The Double Kettlebell Snatch: the Exercise You Never Knew You Needed

By Matt Walter
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Learn how to perform and program the double kettlebell snatch

CrossFit introduced me to kettlebell training, and the kettlebell snatch is one of my all-time favorite exercises. I’d primarily done the single-arm version, but lately, the double kettlebell snatch has been my go-to, core-busting, calorie-burning, heart rate-jacking exercise of choice.

The double is performed just like the regular kettlebell snatch, but you use two bells instead of one.

By the end of this article, you will understand how to correctly perform the double kettlebell snatch, how to avoid the most common errors, and my favorite way to make this exercise part of your training.

I will cover:

  • How to perform the double kettlebell snatch
  • The benefits of the double kettlebell snatch
  • Tips to help you improve your technique
  • How to avoid the most common double kettlebell snatch errors
  • How to fit the double kettlebell snatch into your routine

Heads up: this page includes affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products or equipment I have personally vetted.

Video: The Double Kettlebell Snatch Demonstration

How to Perform the Double Kettlebell Snatch

For this exercise, you will need a pair of kettlebells.

Before we begin, I need to point out that you should already know how to do the single-arm kettlebell snatch and the kettlebell swing.

Setup

Step 1: Place two kettlebells on the floor side-by-side, with the horns turned 45-degrees inward. Stand with a wide stance behind the kettlebells. Wide enough for both bells to fit between your legs.

Step 2: Hinge forward and grab a kettlebell in each hand. The thumb side of your hand should be pressed into the 90-degree angle created by the horn. Don’t hold the bell in the very middle of the handle.

Step 3: Pull your shoulders down and back to “pack your back” and stabilize each kettlebell. Your knees should be bent slightly, your hips slightly higher than your knees, and your back should have a slight arch.

Double Kettlebell Snatch Setup

Execution

Step 4: Hike both bells back between your legs, bringing your forearms up high into your crotch area.

Step 5: Drive your hips forward while maintaining a soft bend in your elbows. As the kettlebells clear your legs begin to rotate your hands to a pronated (palms down) position.

Step 6: Continue driving up onto your toes, fully extending your ankles knees, and hips as the kettlebells swing up to chest level.

Step 7: When the kettlebells are at chest level, pull your elbows high and to the sides as if you’re trying to bring the kettlebells next to your ears.

Step 8: Bring your elbows down and under the bells and punch through the handles and toward the ceiling. The kettlebells should feel almost weightless at this point, and you shouldn’t have to grip them hard. In fact, you should be able to open your hands with the bells sitting nice and comfortably in the space between your thumb and forefinger.

Double Kettlebell Snatch Finishing Position

The Return

Step 9: From the top lockout position, drop the kettlebell back down by rotating your palms towards you. This will bring the bells outside your arms. As your arms descend, rotate your hands inward so that they are always facing toward your body, and then knuckles angled toward each other as they pass between your legs.

Step 10: When the kettlebells reach chest height, begin to bend at the knees and hinge at the hips, pulling the bells back between your legs as your arms fall.

Step 11: As you return to the starting position, place your forearms back on top of your thighs and let the bells swing all the way back through your legs.

Step 12: That’s one rep! Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Muscles Worked by the Double Kettlebell Snatch

The double kettlebell snatch is a full-body workout. But here are the main muscles you can plan on targeting with this exercise.

The swing part of the double kettlebell snatch targets your glutes, hamstrings, core, hip flexors, and quads. The high pull and snatch are great for your upper lats, traps, and delts.

Even your calves get a workout as you rise up on your toes to triple extend and send the kettlebells flying.

Finally, the kettlebell snatch is excellent for grip strength. Whether you want to improve your deadlift or carry all your groceries into the house in one trip, this exercise will help.

Benefits of the Double Kettlebell Snatch

The double kettlebell snatch can build strength, muscle, coordination, and stamina.

Improved Cardio

Kettlebell work is known for its cardiovascular benefits. Adding a second bell forces you to move a heavier load, which will significantly increase your heart rate.

Use More Muscles and Joints

The kettlebell snatch is a powerful full-body exercise. Doubling the weight can increase muscular activation and joint recruitment throughout your entire body. (1) Your hips and ankles will especially benefit, which will translate to better stability and performance in other athletic areas.

Correct Side-to-Side Imbalances

The double kettlebell snatch is a great way to even out your strength and improve your coordination on both sides.

The double kettlebell snatch requires you to perform two snatches out of one hip hinge. Your body will have to remain centered and balanced, along with proper movement mechanics about your hips, core, back, and shoulders.

During the single-arm version, there is a tendency for your dominant side to take over. This makes it very easy to compensate for muscular imbalances or variations in tightness and mobility.

You’ll notice immediately if you’re compensating to one side during the double version. Both bells should rise and fall at the same rate.

Easier on Your Joints

Kettlebell exercises are a great form of low-impact cardio. That’s part of the reason I love to end my workouts with them. Your feet don’t leave the ground, so there’s no pounding on your lower body joints.

Improved Coordination and Balance

The double kettlebell swing also requires better coordination than the single-arm swing. Just think about it – you have to keep two bells swinging in sync while your body moves side to side.

This is a great way to develop balance and coordination, which will aid in other areas of training and life.

Plus, if you’re new to kettlebells, using two at once can help challenge your proprioception (your ability to know where your limbs are in space) since you now have twice as many objects to control.

Proprioception is important for injury prevention and movement quality during things like squats or overhead presses. The double kettlebell swing can help “wake up” your proprioceptors

Add Variety to Your Training

If you’re bored with your current kettlebell workout routine, try double swings as a way to add some new challenges.

You don’t need to do them all the time – but adding them in once in a while can help break up the monotony of your training and target different areas of fitness.

Plus, if you find that you really enjoy double swings (or if you have a lot of fun with them), then make them a regular part of your training! Just be sure to increase the load incrementally so that you don’t wind up getting injured.

Double Kettlebell Snatch Tips

The following tips will help you perfect your technique.

Use the Half Snatch

The half snatch breaks the lowering phase of the movement into two parts.

The snatch is completed as normal, in one explosive movement snatching the kettlebells from between your legs to overhead.

But instead of swinging the two kettlebells out in front of you and back between your legs, you will lower the kettlebells to your shoulders, and then swing them down to complete the rep.

I like this technique for two reasons:

  1. It saves your back. Unless you are going very light, two kettlebells swinging out in front of you and being pulled down between your legs causes a lot of strain on your back. And it’s unnecessary. I always perform the double version this way!
  2. When the kettlebells are swinging down fast there is an increased chance of smashing the bells together, crushing your knuckles, or slamming into your legs. Again, it’s just not worth it.

The heavier you go and the more fatigue you experience with the exercise, the more important this technique is.

Start from the Front Rack Position

You don’t have to start your first snatch from the hike position. Some find it much easier to clean the kettlebells up to the front rack position and pause. Then drop into the hike position and perform your first snatch.

Learn These Other Kettlebell Movements First

The double kettlebell snatch should not be your first kettlebell exercise. Master the Russian and American kettlebell swings, both two-handed and one-handed, the kettlebell clean, and the single kettlebell snatch first.

Learn these single kettlebell movements in the following order. When you are very comfortable with one, you’ve perfected your technique and can handle a 35 to 53-pound kettlebell, move on to the next movement.

  1. Russian Kettlebell Swing, two-handed
  2. Russian Kettlebell Swing, single-arm
  3. American Kettlebell Swing, two-handed
  4. American Kettlebell Swing, single-arm
  5. Kettlebell Hand to Hand Swings
  6. Kettlebell Clean, single-arm
  7. Kettlebell High Pull
  8. Kettlebell Snatch, single-arm

Double bell movements are a logical next step once you’ve mastered the single-bell moves. I teach the double bell moves in the same basic sequence as the single bell movements.

  1. Double Russian Kettlebell Swing
  2. Double American Kettlebell Swing
  3. Double Kettlebell Clean
  4. Double Kettlebell High Pull
  5. Double Kettlebell Snatch

Common Errors With the Double Kettlebell Snatch

Now that you know how to perform the double kettlebell snatch, let’s go over some common mistakes so you can avoid them.

Not Enough Hip Drive

One of the most common errors is not using enough hip drive. Remember, this is a hip-hinge movement, meaning that your hips should be doing most of the work. If you find that you are using your arms too much, then focus on driving your hips back and keeping your chest up.

High Hike Position

Another common error is not getting low enough in the hike position. Again, this goes back to proper hip hinge mechanics. You want to make sure that you are hinging at the hips and not rounding your lower back.

If you round your lower back, then it will be very difficult to drive through with your hips and complete the snatch. So keep those kettlebells close to your body and get low in the hike position!

Kettlebells Too Wide

Finally, many people swing the kettlebells out too wide when they transition from the swing to the high pull. This puts a lot of stress on the shoulders and makes it difficult to maintain control of the kettlebells.

Programming the Double Kettlebell Snatch

Have some fun integrating the double kettlebell snatch into your training with the following ideas.

Go for Reps

Kettlebell work is often done for high reps, especially rep targets. Use any of the following styles and chase some reps!

EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute)

Pick a number and perform that many reps at the top of every minute for a set duration of time.

Try 10 double KB snatches at the top of each minute for 10 minutes to start.

Death By…

This is my favorite way to warm up prior to lifting. Pick a movement and perform 1 rep at the start of the first minute, 2 reps at the start of the second minute, 3 reps at the 3rd…until you can’t complete the number of reps necessary for a given minute.

This won’t feel like much until the 6th or 7th minute. But after that, you’ll be working for all you’re worth.

AMREPS (As Many Reps As Possible)

Pick a time limit and perform as many double KB swings as you can in that amount of time. I like to throw two dice, add the number together, and then go for it. Maybe you only have to go for 2 minutes (which means sprint and go as hard as you can!), or maybe you toss two sixes and have to figure out how to pace this thing.

Either way, you’re in for a treat.

For Time

Pick a set number of reps to complete. Maybe 50. And do them as fast as you can against a running clock. Try and beat your previous best!

Go for Strength and Power

Kettlebells are incredibly effective at improving strength. Due to their odd shape and weight distribution, coupled with unilateral movement, they activate stabilizing muscles, force each side to work independently, and require explosive force and strength to move and control.

Working up to a heavy one arm kettlebell snatch is one thing (albeit a phenomenal feat of strength!). But two bells?!! Your body will have to work in powerful coordination to elevate and control both.

A good test of strength for most men is a double kettlebell snatch with a pair fo 32kg bells. For women, 25kg in each hand.

Warm-up with the single-arm kettlebell snatch first. This will prepare both arms for the heavy load and prime your nervous system.

Then, lower the weight back down a bit and move into the double snatch. Work up to your heaviest weight.

Putting the Double Kettlebell Snatch to Use in Your Training

If you’re planning on improving your strength with this movement or even competing (IKLF Bolt has a great competition for this movement!), perform the exercise first in your training for the day.

My favorite way to use the double KB snatch, however, is last on my training day.

I’m not a huge fan of cardio. I get bored easily. I hate running, and I don’t love walking on a treadmill for 45-minutes. I don’t mind walking outside, but where I live it’s freezing cold for half of the year.

But I need to get my heart rate up each and keep my cardiovascular and respiratory systems healthy.

So I’ve started ending each of my training days with 3-5 minutes of high-intensity work. The double KB snatch is great for this!

Any of the methods I listed above will work great. Choose a short time domain and go for broke.

I usually pair it with an ab exercise. Try this:

40 seconds of double kettlebell snatches, 20 seconds of rest

40 seconds of v-ups, 20 seconds of rest.

3 to 5 times through.

It’s a great way to end any training session!

Double Kettlebell Snatch Variations

Got the double kettlebell snatch down? Give these variations a try.

Deadstop Kettlebell Snatch

Normally when we do kettlebell snatches we swing from the hang. The first rep is from the floor, into the hike, up to the snatch, back to the hike between the legs, and then back up to the snatch. We only place the bells on the floor when we are finished with the set.

With the deadstop version, you perform a double kettlebell snatch exactly as detailed above, but after dropping into the hike you place the bells back on the floor. Don’t take tension off your body! But place the bells, and then start again for your second rep.

  • hike
  • snatch
  • drop to hike between legs
  • place bells on the ground in front of you
  • hike, snatch, repeat

This allows you to practice the entire movement from start to finish, including hiking the kettlebells, one rep at a time.

Double Kettlebell Power Snatch

With the traditional KB snatch, there is no dip or catching the weight in a partial squat. You snatch the weight high and punch your hands through, receiving the kettlebells in a fully extended position.

The kettlebell power snatch version follows the timing and coordination of a traditional barbell snatch.

Hike the kettlebells between your legs and drive your hips forward, rising up onto your toes as you reach triple extension of your ankles, knees, and hips.

Pull your elbows high and to the sides and push your body beneath the bells, dropping into a quarter squat.

Drive with your legs and return to a fully standing position with the kettlebells locked out overhead.

The version is more difficult than the traditional one because the kettlebell’s receiving position must be matched to your squat depth.

But, because you’ll be squatting under the bells, you won’t have to elevate them as high, making this a stronger variation that should allow you to handle heavier kettlebells.

Double Outside Leg Kettlebell Snatch

This variation is performed just like the traditional between the legs version, but with the bells held suitcase-style outside the legs.

You’ll have less power and drive from your hips, but the narrower stance can be easier on your lower back.

A common error with this version is not fully extending the hips and making this more of an upper body movement. Do your best to keep your form exactly the same as the traditional version. That way you get the best of both worlds; a powerful hip hinge but possibly a better position for your low back.

Related: The Kettlebell Thruster

Titan Fitness Cast Iron Kettlebells – These are my favorite style of kettlebells. If you are just getting into kettlebells, start with a 16 kg (35 lb) or 24 kg (53 lb) bell. I bought my 35-kg kettlebell from Titan Fitness and I love it.

Rogue Fitness Iron Kettlebells – These are great, high-quality kettlebells. I have two 16-kg and one 24-kg from Rogue.

Rogue Fitness E-Coat Kettlebells – These are slightly cheaper than the cast iron kettlebells but are of the same quality and are shaped from the same mold as the cast iron. I have one of these and I use it often with my cast iron version. They are the same height, weight, and feel, which is important if you are doing dual kettlebell work.

Conclusion: The Double Kettlebell Snatch is

The double kettlebell snatch is a ridiculously awesome exercise that will increase your strength, power, and athleticism. It’s also a great way to increase your muscle mass and lose weight. In this article, we’ve detailed how to perform the double kettlebell snatch, as well as some of its variations. We’ve also provided some tips on which kettlebells to buy. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start double kettlebell snatching!

References

  1. Levine, Nicholas A et al. “Effects of kettlebell mass on lower-body joint kinetics during a kettlebell swing exercise.” Sports biomechanics, 1-14. 4 Mar. 2020, doi:10.1080/14763141.2020.1726442
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AUTHOR

Matt has been a personal trainer for more than 18 years. He is also a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, has a master's degree in teaching, and is a former competitive powerlifter and CrossFit athlete. His passion is helping others get in shape from mid-life and beyond.

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