlebell (so if your test is with the 24 kg, you should be snatching the 32 kg).

Third, you’ll do these movements for 5 minutes at the END of three non-consecutive workouts during the week.

Aleks Salkin performing the double kettlebell snatch

The reps will be done On-The-Minute (OTM) style with the focus on propelling your kettlebells from point A to point B with as much power as you can muster while still maintaining good technique.  To quote kettlebell fanatic and the first man to back squat 1,300lb in competition, Donnie Thompson: “Come up with tremendous power to the lockout. Don’t play passive.”

To eliminate any doubt as to what your “on the minute” and “for 5 minutes” means, this is what your first double snatch workout will look like:

  • Minute 1: 3 double snatches, rest for the remainder of the minute.
  • Minute 2: 3 double snatches, rest for the remainder of the minute.
  • Minute 3: 3 double snatches, rest for the remainder of the minute.
  • Minute 4: 3 double snatches, rest for the remainder of the minute.
  • Minute 5: 3 double snatches, rest for the remainder of the minute.

The same holds true for your double kettlebell high pulls.

Aleks Salkin performing the double double kettlebell snatch

The only difference will be on your heavy single kettlebell snatch days.

On those days you will leave out one minute in the middle for extra rest—the same as in my original Snatch Test Prep program. Given the fact that you will be doing double the reps, believe me, it will go a long way toward preserving your ability to generate power even late in the game—a crucial consideration for even a seasoned SFG.

So, on Fridays, your workout will look like this for example:

  • Minute 1: 3 snatches left, 3 snatches right, rest for the remainder of the minute.
  • Minute 2: 3 snatches left, 3 snatches right, rest for the remainder of the minute.
  • Minute 3: OFF
  • Minute 4: 3 snatches left, 3 snatches right, rest for the remainder of the minute.
  • Minute 5: 3 snatches left, 3 snatches right, rest for the remainder of the minute.

Make sense?

Finally, before you start the program, perform a 5-minute snatch test in advance and see where you are currently. This will give you something to measure against later. Take note not only of the number of reps you managed, but your rate of perceived exertion (was it an 8/10 effort? 9/10?) your heart rate, etc. Anything that you might want to track and measure against later. Without further ado, let’s look at the program.

The SFG II Snatch Test Prep Program

The SFG II Snatch Test Prep Program
Click on the image to enlarge.

In week #10, take several days off and re-test your snatch test, making note of the improvements (which I encourage you to reach out and tell me all about). Naturally, if you’re doing this program for your SFG II certification or recertification, wait until the appointed time before you test it.

For me personally, once I completed this program and it came time to do my snatch test, I was able to hit 100 unbroken reps for the first time ever, and in just 4:09 to boot—all without rushing, fussing, or doing reps that looked disgusting (click here to watch the riveting video).

The Off Days

“But Aleks!” I hear you protest, “what about Tuesdays and Thursdays? Whatever shall I do then?”

Well, chief, you have a couple of options.

Keeping up with the theme of focusing on power, my suggestion would be to do some heavy-for-you power swings.

Like the other days, keep your training sessions short and not-so-sweet. 5-10 minutes—as little as it may seem—will probably do the trick given the fact that you’re more than likely going to be hard at work training for your ½ bodyweight or 1/3 bodyweight military press, practicing your SFG II lifts, and more.  Don’t worry about programming the swings, just get them in, make them explosive, and leave feeling fresh as a daisy.

My only other piece of advice would be to stretch your glutes—a lot.

Aleks Salkin performing the 90/90 stretch

Not only will it help make sure you can still move with explosive speed rather than slowly turning into the Tin Man, but your low back and sciatic nerve will also thank you as well.

And just your luck, you can stretch your glutes and still keep up with your SFG II training as well, since windmills go a long way toward prying open those tight glutes and hamstrings. Just prep yourself with a 90/90 stretch, a la StrongFirst Certified Master Instructor Jon Engum’s Flexible Steel program, prior to doing your windmills and you’re in business.

You’ve got the plan. You’ve got the skills.  Now all you’ve got left to do is get started.

Stick with this program for the next ten weeks and let me know how you do.

Have fun and happy training!

Aleks Salkin
Aleks “The Hebrew Hammer” Salkin is a StrongFirst Certified SFG II kettlebell instructor and an Original Strength Instructor.

He grew up scrawny, unathletic, weak, and goofy until he was exposed to kettlebells and the teaching and methodology of Pavel in his early 20s, and took his training and movement skills to the next level upon discovering Original Strength in his mid-20s.

He is the author of The 9-Minute Kettlebell and Bodyweight Challenge—a free guide devoted to helping kettlebell and calisthenics enthusiasts to forge full-body strength, resilience, and real-world fitness in just 9 minutes a day and without giving up their current training program to do so. Check him out online at www.alekssalkin.com.
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2 thoughts on “The SFG II Snatch: A Test Prep Program

  • David, that is awesome, way to go. I’m glad you got so much out of the program. Keep kickin’ some serious rump and may you have many more PRs in the near future.

  • Thanks for the great program. Just completed it with 2×24 for double snatches, 2×28 for high pulls, and 32 for the snatches. Did a 5 min snatch test this morning with the 24 and got 100 reps. Did 10/10 on the minute, maintaining biomechanical breathing and good form the whole way. A challenging, but not killer effort. I’ve achieved the snatch test previously, but was very happy with how this program allowed me to maintain it with very minimal time investment. Thank you!

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