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The 16kg Kettlebell Snatch 1000 Rep Challenge

December 15, 2004 06:51 AM

I am not exactly sure how it got started, but I blame Steve Cotter. In the late fall of 2003, talk arose on the Dragon Door Forum about doing high repetition snatches with the 16kg kettlebell. Some guys had done 300 or 400 or even more consecutive snatches. Steve had posted 500. Out of this, the 1000 rep challenge was born.

The rules everyone agreed on were simple. The Girevoy Sport competition rules were in effect, with the exception of allowing multiple hand switches. The goal was 1000 continuous snatches with the 16kg kettlebell. You were allowed to switch hands after a minimum of 10 reps, but could not put the kettlebell down from start to finish. There was no time limit and the only "rest" allowed was in the overhead locked-out position. So, to do 1,000 meant 500 right + 500 left in one long set.

I decided to give it a shot and after a few attempts that end WAY short of the 500 mark, I abandon the plan. Meanwhile, Steve and the rest of the guys slew the 1000 rep dragon. Jo, who posts as "Monster" on the Dragon Door forum was the first to make it. Sort of a 1000 rep Roger Bannister, and like the 4-minute mile, several others followed close behind, achieving the goal.

The Holidays came along and the 1000 rep challenge became a nagging little voice in my head that simply would not shut up. Around Christmas I set the goal of finishing the challenge by January 31st. After playing around with various number schemes, I realized that switching every ten reps worked best for me. Monty Singer, an RKC in Albuquerque was also giving it a shot, so a friendly challenge was issued. The first to reach the 1000 rep mark would be treated to a steak dinner by the other.

I had done a little over 700 reps when Monty posted 800 near the end of January and I realized he might win. So, on Jan. 27th, I went for it and completed the challenge in a little under 58 minutes. As soon as I cooled down a little & stopped panting, I called my girlfriend and told her what I had done 1000 snatches with putting down the kettlebell. Her response: "Why?"

Monty finished a couple days later. In March he visited me in Nashville for a GS meet to qualify for the US Nationals and true to his word, bought my lunch after the competition.

Doing 1000 continuous snatches requires 3 things:
  1. A good level of conditioning. You don't need to be world class, but you need to have some endurance.
  2. Efficient snatch technique. The GS "corkscrew" is an absolute must. It is done by rotating the KB around the arm while raising and lowering. I figured out the corkscrew while I was working up to 1000 reps. It saves the grip and spreads the fatigue across the body. Playing with different subtleties of technique gave my mind something to think about other than "this sucks".
  3. Determination. You must know the difference between giving out and giving up. The mind will try to give up before the body gives out.
In order to get there you have to know where you are first. Let's say you test yourself and get 300 reps total (150 per hand) switching hands every ten reps on your first try. You can gradually build up volume over the course of a few weeks. Do "one long set " workout once a week and some multiple set, high-volume work two times a week. A good progression would look like this:

Week one: 230 reps total, 76% of max
Week two: 240 reps total, 80% of max
Week three: 260 reps total, 86 % of max
Week four: 270 reps total, 90% of max
Week five: Test max. Rest for the remainder of the week.

After this, just plug in your new maximum rep number. I wouldn't recommend going through this more than twice. If, after nine weeks, you haven't hit 1000, shift gears to something else for a few weeks and come back to it.

The volume of the snatches can wreak havoc on even well-callused palms. This was of special concern to me, because I make my living as a Massage Therapist. Keeping your calluses in good repair will save you lots of heartache and setback. This biggest problem for most people is getting a blister underneath an existing callus, then the whole thing tears away, leaving you with bay-soft tender skin where you callus used to be. To prevent this, I recommend getting a foot file from the drugstore and using it a couple of times a week. This will keep your calluses smooth and prevent them from getting too thick. I also think lotion is a good idea to keep the skin pliable.

Here is a list of everyone that I know of who has completed or exceeded the 1000 rep challenge. Will you be next?
  • Steve Cotter, RKC Sr. the fastest time-48:06
  • Jo-from Germany ?'Monster' on the Forum, the first to reach the mark.
  • Brett Jones, RKC Sr. over 1100 reps in an hour for a charity event.
  • Greg Bean, RKC
  • Monty Singer, RKC
  • Andrey Kuzmin-1500 reps in 1hr 24 minutes
  • Don Stevenson, RKC
  • Harry, from Germany- 'G.Soldier' on the Forum.
  • Rob Lawrence, RKC Sr.
  • Tommy Eli, RKC from Denmark
  • David Whitley, RKC

David Whitley, RKC, LMT, CMS is located in Nashville,Tennessee. He is available for workshops, private and small group lessons in kettlebell work and Close Quarter Combatives, as well as therapeutic massage & Thai bodywork. His e-mail is