Power Training with Swings and Snatches

Jan 4, 2012 at 0:09
Jan 4, 2012
by James Wilson  
 
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Increasing your power on the bike is major goal of almost every rider. Power has become the preferred method to measure training effort among XC riders and has always been among the most highly prized possessions of the DH and 4X rider. No matter how you ride you can benefit from improving your ability to apply power to the pedals.

In my experience, kettlebell swings and snatches are two of the best exercises for safely developing the type of power you want on the trail. While a lot of riders are familiar with kettlebell swings, there are several variations that allow you to progress your power training in unique ways.

In this video I go over the benefits of the kettlebell swing and snatches for improving your mountain bike specific power, plus I go over several swing variations to give you something to work on. The Banded Swing will take your hip drive to new levels…

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MTB Strength Training Systems is the world leader in integrated performance training programs for the unique demands of mountain biking. As the strength and conditioning coach for World Cup Teams and 3 National Championships, his programs have been proven at the highest levels. James has helped thousands of riders just like you improve their speed, endurance and skills on the trail. Visit www.bikejames.com to sign up for the free Trail Rider Fundamentals Video Mini-Course.

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31 Comments

  • + 8
 Great stuff, I do it everyday 3x 10reps and as a side dish to main workout. As with most kettlebell exercises, this specific piece of training equipment forces you in many ways to do stuff right, otherwise it will hurt your forearm by bouncing on it. It's just necessary to start with lower weight than you think you will handle, otherwise enter the world of back pain...
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  • + 12
 I like playing with swings and snatches!!
  • + 1
 Yes...sounds like the queue for a stick vid...
  • + 2
 76% of my workouts involve the Banded Snatch ...
  • + 1
 or should i say snatches in swings??
  • + 2
 the title of this article is very misleading........
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  • + 7
 hey James - happy new year etc, etc...
just popping in to say that overall your workouts (kettlebells et al) have really contributed to my overall fitness, power, muscle buildup and power output while riding.
keep up the excellent and motivating work!
Ciao from Switzerland...
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  • + 7
 Good stuff. I'm very glad you are posting this. While it's possible to do those swings/snatches with a dumbell, it goes a lot better with a kettlebell. Same goes for other exercises like turkish get ups and the such. Sadly, those great exercises aren't popular enough so the average gyms don't carry them.
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  • + 7
 Great tutorial! This looks like a great exercise! Using the bells to help build power and stability in this form looks perfect for biking! Good job! RideOn!
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  • + 7
 this stuff is great. iv found it hard to bike specific work outs. i'll be trying these in the gym in the next few days. cheers guys Cool
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  • + 2
 I predict a future headline"James will not be producing any videos for 3-4 mos,he dropped a 35lb kettle ball from overhead on his foot.Three of his toes exploded off his foot and have yet to be found.Reward Offered."Jesus christ man,put some goddamn shoes on for once.You're swinging huge weights around your bare feet-I'm not sure you know that.
  • + 1
 what shoes do you wear while training so they are able to soften/deflect the impact of a 35lbs kettlebell falling from two meters? I assume you mean that shoes will protect the walls from blood spray by keeping flying mends inside? Big Grin
  • + 1
 @ scary1 - You're both right and wrong... being barefoot allows a better contact with the floor, more sensibilty to how your weight distribution, etc, etc.

Having said this - promoting barefoot physical exercise on this kind of website just invites some harebrained biped to get him/herself hurt...say...just stubbing a toe into a machine or something.

BTW I've seen reinforced shoes...those used in the heavy machinery industry...hehe... make for a perfect set of "weights" to improve leg resistance (but wouldn't work well in the gym, at all...)!

Paul
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  • + 2
 Better than nothing hahaha is right mate, he's only the coach for world class athletes but you prob know well more than him init
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  • - 1
 While kettlebell training is better than nothing, basic barbell training will always be the mainstay of someone looking to increase their strength and power in a serious way. Try stronglifts.com or startingstrength.wikia.com for beginner programs. They're free too!
  • + 2
 Why would kettlebells be "better than nothing"? You talk as if they're inferior. Barbell training is great but I'd never make anyone who doesn't have good powerlifting experience snatch a barbell, it's a recipe for disaster for so many reasons.
  • + 1
 What's the difference between snatching a 10kg kettlebell with one hand and a 20kg barbell with both hands? Less likelyhood of wrist injury for beginners for one thing. And when you get your barbell snatch form right you can train with a hell of a lot more weight, producing more strength and more power. But the programs I posted don't include the barbell snatch (which is an Olympic lift). The main lift is the squat which is the king of exercises. The reason I would advocate the use of barbell training is for more long term progression. A novice can squat 100kg after a few months of barbell training but I'm not sure it's even possible with kettlebells? But hey, everybody's different. Different strokes and all that. If you like kettlebells and they work for you then that's great.
  • + 2
 Is this a real question? You're talking about basic training here. The snatch is a deadlift/squat mix with some jerk components. The deadlift is already considered a more advanced exercise because you have to get the technique down before you lift hard or you risk serious injury. In my opinion, the barbell snatch is a great exercise but it's also one of the most "dangerous" ones as it implies getting under the bar and there isn't much of a "get away if it fails" option. Add this to beginners that tend to bite more than they can chew (since they don't know their limits yet), most likely improper form and the fact that most gym trainers dont know shit about proper push up form let alone olympic lifts... the kettlebell snatch is much safer especially when you bring this on a website I suspect most people don't really have any power/oly lifting experience. The most common work incident is back pain after lifting stuff that was too heavy... I wouldn't trust the average joe with those lifts if they're unsupervised and most people around here look at those videos because they don't want to deal with a trainer or don't have the ressources to do so and I think that's why James is keeping it simple.
  • + 0
 First of all sdoolan it doesn't matter that much how much you lift, but how you do it. Kettlebell sort of forces you to some extent to have the right technique otherwise it jumps around and hurts your wrist and forearm. Doing snatches with heavy barbell/ dumbbell is a perfect way to injure something else than wrist, like lower back, knees, axle because of wrong movement patterns. It takes skill to execute this exercise properly with kettlebell. As James wrote in some of his podcasts: many train to make heavy weights feel light, while they should begin with learning how to make light weights feel heavy.

James just shows an example of a great exercise, in his training programs you will find exercises using all kinds of training equipment.
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  • + 1
 This looks ridiculous. Who swings kettle bells without wearing shoes? Scary1 you had me rollin!!! Barbells/dumbells are where it's at!!!
  • + 1
 Its recommended to wear flat shoe's like Chuck's or Vans old school's or just barefoot. It seems kinda weird at first but its about trying to drive your heels in to the floor while doing swings or snatches
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  • + 2
 Just watch out for your nuts. Or ovaries, for the lady MTBers.
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  • + 1
 This is a great exercise, but you have to work more with the legs, not just with the back.
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  • + 2
 I'd probably bust a knee...
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  • + 1
 i bet he can do a bike backflip from a track stand...
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  • + 1
 so glad my gym has a couple kb's
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  • + 1
 Great postings! Keep them comming!
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  • + 1
 mix in some moto strength work outs and it's all good!
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  • + 1
 I was gonna do this workout, but then i took an arrow to the knee.
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  • + 1
 Crossfit - look it up.
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  • - 1
 i farkin hate kettlebellz....they are for balet dancers!
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