Snatches are for lifters, not rowers, right?

I learn things every day.  One of the most challenging things I’ve learned in Crossfit is the snatch.  I hate them.  I dread them.  I stink at them.  They hurt my shoulders and forearms.  I used to cherry pick snatch WODs, I admit it.  They have nothing to do with rowing, so why should I practice them?  I am never going to compete as an Olympic lifter, right?

Here’s why I’ve learned to love the snatch, especially the kettlebell snatch.

1.  It’s a highly complex full-body movement requiring a highly connected power curve, precise timing, a lot of neurological stimulation, and a complex physical system involving a weight flying through the air.  Sounds a lot like a rowing stroke, huh?   Few lifts involve the level of neurological coordination that can simulate a rowing stroke in a moving boat.

2.  It auto-diagnoses right/left imbalances in the body, especially alternating arms with a kettlebell snatch.  As with many rowers who started out sweep rowing on port side, I have 2-3 inches more length and power with my left arm and more fine motor control with my right.  This ironically also means that my left shoulder girdle is “looser” and more prone to injury.  It’s harder for me to stabilize a flying kettlebell overhead on my left side than my right.  Kettlebell snatches train this weakness and are great for injury prevention in the shoulder girdle.  Important for scullers, especially in rough water where you get a lot of three-dimensional bouncing around.

3.  Having done a combined rowing/kettlebell snatch WOD recently, I am really sore in my lats,traps, biceps, and forearms.  Surprisingly, these would be the same muscles that would be sore after a bench pull workout.  Why?  With a moving kettlebell, you are essentially doing eccentric pulls against several times the weight of the bell to prevent it from flying out of your hand…high-rep kettlebell snatches also really work your grip strength, which is great for scullers.  Much more dynamic than bench pulls.


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