View Full Version : Secret Service Snatch Test (for Kettlebells)

03-14-2007, 07:04 AM
The Secret Service Snatch Test is 10 minutes of continuous one-arm kettlebell snatches for repetitions. You may switch hands as often as you'd like, but rest is only permitted in the overhead position. Men use a 24kg kettlebell and ladies use a 12kg kettlebell.

Sounds like fun. Any takers?

There was an interesting post at the dragondoor forums about training for this and improving your VO2Max by Kenneth Jay. Here is the bulk of it:

I will share with you one of my best advanced protocols for improving VO2max and lactate buffering capacity using the kettlebell.

To improve the 10 min. SSST you need to tax the oxidative energy pathways as well as the glycolytic pathways. Basically that means that you should train to stimulate your VO2max and your lactate producing and buffering capacities.

The program below is derived from the latest research on improving 10-15 min. work bouts. Most research is done on running and bicycling for good reason but based on findings from these studies it is possible to specifically design optimal SSST programs using this data and the knowledge of VO2 kinetics during submaximal and maximal work.

I will not go into the deep theory behind this kind of training but rather just provide you with a protocol you can start doing immediately. Should you be interested in knowing in detail why and how it works I hope to see you at the RKC II where there is a possibility of discussing it further.

The first thing you have to do is to establish at what snatch cadence you come the closest to eliciting your VO2max. This is done by doing an incremental test that lasts no less than 6 minutes. Basically you just start out very slow and for each minute you increase the cadence. When you have get to the 6th minute you go all out snatching as many times as you can without stopping for at least one minute. The test might look like this but is subject to individual differences:

1st minute: 10 reps left arm
2nd minute: 12 reps right arm
3rd minute 15 reps left arm
4th minute: 17 reps right arm
5th minute: 18 reps left arm
6th minute: 26 reps right arm (all out effort)

The 6th minute reflects your VO2max cadence, hence that will be your interval training tempo. It is very important for the protocol that you continued snatching for the entire 6th minute. (make sure afterwards you balance out the numbers of snatches performed on each side so each side get a total equal amount of work).

In this example the VO2max cadence = 26reps

The interval work/rest time is determined to 36 sec. which is 60% of one min.

In those 36 sec. you need to keep your VO2max cadence = 26reps x 60% = approx. 16 reps.

So the setup is as follows:

VO2max/lactate tolerance and buffering:

Work/rest ratio: 1:1 (36 sec of work separated by 36 sec of rest.)

Number of intervals: at least 10 and the goal is to work up to 17+ sets before you test the SSST.

Number of reps per set: 16 (it is very important NOT to go faster or slower. DO NOT speed up to get more rest- it will ruin what you are trying to do.)

If your hands can take it do this at least twice per week. Only substitute with swings if it is really necessary. The program is based on the specific VO2 kinetics of the snatch not the swing.

The program is very taxing and one should always build up volume slowly.

Now go be an animal and try it!

/Kenneth Jay

03-14-2007, 08:40 AM
So sensei... are you back from the hospital after trying this? :)
Seriously, have you tried it?

03-14-2007, 10:28 AM
That sounds like a cool WOD to attempt.

With some practice working up to it, of course. ;)

I've been experimenting lately with more 1-h DB type stuff and I think some kettlebells may have to be purchased in the near future because they're so damn cool

I gotta admit that "secret service snatch test" sounds like something that was put in place during the Clinton administration designed to improve trim-scouting skills though

03-14-2007, 10:36 AM
So sensei... are you back from the hospital after trying this? :)
Seriously, have you tried it?Heck no! Apparently, I was wrong about resting. You can put the KB down - makes it a little more like an EDT workout and a little less insane.

KBs are nice for many exercises. Not a necessity, but a lot of fun.

05-15-2007, 10:02 PM
I finally gave this a shot and got 133 - not happy with that. Apparently 200 is a good number.... I have it on video and I'll try to upload it later - it will be pretty boring though.

05-15-2007, 11:46 PM
I'm joining a new gym in a couple weeks. If they have heavy enough kettlebells there I'll try this for a GPP workout. I'm just going to make it my goal to see how many I can do in 10 minutes.

Interesting article BTW.

Oh, and what's the difference between swings and snatches?

Maki Riddington
05-16-2007, 01:52 PM
I'm gonna order about 4 or 5 for my boot camp and for my clients. It should be fun.

05-16-2007, 02:31 PM
For those of you who are interested, there are some ladies at CrossFit who recently competed in this ... you can check out their journals:


05-16-2007, 03:22 PM
Catherine Imes is amazing. She can easily kick my ass on SSST.

05-16-2007, 04:30 PM
Yeah, I think Catherine could kick all our asses on just about anything. Kelly Moore is no slouch either ... 40+, 118 pounds ... the woman is not human, I swear.

05-16-2007, 07:07 PM
Does she do a lot of the CrossFit stuff? I always assumed most of her training was KB?. An amazing, amazing athlete.

05-19-2009, 12:44 PM
Update from about a month ago (193 reps):


05-19-2009, 12:55 PM
This is awesome. I will do this either this week or next week and report. 193 is great!

05-19-2009, 04:33 PM
Wow. That just looks and sounds tortuous. I'd much rather try the Kettlebell Challenge that they did at the Arnold which was working your way up to the 60kg (132lb) kettlebell presses for max reps, clean first and press as many times as possible with one arm, then switch arms. Anyone ever try that one? I saw Valery Fedorenko do it for 51 reps (I think it was 23 reps with his right, then 28 with the left. Ridiculous!). This was after Karl Gillingham managed 27 reps total with it (keep in mind Gillingham is TWICE Fedorenko's size, too!).

05-19-2009, 08:03 PM
That's ballistic Sensei! I'll have to try it one of these days when I'm feeling masochistic...

05-19-2009, 09:07 PM
Thanks guys - I appreciate it.

Heath & Tom,
Make sure your kb snatch technique is dialed in before you try it. Swings are a great exercise too and not as difficult to master.

The most I've ever done clean and jerks and snatches with is a 40kg kettlebell. It's the heaviest one I have. Official competitions are w. a 32kg bell. Valery and the top guys are freaks, no doubt - I'm pretty sure that if I tried to clean and jerk a 132lb bell, the only thing I'd accomplish is blowing out my rotator cuff. Maybe someday.

05-19-2009, 09:31 PM
I might actually chuck some videos up of me completing some KB exercises sometime soon for your criticisms Sensei. I feel that I'm doing them correctly but it's hard to monitor as I've never received any instruction aside from books and videos.

05-19-2009, 09:56 PM
I'd be happy to take a look. PM me w. a link if you take some footage.

05-19-2009, 10:45 PM
My form is pretty good. I have been practicing for almost a year now. I have even taught a kettlebell seminar.

05-22-2009, 01:47 AM
do you hold the handle at an angle in that video? I had a problem when I used the 70lb KB of it hitting my forearm at the top of the movement. any pointers with that aspect of the lift? thanks.

05-23-2009, 11:06 PM
Yes, I do. There are a lot of reasons why the bell might be hammering your forearm, but the most common one is "punching" the bell too late or just letting the bell flop over on you at the end. Hand positioning will matter A LOT after your grip starts to fatigue and you seek rest in the top position.