Outside of the Box Pancakes Ideas

Helllloooo, Sunday! A day of the week when many of us sleep in, relax, and take it slow. Aside from a hot, steamy cup of coffee, the next best thing to being at home on Sunday mornings is being able to cook a full breakfast. Sometimes I’ll get creative with leftovers and whip up a hodge-podge egg-protein-veggie scramble with a side of fruit, topped with cinnamon and nut butter (this is actually one of my favorite all-time meal combinations, and I never get tired of eating it).

From time to time, though, I get the itch for something a bit sweeter. When my brother and I were little, my mom would make these deliciously thin and light crepe-like pancakes that we would smother in syrup or homemade strawberry jam. Back then, you could probably catch me topping mine with a few spoons of sugar as well…

Now, when I think about pancakes, I’m looking for something a bit more “outside of the box,” and certainly more health-focused than what comes from using a store-bought batter. A box of pre-made mix includes five ingredients: enriched bleached flour, oil, leavening, dextrose, and salt – mainly processed and refined for quick and cheap eats. I suppose you could get the “Heart Smart” version and go for nine ingredients and ten fewer calories.

Instead, I like to opt for recipes that call for less processed pantry staples, which make these flapjacks not only healthy and delicious, but also pretty convenient. These can all be enjoyed with a variety of toppings, including favorite fruits, nuts, nut butters, Greek yogurt, or real maple syrup. And of course, don’t forget the coffee!

Protein Powder Pancakes (Recipe Courtesy of: Fit in 42)

 I don’t have a direct link to this recipe, but definitely have it memorized. It’s either easy to remember, or I’ve just made them THAT many times:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • I recommend blending all ingredients until oats are fully incorporated.

I’ve used both vanilla and chocolate protein for this recipe, and I imagine that any flavor would be good. If I use chocolate, I’ll typically top with a nut butter (peanut butter chocolate pancakes, um, yes please!). Otherwise, some of my go-to toppers for vanilla are fruit, like apples or berries, with a few nuts, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes (Recipe Courtesy of: Diabetes Strong)

This recipe calls for low-fat cottage cheese, oats, egg whites, vanilla extract, and the optional pinch of stevia. I added a bit of cinnamon to mine and, oh my…I thought these were delicious! I couldn’t taste the cottage cheese and the cakes turned out thin, but fluffy, which worked well for soaking up the juice from my heated frozen fruit. Dolloped with a tablespoon of peanut butter and it was basically like a PB&J!

Pumpkin Pancakes (Recipe Courtesy of: Leah’s Plate)

Who doesn’t love pumpkin, especially in the fall? With how available canned pumpkin is, I find these to be a delicacy that I can enjoy all year round. The original recipe calls for pumpkin puree (be careful not to grab pumpkin pie filling), eggs, vanilla extract, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, honey or maple syrup (optional), and ground flaxseed (optional).

After many attempts, I have perfected my version of this recipe. I omit the added sweetener and flaxseeds, I use 3 egg whites, and add in a half-scoop of vanilla protein powder. It’s a pretty wet and thick batter, but with some extra patience, they turn out basically like pumpkin pie, but for breakfast. My preferred toppings are either maple syrup with a few pecans, or with some almond butter.

Now that I’ve shared some of my favorite pancake recipes, and pulled up a few pictures of these recipes coming to life on a plate, I think I’ll head to my kitchen now…. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Written by Coach KasieLifestyle Transformation Coach, CPT, Pn1, Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach

How to Correct Our Society’s Mistakes and Improve Your Health, Part 1

5 years ago I wrote a series of blogs that I still talk about today, dubbing them the Where Did We Go Wrong? series.  A lot of that information from those posts still applies to today, even with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Through some editing, I was able to come up with a few more action steps for you to take to clear the mind and boost your well-being!

March was Nutrition Awareness Month.  The name itself says that we should create more awareness towards nutrition, but it seems like every month and every day is has some recognition these days.

However, when I think of Nutrition Awareness Month, I think of mindful eating.  If we follow the art of mindfulness, we have to be aware first, and once you are aware of something you cannot not be unaware of something.

In short, we all need to be more aware, especially when it comes to food.

Food is a hard topic to discuss because there’s a lot of different methods out there that work for many people.  In contrast, food is easy to talk about because the principles of healthy eating stay true…and there’s the fact that everybody loves food!

To be more aware of something means you need to start with the basics, and that means you may need to slow down and be more present in your daily life.

Being present will allow you to be more engaged with your thoughts, feelings, and actions,  It allows you to not react to as many of those things around you.  Emotions need motions and motions need emotions.

If our emotions influence our motions (actions), then it may require you to dial into your emotions a bit (and you’ll find out what you’re reacting to in the process).  You may find that when you get sudden urges or cravings  it’s because you reacted to something.

Most of you live in a disconnected, reactive state, which ultimately means most of your days are spent running off emotions.  You’re making decisions solely based on changing the way how you want to feel.

Start a journal today and keep track of what you’re feeling and connect your actions you make following the emotion.

The second piece about starting with the basics is you need to know food is simply just nourishing energy.

Seriously.  Food is nothing more than nourishing fuel.

If you nourish your body poorly, you’re going to have poor outcomes.  Comparatively, if you feed your body high-quality, nutrient-dense foods, then you’ll have positive outcomes!

How our body processes this fuel is the next conversation you and I are about to have, which I’ll tell through an interesting story.

At the same time of this original writing 5 years ago, I was asked to give a nutrition presentation at a local high school.  I informed some of the students that some foods can be processed (metabolized) in the body and some food cannot.  Of the foods that can be processed, we start with whole foods and label them into macronutrients (macros).

I then asked the class, “What are macronutrients?”  I got a few answers as I proceeded to write “Carbs, Fats, and Proteins” across the whiteboard in three separate tables.  I then asked the class to name of examples of each macronutrient, starting with carbs.

I had answers like “Bread.”  “Pasta.”  “Rice.” “Sugar.”  All true, but not one student said fruits or veggies. 

Not one.  I drilled them on how our view of foods has been tainted and it starts well before we’re 40 and we suddenly realize we’re overweight and unhealthy.

Carbohydrates (carbs) is most easily converted into energy.   The best sources of carbs are fruits and vegetables followed by whole grains and other complex carbs like beans, potatoes, rice, etc.

Where did we go wrong?  As a society, as a nation, as humans…what the hell happened?

I feel like there are so many answers to that question that it remains rhetorical.

The kids did a lot better with the protein table.  Although peanuts were mentioned as a protein, but they are actually a fat.  I went on a tangent and explained this to the kids saying that peanuts and other nuts are actually considered fats.  Peanuts do contain the most protein out of the nuts per weight, and that fact is advertised heavily with marketing companies as it is plastered all over labels.  So, that’s where it’s easy to confuse this one.

I’m going to talk more about fat in the next blog post on this series, so hold onto your britches for that one!

Here’s the sad news: as a nation, we need to take a step back and address where we have gone wrong, or where we are continuing to go wrong.  This original post was put up 5 years ago, and not much has changed.

There are still feeling of anger, frustration, loss, and helplessness.

No, those aren’t the feelings of the consumer – those are the feelings of a coach.  We’re fighting an uphill battle because you, the reader, who we are here to serve, have to fight an uphill battle.

5 years later it’s still the same.  I was warning of this 5 years ago and if we didn’t make a change, we’ll continue down this path.  Well, here we are!

Clever marketing techniques and synthetic food creations have made it almost impossible to not consume some sort of processed foods.  A lot of these processed foods fall into the un-metabolized category.  Our body doesn’t know what to do with them besides store them as fat or convert them to sugar, which in turn probably stores them as fat anyway.

Not good, right?

This is just the first step.  We’ll go through the more steps in the next blog post for this series.  Stay tuned!

– Coach Jordan, Lead Transformation Coach, CFSC, Pn2

A Winning Mindset During COVID-19 & Adversity

First and foremost, wherever you are and whoever you are, I hope you are healthy and safe while reading this. Every one of us have been affected by COVID-19 and every one of us will be living a different life when this is all said and done. There is no going back to our “normal” after this.⁣

But I also wanted to send out my thoughts and condolences to anyone who has been severely impacted by this virus, whether it’s personally through contact and contraction, or from a business and livelihood standpoint. I’m sending you my thoughts.⁣

Point being: There’s no selling this thing short anymore.⁣

I wanted to put something together that can hopefully help you get through this time of hardship. As a kid who’s been blessed with several privileges growing up from fantastic parents, grandparents, and support – this becomes one of the most trying times of all our lives.⁣

Just think about that for a second, the next generations will be reading about this in their history books.⁣

With that said, I also grew up with a low self-esteem. I didn’t like to be watched doing activities or playing sports, nor did I have courage to go much outside of my comfort zone (including the strength room at my high school). I’m also an introvert, a mix of an emotional/analytical. Somewhere between a wallflower and a guy who needs to know all the facts before making a decision.⁣

Why is this important?⁣

Because I spent A LOT of my time listening and searching for things to help build my confidence and boost my self-esteem, improving my overall mindset. Now I can share some of those things with you.⁣

Doubling back on what I said in the beginning of this blog post, we are not going to be able to go back to what we deemed “normal” before this happened.⁣

Thought leader and author, John C Maxwell says there’s two choices we have through adversity:⁣

1) You can struggle through and go into “crisis” mode, or⁣
2) You can take advantage and lead.⁣

When it comes to leading, I like to think leading by example. You may not think you have anyone to lead, but I’m telling you, someone is ALWAYS watching you. Adopt a 𝘳𝘰𝘭𝘦-𝘮𝘰𝘥𝘦𝘭 𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘴𝘦𝘵 in this situation and beyond. Take a step back and watch how many people you influence.⁣

Your family, friends, and others will take notice.⁣

There’s an old story out there about two trees that a boy and his father plant and aim to grow. After several months, the trees are starting to become saplings and the boys asks his dad which one will grow faster? ⁣

The dad replies, “The one we feed and water the most.”⁣

If you feed your fears at this time, by scouring your social media pages, hitting refresh every 30 seconds to see the updates on the news, you can rest assured that you’ll be adopting panic, fear, and anxiety, thus pandemonium will exist.⁣

But if you feed your faith, your belief and your confidence, you will be fulfilling and nurturing your growth and your ability to get things done through this time of crisis. You’ll be much less anxious and experience much less panic as well.⁣

So, which tree will you feed and water the most?⁣

Wayne Dyer, a motivational speaker and author, says, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”⁣

In other words, how you view things is how you do things. If we can change or adapt your perspective, we can change the actions you take.⁣

Controlling the controllables is a personal mantra of mine. My coaches Alwyn & Rachel Cosgrove have this mantra as well, and are really making sure we’re focusing on that mantra. It’s an important mindset/mantra to adopt as well because an overwhelming majority of stress and anxiety that people go through are from them spending too much time and energy trying to change the things that are out of their control.⁣

There are some things in life that you have ZERO control over, other things in life that you have SOME control over, and finally things in life that you have FULL control over. Make a list of what that looks like for you.⁣

Pic courtesy of thecounselingteacher.com

Right now, we have ZERO control over the COVID-19 on earth, nor the executive orders put in place. You have SOME control on what you need to do in order to get through this, like going to the grocery store, how to work from home, etc. You have FULL control over the decisions you make, your attitude, and how you’ll use your time at home.⁣

There are people and things in life that need your attention, that deserve your attention. Focus on them. Don’t react, but reflect, and take pro-action from what you learn during reflection.⁣

The executive director of the La Crosse (WI) Chamber of Commerce has been masterful at getting out information and adapting on the fly during this outbreak. She’s sending out daily and often times multiple emails per day to keep us informed as well as how to manage our businesses and selves. She said something yesterday that I stopped me in my tracks:⁣

𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘥𝘢𝘪𝘭𝘺 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦.⁣

One of the reasons you may be treading in turmoil is because your life is being thrown into daily change, and you may not like that (𝘞𝘩𝘰 𝘛𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘮𝘺 𝘊𝘩𝘦𝘦𝘴𝘦?, anyone?). It leaves you feeling like you don’t have control, throwing you off your routine and demolishing your structure. Remember, the controlling the controllables here!⁣

Getting back to becoming the master of daily change. How fitting for our time, right? You may have to say this aloud once, twice, or fifteen times. Vicki asks you to chant it, and I agree. It’ll stick and be more powerful. It becomes reality.⁣

Crisis and adversity are part of life. It can be tragic, heart-breaking stuff, but it always 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘴 us. What we do with this experience will define us. Times like these will test us, but we will always come out stronger.⁣

Here’s an analogy for you:

In order to build muscle, the muscle has to be stressed, or taken through adversity. The regeneration of that muscle will result in a new, stronger muscle. However, over time, the same adversity (stimulus) won’t cause adaptation. We need to introduce the muscle to more stress which may be new stress or stress with added intensity or pressure. The recovery of that stress is what makes the muscle adapt, becoming stronger yet.⁣

Adversity does the same thing to you and your mind.⁣

There will be failure, heartache, tragedy, and sorrow, but as John C Maxwell says, each of those also comes with a seed of greater benefit.

Adversity will make us stronger. Your perspective on this entire thing can make this whole situation 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘴𝘦 for you, or 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳 for you. That’s your 𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘪𝘤𝘦.⁣

What I posted above may feel completely wrong to you, and that’s OK. Just remember how you impact and influence others. Do you want them to feel like you do? Do you want to feel like you do? If it’s a no, embrace a different mindset. We will get through this.⁣

I’ll leave you with this, as it was posted by Alwyn yesterday:⁣

“Never regret a day in your life: good days give happiness, bad days give experience, worst days give lessons, and best days give memories.” – Sukhraj Dillon⁣

There may be some out there that believe we have to go through this. Maybe, but I know one thing, when this is all said and done, we’ll be stronger than ever because we’re in this together.⁣

-Coach Jordan, Founder of Unity Fitness

Tactical Strength Challenge: Recovery Basics

When we start training for the Tactical Strength Challenge (TSC), it’s likely that there are increases in overall volume of training – sessions take longer, weight gets heavier, reps go up, etc. This is especially true for those first-time competitors or those just starting to explore the world of kettlebell training. With this increase, we often forget what else has to increase – our recovery.

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If we’re not recovering and are constantly breaking the body down during training, we’re not going to see progress toward a heavier deadlift, more snatches or pull-ups, or a longer flexed arm hang time. At the end of the day, we only get better from what we recover from.

Stay healthy!

At the most foundational level, we want to make sure we’re staying healthy. Some of this can be helped with avoiding injury and what I will talk about later in this article, but other lifestyle factors do play a role. Making sure that we’re washing our hands, avoiding touching our face unnecessarily, staying away from those who are sick, etc. is all great to make sure we’re staying healthy!

To the body, stress is stress. If we’re sick, or just barely over an illness, the body doesn’t realize if the stress from a workout is stress from that illness or the workout itself. Being sick may mean a couple days off workouts and training, which is okay if it happens, but we do want to avoid it if we can!

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Don’t neglect your sleep.

Sleep is some of the best recovery work we can do! We want to make sure we’re prioritizing sleep quality and quantity throughout the challenge. Regarding quantity, we want to make sure that we’re getting 6-9 hours of sleep, aiming toward that higher end of the range! While we sleep, it’s like the ultimate reset button for the body. We repair from the work done the day prior, restore hormone levels, etc. However, it’s not all about quantity.

We want to make sure that the sleep we’re getting is QUALITY. As well.  Three big rocks that we can focus on for quality sleep:

  1. Sleep in complete darkness. Invest in blackout curtains, make sure the clocks are on the darkest setting or facing away from you, etc. You can even go as far taping over indicator lights on other appliances you may have.
  2. The room should be cool temperature. Between 60-67 degrees is optimal, according to the research that’s been done. The cooler temps help your body produce more melatonin, decrease insomnia, and are linked to deeper, higher quality sleep overall.
  3. Limit your screen time, especially blue light, before bed. Blue light suppresses our melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that causes us to feel sleepy; it typically should be highest at the end of the day, as we’re going to bed. Most devices have a setting now, but TV’s still usually don’t. Make sure you’re winding down screen-less or limit screens the 90 minutes to hour before bedtime.

Food is Fuel.

Food is fuel. It serves many important functions throughout the body and for training! We have to make sure that we’re eating enough to recover and fuel the body for what’s to come. Though weight loss may happen over the course of the challenge, now is not the time to tie a weight loss to your performance goal. Restricting the calories too low can also lead to a decrease in performance over the course of the challenge. It’s best to allow food to fuel the body.

Eating according to the general guidelines for healthy eating is the best way to go. If you’ve competed before, you know what works best for you. If you haven’t working with a coach is a great way to help find out what may best for you individually.

There are some guidelines we can use to fuel for training, regardless of who you are:  Prioritizing carbohydrates around training, to make sure the body is fueled and ready to go for the workout ahead, is almost guaranteed to aid in performing. Ensuring that we’re eating adequate protein on all days is also going to be key to build muscle and get stronger over the course of the training program.

We can’t forget about hydration! Drinking enough water ensures that nutrient delivery to the cells, digestion is optimal, among a host of other benefits. Aim for ½-1x bodyweight in ounces per day. You can even add a pinch of Himalayan Sea Salt to your first glass/bottle of the day if you’re feeling dehydrated to help with water retention.

Fast and Loose Recovery Work

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We want to make sure we’re taking care of our body on a daily basis. Adding foam rolling, mobility, stability, and movement prep work daily is going to make sure we’re addressing any movement limitations or imbalances as much as possible. This helps protect against injury as well. To steal a tagline from Functional Movement Systems (FMS), we have to move well before we can move often.

By addressing current imbalances, muscular weaknesses, and other areas of concern, we’re giving them the most attention possible. If it took years to acquire, it will likely take quite a bit of time to alleviate. Just like a weight loss journey, we can’t expect an overnight transformation.

Breath work is another great way for the body to relax, destress, and recover. Working through deep, belly breaths allows the body to move into the rest and digest state. Similarly, to how we want to balance tension with fast and loss, we want to allow the body to balance “fight or flight” with “rest and digest”.

Don’t let your calluses build up.

One of the most talked about topics when we ramp up kettlebell training is hand care. Master Instructor Whoo-chae Yoon said it best during my SFG1 Certification when he told us: If you’re ripping calluses and tearing up your hands, you’re making a mistake. It’s not a badge of honor to have your hands torn up.

However, there is an art to hand care. For strength exercises, such as the pull-up and deadlift, we have a different grip than our ballistic snatches. We can’t neglect our calluses and let them build up. When I was first reading about how to care for calluses, I found numerous different methods. The one that works best for me is:

Using a callus shaver or pumice stone to shave down the calluses while your hands are dry. I’ll usually do this before a shower at night especially. That way, I know I’ll be able to let them relax instead of loading weights while I’m coaching during the day. The water from the shower and the moisture also feels great on them, once they’re shaven down. Then I’ll moisturize with a thicker moisturizer, such as the Coconut Body Butter from Trader Joe’s, and let it soak in

During the day, when I’m coaching or have to use my hands a lot, I’ll also use Corn Huskers Lotion to moisturize and maintain them. I’ve found that it’s best to have callus there, but we want it to be tough, yet smooth.

Just like anything else, hand care is some trial-and-error. I know a lot of people recommend soaking the hands first or shaving down calluses after they shower. But for me, I’ve found that having my hands wet causes me to shave them down too far, so they’re raw the next day.

Preventative Tune Ups w/ Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, etc.

The best way to avoid serious injury is to stay ahead of it! By visiting Physical Therapist or Chiropractor when the injury small, or perhaps not even an injury yet at all, we can make sure our body is feeling good throughout the process. If something is bugging you, or you feel a knot that you can’t seem to release on your own, addressing it when it’s small is likely a better route than to let it get to something big.

It’s All Individual

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Take time to get to know your body – there may be some trial and error within the first few weeks. For example, to use myself, I HATE training with food in my stomach. While eating pre-training is typically optimal for performance, it’s not for me. Instead, I opt to train fasted and make sure that I have a good meal ready for me immediately after training to help in recovery as soon as possible.

You may have some trial and error similar to this – What time of day is best? What foods digest the best? Do you need to do a PT/Chiropractic tune up more often? The first few weeks are the best time to get this trial and error out of the way. Then, as we get closer to competition, we fine tune everything, ensuring we have optimal training as well as recovery!

by Emily O’Connor, SFG1 and Unity Fitness Lifestyle Transformation Coach

So, You Want to do a Kettlebell Snatch?

By Coach Emily O’Connor

Doesn’t that hurt your wrist?!

You mean, it’s kind of like a swing, but you finish with the bell overhead?!

Catch the kettlebell… over your head?!

Oh yes, the infamous kettlebell snatch. It’s an impressive feat and a necessary one, if you want to compete in the twice-annual Tactical Strength Competition (TSC) held by gyms across the world whose coaches are affiliated with Strong First. But how does one go about learning this exercise? First, I HIGHLY recommend that you don’t take my approach: “Watch one video, grab your test-sized kettlebell, and give it a go in your living room (no warm up, necessary).”

Not the best way to be successful, right? The snatch is a highly technical movement and reading about it, listening to tips and tricks, and watching videos can all help. But, I would highly recommend finding an SFG (StrongFirst Girya) who is certified and can help you trouble shoot your individual snatch.

If you’re local to La Crosse, Unity has three SFG1 instructors, Jordan, Mandy, and myself. But, if you’re not, you can search by location here or contact us for online training options!

However, if you are going at it alone, or if your coach wants you to do some more reading, here’s a step-by-step guide to your first kettlebell snatch. A final note, this article will reference hardstyle kettlebell training and standards. If you’re searching for further information, use “StrongFirst” or “hardstyle” in all searches, so as to not mistakenly find a competition style informational video. 

Evaluate where you’re at, why do you want to do it.

First, you need to figure out why you want to kettlebell snatch.

Do you want a natural progression to your current kettlebell training?

Do you want it to compete in an event like the TSC?

Do you want to try something new and different?

Do you want it just to feel like a badass and do cool stuff?

All of these are AWESOME reasons, and I encourage you to go after it. However, knowing the answers also provides clarity to other variables. Training experience, a potential deadline of a looming competition, or, if you’re using it to reach a goal, ensuring it’s the BEST possible choice of exercise to get you there. All of these are important factors to consider before you learn the kettlebell snatch.

Clear your shoulder mobility.

There are a few movement tests that you might want to have checked before you begin any exercise program. Ensuring that you’re moving within your capabilities, while working to bring up the weak links, is important to reduction of injury and longevity of your training program. If you’re working outside of your current capacity, you’re very likely to be injured at some point. It’s just a matter of time.

For the kettlebell snatch, overhead mobility (and stability) is crucial. You must be able to bring your arm directly overhead without compromising a properly braced core. In the picture, this is the image on the left. The image on the right is an example of what a “disconnected” and improperly braced core may look like without adequate shoulder mobility.

Clearing this is simple. Stand straight up with your heels as close to the wall as possible and back flat on the wall, from the hips to the shoulder blades. The back of the head should also be touching. Form a “thumbs up” sign, raise one hand, keeping the elbow straight, and try to bring your thumb to the wall, without losing contact of your spine on the wall. Can you touch the wall? Repeat on the other side? Maybe you can touch the wall with one hand, but not the other? Can you touch the wall with both hands at the same time?

If you cannot touch the wall, while maintaining contact of the spine on the wall, you likely need to work on shoulder mobility. Consult a physical therapist, especially if there’s pain, or work with a coach to improve that mobility before you move forward with ANY overhead movements. However, even if don’t pass this shoulder mobility test, we can still work on other things to get you a few steps closer to that kettlebell snatch.

Moving from the Kettlebell Swing to the Single Arm Swing

If you want to snatch, but you’ve never done a kettlebell swing, you’re skipping quite a few steps. We need to nail that two-arm swing, as well as the single-arm swing, before you can think about moving toward the snatch. A powerful swing allows you to generate the maximum amount of power from your hips.

A single-arm swing teaches you to control the kettlebell in a single hand and to resist rotation of the torso as the bell swings between your legs. Maintaining scapular control is crucial as we transition from the upper body controlling the weight in front of the body to controlling the weight in a rack or overhead position.

These movements are just as complex as the snatch, but in order to control the length of the article, I’m going to link a few videos for you to watch that break each of these exercises down. Whether you’re a newbie to kettlebells or have been swinging for years, no one’s ever too advanced to ignore a technique brush-up.

Here’s a video breaking down the kettlebell swing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHxcTn1UeAc&t=62s

Here’s a video breaking down the single-arm kettlebell swing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHn5GQGJLfc

Next up, the Kettlebell Clean

You have a powerful single-arm swing; the kettlebell clean is the next step. At this step, you’ll learn how to keep the bell close, as well as the crucial “punch” for the catch of the kettlebell in the rack position. A snatch is caught with a similar hand and wrist position, while overhead, so this is a crucial step.

The clean harnesses the power of the swing, while practicing other elements of control that you’ll need to perform the kettlebell snatch. The clean allows you to practice coordinating the movement of the bell with the movement of your wrist and arm. This helps prevent smacking your wrist and leaving some pretty nasty bruising. Wrist guards can help, especially in the learning stages, so you may need to invest in a pair.

One tip I like to use here is to think “Row and punch.” To keep the bell close, we want to swing into a row toward the body and then punch the hand through to catch. This is similar to the high pull and punch that will make up our snatch.

Here’s a video breaking down the kettlebell clean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYh7Kf_lEMY

Start Moving Up; Nailing the Kettlebell High Pull

So, we’ve gotten the power from the hips. We’ve practiced keeping the bell close and “punching” in the kettlebell clean. Now, it’s time to start moving up, literally. By this point, you’ll want to have your shoulder mobility test close to cleared, if not be able to fully pass the test.

We can break the snatch down to essentially two parts: a kettlebell high pull and the punch. While there are many steps within each, mastering both allows you to master the snatch. I like to think of the high pull as a vertical kettlebell swing, of sorts. I use the same power from my hips as a swing or clean, while controlling the bell close to the body and in an upward trajectory. The key here is to pull “up” and not “back”. Eventually, we want that bell to end directly overhead, not behind the body, so nailing this trajectory is important.

Starting to look a little like a kettlebell snatch, don’t you think?

Here’s a video breaking down the kettlebell high pull: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyXGycl1ZrQ&t=11s

Clean and Press Up, Snatch from the Top Down

Moving forward is no good unless you have your shoulder mobility cleared, as well as be able to control and be stable in that overhead position. So, if you don’t I would recommend following up with that physical therapist or put in more time working to clear it. Be patient. It might take a lot of time, depending on your unique situation. It’s not always something that you can improve overnight.

But, you’ve been good about your homework, and your shoulder mobility and stability are cleared. Now, we can clean and press the kettlebell into an overhead position and practice controlling the descent of the kettlebell. Each of these reps will return to the ground; don’t string them together quite yet.

Start with a light bell and bring it into an overhead position with a clean and press. Initiate the down by bending the elbow and keeping the kettlebell close to the body. This is key. Casting the bell out in front uses energy and places unnecessary stress on the spine and shoulder, as well as increases injury risk. Think about unzipping your coat (or shirt) as you control the bell into the hike of the swing and return it to the ground. Clean and press into the next rep.

Snatch from the Bottom Up, Eccentric Press and Clean to the Ground

You’ve nailed the top down, now it’s time to reverse it. We’re snatching from the bottom up and then controlling the descent through an eccentric press and clean to set the bell back on the ground. Here, we want to remember the two-part, high pull and punch, that I referenced earlier. The snatch, in simplest form, is a REALLY high, high-pull and a punch. Nailing the timing of the transition is crucial to a successful catch.

It will take time. But start light, as with every step. You can expect to drop a bell size or two each time you move up the ladder of this progression. This allows for less punishing mistakes. Accidentally smacking your wrist with a 16kg bell hurts a heck of a lot more than an 8kb bell, let me assure you! Spare your wrists and start light and/or invest in wrist guards as you’re learning.

You’ve Reached the Full Kettlebell Snatch

It’s time to string them together! Take the top down and bottom up, and perform reps! Start with singles; make sure the bell starts and stops on the ground with each rep. Then, as you become confident, you can string multiple reps together.

Start light and think about all the cues that you’ve learned up to this point. Each one, from the double arm swing power and control to unzipping the coat on the descent is absolutely crucial! Without them, it’ll be difficult, if not impossible, to perform seamless kettlebell snatches.

Here’s a video breaking down the full kettlebell snatch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZO3DzqaKfs

There is an intelligent progress to every exercise and the kettlebell snatch is no exception. Moving through each of these stages is crucial to learning a proper kettlebell snatch. There are drills and techniques to practice at every stage that go well beyond the scope of this article. As I said in the beginning, the snatch is a highly technical exercise and I encourage everyone to undertake the pursuit to learn it. But I equally recommend that you find a StrongFirst Certified coach to work with – in person or online – throughout your journey. While there is a trial-and-error period, and learning how best to “punch” the bell so that you don’t smack your wrist rep after rep, embracing the challenge and pushing the boundaries of what you’re capable of will teach you more than you could’ve ever imagine.

Emily O’Connor, NSCA-CPT, Pn1, SFG1