Kettlebells—one of the most efficient tools for strength and conditioning—are basically cannonballs with a handle, and they’ve exploded in popularity since the turn of the century. Their history can be traced back to Ancient Greece. Scottish Highlanders and Shaolin monks in China also have their own variations of the bell.
Most modern kettlebells are modeled from their development in Soviet Russia. Referred to as Giryas around the 1700s, kettlebells were an iron counterweight to measure out crops. These farmers soon realized the bells could be used as a show of strength, and started swinging, tossing, and pressing the bells. Eventually these tests became a mainstay at circus and farming festivals.
The secret service snatch test has to be one of the most brutal tests of sheer willpower and physical conditioning. It consists of 10 minutes of one arm kettlebell snatches. You can set the bell down at any point, switch arms, or toss up your lunch—just don’t quit!
This particular test has been used by the secret service (hence the name) and Russian special forces as part of their selection process.
Deceivingly simple, it will push you to the limit. Just a couple of minutes in, your lungs will be on fire, and your shoulders will be begging for mercy.
First, before we get into the details, make sure your kettlebell form is solid before attempting any benchmark test like this. If you would like instruction, find a local Strongfirst instructor, or worst case, practice with YouTube videos. Reddit has a great kettlebell forum that you can submit form check videos to as well.
Now, down to brass tacks.
Secret Service Snatch Test Rules
1) 10 minute time limit.
2) As many snatches as possible.
3) Use a 24kg kettlebell
4) Switch hands, or rest whenever. Just do not give up.
5) 200 reps is a solid score.
6) Must lockout at the top of the snatch, and hike the bell back underneath yourself, not going to the shoulder on the descent.
I will repeat again. Form is imperative.
Give it a try. I recommend recording yourself so you can accurately keep score and asses what you need to improve on.
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