As I head into the final week of hard training prep for the RKC 2, I’m thinking more and more about the testing requirements. One of ‘em is the RKC snatch test … and I can tell you from the last time around, it’s no walk in the park I just did a ‘test run’ a couple of days ago (which went well), and so thought I would pass along some tips to you on how to prepare for it yourself. Whether you’re prepping for the RKC cert or you just want to take the test for personal satisfaction, to get into great shape, bragging rights etc., these tips should help you out:
1. Know the Rules
Seems obvious … but make sure you’ve read and re-read the rules, and know exactly what you’ll have to do to pass the test! Here are the RKC Snatch Test rules, taken directly from DragonDoor.com:
“Candidates must wear clothing which would allow the testing instructor to see whether the elbows and the knees have locked out, e.g. a T-shirt and gym shorts.
The candidate grips the kettlebell handle. Upon the testing instructor’s command the clock starts and the candidate swings the kettlebell back between the legs and snatches it overhead in one uninterrupted movement to a straight-arm lockout. (If you have a medical condition that prevents you from fully locking out your elbow you must notify your team leader before the snatch test is administered. Poor flexibility does not qualify as a medical condition.)
The snatch may be performed with or without a knee dip, however the knees must be straight at the lockout. The testing instructor will announce the number of the repetition once the elbow and the knees are fully locked and the kettlebell and the candidate are visibly motionless or he will call a “No count”. Only after that the instructor has stopped speaking the candidate may lower the kettlebell between the legs in one uninterrupted motion without touching the chest or shoulder.
An unlimited number of hand switches and back swings is allowed.
The candidate may set the kettlebell down and rest as many times as he or she wishes to.
A repetition is given a “No count” if the candidate has:
- Lowered the kettlebell without waiting for the instructor’s count
- Failed to lock out the elbow
- Pressed out the kettlebell to the finish
- Failed to stop all movement (the kettlebell, the body, and the feet) at the lockout
- Touched the chest or the shoulder with the working arm and/or the kettlebell on descent. (The “No count” will be announced on the next repetition, for example, “Fifty… Last rep no count, fifty…”)
- Placed the free hand on the knee or thigh
The attempt will be disqualified if the candidate has:
- Three incidents of “No count”
- Touched the kettlebell or the working arm with the non-working arm, except when switching hands
- Reapplied the chalk during the test
- Let go of the kettlebell before it has touched the ground (dropped it rather than set it down).
The testing instructor will announce the time elapsed after 1, 2, 3, 4min, 4:30, 4:45, and 4:55.
Chalk is allowed; belts, gloves, wrist wraps and other supportive equipment are not.
Kettlebell Snatch Test Requirements
The sum of both arms is scored. Depending on the gender, age, and bodyweight, the candidate must perform the following number of reps in the specified time:
Men Open Class up to 60kg/132lbs 20kg 100/5min
Men Open Class over 60kg/132lbs 24kg 100/5min
Men Masters (50-64) 20kg 100/5min
Men Seniors (65 and over) 20kg 50/3min
Women Open Class up to 56kg/123.5lbs 12kg 100/5min
Women Open Class over 56kg/123.5lbs 16kg 100/5min
Women Masters (50-64) 12kg 100/5min
Women Seniors (65 and over) 12kg 50/3min
If you do not pass the snatch test at the Certification, you may retake the test no later than 90 days after the course. You may retake the test in person with a Master, Senior, or RKC Team Leader in your area or send the video to your team leader.”
2. Develop great snatch technique
A big part of being able to do such a high volume of snatches in a short amount of time is simple: great technique!
Two years ago in prep for the RKC, I was learning how to do the snatch more or less on my own. I took a few training sessions from a local KB instructor, but the amount of actual one-on-one training time I got was limited. So doing 100 snatches with the 24k in 5 mins. was super tough! I ended up doing the required # of reps in 4 mins. flat the day of the test, but it seemed in prep that I would have to go as fast as I possibly could just to finish in time.
Flash forward to two years of almost daily kettlebell training later … I just did a ‘test run’ two days ago, and hit it in about 4:30. I was certainly out of breath at the end, but also had a little gas in the tank, too … and I actually set the KB down twice during the test!
The point of this is that I feel my technique is now much improved, so I can do each rep much more safely and efficiently, which makes the test much easier.
A good starting point to ‘hone’ your snatch technique is this recent post/video series I did on mastering the kettlebell snatch:
3. Keneth Jay’s Viking Warrior Conditioning (use it)
The V02 max protocol(s) outlined by Master RKC Kenneth Jay in this book are brutal … and they are one of the best, if not the best, ways to prepare for the snatch test.
He outlines several different interval protocols in the book, all of which involve high volume and escalating density (work done in a fixed amount of time) training with the KB snatch.
Another suggestion: I’ve used the GymBoss interval timer for this program – I highly suggest it, it’s a $20 investment that will make your life wayyyy easier – you can set it up to beep or vibrate during the up to 80 intervals you’ll be doing every workout. It also allows for custom interval timer set ups and a lot more … learn more about it by clicking here.
4. Use good quality KB’s
Seriously … this isn’t just a shameless plug for Dragon Door KB’s … but I trained the first time around with an Appolo brand KB, and when I got to the cert and used a dragon door KB, I shaved almost :60 off my previous best time! I know part of it was the adrenaline, but I also am convinced the Dragon Door ‘bells had something to do with it.
When you’re doing this high volume of work and the KB is rotating around your hand, friction and balance are a big factor. So you want a ‘bell that is well built and rotates smoothly.
5. Video yourself
This is a great way to get some feedback on where you’re at, what your technique looks like, etc. if you’re struggling with the snatch test. Bust out your video phone or flip cam, tape yourself snatching, and go back and review it. You’ll be amazed at how helpful it is.
So there you have five suggestions to help you prepare for – and pass – the RKC snatch test, whether you’re looking to get certified or you’re just doing it to say you did Good luck to you and train hard!
Forest Vance, RKC
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