We are StrongFirst.

And the SFG instructor certification is unapologetically a grueling, physically demanding, kettlebell training event that lasts for 3 days. I have seen every kind of person imaginable show up with their sights set on joining the ranks of the School of Strength that is SFG. I have seen folks who have Done the Work and are well prepared come in and own it. I have also seen the converse of that, the unprepared person who suffers and by the end of day 2 is just hoping to survive. Whether you show up as the former or the latter (or somewhere in between) is up to you, but either way it can be a life-altering experience.

One of the things that we are well known, loved, feared, and hated for is the SFG snatch test. It has evolved over the years and is currently a 5 minute time limit to get 100 reps with a 24kg for most men or a 16kg/12kg for most women, depending on body weight.
Why do we have this? The reasoning behind it is this:
1. If you have the conditioning and strength required to pass the short, simple physical test, you have probably spent some time with your kettlebell training and will most likely be in condition to do well physically over the course of the weekend. You have Done the Work.

2. If you can stick the lockout overhead, you will most likely have the strength and mobility in the shoulders to do well physically over the course of the weekend. You have Done the Work.

Historically, we have a failure rate of about 30% during the weekend of the course. I want to list for you several common mistakes and their solutions that I have collected in the past 9 years of being a part of the SFG. Heed the words of your Uncle Iron Tamer and hopefully this will help you to show up well prepared and ready to thrive, not just survive the weekend.

Mistake: Too much emphasis on the snatch test.
The Snatch test is 5:00 of a 23 hour weekend. I have seen folks show stressing out and losing sleep, all they can think about is “snatch test, snatch test”. Then they pass the snatch test only to fail the technique on presses or getups or fall apart during the teaching segment and not receive their certificate.
Solution: Do the Work.
Give the snatch test the respect it deserves, but realize there is a lot more to SFG than doing 100 snatches in 5:00. Spend a LOT of time doing swings, getups, squats, cleans and presses. You may want to practice teaching and communication too, what with it being an instructor course and all. Just sayin’.

Mistake: Not owning the test before you arrive or not enough emphasis on the snatch test.
This is usually a symptom of not being prepared enough. I have seen many, many people show up having never completed the snatch test in training, thinking that somehow the emotion and adrenaline of the moment will carry them through. As a Master SFG, I have a name for these people: Video submitters.

Solution: Do the Work. Be prepared.
I have never, ever seen this strategy prove to be successful. For the life of me, I cannot wrap my mind around this. If you went for your black belt test, would you say “well, I have never actually done a side kick, but I am sure when I get there I’ll be able to.” If you insist on ignoring this you get to be part of the 30% who don’t pass at the cert.

Mistake: Not getting help.
This is a kettlebell instructor course. If you want to be an instructor, you should seek some instruction for yourself before you go. Might be a good idea to talk with someone who has been where you are going and knows what to expect too.

Solution: Do the Work.
Get some instruction before you try to become a kettlebell instructor yourself.

Mistake: Emphasizing numbers more than technical execution.
It has been a LONG time since I ripped a callous. My students rarely damage their hands either. Why? Because I believe that good technique is the best method of hand protection. If you are consistently damaging your hands, you are doing something wrong.

Solution: Do the Work.
Get your technique together, build your numbers over time.
Mistake: Treating it like a race or a competition.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one:
Q:“what do you call the guy who graduates medical school with the lowest grade point average?”
Read this very carefully: There is no prize for finishing faster. After it is all over with the person who finishes in 4:50 and the person who finishes in 4:00 are both SFG. I have heard some folks refer to it as “winning the snatch test.” That is the same to me as winning the internet.

The problem is, if you get caught up in going at “wide open” speed all the time, you tend to end up cutting your reps short at the lockout. If this happens don’t be surprised to hear “No Count” from your Team Leader.

Solution: Do the Work.
Learn to pace yourself properly. A pacing strategy that always works is switching hands every 10 reps and going at about 22 reps per minute. It allows you to do this: Snatch, take a breath with the KB over head, snatch, breath, snatch, breath, repeat 97 more times.
Mistake: Cutting weight instead of getting stronger.
This is more common at SFG level 2 with the half-bodyweight press requirement, but it sometimes happens at level one for the snatch test, usually with ladies who weigh in at a healthy & solid 60kg and decide to drop down below 56kg so they can do the test with a 12kg kb instead of a 16kg. If you are thinking of doing this, just stop it now. SFG is a School of Strength, not a “School of Artificially Cutting Weight In Order Pass The Snatch Test”. You show up dehydrated, undernourished and weak from cutting weight and it will not be a pleasant weekend for you.

Solution: Do the Work.
Get stronger. Own your snatch test with the bigger kettlebell.
Mistake: Not following through.If you are too late in reading this and show for your SFG unprepared and do not meet the minimum standard requirements, don’t panic. You have 90 days to submit video.

Solution: Do the Work.
Finish what you started.
Follow these tips and avoid the mistakes and you stand a much higher chance of earning the title SFG. Good luck and happy snatching.