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How To Improve Your Secret Service Snatch Test Score

April 29, 2008 02:28 PM

Few things will let you know what you are made of like the Secret Service Snatch Test (SSST). Developed by United States Secret Service Counter Assault Team with the philosophy of keeping things simple in theory while making them incredible demanding in execution. The test is the perfect combination of strength, conditioning, and the ability to concentrate under stress, exhaustion and plain old guts.

The SSST rules are simple: it consists of doing as many snatches as possible in ten minutes. That's it. Unlike the rules for girevoy sport (GS), you may switch hands as often as you like, and you may set the kettlebell down whenever you want to. Men use a 24kg kettlebell and women use 12kg

If you are ready for the challenge, I am going to give you some tips and strategies to help you improve your numbers considerably in a short period of time. We will assume that your technique is dialed in and that you aren't going to shred your palms with the volume of snatches. If you find that to be the case, it is back to the Enter the Kettlebell Right of Passage workout and practicing snatch technique for you.

Establish baseline.

What is your current SSST score? This is important information in developing the plan that often gets overlooked for some reason. Imagine this conversation between a well-meaning KB enthusiast (known as WMKBE) and me:

WMKBE: "Hey Dave, I want to get 220 in the SST. Can you give me any tips?"

Me: "Sure. How many can you do now?"

WMKBE: "Huh?"

Me: "How many reps can you do now in the SSST?"

WMKBE: "I dunno, I never tried..."

It's kind of like saying "How do you get to New York?" The answer is different if you are in Nashville or Miami.

Identify the target.

I have to say that is vitally important to your success to set realistic goal. You probably will not go from 102 to 245 in 6 weeks. You can adjust numbers in the example here to meet your needs.

Let's say for our example that you give it a go and your best is 155. Can we get you to 200 in 6 weeks? I believe so, if you are willing to do the work.

Divide and Conquer.

You will do the snatch workout twice per week on non-consecutive days. For example Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday. On your other days you can practice your get-ups, presses, cleans, pull-ups, etc. You may also do other less demanding training on your snatch days, after snatching of course.

Divide your rep goal into tenths. Since our goal is 200, the sets will be 10 with each hand (10/10) for a total of 20 reps per set. You will stick with this rep scheme for the entire program. I highly recommend that you invest in a Gymboss interval timer from It keeps track of the intervals for you, can be programmed down to the second and like a kettlebell, it doesn't apologize or accept excuses.

Start with 1 minute rest between sets. If you snatch at a moderate pace, you should get 10/10 in less than one minute, and it should take you less than 20 minutes to complete 200 reps. Over the next six weeks, you will reduce the rest between sets by 10 seconds each week.

The weekly progression look like this:
Week two- :50 rest between sets
Week three- :40 rest between sets
Week four- :30 rest between sets
Week five- :20 rest between sets
Week six- :10 rest between sets

By the time you get to week six, with 10 seconds rest between 10 sets of 10/10, you will be very close to your goal of 200 reps. On the second scheduled workout of week six, test again. Stick to switching hands every 10 reps and keeping the pace even. 200 should fall with some effort, but it will be doable.


Seems pretty simple, right? That's because it is. Train hard, smart and consistently and you'll get the results.

David Whitley is an RKC Team Leader based in Nashville, TN. Visit his website