I get dozens of requests by email, phone call, and even house visits about how to prepare for the three-day Kettlebell Certification. I am more than happy to help prepare them for the experience of moving all day long, challenging workouts, and cutting edge education.
Sadly, most people ask me to perfect their form in all the movements. Now, in my experience as a coach of many sports, achieving perfection is a lot like grabbing a handful of steam, if you ask me. You didn’t. Having me walk you through a variety of movements in a few hours is nothing like technical mastery.
On the other extreme, others want to know about the standard that says the off-arm pinkie must remain at zenith during the third arabesque and whether or not we are really that specific about things. I made that up. As you may know, it is only during the second arabesque that the pinkie is at zenith. Read the manual!
I emphasize that you don’t worry about technical perfection or the standards in your preparation. I suggest you prepare yourself mentally and physically for the road. The road? Cervantes says it best in Don Quixote: “It’s the road, not the inn.” In my humble opinion (right?), I suggest you prepare yourself as best you can physically to handle the three days of wear and tear on your body.
Oh, and the “inn”? That’s the Grad Workout.
The Best Way to Prepare for Your Kettlebell Certification
It is a hard thing to explain, but during the three days, you are going to learn the techniques of basic kettlebell movements. Trust me. During my Certification, during my 10,000th double swing, I “sorta got it.” When I repeat to the group, for what I always hope is the last time but never is the last time, “The swing is a swing, the snatch is a swing, the clean is a swing,” you might finally have the insight that the ballistic kettlebell movements begin with a swing.
The get-up is a masterful move, so learn the move under the direction of the masters. Stop watching those awful YouTube videos that also next recommend that the best method of catching alligators is with your bare hands. You need your hands for snatches.
There are no mysteries to preparing for the Certification. I followed the simple directions that Pavel outlined with lots and lots of clean and presses, pull-ups, swings, and snatches. Well, what I “thought” were swings and snatches. I recommend a solid base of strength first—wait, this reminds me of something.
When Pavel announced the name of the organization as “StrongFirst,” I turned to my wife and said, “Someone is going to say “StrongLast” in exactly three, two…” I was right.
So, get strong. I hope you were smart enough to do something as simple as Easy Strength and get your basic press, squat, and pull up to standard. Don’t start getting specific on the kettlebell moves if, as a male, you can’t do a pull-up. After that, leap into the Rite of Passage with all you have. I smiled on rep eighteen of my snatch test as I knew I was going to kill this test; Rite of Passage had me that prepared.
The Grad Workout
The road starts when you circle the calendar, count backwards the weeks, and start to get strong. Then, I hope you have time for specific prep. Like my assistant tells me, “Now get on the plane and go.” The road continues when you check into the hotel, unpack your stuff (bring extra shirts, trust me), and try to figure out what to do and where to go. The road is Day One, Day Two, and Day Three.
Then, you reach the inn. That’s where I come in again. The Grad Workout, in this particular variation, was designed by a lunatic psychopath. That would be me.
Everything can be done; some things should be done. The Grad Workout has built in problems:
- You have an exhausted cadre.
- Putting bells up overhead with exhausted people breaks all the safety rules.
- Some people have little skin on their hands by Day Three.
- Any idiot can get people tired. Getting people to test themselves under stress and exhaustion takes some thinking to keep things safe.
- WIN: What’s Important Now. We debate the reasons for this workout at every gathering. Trust me, there are many. As a religious studies instructor, I can only add that we are putting a line in the sand and asking you simply to cross it. That is what is important now.
With these problems/opportunities, I reached into my grab bag of training and came up with this simple workout based on the concept of “we can do anything, we should do this.”
- Double kettlebell clean for two reps
- Double kettlebell press for one rep
- Double kettlebell front squat for three reps.
- Put the bell down like a professional. Step away.
Now, your partner takes the bells while you do fast and loose drills and support the community as you can.
Repeat. A lot.
The press is always the issue in these workouts. This 2:1:3 ratio protects the hands (two cleans, but doubles are easier on the hands anyway), challenges the press without worrying about endurance, and, well, you can always get another double front squat. By simply moving to one rep in the press, you still move from safest ballistic I know (the double clean), to the ultimate in full-body tension and grinding, the press. The front squats? Good question: I’m a jerk. You can always do front squats!
Ratios are more important in kettlebell complexes than barbell complexes. With a barbell, asymmetry issues can be mitigated by having both hands on the bar. That’s why I keep my barbell complexes with standards of three, five, or eight reps with each movement. With kettlebells, any asymmetry, whether physical or technical limitations, will manifest itself under load and exhaustion. So, I play with ratios in all my kettlebell complex work.
The Road to the Grad Workout
The Grad Workout is climbing the summit. It is the last few grueling feet. Inside your head, you know you can do one more round, but maybe not two more. Two rounds later, you know you can do one more round, but maybe not two more. But, you continue to climb.
This is why we wear our shirts proudly and include initials behind our name. You made it to the inn.