How To Train A Client To Pass The Strength Matters Kettlebell Certification [2nd Edition]

 In How To:, Kettlebell Training, Strength Matters Kettlebell, Uncategorized

[Updated 18th September 2016]

The first ever Strength Matters Kettlebell Certification (SMK) took place in September 2015 in the UK.

It was a great success, not just because everything ran (relatively!) smoothly; not just because it involved an incredibly committed group of men and women challenging themselves while generously supporting each other through the toughest moments of the course.

[bctt tweet=”Being an SMK instructor means knowing what ‘excellent’ – and the deviations of that – look like “]

The weekend was a great success because it now also means there are a number of new Strength Matters Kettlebell instructors out in the world, dedicated to helping other people reach for success and stand-out proficiency in their fitness journey.

All newly certified SMK instructors can now teach potential candidates for the up-and-coming certs held globally.

Think of the certification as a steel chain that becomes stronger through forging its own links. It’s a crucial part of Strength Matter’s aim to cultivate supreme fitness and make the world a healthier place.

So, if you’re one of the newly certified SMK trainers, and you want to know how to go about training your new students, here’s how:

The SMK Manual

Study the manual. It is 150 pages of top-to-bottom awesomeness. Everything is in there – the progressions, the corrections, the drills and the cuing. You’ll have skimmed through a lot of this already during the three days of the cert. However, now that you’re back in your own space you have the time to really take in the teachings on learning and coaching.


So study it, soak it up, treat it like it’s an additional team leader from the course, and turn to it if you have to figure out solutions to a problem in your client’s training, or even your own.

Be Your First Student

One of the best ways to learn the progressions and corrections in the manual is to use them. What I mean by this is to go through them yourself over and over and over again.

[bctt tweet=”You have to be your own first client”]

You have to be your own first client. I can’t stress enough how important this is. Part of this includes studying your own form and technique. In doing so you’ll see whether you’re performing proper technique and mechanics of the basic exercises. Again – very important. It’s only by building this solid base that you can grow and develop your strength and your endurance.

A great way to check your form is to film yourself. As the saying goes, ‘the camera never lies’! Take your self-critique a step further by studying videos of those who are known for fantastic form and technique and compare and contrast your own video tapes and – when the time comes – your clients, with them.

Apart from helping you to progress, this will also help you to understand and develop the ‘coach’s eye’ – that instinctual knowledge of what ‘excellent’ looks like, what the deviations of that are, and what to look for when you’re making corrections with a client.


Take the Basics and Build

The way we teach candidates at the cert is the way we want the candidates to teach their students when getting ready for certifications, or even just learning kettlebells in general.

However, one important consideration is not to start a new candidate for the cert training for the Swing test right away.

Why? Because the Swing test is more advanced, and it’s best to get the basics down first.

You have to make sure your student’s technique is top notch and that they’re building a solid base of Two-Hand Swings, One-Hand Swings and Hand-to-Hand Swings, along with the other skills.

This has to happen before you start training them to build up the volume and the weights to do the Swing test.


So begin by splitting your student’s workout into two parts. They’ll be practicing the top six exercises, but they’ll do three exercises on one day, take a day off and then do three more exercises on the following day.

Once they’re progressing their work capacity, you can start looking at splitting the exercises into three days. This means they’re practicing half of them one day, half of them the next day, and on the ‘off days’ using general endurance – doing a few lengths of the pool, lacing up for a run, taking the bike out, or any other sport of their choice. Body maintenance must be included, of course. Rolling, stretching and following through on whatever corrective drills are needed to enhance recovery.

The amazing thing here is that you don’t need to haul them out for Kettlebell training every single day and yet you can still help them to develop a fantastic foundation on which to get SMK cert-ready.

A Typical Session

So how should you structure your sessions?

Always, always kick-off by warming up mobility. Then start into the skills.


Keep in mind that speed and technique come before strength and endurance.

This means that if you’ve decided to include Snatch work on a particular day, you do that first. When your student’s not fatigued, the Get-Up comes first.

Following that you can move into the heavier but less technical exercises, such as the Two-Hand Swing, before finishing with body maintenance and flexibility.

So this is a sturdy starting frame around which you can begin building an effective preparation for potential SMK cert candidates.

Of course, every student is different, and it’s good to be flexible and open to tweaking the training if that’s what’s needed. Your job is to help your student move to the next level as safely and satisfactorily as possible.

Getting them ready for the cert means giving them the training, the confidence and the courage to transform their own lives. It’s a privileged and potent responsibility but as recent cert candidates yourselves, you’ll appreciate this awesome position of being able to help.

Have You Tried The Strength Matters Swing Test?

If you’re interested in training for the Strength Matters Kettlebell Certification you can download your FREE training guide here

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