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How to master the essentials of kettlebell lifting—and dramatically boost your power and effectiveness as a personal trainer or coach

Dragon Door's one-day, entry-level kettlebell instructor certification workshop


Since Dragon Door launched the world's first-ever kettlebell trainer certification program in 2001, the classic RKC program has become the gold standard, now with over 1,500 certified instructors in over 43 countries.

The prized RKC certificate represents a "Black Belt" in kettlebell instruction that requires extensive pre-training to attain. A grueling, "experience of a lifetime", the RKC program is the ONLY current program which insists on stringent testing of multiple skills and strengths. Currently only an average of 70% of RKC candidates succeed in passing the requirements by which they can proudly hold themselves forth as "RKC-certified".

While qualified RKCs continue to graduate to ever-higher levels of expertise, through such groundbreaking graduate programs such as the CK-FMS and the RKC level II, it's clear that these individuals share a very special combination of drive, passion, skill, commitment and physical capability—without which the RKC would remain a distant dream.

In other words the RKC is not for everyone! Not everyone is ready to step up to that level of intensity and commitment. To pay that kind of price in blood, sweat, tears and money—whatever the final prize and future benefits, be it enhanced financial opportunity or dramatic physical gains.

But what about all of those otherwise-dedicated coaches, trainers and athletes who just can't commit to the full-bore RKC, but would still like to be certified in the most important essentials of kettlebell lifting?

Currently there is no entry-level kettlebell trainer certification program that addresses these folk with the kind of quality and standards Dragon Door has become famous for.

Time to change all that and provide this larger group of fine individuals the chance to "Enter the Kettlebell", as it were—and learn from the very best in the business.

So with that in mind, we present you the HardStyle Kettlebell Certification, the HKC—and your chance to join forces with the world's premier kettlebell instructor training system.

Attend the HKC workshops and leave with these major advantages:
  • A deep understanding of the true benefits of kettlebell training—for both yourself and your clients
  • A solid knowledge of vital kettlebell training safety procedures
  • A workmanlike grasp of the fundamentals of biomechanics—to ensure your clients move with perfect form and avoid injury
  • A grasp of the key HardStyle skills and principles of strength
  • The ability to competently perform the three foundational kettlebell exercises (the Swing, the Get-Up, and the Goblet Squat)
  • The confidence you can now correctly teach the three essential kettlebell exercises—and troubleshoot common technique problems
  • The unique HKC workshops template for designing an unlimited number of effective kettlebell workouts.

And discover all this and more in the course of your HKC training:

  • Understand why mastery of the kettlebell swing is fundamental to high-level HardStyle practice
  • How to develop power through compensatory acceleration and overspeed eccentrics
  • How to train hip extension for back and knee health and athletic performance
  • How to employ bracing and neutral spine—for injury prevention, enhanced performance and optimal transmission of force
  • How to recruit the lat as a "core muscle" to improve the spine safety and glute strength
  • How to increase power with the biomechanical breathing match
  • A safe, effective modality for developing different types of endurance
  • Explosive training techniques for more effective fat-loss
  • The deadlift: the most "functional" exercise of all
  • The two-arm swing and corrective exercises
  • The concept of rooting and two key drills for developing it
  • The one-arm swing
  • The hand-to-hand swing
  • Russian relaxation exercises to enhance the acquisition of skilful movement, increase power and endurance
  • The two hundred year history of the get-up
  • The get-up as an assessment tool
  • The strength and health benefits of the get-up
  • How to correctly perform the get-up and teach corrective drills
  • How to move from mobility to stability, then from stability to strength—and why this progression is crucial for truly effective kettlebell work
  • The get-up, shoulder mobility and stability exercises. The role of the lat in shoulder stability and strength—and advanced lat facilitation techniques
  • How to employ and teach steering strength
  • The concepts of leakage and linkage—and their importance for effective kettlebell lifting
  • How to perform the goblet squat and corrective drills
  • "Strength stretching" for the hips
  • How to overcome gluteal amnesia
  • How to most effectively stretch the hip flexors to dramatically improve athletic performance, back health, and posture
  • How to modify the squat stance for a client with back problems
  • An alternative squat exercise for overweight clients
  • Why "sport specific training" is inappropriate for 99% of the coaches and athletes—and a powerful alternative

Take home an information packed HKC instructor manual:

  • What makes kettlebell training unique?
  • What Russian research says about the benefits of kettlebell training?
  • What is "Hardstyle"?
  • Kettlebell safety 101: ten key items
  • The Swing: its benefits, technique, teaching progression, and remedial drills
  • The Get-Up: its benefits, technique, teaching progression, and remedial drills
  • The Goblet Squat: its benefits, technique, teaching progression, and remedial drills
  • HKC program design
  • The three key principles of effective training identified by Russian sports scientists: continuity of the training process, waving the loads, and specialized variety,
  • Ten program design tools for an unlimited variety of effective kettlebell workouts:
    • Rep Ladders
    • Weight Ladders
    • Time Ladders
    • Breathing Ladders
    • Reverse Ladders
    • Drop Sets
    • Super Sets
    • Timed Sets
    • Series
    • Active Recovery Exercises

Becoming HKC Certified

Where the physical requirements are concerned, you will be tested on the following:

Entrance Test:

The entrance test is given at the beginning of the course to determine the general physical preparedness of each participant prior to participating in the course.
  • Standard Plank (from the forearms): Held for 60 seconds.

The neck and back must be kept straight for the duration of the test. During the test your instructor may choose to cue you with minor adjustments or has the option to terminate the test. If you fail to maintain proper alignment or you drop to your knees, the test is considered a failure.

Technique Tests:

You must be able to demonstrate safe and effective technique as part of being an HKC instructor. Your course instructor will test you on the following exercises in the latter part of the course to ensure that you can perform what you have been taught during the course.
  • Swing
The swing is tested using two hands with an appropriate size kettlebell, for 10 reps or more at your instructors’ discretion.
  • Get-Up
The Get up will be tested on one side, using an appropriate size kettlebell.  You will use both hands to roll and lift the kettlebell into the starting position as well as pulling it down to your chest at the finish.  It is performed using the low sweep.
  • Goblet Squat
The goblet squat will be tested holding one kettlebell by the horns in front of your chest, you will be asked to perform 5 reps or more at your instructors’ discretion

Non-Tested Exercises:
There are three exercises taught at the HKC workshops that are not tested, the Hardstyle Plank, the Row from Lunge, and the Hardstyle Pushup. Their inclusion reinforces the student’s understanding of HKC/RKC principles and should be included in any well-rounded kettlebell program. In addition, proper performance of the Hardstyle Pushup is the Entrance Requirement for the RKC Instructor course.

Teaching Requirements:

At the end of the course you will be asked to demonstrate your ability to teach one kettlebell exercise that you learned during the workshop to a fellow student. Your performance will be evaluated based on your ability to follow the progressions (the step by step process to teach an exercise) that you learned, as well as on how well you implement the corrections associated with that exercise. Your adherence to safety and professionalism are also important in the evaluation process.

If You Fail a Requirement:

In order to be certified you must pass all requirements. If you fail one of the requirements, you will have 90 days to send in a video to your instructor or visit your instructor in person to retest the requirement you failed.