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Kettlebell Challenge: The Secret Service Snatch Test

Authors update: please read The Secret Service Snatch Test Is Not Hard.

In the kettlebell world, there is no shortage of ways to test yourself. One of the most feared challenges is the Secret Service Snatch Test. The SSST is next on my own list of goals and I would love some company.

It isn’t complicated, but it is very difficult.

The rules

  • For men: snatch a 24kg kettlebell 200 times in 10 minutes (women use a 16kg)
  • You can set the kettlebell down as much as you need to
  • You can switch hands as often as is necessary

That’s it.

Why it is difficult

Doing any physical activity for ten solid minutes can be rough. In my opinion, ten minutes of snatching a kettlebell is in another world of hard.

The SSST is a ten minute sprint for the heart, lungs, hamstrings, shoulders, and mind. Snatches require great technique, especially during long sets.

Why I will do it

  • Same reasons as above

How I will do it

  • Lots of kettlebell snatches, twice a week
  • With one eye on the Gymboss

When I will do it

  • Training started two days ago. I will complete the SSST on July 15, 2009. I write this down to be accountable to myself and readers of the blog (and to pester you into trying it with me)

My previous best

During the Tactical Strength Challenge in October of 2008, I did 127 reps in five minutes. That might make is sound like adding 73 in an additional five minutes might be easy. However, I think the reason I got so many kettlebell snatches in five minutes was because I knew I only had to do it for five minutes.

When those five minutes were over, I fell down and didn’t start speaking for another hour. Adding time to that makes me want to cry. Oh well.

I tested myself this past Monday, getting 167 in 10 minutes. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it I’m still 33 shy of the goal.

Join in!

I ‘d love to have some company. If any of you are feeling particularly sassy, train with me and let’s compare notes.

A word of warning: don’t even think about the Secret Service Snatch before completing the Program Minimum from Enter The Kettlebell!


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sarah B June 3, 2009, 2:00 pm

    ….. hello I’m in. A challenge shared is a challenge….
    I start today 😀

    • Josh Hanagarne June 3, 2009, 2:07 pm

      awesome! Women typically use the 12kg kettlebell, but feel free to buck the trend if you’re feeling extra sassy. Let me know how it goes. I would definitely recommend starting with David Whitley’s scheme.

  • Laura June 3, 2009, 3:16 pm

    I don’t kid myself that I’m anywhere near ready for this, but I look forward to cheering you guys on. I’m working my way through the ETK Rite of Passage progression right now, and maybe after that I will feel ready to take this on.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 3, 2009, 3:55 pm

      That’s perfect, Laura. The SSST is the final step in the Rite of Passage. If you’re actually following ETK strictly, you were eventually going to get to this sooner or later, like it or not!

  • Sarah B June 3, 2009, 4:52 pm

    did my rkc snatch test with the 16…
    but that was only 40 reps with 1 hand change allowed
    there was no time limit expect for JUST DO THEM NOW!

    ….gonna be training with the 12 kg if thats ok with u 😀

  • Laura June 3, 2009, 4:56 pm

    I like it! I’m trying to follow Pavel’s roadmap as closely as possible. Just did a “medium” day workout, in fact:) The prospect of “heavy” day on Saturday terrifies me slightly, but that’s a good thing because it means I’m challenging myself.

    What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?

    • Josh Hanagarne June 3, 2009, 5:44 pm

      Absolutely. And just remember that your “heavy” day doesn’t mean you feel like you’re dead at the end. It just means you do some more reps.

      And when you get back the first “light” day after your heavy workout, you won’t believe how strong you feel.

  • Ben Owens June 3, 2009, 11:07 pm

    I’m sorry Josh, I am usually all over doing the things that you do, but at this point in time I have no interest in doing the SSST. I just can’t handle the thought of it. Doing 126 snatches at the last TSC was the hardest thing I have ever done. It took every ounce of will power I had to keep going. I can’t even fathom tacking an extra 5 minutes onto that hell. My hat is off to anyone that does it.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 4, 2009, 7:46 am

      Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben…what if I told you that Anderson Silva was going to take a dive against Forrest if you refused to participate? Just saying…think it over.

  • Greg Fedderson June 4, 2009, 4:58 pm

    Josh, I am in!!! I will be completing the Rite Of Passage soon and so I need to test the SSST anyway(and press the bell closest to 1/2 my BW). July 15th should be ample time for me to get ready as long as my back stays healthy. If you would like some company during the SSST let me know, we could count reps for each other. Also what size bells do you have? The heaviest I have is a 32kg, but I will need to press the 40kg to pass the ROP.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 4, 2009, 8:15 pm

      Greg, I’ve got a full set from 35lbs to 106. Let’s get together next week. Send me an email or cal me.

  • Ben Owens June 4, 2009, 5:45 pm

    Hey, I didn’t say I was NEVER going to do it. Right now I don’t have the motivation that it would take to actaully complete it. I have other things that get me going currently. Right now I am dead set on getting the 80 sets of 8 on Viking. After that, who knows?

    • Josh Hanagarne June 4, 2009, 8:14 pm

      All right, as long as you’re working on other things:)

    • Josh Hanagarne June 4, 2009, 8:14 pm

      All right, as long as you’re working on other things:) How close are you on VWC?

  • Ben Owens June 4, 2009, 10:22 pm

    Not too close unfortunately. The most I’ve done 50 sets of 7. I’m going to retest my cadence though because I am sure I can get the 8 reps per set.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 4, 2009, 10:23 pm

      If you retest your cadence and decide you only have to do 2 snatches every 36 seconds, I’m calling shenanigans.

  • Jez June 15, 2009, 1:30 am

    Congratulations on getting the RKC rank Josh. Are we back on for the SSST now? (I’m starting week two today, Gymboss set at 1 min 50 secs and counting…)

    • Josh Hanagarne June 15, 2009, 5:44 am

      Yep, that’s still the next goal. I’m going to take this week off to recover–then it’s back to it. I’m going to push back my test date until mid-August, but I’m also increasing my target number to 220. I learned this weekend that I wasn’t snatching as well as I thought. I’m really going to lock down my form before I start pushing all out, and that is going to take a couple of extra weeks.

  • Jez (Karyobin) June 15, 2009, 6:03 am

    I know what you mean. I’ve booked in for an afternoon’s training with an RKC this coming Sunday in Edinburgh. I’m expecting to be told how to correct and refine all sorts of things. The way I see it though, the members of the USSS who undertake the snatch test can’t ALL have great technique: it’s about heart and guts as much as anything. That said, I’m going to keep pressing ahead and make any corrections along the way. VWC has already had a huge effect on my form. Wish me luck and congrats again mate.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 15, 2009, 7:00 am

      Good luck, friend. I’ve no doubt you’ll be whipping us all.

  • The "Real" World's Strongest Librarian September 20, 2009, 7:02 am

    I just bought KBs so I’ll give this a shot in a few weeks. I have a meet Oct 18th. I try it sometime the following week.

    • Josh Hanagarne September 20, 2009, 9:37 am

      Dan, awesome! By the way, a week after registering over at TA, I still don’t have permissions to view anything.

  • Dan H. September 20, 2009, 7:04 am

    HaHa, I forgot to change the name before hitting sumbit.

  • Dan H. September 22, 2009, 3:08 am

    I just sent a PM to the mods. Thanks. I have been looking for you on there.

  • Dan H. September 22, 2009, 3:09 am

    If I do a test run as active recovery with a 16kg does that make me a woman?

    • Josh Hanagarne September 22, 2009, 7:39 am

      Dan, 16kg is plenty for most people for a while. I know you aren’t most people, but no–don’t feel bad. Thanks for the PM.

  • Body Workout August 1, 2011, 1:15 am

    Wow, 200 times in 10 minutes is huge! RKC only require 100 snatches in 5 minutes but 200 reps is going to kill anyone.