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Kettlebell Preparing for SFG1 - need advice !

mvikred

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Hi All

I've got some great advice and form corrections from this forum but when I found out that SFG1 was coming to India later this year, I couldn't help but jump on that opportunity to get certified. When I look at all the requirements, I believe I can do a decent job of everything except the snatch test at this point. I believe that I have decent strength for a novice with 1 yr of KB training (I will share a few numbers below for reference) and no dedicated strength training prior to that, but I know for sure that my cardiovascular capacity is on the low side (maybe lower than low - its horrible). So I am trying to get some advice/views on the following
  • To build cardiovascular capacity, do I need to definitely bring in running into my workouts? Currently I run pretty rarely, maybe once a month I hit a 5km run and I walk around 5-6km once a week.
  • How can I build build cardio without losing my strength?
  • Does the approach I talk about below make sense to get through the snatch test with 24kg KB?
Where I am currently at
  • I wanted to test if I can get 100 reps of snatches with 16kg KB a few weeks back. I was able to get 104 reps .. but I was pretty much out of breath and gasping for air like a mad man. The only positive was that my technique was good enough that my hands didn't have any noticeable calluses.
  • I know that strength endurance is something I need to build on but but not really sure how to go about it at this point. For snatches, 16kg KB is my 20RM, 20kg is my 15RM, 24kg is 10-12RM, 28kg is like 7-9RM, and 32kg is 3-5RM.
  • As far as my strength goes - my press 1RM is 36kg on both sides, 32kg is a 3-4RM, 28kg is a comfortable7-8RM, 24kg is 12-14RM. My TGU 1RM is the 36kg KB. I have hit timed simple standard with the 32kg KB for TGUs (but haven't been able to hit the timed standard for 1h swings with the 32kg - again an issue with my cardio). I am running KB Strong with double 28s right now and my C&P RM with double 28s is not at 8RM (inc from 4RM after Phase 1).
What have I am doing at the moment
  • Running two programs on alternate days - KB Strong Phase 2 Slow and Steady version with double 28kg KBs and Swing Hard 1.0 program with 32kg KB 1h swings
  • On days when I have smaller sets on KB Strong, I do add some snatch work in order to not lose the technique and on almost all the days I work on mobility - arm bars, windmills (standing and kneeling), etc. basically a lot of shoulder mobility work before I start working out and a bunch of hip mobility work post-workout
  • Swing Hard I started to work on my cardio and I am currently in week 5, and the HR recovery in the minute once the reps start hitting 8 is not so great. I hope that this will help me build a bit more cardio in the remaining 4 weeks.
What I plan to do
  • I started Swing Hard before I made a commitment to SFG1, but realized that it should work equally well if I applied to Snatches. So 1 option is that I transition to Swing Hard with snatch rather than a swing and build from there. Maybe when comfortable with 24kg, I can increase the weight to 28kg.
  • The other option I see is that I work for time, i.e. I start with 5 reps every 30 seconds for 5 minutes and then keep adding 1 rep as I see better recovery in my HR. I thought maybe this will work well closer to the SFG1 date (hopefully that doesn't move because of COVID).
  • My current thinking is not either or of the two options above but a combination of that - first build volume and then fix volume and compress time.
I do believe there are a good number of experts here who can probably tell me if I am doing a horrible job with what my end objective is. I look forward to the advice !
 

mvikred

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
What about starting with the SFG 1 prep guide by Brett? ;)
Yes. That was the inspiration for the snatch prep option 1. TOTM protocol and increase intensity over time by keeping total volume same !!

I do have Brett’s guide pinned in my notes and something I might just do a couple of months before the cert !! :)
 

ShawnM

Level 8 Valued Member
@Anna C wrote a great article concerning prepping for the SFG1 that I used just as an overall training program after I hit Simple years ago. Look for it under the articles section. It should check all the boxes you have concerning being prepared.
 

DannyHoj

Level 2 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I followed the Brett Jones plan for about 2 months to build a base. When I was 6 weeks out I switched to the below snatch focused plan bc I knew the snatch test would be the real challenge. I snatched 3x a week and on the other days did 2 iterations of the Moving Target Complex w my test size bell just to keep the clean/squat/press fresh. Best of luck to you.

 

mvikred

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I’ve ba
I followed the Brett Jones plan for about 2 months to build a base. When I was 6 weeks out I switched to the below snatch focused plan bc I knew the snatch test would be the real challenge. I snatched 3x a week and on the other days did 2 iterations of the Moving Target Complex w my test size bell just to keep the clean/squat/press fresh. Best of luck to you.

I’ve had Craig’s article bookmarked a while back. Thanks for the reminder. Will go through this a bit closely.
 

Mark Limbaga

Level 8 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
The energy systems plan is what I usually recommend to anyone 10-12 weeks out (although depending on their strengths, I also have a different plan altogether)

Have you touched base with an SFG to get your form checked to make sure it is up to testing standard??
 

Tjerr

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I do have Brett’s guide pinned in my notes and something I might just do a couple of months before the cert !! :)

I did it for a couple of months to prepare and then switched to Easy Reg Park when everything was up to par, but I still had time left before certification.
 

mvikred

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
The energy systems plan is what I usually recommend to anyone 10-12 weeks out (although depending on their strengths, I also have a different plan altogether)

Have you touched base with an SFG to get your form checked to make sure it is up to testing standard??
That’s good to know. I have been in touch with an SFG who assists here in India. I plan to get some time from him to check form per SFG standards.
 

mvikred

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Conditioning is going to be one of the main focus for my workouts going forward. So I’ve been reading a bit about conditioning and re-read Viking warrior conditioning. Curious about this though. I see that A+A (AGT) style training is something I’ve seen many speak great things about but the way Viking Warrior Conditioning is structured is that we definitely get into Glycotic range and therefore train there for decent bit of time. I think somewhere in the book Kenneth also says that this is better for burning fat. Wondering what works best for the snatch test prep?

I started working with the 16kg KB and doing 6 reps 15:15 format to test how it feels. I did that for 5 mins, I.e. 10 sets. Had more in me but didn’t want to push it yet. And for most part of that 5 mins I was in the Glycotic range. If I follow what is written to the word I probably will need a 12 kg KB which I don’t have hence testing what best works with a 16kg KB and still follow the principles laid out in Viking Warrior Conditioning.

Maybe a better way to articulate it is
When is it better to train in the Glycotic range and when is it better to train in the AGT range?
 
Last edited:

John K

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Conditioning is going to be one of the main focus for my workouts going forward. So I’ve been reading a bit about conditioning and re-read Viking warrior conditioning. Curious about this though. I see that A+A (AGT) style training is something I’ve seen many speak great things about but the way Viking Warrior Conditioning is structured is that we definitely get into Glycotic range and therefore train there for decent bit of time. I think somewhere in the book Kenneth also says that this is better for burning fat. Wondering what works best for the snatch test prep?

I started working with the 16kg KB and doing 6 reps 15:15 format to test how it feels. I did that for 5 mins, I.e. 10 sets. Had more in me but didn’t want to push it yet. And for most part of that 5 mins I was in the Glycotic range. If I follow what is written to the word I probably will need a 12 kg KB which I don’t have hence testing what best works with a 16kg KB and still follow the principles laid out in Viking Warrior Conditioning.

Maybe a better way to articulate it is
Check out @Tony Gracia 's article "Snatch Pyramid." I think that answer's your question fairly well (and also provides an incredible system to work off of).

When is your SFG1?

I too am prepping for mine (end of April). It sounds like we have similar "limiters" - snatching I get out of breath quick. I worked with a local SFG and he had a couple good comments (as well as tips for how I can train, given my strengths and weaknesses). One thing he said was that a snatch test is going to "burn" - your heart rate is going to get high, your breathing is going to get fast, so set your expectations right.

A couple observations of myself:

1. I have not found running to help snatch test prep. When I was capable of running multiple sub 10 min miles while still below VT1 (e.g. passing the talk test), it didn't make me get less out of breath snatching high reps than when my sub-VT1 mile time was about 12 min miles. Now, neither of these run times is exactly "good," so maybe I would see better results if my sub-VT1 mile times were lower. All that being said, I think there's a lot of diminishing returns focusing on running when snatching is the focus.

2. I did not find C&P to carry over well to snatch test. I did a lot of work with 28s and 32s (pairs) but long sets of snatches were such a different beast. Maybe this is how I was training - sets of 8-10 with 28s with 3-5 min rest. A hard set of 10 followed by 5 minutes rest is totally different than trying to get 100 reps in the same time frame! You could say it built a base of strength and that has carry over, but long sets of snatches effects on grip, shoulders, back, lungs, etc. is very different.

3. High (weekly) volume snatching started to give me what I’ll call bicep tendinitis. I worked with a SFG local to me and he recommended that I focus on double swings twice a week and snatching once a week. The double swings would drive the “cardio” ability while also not being terribly stressful on my bicep. I think he included the snatching more of as a practice/confidence builder. Since then I’ve seen good improvements in pacing and breath work and the ability to continue snatching. When looking at what he recommended, it is very similar to "middle" and "peak" of Tony's pyramid.

Again, this last bit was done in conjunction with an SFG looking at me, how I moved, what I was good at and what I struggled with. It was very worth spending the time with him. Your mileage may vary in applying these to your own training, and I have yet to pass my SFG1/snatch test so this is all offered in the spirit of getting there together.

Good luck dude!
 

Don Fairbanks

SFG II
Certified Instructor
Check out @Tony Gracia 's article "Snatch Pyramid." I think that answer's your question fairly well (and also provides an incredible system to work off of).

When is your SFG1?

I too am prepping for mine (end of April). It sounds like we have similar "limiters" - snatching I get out of breath quick. I worked with a local SFG and he had a couple good comments (as well as tips for how I can train, given my strengths and weaknesses). One thing he said was that a snatch test is going to "burn" - your heart rate is going to get high, your breathing is going to get fast, so set your expectations right.

A couple observations of myself:

1. I have not found running to help snatch test prep. When I was capable of running multiple sub 10 min miles while still below VT1 (e.g. passing the talk test), it didn't make me get less out of breath snatching high reps than when my sub-VT1 mile time was about 12 min miles. Now, neither of these run times is exactly "good," so maybe I would see better results if my sub-VT1 mile times were lower. All that being said, I think there's a lot of diminishing returns focusing on running when snatching is the focus.

2. I did not find C&P to carry over well to snatch test. I did a lot of work with 28s and 32s (pairs) but long sets of snatches were such a different beast. Maybe this is how I was training - sets of 8-10 with 28s with 3-5 min rest. A hard set of 10 followed by 5 minutes rest is totally different than trying to get 100 reps in the same time frame! You could say it built a base of strength and that has carry over, but long sets of snatches effects on grip, shoulders, back, lungs, etc. is very different.

3. High (weekly) volume snatching started to give me what I’ll call bicep tendinitis. I worked with a SFG local to me and he recommended that I focus on double swings twice a week and snatching once a week. The double swings would drive the “cardio” ability while also not being terribly stressful on my bicep. I think he included the snatching more of as a practice/confidence builder. Since then I’ve seen good improvements in pacing and breath work and the ability to continue snatching. When looking at what he recommended, it is very similar to "middle" and "peak" of Tony's pyramid.

Again, this last bit was done in conjunction with an SFG looking at me, how I moved, what I was good at and what I struggled with. It was very worth spending the time with him. Your mileage may vary in applying these to your own training, and I have yet to pass my SFG1/snatch test so this is all offered in the spirit of getting there together.

Good luck dude!
I believe 400m repeats and some " over distance " ( over time really ) 6 minute runs, covering as much distance as possible, will help your test.
 

Tony Gracia

Level 6 Valued Member
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@mvikred - that's great that you are going for your SFG. After reading your post and briefly skimming the other replies here is my two cents:

1) Do your best to make sure your form is as good as possible going in. Sounds like you'll be working with a local SFG instructor which should be a great start.

2) If you can press the 36kg then strength is likely a non-issue. You should be able to put that on the back-burner for a while

3) If you can press the 36kg and your snatch test is at 16kg that is a big discrepancy. My suspicion is the most beneficial use of your training time will be a combination of technique work (especially on your snatches) and improving your endurance. Consider a weekly template like this, and follow the principles of waving the load that I suspect you are familiar with:

Day 1 = High volume one-handed swings (24kg) and snatches (16kg). Increase weights as your fitness and technique allows.

Day 2 = Strength aerobics style format. Include all the grind lifts plus cleans. Each set should be on the short side, and the rest breaks are also semi short. Your heart rate is elevated a bit but you are never smoked.

Day 3 = Heavier weight / lower volume one-handed swings and snatches. Probably 32kg and 24kg respectively.

Day 4 = Complexes with single or double KB's. Longer time under tension and longer rest breaks compared to Day 2.
 

Mark Limbaga

Level 8 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Conditioning is going to be one of the main focus for my workouts going forward. So I’ve been reading a bit about conditioning and re-read Viking warrior conditioning. Curious about this though. I see that A+A (AGT) style training is something I’ve seen many speak great things about but the way Viking Warrior Conditioning is structured is that we definitely get into Glycotic range and therefore train there for decent bit of time. I think somewhere in the book Kenneth also says that this is better for burning fat. Wondering what works best for the snatch test prep?

I started working with the 16kg KB and doing 6 reps 15:15 format to test how it feels. I did that for 5 mins, I.e. 10 sets. Had more in me but didn’t want to push it yet. And for most part of that 5 mins I was in the Glycotic range. If I follow what is written to the word I probably will need a 12 kg KB which I don’t have hence testing what best works with a 16kg KB and still follow the principles laid out in Viking Warrior Conditioning.

Maybe a better way to articulate it is
For context are you testing with a 24kg or a 20?? Can you one arm swing to shoulder level the 32kg for sets of 10? These give you more clues how much work is needed
 

mvikred

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Check out @Tony Gracia 's article "Snatch Pyramid." I think that answer's your question fairly well (and also provides an incredible system to work off of).

When is your SFG1?

I too am prepping for mine (end of April). It sounds like we have similar "limiters" - snatching I get out of breath quick. I worked with a local SFG and he had a couple good comments (as well as tips for how I can train, given my strengths and weaknesses). One thing he said was that a snatch test is going to "burn" - your heart rate is going to get high, your breathing is going to get fast, so set your expectations right.

A couple observations of myself:

1. I have not found running to help snatch test prep. When I was capable of running multiple sub 10 min miles while still below VT1 (e.g. passing the talk test), it didn't make me get less out of breath snatching high reps than when my sub-VT1 mile time was about 12 min miles. Now, neither of these run times is exactly "good," so maybe I would see better results if my sub-VT1 mile times were lower. All that being said, I think there's a lot of diminishing returns focusing on running when snatching is the focus.

2. I did not find C&P to carry over well to snatch test. I did a lot of work with 28s and 32s (pairs) but long sets of snatches were such a different beast. Maybe this is how I was training - sets of 8-10 with 28s with 3-5 min rest. A hard set of 10 followed by 5 minutes rest is totally different than trying to get 100 reps in the same time frame! You could say it built a base of strength and that has carry over, but long sets of snatches effects on grip, shoulders, back, lungs, etc. is very different.

3. High (weekly) volume snatching started to give me what I’ll call bicep tendinitis. I worked with a SFG local to me and he recommended that I focus on double swings twice a week and snatching once a week. The double swings would drive the “cardio” ability while also not being terribly stressful on my bicep. I think he included the snatching more of as a practice/confidence builder. Since then I’ve seen good improvements in pacing and breath work and the ability to continue snatching. When looking at what he recommended, it is very similar to "middle" and "peak" of Tony's pyramid.

Again, this last bit was done in conjunction with an SFG looking at me, how I moved, what I was good at and what I struggled with. It was very worth spending the time with him. Your mileage may vary in applying these to your own training, and I have yet to pass my SFG1/snatch test so this is all offered in the spirit of getting there together.

Good luck dude!
Thanks for the post dude. A lot of what you wrote above resonate with me and I have been taking a similar approach to you. Of course it is good to hear the experience of a person trying to get to the same goal. I'll keep you posted once I am a bit further along the process. And Good Luck !!!

My cert is scheduled for the last week of June and hopefully things progress as planned. With COVID around, one can't be a 100% sure of any plans !!!
 

mvikred

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
For context are you testing with a 24kg or a 20?? Can you one arm swing to shoulder level the 32kg for sets of 10? These give you more clues how much work is needed
Hey Mark. I know we've chatted separately but to close the loop on this one. I am testing with a 24kg and am running Swing Hard 1.0 with the 32kg KB. All my swings hit chest height at a minimum - earlier sets hit almost shoulder height and the latter a bit higher than the chest height.
 

Alexander Halford

Level 7 Valued Member
. I have not found running to help snatch test prep.
5 minutes runs, fastest possible contributes quite well to the specific event. Sort of glycolitic peaking withlhout kettlebell.

I believe 400m repeats and some " over distance " ( over time really ) 6 minute runs, covering as much distance as possible, will help your test.
And then I saw your post. I did 5 min/km cuts.
 

John K

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
5 minutes runs, fastest possible contributes quite well to the specific event. Sort of glycolitic peaking withlhout kettlebell.


And then I saw your post. I did 5 min/km cuts.
You and @Don Fairbanks make great point - saying that run training in the 1hr+ realm doesn't help a 5 min event is not "running" being ineffective in total. There's still a degree a specificity. I was over-focused on one "way" of running, thank you both!
 
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