Saturday, 30 May 2009

Kenneth Jay's VO2 Max protocol

The first thing you have to do is to establish at what snatch cadence you come the closest to eliciting your VO2max. This is done by doing an incremental test that lasts no less than 6 minutes. Basically you just start out very slow and for each minute you increase the cadence. When you have get to the 6th minute you go all out snatching as many times as you can without stopping for at least one minute. The test might look like this but is subject to individual differences:

1st minute: 10 reps left arm

2nd minute: 12 reps right arm

3rd minute 15 reps left arm

4th minute: 17 reps right arm

5th minute: 18 reps left arm

6th minute: 26 reps right arm (all out effort)

The 6th minute reflects your VO2max cadence, hence that will be your interval training tempo. It is very important for the protocol that you continued snatching for the entire 6th minute. (make sure afterwards you balance out the numbers of snatches performed on each side so each side get a total equal amount of work).

In this example the VO2max cadence = 26reps

The interval work/rest time is determined to 36 sec. which is 60% of one min.

In those 36 sec. you need to keep your VO2max cadence = 26reps x 60% = approx. 16 reps.

So the setup is as follows:

VO2max/lactate tolerance and buffering:

Work/rest ratio: 1:1 (36 sec of work separated by 36 sec of rest.)

Number of intervals: at least 10 and the goal is to work up to 17+ sets before you test the SSST.

Number of reps per set: 16 (it is very important NOT to go faster or slower. DO NOT speed up to get more rest- it will ruin what you are trying to do.)

If your hands can take it do this at least twice per week. Only substitute with swings if it is really necessary. The program is based on the specific VO2 kinetics of the snatch not the swing.

The program is very taxing and one should always build up volume slowly.

KJ advocated doing the workout2-3 times a week for ( I beleive) 4-6 weeks before switching to another focus.You should be able to increase max vo2 strongly in that time frame and will notice a big improvement in conditioning on the mat.

Just be carefull not to overtrain! your number of strength and conditioning workouts will be determined by how often you are getting on the mat and ALSO your recovery ability! Ill go over this in another post, for now get snatching and let me know how you go!


p.s.With its origins in the U.S. Secret Service selection process, the rules for the Secret Service Snatch Test (SSST) are simple. You must do as many repetitions of the kettlebell snatch as possible in ten minutes. Using the 24kg kettlebell (ladies, use the 12kg), you may switch hands whenever you’d like and you may even set the bell down. Final count is total sum of snatches, period. The only unspoken rule is that you will not quit. Don’t even think about stopping when the phone rings. You can rest the kb on the deck to keep a lung down.
NOTE: Kenneth Jay uses a 16kg kettlebell for his VO2 max protocol for guys, ladies possibly an 8.

p.p.s. Kenneth said that the swings require too much total body tension and subsequent afterload on the heart to elicit a good vo2 max stress. stick with the snatches and the 16 kg unless you are over 200 lbs. the key is that the work is fast and gets your hr to to 95% level it needs to be to get the cardio response you are looking for.

if you just want a killer workout then swings for any number of time/rest ratios are excellent.It has a much more muscularizing effect, as you would expect with a higher level of tension.


  1. I thought the Ladies had to use a 16kg for the ssst, not the 12?

  2. Ladies have a choice of 12 or 16 except ladies over 75kg's they have to use a 16kg kbell. Most do the SSST with a 12.
    How are your snatches going?

  3. any chance of getting a video demonstration of this?