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An RKC Primer

January 21, 2009 11:16 AM

So you've heard of the Russian Kettlebell Challenge certification course. And now you're interested in attending, whether to get your diploma of attendance or to get your certification to teach others. Perhaps you are new to kettlebells or maybe you have been training with them for awhile. In either case, a few pointers can help you get the most out of your RKC experience.

The RKC certification course is an intensive, detail oriented, physically taxing course; it is well worth the money invested. It would be wise to consult a physician before attending, especially if you have any health concerns. One of the first things any prospective attendee should do is go to the Dragon Door, Inc. website and review the requirements for the course. Print it out. Read and reread it. It would be best to pay close attention to the recommended exercises. They are, as listed: Turkish get-ups, walking around with one or two kettlebells locked out overhead, military presses with a forward lean once the kettlebell passes the head, handstands, Yoga downward dogs or slow and focused Hindu pushups, good morning stretches, shoulder bridges from Relax Into Stretch and Super Joints and as Pavel says "Enjoy the pain!"

If you are not sure what some of the exercises are, ask on the Forum. Believe me, you'll want to practice these exercises. Also, work hard on the basic kettlebell exercises: swings, clean & jerks, snatches, windmills, military presses, etc. You're going to need it!

If you are new here and just getting started, buy a kettlebell, a book and a DVD/Video. Dragon Door, Inc. has some excellent startup packages. It would be best to hook up with an RKC in your local area. Training with an instructor will save you much time and energy. If you've been training for awhile already, and are self-taught, I highly recommend training with an RKC. Your instructor will correct any form mistakes you may have, improving the safety and productivity of your training immensely. Also, if you inform your local RKC of your intentions to attend a certification workshop, he will know exactly what you'll need to practice.

It would be wise not to have the mistaken belief that because you lift weights and/or run or bicycle for miles, you can breeze through the certification process. Kettlebell training is a unique blend of strength and endurance. It prepares one well for most other activities. Its carryover is tremendous. However, little prepares you for kettlebells. Unless you have been driving railroad spikes with a maul the past twenty years or have been lumberjacking the old way with a double-bit ax and two-man bucksaw, prepare to get a butt whipping.

It would be a mistake to look at pictures of past RKC workshops and think: "If that girl or skinny little guy can do it, it can't be that hard." Looks can be deceiving. Also, the course is "self-correcting" or "self-adjusting." In other words, a stronger comrade will use a heavier kettlebell, than someone not as strong. But thinking: "I can just grab a lighter bell and "breeze" through the course," is not going to happen. The instructors will correct that in a hurry. And I would love to see what happens if the "evil one," Pavel, catches one doing this! If one is using a kettlebell too light for him/her, disciplinary action is sure to follow and a heavier bell will be placed at your disposal! But also be aware that choosing one too heavy for you can mean a quick trip to the dirt! Always think safety.

Therefore, the course "adjusts" to the capabilities of each attendee. However, big or small, all are pushed to their personal limits. You will get out of the course what you put into it.

So, you've been training with an RKC, at least for a session or two, what next? Practice your lifts. Note your form. Build a base of strength. Build your endurance. The better condition and strength you bring to the certification, the more you will benefit.

Build up to the point where you can perform a 30-45 minute training session at a good pace. You will want to be able to perform such a training session 3-4 days in a row. However, generally it is better to vary the load and training volume. Testing yourself every 5-8 weeks is good, as it lets you know exactly where you are and gives you numbers to adjust your training to. Always keep a record of your training sessions. Refer to the minimum requirements for your gender and bodyweight, in the snatch. The standards for RKC's are constantly increasing.

If you are not sure how to reach these goals, how to setup a program to achieve this minimal level, get with your local RKC or contact one via email. He will design a program that will help you achieve your goals.

It may take you several months to a year or more to get this far. This depends on your current activity and conditioning. Listen to your RKC, he knows what he's doing. He's been there.

A month or so before you go for your certification, contact your RKC again. He can develop a tougher routine, one to further prepare you. Performing a 3-5 hour mini-workshop with your RKC will do wonders for your stamina, strength and will power. It will give you a taste of what to expect at the RKC course.

The week before, do several hard sessions, then take the next couple of days and perform lighter recovery oriented training sessions. Two days before I would just rest. You are going to need it.

While attending the RKC workshop, think about why you are there. Is it merely to train with some of the best instructors around? That's great! Learn all you can. Is it to pass the snatch test and other tests so you can become a certified RKC instructor? Excellent! Reflect that in your bearing and attitude.

To get the most our of your RKC experience, get plenty of rest every night. Study your student manual. You'll be surrounded by awesome instructors, each with unique abilities, not to mention Pavel, the man behind it all. Pick their brains. When listening to lectures, use the provided notepad to take notes, as there is way more information presented than you can remember.

Above all things, be safe, open to learning and always, always listen closely to the instructors. Or else you'll be kissing dirt! On second thought, you'd better practice your pushups too!

So, are you tough enough? Can you handle it? You want to hang with the best? Get with the program! Become an RKC!

Walter Dorey is a Tucson, Arizona based certified RKC instructor. Walter is available for private and group training. Inquire at: