The Ten Commandments of SFG Level I Kettlebell Cert Prep

Again in a bizarre and wild world often known as 2001, a person recognized affectionately by his rising record of die-hard followers as “The Evil Russian” had a novel thought: Why not put collectively a health certification that really required you to show that you just have been…you recognize…match?

Exams of energy, stamina, and real-world bodily talents took the place of multiple-choice checks, theory-laden essays, and concepts that seemed good on paper however barely labored in the true world.

That man, in fact, was Pavel Tsatsouline. And that certification is the Faculty of Energy that we now proudly name, StrongFirst.

But regardless of over twenty years and actually tons of of Certifications, StrongFirst’s flagship Certification, the SFG Stage I, nonetheless boasts a 25-30% failure fee amongst candidates.

What provides? Is the course actually simply that arduous?

The reply, in fact, is sure and no.

Sure, for the truth that it’s designed to exhibit that you’ve ready your self to be above common in quite a few necessary metrics: your energy, your conditioning, your technical proficiency within the examined actions, your educating talents, and your present of professionalism and all-around spirit.

And no, for the truth that most severe people can moderately count on to cross the certification with sufficient time, effort, and single-minded focus—no genetic presents or bodily freak standing required.

So, how precisely does one put together for such an occasion?

An amazing many individuals asking this query impulsively begin by in search of out coaching packages, cutting-edge conditioning protocols, and a litany of different main steps—successfully leaping into the deep finish earlier than they’re even certain they know the way to swim.

Properly, maintain your horses there, pardner. There can be loads of time for all that later.

Similar to you need to deadlift earlier than you may swing and you need to swing earlier than you may snatch, earlier than you cost boldly ahead into the Promised Land of bodily tradition and put the coveted letters “SFG” behind your title, you may wish to have a tried-and-tested set of pointers to be sure you can truly end what you begin. This text ought to assist illuminate that path a bit.  

1. Begin Early

As admirable because it might sound to join an SFG cert on a whim and provides your self only a few quick months and even weeks to organize, in all chance you’re solely setting your self up for ache, struggling, and disappointment.

Don’t get me fallacious, ache and struggling come half and parcel with each memorable SFG I Certification, however the disappointment certain doesn’t need to.

Even in case you’re already fairly match and have some good acumen with the kettlebell, understand that the sheer quantity of labor that takes place over the 24 hours of instruction you’ll obtain in the course of the three-day weekend may be sufficient to trigger even probably the most expert kettlebell fanatic to faucet out.

Once I signed up for my cert all these years in the past, I gave myself eight months to organize, and was glad I did. By day three your fatigue ranges will doubtless be working excessive, and because the army saying goes, “beneath stress we revert to coaching.” Be certain your coaching has ready you to carry out beneath stress.

The kettlebell snatch lockout

2. Get Assessed

That is most likely probably the most ignored aspect of all but is definitely among the many most necessary.

Again within the golden days of Pavel’s certs, an ideal lots of the individuals have been notably rough-and-tumble dudes who seemed a bit extra like background extras within the authentic Roadhouse flick than your common private coach, and so they typically had loads of expertise in athletics and tossing across the iron, as well.

Distinction that with the individuals these days.

Lots of them come from skilled, office-bound desk jobs and wish to study to tame the iron as a private achievement or maybe cross their data on to their associates, household, and associates of their spare time.

Everybody from desk dwellers to bona fide bodily culturists is liable to return in with a litany of mobility points, motion compensations, and different bodily maladies which—left unaddressed—can lead you down a quite quick street to harm.

There are a variety of nice motion methods on the market that may show you how to get a snapshot of the place you might be at present and what pace bumps and roadblocks it’s possible you’ll encounter: Authentic Energy and FMS are two that come to thoughts, however any respected group that places a premium on motion high quality is price your time.

3. Get Coached

As tempting as it might be to attempt to blaze your individual path and hope that it leads you to the vacation spot you search, attempting to cross the SFG with out getting coached is the equal of attempting to go on a hike by the mountains and not using a map, with out water, and in flip flops. Certain, you may make it, however why make it more durable on your self?  There can be loads of obstacles and challenges awaiting you as is.

The float in the two-arm kettlebell swing

What’s extra, a part of what it means to be coach is understanding the way to be coached your self: following directions, sticking to a program as written, and listening to your individual teacher’s steering are what provide the perception essential to cross alongside these hidden classes that may solely be discovered by hard-won expertise.

4. Handle your Weak Spots/Accidents

As Indiana Jones mentioned in Raiders of the Misplaced Ark, “It’s not the years, honey. It’s the mileage.”

Whereas your age isn’t essentially a significant factor in your skill to cross the SFG, your mileage certain is.

Given sufficient time, most of us placed on some baggage within the type of tweaks, accidents, recurring pains, and extra. Bodily harm like torn gentle tissues, damaged bones, and busted up elements put again collectively once more by surgical procedure fairly often don’t decide how far you may go, however they greater than doubtless will decide the place you need to begin and the street you are taking to get there.

Simply as you need to rent a coach to information you to victory, so must you hunt down the skilled suggestions of a bodily therapist, physician, or chiropractor to information you across the hidden obstacles that threaten to make your previous accidents worse or unintentionally forge a path towards model new ones.

5. Practice Extra than simply the Examined Actions

This, I’m certain, goes to get some pushback, but it surely must be mentioned.

When you’re beginning your preparations early sufficient, one in every of your principal focuses must be making certain that your physique is as well-developed as attainable. Because the outdated coaching axiom goes, You have to be usually robust earlier than you may be particularly robust.”

Checked out one other method, if you’re hoping to sooner or later bang out army presses with a heavy kettlebell however can barely eke out a number of measly pushups, you may wish to shore up the gaps in your energy earlier than you try to stack a bunch of heavy weight on a construction that may barely even assist itself.

The StrongFirst pushup

Having an affordable diploma of talent in a big selection of seemingly unrelated actions, equivalent to pushups, pullups, direct midsection work, and a litany of different issues can doubtlessly show you how to pace up the method of getting robust on the Massive Six kettlebell workouts you’ll be examined on on the cert itself.  

The nearer you get to the occasion, the extra centered try to be on simply the actions you’ll be examined on; no query about it. However main as much as that, think about taking a web page out of the playbook of lots of the most interesting lifters of the 70s and 80s and embrace a wider array of workouts in your routine to assist remove the doldrums and plateaus and pace forward to victory.

6. Maintain Your Mobility and Flexibility a Excessive Precedence

I’ve had the privilege of serving as an assistant in SFG I Certifications in three completely different nations: Israel, Italy, and Croatia. And in practically each case, one of many largest points candidates are available in with is an easy lack of the requisite mobility and adaptability.

Movement prep: the bretzel

Based on StrongFirst Licensed Grasp Teacher Emeritus Mark Reifkind, a number of of the commonest points amongst SFG hopefuls are shoulder points introduced on by not addressing postural points (typically brought on by sitting behind a desk all day), low again ache brought on by tight hamstrings, and a wide range of different issues that come up from these points.

Add onto that the sheer quantity of labor you’ll need to do to organize for the cert and it’s no marvel why those that don’t nip these issues within the bud early on find yourself both having to limp by the cert or postpone their participation altogether.

7. Give attention to Kettlebell Talent constructing First, Programming Second

Former StrongFirst Licensed Senior Teacher Rob Lawrence as soon as mentioned, “[W]e emphasize the technical efficiency over routines, workouts, exercises…They’re marginal till the approach is ideal.”

The double kettlebell front squat

Time and expertise have proven that you’ll get much more out of a smaller variety of crisp, high-quality reps than you’ll over an avalanche of rapidly carried out, sub-par slop. Something price doing is price doing proper, so take the time to get it proper earlier than you crank up the quantity.

8. Purpose to Overshoot the Mark

StrongFirst is, in any case, the Faculty of Energy. Simply as Pavel likes to consult with the barbell requirements on the SFL as “not weak requirements,” so, too, must you take a look at the requirements for SFG.

US Armed Forces Powerlifting Champion Jack Reape as soon as famous in a discussion board publish many moons in the past that anybody who might snatch a 40 or 48kg kettlebell for even only one rep stood a significantly better likelihood at passing the snatch take a look at with ease than somebody who might solely snatch the 24kg kettlebell. And so it’s with the opposite six kettlebell actions you’ll be examined on.

The kettlebell snatch lockout

When you can carry out all of them with a kettlebell one and even two sizes heavier than what the checks demand, how a lot simpler do you assume it will likely be to cross your approach checks and snatch take a look at on day three whenever you’re drained, sore, and anxious? Now distinction that with what you assume your likelihood is of passing when your greatest effort in any given train is units of 5 with a 24kg or 16kg kettlebell (relying on whether or not you’re a lad or a lass). It might not be not possible, however it’s going to positively be a complete lot more durable.

9. Study the Historical past and Philosophy of StrongFirst

Advertising professional Dan Kennedy has lengthy suggested his college students to know the historical past of the trade they’re in, and this piece of recommendation is each bit as related for future StrongFirst instructors as it’s for enterprise house owners.

It’s not sufficient to easily skim Kettlebell Easy & Sinister or peruse the boards infrequently. Take the time to learn by Pavel’s earlier books like Enter the Kettlebell, Past Bodybuilding (my private favourite), The Bare Warrior, and others.

Learning at the SFG I

Studying by the works of a lot of Pavel’s different college students and acolytes from all over the world (such because the good-looking and humble creator of this text, wink wink, nudge nudge) can present invaluable perception into not simply the nitty gritty coaching particulars of the women and men of the StrongFirst group however will help you higher perceive the motion as a complete.

10. Benefit from the Course of

I’d be remiss if I didn’t embrace this.

You’re going to have to coach lengthy, arduous, and infrequently, and alongside the way in which you’ll must surpass an ideal a lot of your limitations—each actual and perceived—with the intention to carry out the ultimate, most wonderful rep of all: hoisting your SFG I Kettlebell Teacher Certificates aloft as you declare an epic victory.

However this second shouldn’t be the one joyous one in your journey.

It must be the fruits of plenty of little successes that stack one on high of the opposite from begin to end, with every new benchmark offering the inspiration you’ll want to show you how to preserve your eyes mounted on the subsequent little bit of progress, and the subsequent, and the subsequent.

There are going to be days the place you simply can’t wait to shake handles with the kettlebell and others the place you significantly query why you’re doing all of it. Simply know that each the lows and the highs kind the rugged path forward of you, and that every coaching session—good or unhealthy—places you one step nearer to your aim.

I and all of your future colleagues stay up for welcoming you to the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Iron.

Have enjoyable and completely satisfied coaching!

Aleks Salkin
Aleks “The Hebrew Hammer” Salkin is a StrongFirst Licensed SFG Stage II kettlebell teacher and an Authentic Energy Teacher.

He grew up scrawny, unathletic, weak, and goofy till he was uncovered to kettlebells and the educating and methodology of Pavel in his early 20s, and took his coaching and motion abilities to the subsequent stage upon discovering Authentic Energy in his mid-20s.

He’s the creator of the best-selling ebook The No BS Kettlebell and Body weight Kickstart, in addition to The 9-Minute Kettlebell and Body weight Problem—a free information dedicated to serving to kettlebell and calisthenics fans to forge full-body energy, resilience, and real-world health in simply 9 minutes a day and with out giving up their present coaching program to take action. Verify him out on-line at

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