Most anyone who has ever picked up a kettlebell knows what the snatch walk (aka waiters walks) is and the benefits of it. For those that are unfamiliar with the movement, it’s time to open your eyes to the magic.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t have a kettlebell you can still get the benefits of the snatch with a dumbbell. The KB just has a few distinct advantages over the DB.
The KB Snatch Walk is basically just a single or double KB snatch and then a walk for distance or time with the KB in the overhead position.
You may be asking yourself why the hell you would care about something like making your shoulders and hips more stable and mobile. PLUS, how do those two go together?!
Think of how many people have desk jobs these days. For 8-10 hours each day they sit with their hips flexed, shoulders rolled forward, upper and lower back flexed forward, and cervical spine flexed forward. Now think of all the people that just have shitty posture. They stand with the same shoulder and back posture and their pelvis is tilted waaay forward. The goal is to get them to extend the upper back and cervical spine, pull their shoulders back, and rotate their pelvis back to neutral.
The Weapons of Choice
The primary advantage is that the weight isn’t centered in your hand. When you grab a KB you instantly create a longer, heavier, lever to move. While this may not seem like a big deal it means that you have to produce more power to get the KB snapped over at the top of the movement.
Another advantage is that at the top position the weight of the KB is laying on the backside of the wrist and hand. Since the angle of pull is now behind you, it forces the shoulder, and upper back to extend and stabilize to a greater degree then it would if the weight was centered around your hand.
Now, in the top position of the snatch there are a couple things that have to happen if you want to actually walk while in that position. The glutes and hamstrings have to fully engage while at the same time the hip flexors have to relax. In most cases where someones pelvis is tilted forward it causes some form or degree of back pain. Those who try to remedy it usually to about that by stretching their hamstrings because they’re “tight”. Where they run into trouble is that the reason their hamstrings are tight is because they’re hip flexors are even tighter! Therefore if the hamstrings relax anymore the pelvis will rotate even further forward. The simple solution is to stretch the hip flexors and to put them in a position where they have to relax and extend. The top position of the snatch is perfect for this because if the hip flexors don’t relax it will pull the upper body forward throwing off your balance. When you add walking with the weight extended overhead you get an even greater effect.
The last part is the incredible stimulation that your abdominals get as a result of the weight being extended away from the to body while moving. The closer the weight is to your body the easier it is to stabilize. The farther away the more challenging it gets since your abs are what connect and stabilize the upper and lower body. Essentially it creates a longer lever arm.
Putting It All Together
This exercise can be done as a part of a warm up or as part of a strength building routine. It can also be done with a single dumbbell or double kettlebells. The choice is yours. If you are using it as part of a warm up just drop the weights you are using so that they don’t fry you like heavier weights would.
Single KB Snatch Walk-
KB Snatch x 5 (right arm)
OH Walk x 50 ft
KB Snatch x 5 (left arm)
OH Walk x 50 ft
Vary your distances and weights. What I described would be 1 round. Perform 3-4 rounds. If using double KB’s simply snatch with both arms at the same time then do the overhead walking portion.
If you are doing the double KB version you can also do Cross Walks which is carrying one KB down at your side and the other extended overhead. Use the same method for those as you would the single KB snatch walks.