Passing the RKC. It’s about the weekend.

If you are one of the many who have taken the path of working towards the RKC you will soon realise that it’s more than the one item that typically becomes the mental barrier in getting your RKC. This means the whole weekend and not only the often dreaded snatch test, as the title spells it out my intention is simple. Provide you with solid advice to incorporate into you own programming and get you to pass the “weekend”.  Time now to throw my hat in and assist you with what I consider a realistic plan and mental approach in what’s required to obtain membership into the RKC community, which incidentally is one of the standards of all things kettlebell related among  other  strength and conditioning education.

As a current RKC11 with a couple of decades in “lifting weights” I can certainly point you in the right direction in getting your RKC. If you choose to do your own thing, good luck.

In planning towards the weekend it basically starts the moment you put the money down and commit, that is the first step. Like most things, thinking about it won’t motivate you until you invest the fee towards your professional development. It’s amazing how motivated one gets when payment is made compared to just thinking about it. The fee for the RKC depending on when you pay is not the cheapest workshop you pay for, but its all so worth it for the ones who achieve it. The next step in my opinions for some is to arrange a few sessions with an RKC instructor that will help you out with technique and just as importantly place you in a position to receive some vital information that will help you with your goal.  Remember, they have been there and done it so take notice. No one passes it with luck. Last time I checked it was roughly 30% failure rate on average, how?  A lack of preparation I guess.

Be warned as you need to be prepared, well conditioned, and teachable to pass.

You need to be aware of the standards required to get through the 3 days. You need to be ready. And I mean not just being strong, but physically and mentally capable of performing the required lifts as required with good form and (GPP) conditioning in dealing with the volumes of work dished out by the team of instructors who are there to get you by. This is not a walk up workshop where you are rubber stamped and given your piece of paper at the end.  It is also not a beat down either. Be ready to learn as the proud and very capable team of instructors on the day are there to offer expertise, help out and get you to pass all components. The RKC will not simply give you the certification. It has to be earned.

Your next move is to find out how long you have and work backwards. The term periodization comes to mind. (a fancy word for planning). Often people think that the snatch test is the be all, end all of the weekend and if they pass the snatch test they are done, well sort off. (You still have 2 days and 7hrs to deal with) You also have various workouts during the day and the final graduate workout. This was quite challenging as we experienced during the first ever Australian RKC. It was dealt to us outside in the scotching Aussie heat! –  A memorable experience.

The plan….yes my plan.

The template I used was simple. The way I like to keep things. It consisted of roughly 6 month of planning (lucky me) and was broken down to training in block of 5-6 weeks with the first phase logically being base building. I got stronger first (no pun intended) and then took it from there. I worked on simple 5×3 to 5×5 blocks on getting my Barbell Deadlift, Squats, Overhead Press strong and worked on increasing my chin ups with a simple 5×5 method and was able to knock off roughly 50 (10×5) reps on any given workout. Having previously done the recommended HKC , The Goblet squat, Turkish Get Up and swings were included in building my strength platform and blended in nicely with programming.

I also managed to get myself down to Read Performance Training and under Andrew Reads tuition participated in their RKC preparation workshop. It made sense to me to do the workshops as Andrew was the one hosting the RKC. Who better to refine the movement and throw a few tips your way? Once I got an idea of what to do and brushed up on my technique, off I went and started to build up my necessary base strength and conditioning to better deal with the volumes required.

After a few months of getting the basics down, my next block(s) I would introduce double kettlebell work and build up my “Kettlebell strength”. The RKC was tested with the single bell so I took the approach of getting as strong as I could with the doubles. If you don’t have doubles available using the single is fine. Please note during my preparation I was 90kgs in bodyweight and fortunately for me as operator of Claudefit Personal training had the preparation time and equipment freely available.

A sample workout on a “feeling good day” would now be;

  • Double presses(2x24kg) 5×5
  • Double squats(2x24kg) 5×5
  • Double cleans (2x24kg) 5×5
  • Double swings (2x24kg) 5×5
  • TGU with the 24 about 5 per session.
  • Goblet squat used a warm up when required
  • Heavy single one arm swings. ( 100 per session with single hand 10/10 x 5)

The simplicity of the Snatch test preparation that worked for me, here it is.

Single Kettlebell swings with a 32kg twice a week working towards a 10/10 x 5. (for me this was my heavy one) basically I build up my grip strength and endurance in just using the heavy swings as conditioning. Occasionally when I felt strong I would work up to 100 one arm swings in one set following a 10/10 x 5 with the 24kgs. I just build it up to a point of being able to do repeated sets of 10 swings on each side at will with never doing more that 100 per session. Twice a week was enough.  During my testing days along with a friend who was the time keeper, using the 24kg I would adopt a 10/10 x 3 stop (re-chalked my hands) and finished off with 10/10 x 2 equalling 100 reps.

The overhead positioning of the TGU and kettlebell press with a heavy bell ensured the top component of the snatch was covered. The body of the movement comes from the hip drive. All in all I only tested the snatch test 5 times once a week in leading up to the weekend.  At my age( then 45) I managed to get it done on 4min and 5sec which is not required. You have 5 minutes. Experience suggests you use the time wisely. Let’s be clear. For me the conditioning was there but not the technique as master RKC Andrew Read dutifully advised me after he saw my YouTube clip offering. So I went back to the drawing board, fixed my technique and let the conditioning look after me on the day of testing.  Glad I put my ego aside and took the advice. The test is about passing. “Make it pretty not fast” Andrew would say.

It worked for me during both RKC1 & RKC11

The Reality.

1)      Being injured does not help at all, as unfortunately one of my fellow strength coaches found out over the weekend. It was only due to his his sheer mental fortitude, plain stubbornness and overall never give up attitude that he persisted over the weekend, however this still wasn’t enough to pass the set criteria. He did however meet the requirements and got his RKC once he was injury free and his body allowed him to test.  I’m sure he would have preferred to get it done on the day. It was still not gifted to him.

2)      On passing the snatch test you need to cover all the 100 reps in 5 minutes with an efficient technique without dropping the bell and only placing the bell down to rest.  I have been in the unfortunate position in witnessing one of our own team members fail his test and if my memory serves me well it was on 98 or 99. He did not get passed.

3)       I myself completed the test well within the time limit, passed all the others tests over the weekend and was still required to submit a video later on to show “proper technique” on the snatch. It was borderline, but not to standard on the day. It took me a 3 minute video 2-3 weeks later on to finally get my cert.  A lesson learned.

(For further details on the testing criteria refer to the information easily found on the Dragondoor website where you registered for RKC)

As most of you leading up to the RKC have your HKC, you simply build on this already established base of knowledge, strength and movements to your program. Believe me it all adds up in getting you the conditioning up to successfully pass the weekend.

Take action now and look forward on hearing about your inclusion into the RKC community.

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