The SFG Level II Preparation Guide

You asked for it, so here it is: a guide to preparing for the StrongFirst Girya Level II Certification. The SFG Level I prep guide has been used by many to successfully prepare for that Certification, and a guide for Level II has long been requested.

Below I have outlined a step-by-step approach to preparation and training for the SFG Level II. This is not a plan you can just follow as written, though – it requires you do some assessment, planning, and analysis of your own.

Step 1: Understand the Requirements of the SFG Level II Certification

Just as with your Level I Certification, you need to understand what will be asked/required of you over the weekend:

  • Review and testing of your Level I+ skills and snatch test
  • Half bodyweight military press for men and one-third bodyweight military press for women
  • Learning, training, and testing the Level II skills: windmill, bent press, double kettlebell push-press, double kettlebell jerk, double snatch

Please see the Level II requirements here on the StrongFirst website for more information and specifics.

Step 2: Compare Yourself to the SFG Level II Requirements

Once you have an understanding of the requirements, you need to lay out a plan. The first things to do is evaluate where you are right now. What is the military press requirement for your bodyweight? 44kg? What can you military press now? 32kg? Can you still hit your snatch test? How comfortable are you with two kettlebells overhead? Double kettlebell cleans? Do you know what a bent press is and how to perform it?

Honestly ask yourself: where are you in relation to the requirements right now?

Step 3: Take Your Information and Integrate It With the Plan Below

With that information in hand, you can begin to plan your training and schedule. Allow approximately six months to prepare. Adjust that time frame up or down based on your current ability in comparison to the Certification requirements. It is also highly recommended that you visit an SFG II either in person or online to get headed in the right direction with some of the drills taught at the Certification.

Before beginning the plan below, you must customize it to your needs. First, you must know what you need to address in your movement prep work. This should involve an FMS screen to identify weak links, and the actual work you assign yourself might include foam rolling, stretching, and/or a dynamic warm-up. This work should be specific to you, so do your homework and make a plan.

Step 4: Be Smart!

Allow plenty of time to build up to the requirements and begin where you are — not where you want to be. Getting injured will derail your training and impact your investment in your continuing kettlebell education.

If your plan is well laid out, you will have time to adjust for unexpected back-offs and modifications. Your plan should also allow for scheduled variation in volume and intensity. “Ride the waves” to the SFG Level II by cutting volume and intensity every few weeks instead of trying to make the trip a straight line.

Ready to get started?

SFG Level II CertificationThe SFG Level II Prep Plan Weekly Schedule

  • Monday – Rest and Recovery
  • Tuesday – Military Press Day 1
  • Wednesday – Snatch Prep Day
  • Thursday – Rest and Recovery
  • Friday – Military Press Day 2
  • Saturday – SFG Level II Prep Day 1
  • Sunday – SFG Level II Prep Day 2

The SFG Level II weekend is two physical days so your training should reflect those days and structure. You will need to set aside other training goals and workouts during your Level II preparation period.

The weights in plan below are recommended based on the goal of a 24kg snatch test, double 24kg testing weights, and your military prep requirement — adjust as appropriate.

Military Press Day 1

1. Movement prep work:

  • Do your custom plan based on your needs and goals

2. Perform 3 supersets:

  • 24kg get-up x 1+1
  • Bottom-up press (choose weight appropriate for your current level) x 1+1

3. Volume pressing ladders:

  • Select the appropriate weight (see chart and work off your current max)
  • Perform 3-5 ladders of 1+1 through 5+5 reps
  • Do one clean per set

Know how your body responds to volume pressing. Don’t push through fatigue and pain! Below are the volume pressing upper limits. These are approximate and rounded up or down as appropriate. If you increase beyond 70% of your max be sure to also adjust your volume and watch for overtraining.

SFG Level II Preparation Guide
Recommended weight for volume pressing.

Snatch Prep Day

1. Superset:

  • Get-up 24kg x 2+2 x 2 sets
  • Single-leg deadlift 24kg x 5+5 x 2 sets

2. One arm swing:

  • 15+15 x 4-5 sets (5+ minutes rest between sets)
  • 32kg goal for men, 24kg for women

30 swings will take about a minute and we want a 1:5 work to rest ratio at minimum, so don’t short the rest! Also the swings can be done in other formats: (5+5 x 3), (10+10 one arm + 10 two arm), etc.

Military Press Day 2

1. Movement prep work:

  • Do your custom plan based on your needs and goals

2. Perform 3 supersets:

  • 24kg get-up x 1+1
  • Bottom-up press x 1+1

3. Military press:

  • 80-90% “max” x 3-4 sets of 1-3 reps
  • 3-5 min rest between sets

4. Bent press practice:

  • Begin with windmill x 3+3

SFG Level II Prep Day 1

1. Movement prep work:

  • Do your custom plan based on your needs and goals

2. Superset:

  • Get-up 16 kg x 1+1
  • Windmill x 16 kg x 1+1

3. Snatch test density training:

  • 24kg snatch
  • 4+4 x 16 sets
  • Perform your reps at the top of each minute; rest for the remainder of the minute

Note: You will be adding reps and reducing sets as you progress on this program. For example, if your first session was 4+4 x 16 sets (reps at top of each minute – rest until next minute), then you will add a rep to each arm and reduce the number of sets as you are able to complete the workout “comfortably.”

5+5 x 15 sets
6+6 x 14 sets
7+7 x 12 sets
8+8 x 10 sets
9+9 x 8 sets
10+10 x 7 sets

Don’t rush the reps or progress too quickly – be willing to spend a couple of sessions at a particular rep and set level.

4. Double 24kg kettlebell work circuit, performed 3 times through:

  • Get-up x 1+1 (adjust weight or reduce steps of get-up as needed)
  • Double swing x 10
  • Double military press x 5
  • Double front squat x 5
  • Double clean x 5

Rest 30-45 seconds between exercises and 2-3 minutes between circuits. Adjust weights, reps, and rest as needed. Quality is the priority!

5. Fast and Loose drills and recovery work

SFG Level II Prep Day 2

1. Movement prep work:

  • Do your custom plan based on your needs and goals

2. Circuits of double 24kg kettlebells (or appropriate weight), performed 1-2 times through:

  • Clean and press x 3
  • Get-up x 1+1 (adjust weight or reduce steps of get-up as needed)
  • Push press x 3
  • Clean and front squat x 3
  • Jerk x 3
  • Double swing x 3
  • Clean and press x 3
  • Double kettlebell snatch x 3
  • Push press x 3

Rest 15-30 seconds between exercises, and 2-3 minutes between circuits. Add reps until you are performing sets of 5 for the double kettlebell drills. Do 1 clean per exercise set. Adjust weights, reps, and rest as needed. Quality is the priority!

3. Rest for 10 minutes and do Fast and Loose drills

4. Circuits of double 24kg kettlebells (or appropriate weight), performed 1-2 times through:

  • Clean and front squat x 3
  • Get-up x 1+1 (adjust weight or reduce steps of get-up as needed)
  • Double swing x 3
  • Clean and front squat x 3
  • Clean and press x 3
  • Clean and front squat x 3
  • Double swing x 3
  • Clean and push press x 3
  • Double kettlebell snatch x 3
  • Clean and jerk x 3

Rest 30-45 seconds between exercises, and 2-3 minutes between circuits. Add reps until you are performing sets of 5 for the double kettlebell drills. Do 1 clean per exercise set. Adjust weights, reps, and rest as needed. Quality is the priority!

If you are not comfortable with the push press, jerk, or bent press, then simply skip them or swap out for the military press or other drills you are comfortable with at the moment. Throughout this plan, be sure to keep up with your Fast and Loose drills and recovery work!

If you have questions, post them to the comments below or visit the StrongFirst forums to ask questions, get advice, and be supported in your quest for your SFG Level II Certification!

Brett Jones
Chief SFG
Brett Jones is StrongFirst’s Chief SFG Instructor. He is also a Certified Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Specialist based in Pittsburgh, PA. Mr. Jones holds a Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine from High Point University, a Master of Science in Rehabilitative Sciences from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

With over twenty years of experience, Brett has been sought out to consult with professional teams and athletes, as well as present throughout the United States and internationally.

As an athletic trainer who has transitioned into the fitness industry, Brett has taught kettlebell techniques and principles since 2003. He has taught for Functional Movement Systems (FMS) since 2006, and has created multiple DVDs and manuals with world-renowned physical therapist Gray Cook, including the widely-praised “Secrets of…” series.

Brett continues to evolve his approach to training and teaching, and is passionate about improving the quality of education for the fitness industry. He is available for consultations and distance coaching by e-mailing him at appliedstrength@gmail.com.

Follow him on Twitter at @BrettEJones.
Brett Jones on EmailBrett Jones on Twitter

10 thoughts on “The SFG Level II Preparation Guide

  • This is one awesome program!!
    I just have one question. In Military Press Day 1, how long should the rest be between ladders and between the rep sets?

    Cheers mate,
    Tim

  • Hello! For the ladders on military press – Day 1, is one set complete when you go 1–>5 and 5 –> 1 for 1 set or just 1 –>5? It’s 15 up and 15 back down so 3 sets would be 90 total reps/arm. Thanks in advance for your help.

  • Thank you for the guide Brett.

    Please confirm the double snatch is not one of the tested lifts in SFG2. The requirements listed on the website do not state it, but I thought it was at one point? If it is not, may I ask why you chose to include it in your program? Just looking to understand. I would assume so the student may “own” the double overhead position, but I figured it would be better for me to ask than assume. Thanks again.

  • Great article Brett. I was just wondering how weighted pull-ups could be integrated into this program as per the old RKC Level II requirements?

  • I am going to register for the SFGII cert. When I took my Level I cert my snatch test bell was 12kg (I am 58 yrs old). What will my snatch test bell weight be for the level II?

    Thank you!

  • Is the target weight of the press bell on Movement Prep Day 1 (found on chart) based on current 1RM OR the goal bell needed to pass SFG2 (1/2 body-weight)?

  • Great stuff !! Thank you Chief !!

    I successully prepared with your SFG 1 program, I was so waiting for your SFG 2 plan !!! Thank you again

    Just wondering (not sure I understand sharply everything) :
    – In Snatch Prep day : Are we clear that we want 2 supersets of Get Ups (2+2)@24 + Single Leg DL (5+5)@24 ?
    Then is this a correct other way to describe the Swing reps, sets and rest : 4 to 5 sets of (15+15) with 5′ rest between sets – which sound huge, but hey, the Party is right 🙂

    – In Mov Prep Day 2 : “Bent Press Practice, begin with Windmill x3+3”. To me, it means Windmill : 1 set of 3 reps per hand. Then ? Any Bent Press behind ? Any prescribed size of KB ?

    – In Double KB circuits : Do 1 Clean to get into the rack position and then performed the prescribed number of FSQ, Presses, PP, Jerks ? Is that correct ? As for the Get Up, should it be the weight used as for the SFG 1+ test (i.e 32 kg if your other bells are 24’s)

    Thanks again !!

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