As Seen On

Observations from the RKC

Smitty and Jedd with Tricia Dong, one of Smitty’s RKC Team Assitants

As you all know, Smitty and I recently went to Philadelphia for the RKC. We were both successful in our 100-rep snatch tests and the overall technical testing as well.

During the three weeks we trained for this event, many of you supported us by leaving comments and sending emails filled with extremely helpful information, and we really appreciate that support.

Now that the weekend is in the books, I’d like to document some of the observations, take-aways, and ah-ha moments that I experienced, so that future athletes interested in passing the RKC can be in a better position to be successful once their day comes.

RKC Report, & Suggestions for Future Candidates

1. RKC Does Not Equal Snatch Test

I was told by many going in that the Snatch Test was only a small portion of the goings-on at the RKC certification, but it didn’t fully register. In order to prepare for the weekend which amounted to 3 full days of working out, I did 4 Kettlebell Snatch Test workouts. I had plans to do a week of high-volume swing and get-up training, but a back injury the weekend prior to the cert kept me from doing that. With the short time to prepare, I was limited in what I could do. You should start preparing physically and mentally as soon as you know you are going to try the RKC.

2. Increase Your Volume on all Foundational Kettlebell Lifts

My mind was spinning at the sheer volume of work that we did over the course of the weekend. In hind sight, I could have been much better prepared for the RKC weekend and suggest other candidates include much more Swings and Squats into their programs prior to the RKC. The last three weeks prior to the RKC it is a good idea to ramp-up the volume in particular, even doing two routines a day if possible. Doing 200 to 500 swings in a workout is probably the minimum I should have been doing going in.

3. Toughen up Your Hands Prior to the Event

Over the course of the RKC weekend, I never fully lost a single callous, but I was coming very close at the end of the third day. Many other people weren’t so lucky. Many lost callouses during their Snatch Test on the very first morning and then had to struggle through the intense volume through the rest of the weekend. Toughen your hands up prior to the RKC by increasing your Swing and Snatch volume while monitoring how your hands respond. I do a tremendous amount of Grip training, so my skin is very tough, but like I said, a few dozen more Swings or Snatches on day 3 and I would have been bleeding severely.

4. Protect Your Hands During the Event

The only part of the training I was not allowed to wear hand protection on was the Snatch Test. Unfortunately, I tried to be a tough guy and never taped until I rubbed my left ring finger raw. I can’t get all my fingers into the handle for Two Hand Swings, so the side of that finger was rubbing against the side of the handle for hundreds of reps and eventually broke open in the afternoon on Day One. I immediately taped it and the rest of my fingers and didn’t get anymore damage the rest of the weekend to the fingers. Don’t try to be a tough guy. Tape up as soon as you can.

5. Get a Ped Egg

There is a device used for smoothing the bottoms of the feet, called a Ped Egg. My fiancee’ has one (I swear I have never used it – don’t even know what it looks like). I heard about many people using them on the callous lines of their hands in order to keep them at bay as well. Makes perfect sense. Not sure how well it works or what it feels like, but it was pretty popular amongst experienced RKC’s at the event.

6. Pick the Right Partner On Day One

Bottom Line is you are there to hone your technique. Don’t pair yourself up with someone who is a bump on the log. You want somebody who knows what the hell they are doing and will speak up if you are making technique errors. I immediately paired myself up with a guy named Greg McNiel, because when I saw him he was warming up (smart), talking to people (personable), and was supportive (coach-like). All of these traits seemed to me like he would be a good partner so as soon as we were told to partner up, I went right over to him and introduced myself. It was a very beneficial pairing for me as he knew technique well and was not shy about coaching me. In fact, he didn’t listen to me whine about my struggles with keeping a straight wrist. He looked me straight in the eye, and told me that I could do it and that my head was the only thing stopping me. He was right. After that, I was better at keeping my wrist straight.

7. Don’t Fear the DOMS

The ramping up of volume you do prior to the event and other factors specific to how beat up you get from training will dictate how sore you feel after each day. I was extremely sore on the morning of Day Two and couldn’t believe how well I was able to train throughout the second day. It was as if after a dozen Swings the pain was gone. From then on, my mind was clear and I was welcoming the rest of the training. Hopefully this is the same feeling you experience. If not, just keep chugging away. Everyone is going to be sore and won’t want to hear you complaining about it.

8. Drink Water Like It’s Going out of Style

Staying hydrated and keeping some food in your stomach was key to getting through each day for me. I would drink several glasses of water at the hotel before going to the training center, and then grab two bottles of water to take to my work station which I would drink within about an hour. I would then try to keep a full bottle there at my station the rest of the day to keep re-hydrating. I sweated so much, I rarely had to take a break to use the restroom, either.

9. Consume Food Every Chance You Get

You have to keep feeding your body with food energy every step along the way. Keeping something in your stomach will fend off hunger pains and keep you in good spirits throughout the day. I would take a banana or grapes over to my work station and kept a protein bar in my training bag to take bites from.

10. Be Coachable

You will be paired with a Team Leader and one or more assistants in your group. They are there to help you with technique and push you to be your best. If you think your form is on point, but they keep correcting you, it is because they see something you don’t. Don’t go into it thinking you already know everything. That’s a good way to piss your Leaders off. Be coachable, listening to the suggestions you are given, and trying to apply them. If you can’t seem to get it, ask for extra help, or get feedback from your training partner. You can do it.

There’s 10 quick points that will hopefully help some people out that are apprehensive about taking the step toward RKC certification. If you have any specific questions, feel free to leave a comment below. I’d be glad to help you out, and so will Smitty, so fire away.

Thanks again to everyone who helped us out going in.



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28 Responses to “Observations from the RKC”

  1. phil Says:

    First of all, congratulations! I’ve been playing with kettlebells for a while and the RKC is something I hope to do in the future. I know I would have fallen for the snatch test as the only thing to worry about. Thanks for sharing your experience, it’s really motivating.

  2. Jim Smith Says:

    Sure thing Phil. I am glad to help you out. Thanks for the support and congratulations.


  3. Doug Says:

    Congrats to the both of you! The RKC is one of the hardest earned certifications out there for the reasons you mentioned above. Great review and I am sure that will help many people getting ready for future RKC certification weekends.

  4. Eric Moss RKC Says:

    Just wanted to say “welcome!” and I look forward to your contributions to our community.


  5. Dan Cenidoza Says:

    Nice work Jedd. Well worth the effort as you can see.

  6. Dale Says:

    Great post Jedd, welcome to the RKC family

  7. Daniel Hanscom HKC Says:

    Congratulations on your cert! I’m training for my RKC now and I was probably getting a little tunnel-visioned on the snatch test. The tips on total volume and picking the right partner will also be a big help, I’m sure. Thanks for the article.

  8. Harlan Jacobs Says:

    Great work guys. I would also like to say thanks for all the work you put into this site.

  9. Sandy Sommer RKC Says:

    The RKC is an interesting experience. It’s quite difficult for most people to appreciate the level of preperation pre RKC and the amount of work over the weekend.

    Congratulations on your success and I enjoyed spending a small amount of time with Smitty and you.

    Train with purpose,

    Sandy Sommer RKC

  10. katie estell Says:

    great post and i completely agree with all of it, the weekend was physically, mentally and even at times emotionally taxing. you can’t be over prepared. the only other thing i would add is to make sure you get with an RKC before you start your hardcore prep to make sure your technique is on point, otherwise you are doing thousands of swings improperly and it is sometimes hard to break a learn movement pattern in just three days time – remember you will be tested on technique so this is key to your success. thanks for the comprehensive post Jedd; it was great having Smitty in my group this weekend, and thanks to Dave Whitley, i was forwarded the article and site 🙂 RKC for life (i most certainly drank the kool-aide)!!!!

  11. Sebastien Says:

    Grats to both of you.
    I’m a bit guilty on number 4 as well 😛 I said “no way I’m putting gloves on” just to feel my fingers burning the whole time on the second day… once I put tape on my fingers everything started to go a lot better.

    I would add to eat food when you get the chance, but not soup!!! That stuff will slosh around in your stomach like crazy during swings and snatches = feeling queasy.

    I wish I would’ve talked to you guys more at the Cert, but I didn’t want to be an annoying kid (I believe I was the youngest) trying to be with “the cool guys”. Maybe we will see each other at a re-cert in a couple.

    Oh by the way, thanks for the compliments Smitty on my presses during the last day 😛 There was too many things going on in my head I didn’t even turn around to say thanks…

  12. Adrienne Says:

    Awesome article! Some really useful tips here – thanks for posting this, I’ll be at the Orlando RKC next month, so this was VERY helpful!! 🙂

  13. Jim Smith Says:

    @Doug, It was very demanding and very fun.

    @Eric Moss, RKC – Thanks for the warm welcome and support.

    @Dan Cenidoza – Thanks, man!


  14. Doug Says:

    Congrats Guys! Thanks for the tips. I am looking forward to getting my RKC and RKC2 someday soon. These tips will definitely come in handy.

    Thanks again and keep swinging!!

  15. Tim Peterson RKC Says:

    Congrats and welcome!! The Iron Tamer taught my HKC earlier in the year and was a big reason I went for the RKC in San Diego last month. Your 10 suggestions are completely on point and would help anyone get ready. One addition: I started high volume training about 6 months prior and about one month before the weekend ended up extremely fatigued and overtrained. I backed off and rested up and did fine, but you definitely want to pass on the tip to enter the weekend rested and fresh, chomping at the bit to get your hands on a ‘bell, not injured or tired.

    Also, I have the same issue with 2 handed swings, and taped up from Day 1- smartest thing I could have done!

    Again, congratulations!


  16. salvatore sciametta RKC Says:

    Dude I was across the hall from you at the chester springs. I had no idea you were the smitty from deisel crew. got your shoulder rehab protocol from youtube last year. use it on my clients and myself, fixedmy shoulder and allowed me to train for rkc pain free

  17. Todd Says:

    Awesome, thanks for the tips. I would love to do the RKC in the future. Congrats you guys!

  18. Jim Smith Says:

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting everybody. If one or two of the tips proves to be useful to some future candidates, then I am a happy dude. Glad to help everyone out as much as I can.

    Thanks again,


  19. Drew Massey, HKC Says:

    Congrats to you both! Enjoyed your stuff for quite some time and I am currently preparing for the RKC in October.
    I have found that the “Ped Egg” is useful, but you can over-do quickly, that thing is sharp!
    I have had more success with taking a pumice stone to my hands after a hot shower and using “Corn Huskers Lotion” several times a day!

  20. Jim Smith Says:

    Good observations Drew. I also heard some people talking about pumice stones, but it slipped my mind. Thanks for commenting.

  21. Doug Descant Says:

    Having Smitty and Jedd in the Party is like Emeril adding that “BAM!” to whatever freakishly awesome dish he’s concocting. So proud & honored to have you guys on board.

    1 Part RKC

    2 Parts Diesel Crew

    = Recipe For Badassedness (if that’s not a word, is should be.)

  22. Stephen Says:

    Congratulations to the max, buddy!
    This was a great post and surely appreciated.
    Keep bringing up posts having to do with the RKC please.
    Use a lot of yours and Smitty’s stuff for sure and pass it on to my clients.
    Again, great accomplishment and wish you the very best.

  23. Jim Smith Says:

    Thanks Guys. Thanks for the warm welcome to the parrrtaaayy!


  24. Adrienne Says:

    Just wanted to add… I bought the “Ped Egg” because of this article – THANK YOU GUYS seriously its made a HUGE difference… blows the pumice stone away for shaving down the calluses of doom. Seriously, night and day difference so far this week with multiple workouts.

  25. James Says:

    Well done guys, glad to have you in the ranks.

  26. Jim Smith Says:

    Awesome Adrienne!

    Thanks James!


  27. Good Reads for the Week « Bret's Blog Says:

    […] 54. Great post for those looking to get an RKC certification by Diesel Crew […]

  28. jennifer Says:

    Congratulations! What a great piece!

    Thank you for sharing all of your insights and experiences..

    I am leaving next week for the Orlando RKC and am very much looking forward to it!

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