The StrongFirst Bodyweight Instructor Certification is likely coming to a city near you soon. Now, if you are like me you may be thinking what is the big deal about Bodyweight Certifications? I mean really, I have grown up in a traditional martial arts school and have been doing bodyweight work my whole life, so what is the point of going somewhere to learn how to do push-ups and pull-ups?
How wrong I was! What I found was that the SFB is not your typical calisthenics course where eking out more shaking reps than the last time was the end all-be all goal to self-improvement. No, what is delivered is a system of knowledge that allows the user to get a powerlifting type of strength practice anywhere, anytime, with little or no gear. As the description says on the StrongFirst webpage, “In Case Civilization is Temporary.”
How to Double Your Kettlebell Press with Handstand Push-ups
Case in point, I travel all the time teaching workshops and certifications so it is not always easy to stick to a strict kettlebell pressing program. It’s hard to travel fast and light with a kettlebell. Therefore, the solution for me during one particular busy section of the year was to do handstand push-ups. I simply did Pavel’s Rite of Passage from Enter the Kettlebell.
The Rite of Passage program, in case you are not familiar with it, is a surefire way to systematically work your way up to a strict military press using a kettlebell around half of your bodyweight. The student practices pressing a bell using ladders starting with 3 ladders of 3: (1-2-3) (1-2-3) (1-2-3) and gradually over time works himself up to 5 ladders of 5.
Well, what I did was substitute handstand push-ups for the kettlebell presses and followed the same program. What David Whitley laughingly calls “Enter the Handstand Push-ups.” The whole time I did this, about six weeks, I never touched a kettlebell and in the back of my mind, I was concerned I would lose the starting strength of my kettlebell press.
The reason for this fear is when you think of a handstand push-up, you are really only going through the top two thirds of the motion compared to a kettlebell press, because you are only able to lower yourself to the top of your head. Where the kettlebell press starts from the rack and travels all the way to lockout, the concentric phase of the handstand push-up starts at the top of your head and goes to lockout—a much shorter or partial movement. I thought I was really going to have to spend some time with a kettlebell to makeup for lost ground.
When I finished the six weeks and was finally able to test the press, I grabbed a 44kg and accidentally pressed it eight times—my best before was only four hard reps. Therefore, in a little over six weeks I doubled my kettlebell press without touching a kettlebell.
These Aren’t Just Any Handstand Push-ups
Let me make one thing very clear: I was not just practicing a flailing all over the place handstand. I was practicing the SFB handstand push-up using every tension technique in the curriculum, practicing super stiffness and all of the “magic” power generating irradiation techniques to plug up in any power leakages in my body.
You have all had a taste of these during your SFG Level I, but the Bodyweight Certification takes the principals and amplifies them beyond belief. When you apply the knowledge that you will gain at the SFB Bodyweight Instructor Certification, your kettlebell lifts will get stronger, way stronger—guaranteed.
Therefore, to recap: the core bodyweight moves are just the vehicle we are using to teach the system and the system is were the gold is hidden.
Why Take the SFB Certification?
Here are my top reasons:
- To get real world usable strength. The freaky in between strength that is so important in everyday life. Strength that fills the gaps and patches up the chinks in your armor—”strength for everyday carry.”
- To learn how to systematically reverse engineer the bodyweight powerlifts—the one-arm one-leg push-up, the pistol, the tactical pull-up, the handstand push-up, the hanging leg raise, the front lever, and much more. Master these power moves, but more importantly learn how to help your students achieve these seemingly superhuman moves in the safest, most effective manner possible. In addition, please, do not be afraid if you are currently unable to do any of these moves. You will learn how to eliminate the guesswork and trial and error to fast track both your progress and your student’s progress. Once you know the system, you will be able to complete your strength test within the six-month period.
- Learn how to seamlessly combine the kettlebell and bodyweight training for the best possible results.
- Lastly challenge yourself to become a perfect StrongFirst instructor. What does that mean? When I was coming up through the ranks in my martial arts study, my grandmaster told us that to become a perfect master one must be well versed in three martial arts. My system is Korean, so Taekwondo for punching and kicking; Hapkido for throws, takedowns, and locks; and Kumdo (a Korean form of fencing) for weapons training. Only then do you have the complete system, the whole story.
So from my point of view, the perfect StrongFirst instructor has the SFG Kettlebell Cert, the SFB Bodyweight Cert, and the SFL Barbell Cert. “One Mind, Any Weapon.” Perfection is a journey not a destination, so I invite you to take up the challenge with me. I promise you will not regret one single step of the journey.
Jon Engum is a 7th Dan Kukkiwon Certified Taekwondo Grandmaster and in addition holds Master rank in Hapkido and Kumdo. He is the author of Flexible Steel and is a StrongFirst Master Instructor who teaches Workshops and Certifications throughout the world. Join him for the SFB Bodyweight Instructor Cert in New York City or Seoul, Republic of Korea.