I just got back from teaching the RKC and RKC2 in Hungary. And it was a blast!
First, I love Hungary – great food, great people, beautiful country.
Second, the people who attended the RKCs – both of them, are SERIOUS about kettlebell training.
It was one of my best and most memorable RKC experiences – especially the RKC2 weekend. We had a smaller crowd – about 26, which made for a “cozy” environment with lots of one-on-one time when and where necessary. In fact, it almost had a “mentorship” feel instead of a certification feel. We as instructors spent a lot of time answering questions – all sorts, not just kettlebell, in depth.
Which brings me to the following mistakes that I saw across the board which most people using kettlebells these days are making. Here they are –
1. Hyper-focused on “conditioning” and “metabolic workouts.”
Look, this stuff is great, but first and foremost you need to get your technique down. You can do that in many different ways – books, dvds, meeting with an RKC (that’s the best way – most economical too from a time v. money standpoint).
Get your technique down and “train.” Don’t “work out.”
The workouts will come later.
Here’s a case in point – One of the guys on my Level 2 team was a pretty big fellow – over 220lbs. But it looked like he had spent all his energy on his conditioning.
How do I know?
He failed his strength test.
And I stopped his snatch test. Why?
Because although he had a good pace, his technique was bad to the point of being detrimental to his [shoulder] health. He wasn’t locking his arm over his head. Sure, it was behind his ear, but his eyes and head were down and his arm wasn’t perpendicular to the floor.
When I asked him what his focus had been, sure enough, it had been the conditioning portion of the test.
So don’t obsess over “met-con” or “feeling like” you got a “good workout.”
Which brings up the next point –
2. Focusing on “met-con” instead of strength
Ok, it sounds like I’m bashing “metabolic conditioning”. I am.
Without sounding “preachy” let me explain something to you in the bluntest of ways.
When I went through my RKC in 2005, we still had the one-hand switch Snatch Test. I had to perform 74 reps at my bodyweight.
Here’s where what I am about to say will disgust you –
I only trained for 3 weeks for the Snatch Test.
Here’s exactly what I did –
I snatched using the 32kg and figured out that if I could do 3 sets of 15/15 that I could do the 74 reps with the 24kg.
So I did that for 3 weeks, did the Snatch Test to confirm my training was on point – passed it easily – took a week off, then went to the RKC and officially passed it.
How’d I get away with doing so little?
Because I am strong. And I was stronger then. And that has ALWAYS been the focus of all my training. ALWAYS.
And that’s a KEY Secret – if you focus on your maximum strength, it’s easy to pull your conditioning levels up to where you want/need them to be.
But if you do the opposite – focus only on “met-con” it’ll take you forever to “get in shape.”
That’s why when training people for the RKC I typically have them do a combination of heavy double swings, heavy Snatches (up at least one bell size if they can manage it), and then lighter Snatches for speed.
And it always, always, always works.
Because people get strong.
In fact, one of my online clients I just trained for the RKC 2 in July, was snatching the 32kg and doing heavy double swings. The result?
Easiest Snatch Test he’s ever done.
When you apply this concept of training for strength and then pulling up your conditioning to follow, you too will see phenomenal gains in your conditioning.
2b. Training Strength as a Skill
This is one of the core tenets of the RKC and in every single one of Pavel’s books, yet, many, many kettlebell users have gotten away from this and fallen into the “met-con” trap.
So, this is really a culmination or combination of Mistakes 1 and 2.
Train your strength as a skill – that is, staying fresh, and training frequently, and it will make your conditioning that much easier.
3. Ignoring Your Weaknesses and Training Your Strengths
In one our Q&A sessions at the RKC2, one of the candidates, a real smart guy (chiropractor) asked about setting up the perfect program for his needs. Being the “program design expert” that I am, I was about to give him “the answer” when Rif jumped in.
I’m glad I kept my mouth shut cause Rif had a brilliant reminder.
“Train your weaknesses first.”
Whatever they are in the context of your goals.
Is your technique weak? Train that first.
Whatever your goal is, find the weakest link in accomplishing that goal and train that first.
Rif is a classic example.
He’s been doing a TON “weak link” training for the past – I think he said – almost a year. It has been his priority.
As a result, he’s been able to do double Presses again.
(Rif’s got some pretty major injuries he sustained as a competitive gymnast – like full joint dislocations – ouch!)
And here’s the cool part – he was able to do Pistols this past weekend – and that includes Pistols on his bad knee!
Now in case you missed it – that’s a DIRECT RESULT of determining his weaknesses and training them.
Here’s the Bad News – most people, most kettlebell users, not only are enamored with “met-con” but they also fail to train their weakest links.
And what are those?
Well, before we get there, consider that one of the reasons we all use kettlebells is because of Pavel.
Look, there’s just no getting around it – he’s an Icon.
He looks great. He performs great.
And for most of us, we want that kind of look and that kind of strength.
What’s one of the things Pavel does that many of us (myself in the past included) don’t do?
Specialized flexibility and mobility work.
And that’s one of the things that makes Pavel, well, Pavel.
Now here’s the cool part –
You can now have direct access to Pavel’s EXACT flexibility and mobility routine.
But it’s only for a select few – in fact, I believe there’s only 9 spaces left.
You should get in on it.
I’ll see you there.
(Yes, I’ll be there. Pavel and I are going to “tag-team” on some advanced kettlebell stuff.)
I almost forgot to tell you exactly what Rif told me he’s been working on to help him achieve those double kettlebell presses (with a shoulder with messed up ligaments) and Pistols (on a knee that’s been fully dislocated – twice!) –
It’s been specialized flexibility and mobility training. See the similarity between Rif’s success and Pavel’s?