Passing a kettlebell certification

Passing a kettlebell certification takes a solid preparation & all-day conditioning

If you are one of the many who have taken the path of working towards passing a kettlebell certification, well done. You will soon realise that takes more work that initially though. Typically, with some courses the testing becomes the mental barrier for some. This means you have to prepare for the weekend and all the testing during your time. Take the time out to read what is expected and figure out how conditioned you should be on the day. With any fitness course you will be taught several exercises during the workshop. Make sure you are physically prepared and well-conditioned to be taught.

As I’ve already attended several of these courses I will at best of my ability provide you with solid advice to incorporate into you own programming. And get you to pass the course weekend.  I will assist you with what I consider a realistic plan and mental approach in what’s required to passing any challenging kettlebell certification. As a long-term kettlebell use with a couple of decades in weight training, I can point you in the right direction in getting you prepared.

There are several fitness courses out there that will hand you your cert just by turning up and demonstrating a basic understanding. These are solid courses. However, there are some that have an expectation that the trainers are conditioned enough to pass their gruelling test. It’s not for all. Best you decide what the right one for you is.

I will use the RCK courses as my example

Countdown to certification begins once you pay

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 you become once payment is made. Instead of just thinking about it.

Take the Russian kettlebell certification course for instance. The fee for this cert depending on when you pay is not the cheapest workshop you pay for, however, worthwhile it for the ones who pass it. It is a 3-day course. The next step in my opinions is to arrange a few sessions with an instructor who has attended the same course. One will help you out with technique and place you in a better position in preparing for the overall weekend. In addition to receiving some vital tips.

Anything that help you out during the weekend will be a bonus.  Remember, they have been there and done it so take notice. You have invested in a future course. Get as much guidance as there is available. No one passes it with luck. Last time I checked it was roughly 30% failure rate on average.  A lack of preparation, I guess.

You need to be prepared and teachable in passing a kettlebell certification

A good knowledge of the standards required to get through the 3 days is essential in making you ready.  And I mean not just being strong, but physically and mentally capable of performing the required lifts as required. With good form and solid conditioning in dealing with the volumes of work dished out by the team of instructors. This is not a walk-up workshop where you are given your cert at the end.

It is also not a beat down either. Be ready to learn as the 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. Passing a kettlebell certification takes time and effort.

Your next move is to find out how long you have and work backwards. Often people think that the snatch test is the be all, end all of the weekend, 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 including the final graduate workout.

This was quite challenging as we experienced during one RKC. Outside in the heat. A memorable experience.

The strength work required 

The template I used was simple and honest. fortunately for me I had roughly 6 month of planning and broke down the training in block of 5-6 weeks with the first phase being base building. I got stronger first and then took it from there. I worked from a simple 3×3 building to 5×5 blocks on getting my barbell deadlift, squats, overhead press stronger. Consistently worked on increasing my chin ups with a simple 5×5 method and after a while was able to knock off roughly 50 (10×5) reps on any given workout.

The goblet squat, turkish get up and kettlebell swings are in my strength program. This seemed to blend in nicely with other strength work.

After a few months of getting the basics down, my next block would include double kettlebell work and build up my “kettlebell strength”. The RKC testing requires one kettlebell. 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. Fortunately, I have a gym and had the proper equipment available.

My workout for passing a kettlebell certification was utilising the 5 x 5 method.  

  • 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 warmup when required
  • Heavy single one arm swings. (100 per session with single hand 10/10 x 5)
  • I was 85Kgs Bodyweight

The snatch test preparation that worked for me.

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 with a friend who was the timekeeper, 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.

Snatch test

The overhead positioning of the TGU and kettlebell press with a heavy bell ensured shoulder strength. Important to have for the top component of the snatch. 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. Took me 4min and 5sec. You have 5 minutes.

Experience suggests you use the time wisely. Let’s be clear. For me the conditioning was there but had poor technique. I had to re submit the test via video showing better form. So, I went back to the drawing board, fixed my issues and let the conditioning look after me on the day of testing. Glad I took the advice. The test is about passing. “Make it pretty not fast” the instructors would say. It worked for me during both RKC1 & RKC11.

The Reality

Firstly, injuries don’t help. As unfortunately one of my fellow participants found out over the weekend. It was his sheer mental fortitude, plain stubbornness and never give up attitude that he persisted over the weekend. However, this still wasn’t enough to pass the set criteria. Post event he did eventually pass and got his RKC. Once injury free his body allowed him to test.

Secondly, on passing the snatch test you need to cover all the 100 reps in 5 minutes. Using an efficient technique without dropping the bell. You can only place the bell down to rest once. I have been in the unfortunate position in witnessing one of our own team members fail his test. If my memory serves me well it was on 98 or 99. He did not pass.

Lastly, I completed the test well within the time limit. However, was required to submit a video showing better technique. 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.

Plan well, be consistent with your training and learn some cool and effective new exercise to work on.

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