Saturday, October 6, 2012

Over the Moon...but I'm not going to lie...20kg 5 minute snatch test

I hope to keep this blog post short and to the point...."points"...

I decided (for reasons soon to be explained) to test the 5 minute snatch with the 20kg this morning.

I needed to video as I would knew I would lose count!

I thought it would be a good time for a number of reasons.  #1 Two of my three training partners are out of town (the country actually) for 2-3 weeks, leaving me with Maribel, and I know she's always game for anything!  #2  I took my body weight this morning and it was pretty high, surprisingly so in fact for a Saturday morning, not really because I know how much I've been eating!.  So I thought this could be a good time to put those "extra" pounds to work!  #3 To me, a more important training goal than to strict press the 24kg, or Get-up the 28kg is to complete the 5 minute snatch test with the 20kg...but that's just me!

Let me also preface this by explaining, not that I need to explain, that I have only snatched the 20kg once (3-4 weeks ago) in the past 2 + years.  I also recognize that a few female kettlebell athletes, that I truly have the highest respect for, have proven to pass this test with little, or no problem...but that's them, and this is me, for which I try not to compare!

This was a "baseline" test for me, and finishing it, and reviewing the video, has left me feeling "over the moon" happy!

Of course I did, in fact lose count of my reps.  I thought I had only completed 61 reps.  Far from my "dream" goal of 75 reps.  Watching it for the first time I counted close! But I was freakin happy as shit that I was that close!  When I thought I had only done 61, well, to be honest I was embarrassed.  I'm not going to lie...I expected my strength and ability to be better.  Okay, so now I know this is NOT going to be a short blog post!

Since this was my first attempt, and a surprise at that, I did not go in with a strategy.  Here is how I went into it and what I would change:

#1 I did not "warm up" in a way that I probably needed to.  I did an unusually short warm up. In fact I did not even snatch the 20kg for 1 rep before I started! I did two sets with the 12kg, two sets with the 16kg and then I went for it.  No swings, no nothing else.  I now know that I need a longer or different way of "warming up". Ok, fine!  Now I know!

#2 It took, easily, the first 3 minutes before I felt as if I had "found my groove"!  I wish I could have kept going past the 5 minutes!  In fact an hour later (after hundreds of swings) I thought about testing it again!  Of course I would have crashed and burned, (probably), but we'll never know at this point!

#3 I was actually depressed that I only managed 61 reps.  I thought about whether or not to post the video, or post a still picture with commentary.  But I pulled my egotistical head out of my ass and decided to post anyway (after I got approval from Mark that I didn't look like an idiot!)

#4  Reviewing the video the first time I re-counted 71 reps, not 61!  Good God!  Really?  71?  Okay, maybe I'm not such a loser!  Wow!  I was so close to my "dream" rep count for a first attempt (that I've not yet even trained for) of 75 reps!  Sweet!

#5  Re-reviewing the video...could it be?  Is it really?  81 reps?'re kidding!  81 reps!  6 reps beyond the 75 that was my dream goal, and 19 short of 100!  Over the freakin' moon!

It was clear to me what my weakness is to completing this test successfully.

#1  I'm weak!  Not my conditioning, not my grip, but my absolute strength.  I'm not making excuses, but I train a ton of volume, because I like it, but my core, my foundation of strength suffers because of this. It's like expecting a marathon runner to also set respectable powerlifting numbers!

#2  I'm not making excuses, but I am almost 50 years old, with NO background of any kind in any competitive sport or athletics....and should I throw in the fact that I was obese most of my adult life?  Okay, I won't go there...but...just sayin'

#3 I forgot to train heavier one hand swings as a prelude to this test!  I had no idea when I wanted to test this, only that some day I would want to...well, today was the day!  I just didn't plan for it!  To be honest, again, I was a bit afraid of it.  Seriously.  The reason why I haven't snatched the 20kg in years, much less trained for it, is because the last time I had tried, 2 + years ago, my grip was fried and the bell almost flew out of my hands (L) on the first rep.

Still many things to reflect upon.  But for now, I'm over the moon!

Now for Maribel's first ever attempt with the 16kg.

Maribel has been training with me for, probably, two years.  She first approached me 30-40 lbs heavier, maybe more. and has since lost the weight, and established a consistent, hardcore for sure, training routine!  She had no idea that I was going to throw a 5 minute snatch test at idea at all!  Maribel had only snatched the 16kg, for the first time ever, about 4 weeks ago.  She is 5' tall (approx) and her bodyweight around 130-135.  But here is the real deal.....I did NOT tell her I was snatching the 20kg.  I feel that this is an important part of the story because going into the test I knew I would not be snatching continuously, instead, unlike any other snatch test I've ever done, I would be putting the bell down at some, if not multiple points during the 5 minutes.

I really feel that if I never put the bell down Maribel would have been able to complete more continuous reps.  Instead, with me as an example, as a teacher and coach, putting the bell down as often as I did gave a less than best example.  Had Maribel known I was working with the 20kg, and not the 16kg, maybe she would have not, subconsciously, used me as a comparison.  For that I'm sorry I didn't coach her better.  I know, without a doubt, Maribel's 78 reps could have been better, more solid at least, if I had coached her through her first ever attempt!  And for that I apologize for my greediness.    It won't happen again!

Here is to both of us CRUSHING the next attempt!  Congratulations to the both of us!  We killed it!  Oh, and we went on to finish our mornings' workout with another 1100 swing reps...just sayin'!
(blogpost to follow!)

Picture above is of me and Maribel, maybe last Summer (?), she was 10 lbs heavier, but down 30lbs, or more, from her original starting weight!  I love my clients/training partners!


Anonymous said...

This is such a great post! Thanks for being transparent

Tracy Reifkind said...


Wow, and I wasn't even trying! You are welcome! Seriously, I never purposely try and hide anything! Nothing is a big deal!

Nadine said...

Hi Tracy,
Your test was VERY inspirational! I have been half snatching the 20kg for about a month now. Not for volume, but working the time and snatch holds. Friday for the first time- I hit 4rpm consistently for 5 min switching hands after every rep. I recognize we train differently, but in my 5 min I did 20 h snatches and you hit 81 even when you put the bell down!! :) Awesome! definitely a feat of strength. And though I truly believe age is just a number, a great accomplishment for a 49 year old. :) which is one of the reasons you are inspirational to me.
I, as a warm up, swing the 24kg for 100-ish swings. For me, this makes the 20 seem lighter - a head game, but what the heck! LOL
Once I started to swing and snatch the heavier bells, I found I personally need to train differently- both the swing and the snatch. - no more hv swings with multiple hand switches. I do 2 hd swings and roundabouts only. I do the H snatch to save my hands :)
just as an fyi - I am 5'2" , 47 and 121 pounds

anyway, back on track - High 5's to you and Maribell. Awesome :)

Maribel said...

I did follow your lead, but I also wanted to play it safe this time around. It was my first time with the 16, and only snatching it once was scary for me! As soon as I felt my snatch weakening, I stopped. I wanted ever one to feel strong. I think my rests may have been longer than I intended, but other than that, I feel pretty good about it. Especially knowing I hit 78!! Holy cow! 78! Around this time last year I was working with a 10k and now look at me!

I will say, I'm sore this morning...but that good sore :D

Tracy Reifkind said...


I appreciate your comments!

Yes, we do both train completely differently, but I have done a fair share of pacing work with the snatch and I can tell you right not that what you did probably requires more strength and training than what I did.

It's been my experience that the slower you go the harder it is to endure. I find an 18-22 RPM snatch as the easiest to go long distance, provided the weight is not too heavy. With a heavy bell it just intensifies the strength needed for the "holds".

I pretty much know what I have to do to get this done, and I agree, no more HV swing /multiple hand switches! Lots of heavy ass one hand swings (10/10), and lots of fast lighter snatches with, again, fewer hand switches. Fast snatch /holds.

Tracy Reifkind said...


It's Monday morning and I'm still sore as shit!