Kettlebell Instructor Certification (SFG1)


SFG is a highly-demanding certification, mentally and physically. 25-30% failure rate is typical. Because our SFG Instructors meet the highest standard in the industry, you should expect to be challenged and tested. Do not take your preparation lightly.

You will have to meet the following criteria in order to become an SFG Instructor:

  1. Exhibit safe and efficient technique in the foundation skills.
  2. Demonstrate good judgment, especially concerning safety.
  3. Show a strong spirit.
  4. Demonstrate effective teaching skills.
  5. Pass the kettlebell snatch test administered on the last day of the certification.
  6. Conduct yourself like a professional.

Your instructor certificate will be awarded to you only after you have passed the specified requirements. If you were close to meeting the requirements, your team leader has the discretion to make alternative retesting arrangements that do not require retaking the certification.

If you are NOT planning on teaching others, you may choose to forego the testing. You will be issued a certificate of attendance instead of an instructor certificate.
The skills taught and tested are:

  • Swing (one snatch-test-sized bell)
  • Get-Up (one snatch-test-sized bell)
  • Double Clean (two snatch-test-sized bells)
  • Press (one snatch-test-sized bell)
  • Double Front Squat (two snatch-test-sized bells)
  • Snatch (one snatch-test-sized bell)



Candidates must wear clothing which would allow the testing instructor to see whether the elbows and the knees have locked out, e.g. a T-shirt and gym shorts.

The candidate grips the kettlebell handle. Upon the testing instructor’s command the clock starts and the candidate swings the kettlebell back between the legs and snatches it overhead in one uninterrupted movement to a straight-arm lockout. (If you have a medical condition that prevents you from fully locking out your elbow you must notify your team leader before the snatch test is administered. Poor flexibility does not qualify as a medical condition.)

The snatch may be performed with or without a knee dip, however the knees must be straight at the lockout. An unlimited number of hand switches and back swings is allowed. The candidate may set the kettlebell down and rest as many times as he or she wishes to.

After fixing the kettlebell in the top position until the kettlebell and the student are visibly motionless, the girevik lowers the kettlebell between the legs in one uninterrupted motion without touching the chest or shoulder.

The snatch may be performed with or without a knee dip at the overhead lockout. The girevik is allowed to place the free hand on the hip or waist (but not on the thigh) and move the feet. However, the student must stop all movement when fixing the weight in the top position.

On each attempt, the instructor will announce the repetition number or “No count.” A repetition is given a “No count” if the candidate has:

  • Failed to lock out the elbow.
  • Pressed out the kettlebell to the finish.
  • Failed to stop all movement (the kettlebell, the body, and the feet) at the lockout.
  • Touched the chest or the shoulder with the working arm and/or the kettlebell on descent. (The “No count” will be announced on the next repetition, for example, “Fifty . . . Last rep no count, fifty . . .”)
  • Placed the free hand on the knee or thigh.

The attempt will be disqualified if the candidate has:

  • Three incidents of “No counts,”
  • Touched the kettlebell or the working arm with the non-working arm, except when switching hands.
  • Re-applied chalk during the test.
  • Let go of the kettlebell before it has touched the ground (dropped it rather than set it down).

The testing instructor will announce the time elapsed after 1, 2, 3, 4 min., 4:30, 4:45, and 4:55. Chalk is allowed: belts, gloves, wrist wraps, and other supportive equipment are not.


The sum of both arms is scored. Depending on the gender, age, and bodyweight, the candidate must perform the following number of reps in the specified time:

Men Open Class Up to 60kg/132lbs 20kg 100/5min
Men Open Class Over 60kg/132lbs 24kg 100/5min
Men Masters (50-64 years old) 20kg 100/5min
Men Seniors (65+ years old) 20kg 50/3min
Women Open Class Up to 56kg/123.5lbs 12kg 100/5min
Women Open Class Over 56kg/123.5lbs 16kg 100/5min
Women Masters (50-64 years old) 12kg 100/5min
Women Seniors (65+ years old) 12kg 50/3min

If you do not pass the snatch test at the certification, you may retake the test no later than 90 days after the course. You may retake the test in person with a Master, Senior, or StrongFirst Team Leader in your area or send the video to your Team Leader.


A written test will be administered, covering techniques, corrective drills, concepts and basic understanding of kettlebell training.


Recertification of your Level I (Level I+) must be achieved either by seeking the SFG Level II, or by attending the (3 day) SFG Level I either at the recertification price or attending as an assistant (if you are selected), or by attending a Level I (one day) Recert, or by our new option, Video Recertification. Please click here for more information about our recertification options.

When you recertify your Level I, you will perform the snatch test along with the following skills to tested with snatch-test-size kettlebells:

  • Swing

(10 repetitions each side)

  • Double Clean

(5 repetitions)

  • Press

(5 repetitions)

  • Double Front Squat

(5 repetitions)

  • Snatch

(5 repetitions each side)

  • Get-Up

(Tested with a kettlebell 1/3 heavier than the snatch test bell (1 repetition per side))*

Snatch Test Bell         Get-Up Bell (1/3 heavier)

12kg                                                  16kg

16kg                                                  20kg

20kg                                                  28kg

24kg                                                  32kg



How long is the certification valid?

The SFG credential is good for two years.

What does SFG stand for?

StrongFirst Girya. “Girya” is the Russian word for “kettlebell”.

Can I attend without testing?

You may!  Many people do.

What is the Beast Tamer/Iron Maiden Challenge?

The Beast Tamer/Iron Maiden Challenge may only be attempted at a StrongFirst Certification. Successful completion requires a strict press, pull-up, and pistol with the 48kg kettlebell (the “Beast”) for men, and with the 24kg kettlebell for the ladies. Please click here for more information and to see the list of Beast Tamers and Iron Maidens!

Are spectators permitted?

They are not. However, you may check with the organizer of the SFG to see if the event space has room for spectators during the graduation workout at the end of Day 3.

Can I receive the manual in advance?

The manual can only be received at check-in, to ensure that only those who attend the Certification receive it.

How should I prepare?

SFG is a tough certification. Make sure you have been doing a lot of kettlebell swings to withstand the demanding and grueling pace. Men should be able to comfortably press a pair of 24kg kettlebells for multiple sets of 5, women a pair of 16kg kettlebells.

Develop your flexibility:

  • In the hamstrings to comfortably assume the low position of the standing jump or deadlift with a flat lower back.
  • In the hip flexors to comfortably finish your swings without leaning back and without bending your knees.
  • In the upper back and shoulders to comfortably support a kettlebell overhead: the shoulder down, the elbow locked, the neck neutral, the arm behind the ear, the lower back not hyperextended.

These abilities are not prerequisites for your future students, as you can take your time building them up. We do not have that luxury in a three-day certification. Be prepared.

Here is an excellent article written by Master SFG Brett Jones to help you prepare.