When You Want to Up Your Strength Game, Who Best to Choose?

kettlebell workshop

When You Want to Up Your Strength Game, Who Best to Choose?

By Andrea Du Cane, Master RKC

We were recently asked a very good question:

“I’m opening a small gym and it will be a strength and conditioning facility that will cater to rock climbers, mace and kettlebell enthusiasts. Here is the conundrum RKC? SFG? Both? Or another cert?”

To be fair we get that question fairly often.  The person asking that question is obviously a very thoughtful athlete and business owner and he wants to make a correct and informed decision.

Let me break this down as best I can. John and Pavel started the RKC many years ago – 2001 to be exact. After a number of very successful years, there was a difference of opinion in the direction the RKC should take. I cannot speak for SF, however, the direction the RKC chose to take was one of educating and producing strong and competent coaches. There are still instructor competency tests, but the focus is on corrective, progressive, regressive teaching that allows athletes and coaches to safely reach their potential and goals.

In the beginning the RKC was run like a hardcore military bootcamp. With nearly an abusive quality to the instruction. Within the first hour, after a short warm-up and no training, the snatch test was given.  The people attending were more often military, law enforcement, martial artists etc. In those days very few personal trainers from the mainstream fitness industry attended.

As we grew, we started attracting medical professionals and mainstream fitness professionals. And thank goodness we changed! The focus became corrective strategies, progressions, and coaching.  Our courses have come a long way.  Yes, we still expect people to be able to demonstrate the unique strength principles, and for the RKC we expect people to take the time to prepare.

Another core belief is that our courses are not just for personal trainers to get some tools to teach their clients, but also to work on their own athletic abilities.  I say it all the time, “how often do coaches get coached?”  Our workshops are designed for the participants to get equal experience in coaching and learning the system to teach others, as well as working on their own weaknesses and strengths to become better athletes themselves. In my experience, there are very few certifications that can say that.

This puts our focus on usable information a coach or gym owner can take with them the day after the workshop to implement immediately and to grow their personal and professional goals. Along with the knowledge and expertise gained at the workshop, there is ongoing support and networking though international private RKC FB groups.

Included in our Kettlebell educational portfolio we have our HardstyleFit on-line courses and the HCK one-day workshops. Below is detailed information for all our workshops and courses.

Dragon Door also provides education and workshops in calisthenics, with our PCC courses. These special courses were created by Paul Wade, author of Convict Conditioning. The PCC is the perfect complement to kettlebell training, and for most athletes – extremely valuable.

We are also launching a new product that incorporates isometric training, developed by Paul Wade. This new system includes an in-depth manual, on-line and live workshops. https://www.dragondoor.com/store/isochain_training_preorder/

Dragon Door is the leader in innovative health and athletic training, with the RKC being the foundation of a systemembraces the entire athlete and coach.

Shenzhen HKC 2018 Group

HardstyleFit Certificate: On-Line Training Only

Complete HardstyleFit Level One to earn 0.6 ACE CECs or 0.6 NASM CEUs.

Complete HardstyleFit Level Two to earn 0.7 ACE CECs.

A users’ course. Follows the structure of the HKC/RKC but without the focus on coaching the movements. HardstyleFit level 1 needs to be completed before level 2, to ensure the basic movements are understood and can be performed correctly.

The on-line written test before the physical video test, is to ensure a deep understanding of the strength principles in lieu of a live instructor providing the opportunity to share the information and provide Q & A.

A 50 % discount is offered after passing the HardstyleFit course to apply to either an HKC or RKC. The discount code is good for one year of passing the course. The HardstyleFit program can be used as a “prep” for the in-person instructor courses.


HKC Certification: In Person Training Only

Earn .8 ACE CEC’s and .8 NASM CEU’s

No specific weight class requirements are required. The Lead instructor recommends the weight used to produce the best and safest performance for each of the 3 kettlebell lifts taught.  There is no kettlebell prerequisite required. However, an entrance test of a 1 min plank is administered at the beginning of the workshop to ensure an adequate level of physical preparedness.

It is recommended that participants have either completed the HardstyleFIt on-line training course or trained with an HKC/RKC prior to the course.

The 3 exercises presented and tested at the workshop are the foundation of the overall Kettlebell system.  Safe performance and mastery of each exercise is necessary before moving on to the more difficult exercises of the RKC.

The HKC, provides hands-on coaching for the course participants, both as the coach and the person being coached. This back and forth partnering, enhances the learning experience on all levels.

The HKC is considered both a “prep” course for the RKC and a stand-alone certification.  Many trainers use the most basic kettlebell exercises for their group classes or clients. The HKC provides those trainers with enough knowledge and coaching experience to deliver results for their clients without the time and money commitment of the RKC. After passing the HKC, the HKC instructor gets a $200 discount off an RKC course within a year of passing the HKC.

The technique test demonstrates the participants understanding of the principles as well as the ability to perform the movements correctly. It is necessary to be able to correctly demonstrate each exercise, since a large percentage of the population are visual learners.


HKC Technique Test:

1) Two-Handed swing (10 reps)

2) Get-up (1 rep)

3) Goblet Squat (5 reps)


The Teaching/Coaching Test demonstrates the participants ability to coach the exercise. This allows the lead instructor to see the participant in action coaching another person.

The lead instructor is evaluating the participant on the following criteria:

– Correctly demonstrating the exercise

– Following the correct teaching progressions

– Determining what movement is incorrect or unsafe – and stopping it if necessary

– Applying the right correction

– Putting safety first and above all other criteria

– Picking the appropriate load for the given exercise and client

– Using appropriate verbal cues without over cueing

HKC certifications allow 90 days to submit a video of any requirements that were not completed at the course. The participant sends the video in to the lead instructor or visits the instructor in person to retest the skill.

The HKC certification lasts for 3 years. There are 3 options to maintain your certification. Note: HKC’s are not allowed to assist at an HKC to recertify.

1) Attend an HKC at a discount

2) Attend an RKC at a discount and move up your certification

3) Submit an on-line HKC re-cert test


RKC Certification: In Person Training Only

Earn 2.5 ACE CEC’s and 1.9 NASM CEU’s

Weight classes are provided to guide the participant to use an appropriate load for general kettlebell training.  Weight classes are in line with other strength and athlete competitions. This ensures a safe and level training system.  An entrance test is administered at the start of the first day of the 2 (or 3) day course. 10 “Hardstyle” push-ups for men, 3 for women. The Hardstyle push-up is demonstrated at the course by one of the instructors and requires the participant to pause at the bottom and top, while maintaining the plank with spine in neutral. All reps performed at the testing instructors count. This demonstrates a strong core to ensure safety for all the ballistic and strength movements throughout the course.

During the live workshops, the master instructor has the authority to increase or decrease the load during instruction and testing to encourage the best and safest performance of the participants and learning environment.  For example, when first learning the get-up or snatch, the instructor may recommend participants start with a lighter kettlebell to learn the basic movement pattern and then increase the load as the skill increases.  For learning the swing, going to a heavier than ‘test weight’ will provide a clear understanding of the glute and hip driven nature of the exercise.

In some circumstances during testing, the master instructor has the authority to have a participant take a lighter weight for an exercise ie., a woman on the high end of the weight class may be allowed to use one size lighter for the get-up.  Whereas a man who is very strong may be asked to use a heavier than test size kettlebell for the clean or press to facilitate the correct muscular recruitment and produce the correct technique.

Kettlebell training is a strength and ballistic power production system that focuses on the hips and posterior muscles of the body. The RKC, requires participants to prepare and train for the workshop. The average amount of time recommended is 6 months.

There are 3 paths recommended to take as preparation:

1) Attend an HKC in-person certification

2) Complete HardstyleFit level 1 and level2

3) Train with a certified RKC.


The Technique Test includes the 6 kettlebell exercises that comprises the Hardstyle strength and ballistic training. The rep count is designed to follow traditional strength training rep counts, while allowing ample time to demonstrate the strength/ballistic principles of the system. Both sides are tested to encourage a healthy and functional athlete. Exceptions to testing both sides must be cleared with Dragon Door and the Master Instructor.   And requires a doctor’s written note as to why the participant cannot perform both sides of an exercise or the need to lower the load from the test size kettlebell.


Requirements for RKC

1) Single-arm swing (10/10 reps)

2) Single-arm clean (5/5 reps)

3) Get-up (1/1 rep)

4) Military Press (4/4 reps)

5) Double Front Squat (5 reps)

6) Snatch (5/5 reps)


Snatch Test: 100 reps within 5 minutes with test size kettlebell.

The Snatch Test is as overall physical preparedness test as well as demonstrating the endurance and strength that was needed in preparation for the course. Participants have the option of not taking the snatch during the course but submitting a video at a later date.

RKC certifications allow 90 days to submit a video of any requirements that were not completed at the course. The participant sends the video in to the lead instructor or visits the instructor in person to retest the skill.

Once completed the certification lasts for 3 years, after which the RKC has three options to re-certify:

1) Attend an RKC at a discount

2) Take the on-line re-cert test

3) Assist at an RKC


RKC II Certification: In Person Training Only

The RKC II is an advanced kettlebell training program for serious professional coaches and athletes.  The course focuses neurologically and physically challenging lifts.

It is recommended to spend some time at the RKC level and refine those skills before moving on to the RKC II.

An entrance test is administered at the start of the first day of the 2- day course. 5 dead hang pull-ups for men, :20 flex-arm hold for women both with supinated grip. This demonstrates the  participants strength base to perform pull-ups.

The RKC II incorporates two bodyweight exercises the utilize some of the same principles of the RKC Hardstyle strength system. There is a lot of focus on progressions and regressions for all advanced kettlebell and bodyweight exercises. This allows the curriculum to be used with all populations that trainers and coaches work with in their businesses.


RKC Technical Requirements tested at RKC II:

All Level one exercises with double kettlebells except for the Get-up and Snatch:

1) Double Swing

2) Double Clean

3) Double Front Squat

4) Double Press
5) Get-up

6) Snatch

7) 5-Minute Snatch Test


RKC II Technical Requirements:

Instruction includes all progressions of each exercise and variety kettlebell exercises.

1) Strict One-Arm Military Press

2) Weighted Pull-up for Men; Single Pull-up for Women

3) Pistol

4) Double Jerk

5) Windmill

6) Bent Press (not scored)

RKC II certifications allow 90 days to submit videos of any requirement that was not completed at the course. The participant sends the video in to the lead instructor or visits the instructor in person to retest the skill.

Once completed the certification lasts for 3 years, after which the RKC II has three options to re-certify:

1) Attend an RKC II at a discount

2) Take the on-line re-cert test

3) Assist at an RKC II

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