Hey, what’s up Cardio Haters?
I’ve been away from the blog for the past few weeks as I’ve been writing a few guest posts for other sites, and I’ve been busy redesigning this site. You will notice that my site appears much cleaner and it contains a few cool additional features.
Ok, so earlier this year Dragon Door Australia announced that they would be running an RKC certification in late November. I immediately checked out their site and signed up. In fact, Andrew informed me that I was the second or third person to sign up for the event.
What does RKC stand for?
RKC stands for Russian Kettlebell Challenge. It’s a 3 day course for instructors; it is designed to teach us how to teach 6 core exercises to others.
The 6 exercises are:
- Get Up
- Front Squat
Reasons why I wanted to obtain the RKC certification
1. To learn: For those of you that don’t already know, this is my one and only job. Unlike most trainers who do this on the side to pick up some extra cash and chicks, this is my full time job. I run a private training facility, and I coach students both online and offline. In order to give my students the best possible training sessions, I continue to learn and stay up to date with everything. I try to evolve and better myself every single day.
2. To stand out in the crowd: From a business perspective, it is a no-brainer. Now that kettlebells are in demand not only does it look pretty good on my resume, but I can also proudly say that I am one of approximately 40 RKC certified instructors in Australia, and I am definitely the only one in the surrounding suburbs of my facility. Sure, there are other kettlebell certifications out there, but they don’t even come close to how well structured and respected the RKC is.
3. You have to earn it: The RKC differs from most certifications where they practically hand you your piece of paper just for rocking up. The RKC pass rate on the third day is currently at 70% (off the top of my head). It doesn’t matter how fit you are, or how good of a trainer you are, you must know the Deep 6 exercises and be familiar with a few hundred odd swings.
You see, when I think of a personal trainer I think, ‘here we go again, another guy who has done an 8 week course and thinks he is king shit’. Unfortunately, the title ‘personal trainer’ has lost all respect, and that’s why when someone asks me, “What do you do for a living?” I respond with, “I run a private strength and fitness training facility”.
However, when I think of the RKC the following comes to mind…
- They know what they are talking about when it comes to kettlebells
- They’re strong
- They’re fit
-They walk the walk
All these things add up to why I wanted to obtain the RKC certification.
Not many knew unless they saw me in person, but I was actually going through a body building phase up until 4 months before the RKC.
In about 4-5 months, I managed to gain approximately 9kgs which brought my weight up to 89kgs. Some was fat, some was muscle; I achieved this by eating everything in sight! This was obviously extremely unhealthy, but I had set a goal, and I was determined to do whatever was necessary to achieve it.
I soon realised that it wasn’t a good idea to rock up to the RKC at 89kgs because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to pass the pull up test (5 strict pull ups on day 1 as soon as you rock up,) or get through the first day which consisted of close to a 1000 swings.
Luckily, about 4 months before the challenge, Dragon Door released a digital eBook called ‘The RKC book of strength and conditioning’. It contained a program written by Brett Jones (Master RKC) which I decided to follow in order to drop the excess kilos and get my body ready for the certification.
My week looked like this:
Monday – Squat based
Tuesday – Snatch light
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Snatch light
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Swing based
Sunday – Press based
I trained on these days simply because this worked best for me with my free time.
Tuesday and Thursday – Snatch Days: Tuesdays I would snatch 16kgs and I aimed for about 200 snatches in my own time (15-20 snatches each arm before resting), and Thursdays I would snatch 24kgs and I aimed for 100-150 snatches in my own time (5-10 each arm before resting).
Saturday – Swing Day: I trained every Saturday morning with my life members; I currently have 6 life members at my gym and they get to train with me. I would do a set of swings and then one of the other 5 RKC exercises. It went something like this: swing, get up, swing, press, swing, squat, swing, snatch, swing. I would complete 3 rounds; the total number of swings for the day ranged between 250 and 400.
Sunday – Press Day: I did the same as Saturday except instead of swings, I did presses. I would complete 1 round of: press, get up, press, snatch etc.
Monday – Squat Day: Again, I did the same as Saturday and Sunday except instead of swings and presses, I did squats and I would complete 2 rounds.
Once a month I tested the snatch test and that was about it.
I could have done it better, and I could have done it a lot worse when it came to the programming, but at the end of the day I had to make sure that I did the reps, avoided injury and was fresh for the certification.
My phone alarm rang with the note “crush it” – Instantly, I was nervous! I’ve always been an anxious kind of guy and I have always had trouble controlling my nerves. This time I just tried to be cool and not think too much.
I got dressed - I went with cargos and a black polo shirt. All previous RKCs told me that the assessors are constantly judging, and that professionalism is a key factor. I knew that many of the attendees would rock up in their sweats, so I took it one step further and rocked up looking spick and span, and then I changed there.
I grabbed my food for the day that I packed the night before – On Thursday I went to the shops and I bought 3 of everything for the weekend because I knew that I would be too tired after each day to go to the shops, and prepare food for the following day. I took heaps of fruit, coconut water, sports drinks, gels and a sandwich.
In the car on the way to Monash Uni I listened to Eminem, Hilltop Hoods and Slaughterhouse – Since I couldn’t take my iPod, I wanted to get a few songs stuck in my head to get me through the few hundred odd swings that were awaiting me.
When I pulled up to Monash Uni, my buddy Glenn Munso was parked right next to me. This was great because as soon as I saw him my nerves disappeared. I realised just how important it was to do the RKC with someone I knew because it would help me relax.
I signed my life away on some papers and moved straight on to the pull up test – I was instructed to perform 5 strict pull ups from a dead hang with my chin clearing the bar; I found this very easy because I always do chins.
All of the instructors introduced themselves and then we immediately moved on to the warm up which Jon Engum (Master RKC) took.
I grabbed a snatch kettlebell (24kgs), headed outdoors onto the oval and then we broke out into teams – I was placed on team Engum. Without mucking around we moved straight on to the swing, and broke it down with progressions and troubleshooting for the first 4 hours.
Lunch time – During this time I decided to purchase rock tape because the previous tape I bought was shit. It ended up rolling and making my bell sticky which only caused more friction. Friction = Blisters. Blisters = Bad news!
After lunch was the clean – For me, the clean is the most difficult lift along with the squat, but after a few more hours of tips and tricks to help fix the clean, I was a little more confident.
After a quick break we moved on to the press – The press is my strongest lift which makes it my favourite. My personal record is a 40 kilo ‘not so clean’ press, but after some work with the RKCs, I progressed to a 40 kilo ‘clean’ press.
We finished up with a press workout – Shaun Cairns (Senior RKC) took this and it went for about 20 minutes. Again, because the press is my strongest lift, this wasn’t too bad for me.
8 hours down, 16 to go – Day one was done and dusted. I had information overload and I was a little sun burnt. I wasn’t tired at first; in fact, when I was driving home I popped into my girlfriend’s house to say hi. Sorry ladies, I’m taken
After about 20 minutes of sitting down, I literally hit the wall. So I went home, skipped dinner and went straight to bed at about 8.30pm.
My phone alarm rang and I instantly got up – I was sore and tired, and I felt like I had only slept for two hours, but the thing that kept me going was waking up to 7+ text messages from friends and clients wishing me good luck. Again, I dressed in cargos and a polo shirt; I just wanted to try and be as professional as possible.
As soon as I rocked up to Monash Uni, I retaped my hands with rock tape. Interestingly, when I looked around there were a few people missing…my partner included! A few were injured, others simply quit (rumour) and some suffered from heat stroke.
This proves my point that you must be prepared for the RKC.
First exercise for the day was the get up – I was fairly comfortable with this due to having my HKC which covered the get up. A few things were added and changed from the HKC, but basically 95% of it was the same.
We had a small break and then we moved on to the front squat – For me, the front squat is the hardest exercise due to my crappy knee. Sometimes my knee cap doesn’t track where it should and this causes pain, therefore some squats are pain free, and others hurt like a bitch and make me scream just like a Justin Bieber fan.
Lunch was followed by snatches – Since the snatch test was coming up the next day, I really took note and tried to take in as many tips as possible.
After the snatch, it was time for Jon to put us through to the end of the day with his own workout called the ‘Deep 6’. Jon told us to get a bell we could press 8 times; I grabbed 24kgs and I was still being on the cautious side. Before we started one of the RKCs came over to me and asked…
“Are you using a 24 kilo bell?”
“Yeah…” I replied.
He laughed and said, “Good luck”.
I didn’t know why until I was about 2 minutes in. My body was screaming in pain and we were nowhere near done. Andrew told me to suck it up and keep going. After another couple of minutes Shaun walked over and handed me a 20 kilo bell and told me to continue. A few more minutes passed and I had a 16 kilo in my hand. This was the toughest workout of my life, and it only went for about 15 minutes, but it felt like 90! When the workout finished, and I regained consciousness, we finished the day. By now my hands were pretty bad; I had a couple of torn blisters and my body was pretty thrashed. But, as the RKCs assured us, day 2 was the hardest day so I was kind of looking forward to day 3.
Again, I went home, ate and was in bed by 8.30pm. Mind you, this was a Saturday night…I felt like a 7 year old boy again!
I woke up and all I could think about was the snatch test. For those that don’t know, the snatch test is 100 snatches in 5 minutes (24kgs for guys and 16kgs for girls).
When I first began training and preparing for the snatch test, I couldn’t even complete the test with a 16 kilo bell, however, I managed to build my endurance and I could complete the test exactly on 5 minutes with a 24 kilo bell. Keep in mind that this was when I was fresh and not after 16+ hours of kettlebell training and sore hands. In the back of my mind I had question marks as to whether I would be able to complete it.
We began the day with a 2 hour marketing session with John DuCane who is the CEO of Dragon Door; he ran us through the story of how he built Dragon Door and gave us some tips on making more money in the fitness industry.
Next was Andrew’s speech; for me, this really hit home and made sense. Andrew’s speech was about what the RKC really is both in and out of the gym. I can honestly that out of the whole 3 day course, I loved this part the most!
After 2 hours of chilling, it was time to test. We broke out into teams and we were lined up in groups of 3. Everyone had to demonstrate 5 perfect reps for each exercise. We got to choose which side we wanted, so I decided to alternate as follows:
5 x 1 arm swings with right hand
5 x cleans with left hand
5 x presses with right hand
1 x get up with left hand
5 x 1 arm front squat with right hand
I was called back to repeat the front squat, and so were others if there was something that the assessors weren’t happy with. I apparently fixed it (even though I don’t know what it was).
It was finally time for the snatch test. I went first which worked out well because I had a set routine with how many times I was going to change hands. If I had gone later and watched others perform the snatch test, I might have second guessed what I was doing.
I did mine like this:
Left 20, right 20
Left 12, right 12
Left 8, right 8
Left 6, right 6
Left 4, right 4
For me, the snatch test was all psychological; therefore, the descending reps helped me see light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s funny, around the 87th rep I felt a massive blood blister develop on my left hand, and I had about 20 seconds to go. It was sore as anything so I had to change hands – even though that wasn’t part of my plan – and bang out the rest of the reps using only my right hand.
I managed to finish with seconds to spare at 4.55mins.
Because my routine went out the window, the only thing that got me through was the support I received from all of my RKCs (about 15 of them). They screamed and cheered my name, which encouraged me to keep going and finish. It was awesome, really powerful and one of the best feelings ever. 4 months of worry about that damn snatch test and I knocked it off! I can tell you right now that I was on top of the world, and it didn’t even look like I had trained for 2 days straight with kettlebells.
After cheering everyone else on, it was time for the victim workout. Because it was a course for instructors, we had to show the assessors that we could teach our newly learnt skills.
So again, I quickly went and got changed into my cargos and black polo shirt to look professional. Everyone else wore their training gear, so I knew I was going to score points there.
Firstly, I applied sunscreen to my victim and then I put her through a warm up. I taught her the swing and the get up, and had her perform a little workout.
1 get up each side, 5 swings each arm
2 get ups each side, 10 swings each arm
3 get ups each side, 15 swings each arm
That was it; nice and simple.
We finished up with some Q&A time with all the instructors and then we moved on to the grad workout. The grad workout was supposed to be the big final workout to finish the certification. I personally found it a little easier than Jon’s Deep 6 workout. Maybe it was the adrenaline running through my body, or maybe it was because I knew that it was the last workout. But put it this way, that blood blister on my left hand popped during the workout and I didn’t even feel it.
When I finally put the kettlebell down after the workout, I was almost brought to tears of joy. We all gathered in the middle and had a massive group huddle. Jon pretty much welcomed us to the family.
It was the best feeling ever!
Once we had packed up, the wait for our results began.
I was pretty much called in straight away. Jon sat me down and gave me a little speech. I wasn’t too sure where he was going with it, so I just asked…
“Did I pass?”
‘Yeah’, he replied.
The best feeling entered my body and I grinned from ear to ear.
Here are some photos of me with some of the people who were part of my team and who ran the RKC. I would like to thank the following people: (starting from the top left to right)
Shannon: She was part of my team and was like my mum for the whole 3 days; she gave me sunscreen, water, ice and she taped my hands.
John: He is the CEO of Dragon Door. If it wasn’t for John, we probably wouldn’t know what kettlebells are today.
Matt: He was part of my team and was my ‘go to guy’ whenever I had a question. Matt helped me keep my cool during the testing day and he fixed my technique when necessary.
Jon: He was my team leader and overlooked the entire RKC since he is a master. The guy is a genius!
Shaun: He also helped run the RKC due to being a senior, and he is also a super funny guy.
Andrew: Most of you probably already know of Andrew since I talk about him regularly on my blog. He yelled at me when my technique was wrong and gave me constructive criticism throughout the entire process.
Andrew found out that Dragon Door will be running a RKC II in Australia next year. You guessed it…I’m already pumped up for that.
Thanks for reading.