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Thoughts on the Strength Matters Swing Test

I've had many inquiries about different kettlebell certifications and testing protocols. Through out the years the certification standards have changed. Sometimes the changes are minor such as adding a high bridge to the Turkish Get Up and then deciding to do away with it.  Other changes have been a bit more drastic such as testing a specific rep range of snatches the first day, without a time limit, a one hand switch rule versus testing the last day of the grueling 3 day weekend, with a requirement of getting 100 snatches in under 5 minutes. Preparing people for both RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge) and SFG (StrongFirst) certifications for the last 10 years has been rewarding and I will continue to help people do this. Training program development continues to adjust accordingly to the ever evolving changes with each certification.

RKC and SFG certifications are generally known for the snatch test. The new Kettlebell certification being created by Strength Matters has decided to have a different type of test. Instead of testing 100 snatches in under 5 minutes, the test will be 200 swings with a set pace in 10 minutes. As a versatile coach it's my duty to not only test this out myself but see if I can pass the standard test.

My first reaction to learning about Strength Matters requiring a 10 minute swing test was an intrigued and unsure feeling. The structure of my classes, privates, and my own training hardly required long cycles of any one movement. In fact we would practice 8-10 reps of fairly heavy swings or 10 swings per arm within shorter time frames. Nevertheless, it was time I put myself to the test to see what I needed to do to prepare. The new Strength Matters certification standards needed to be tested.

On Sunday morning I decided to give Strength Matters swing test a solid run through. I haven't formally trained for this at all. I set my gym boss to beep every 30 seconds for 20 rounds. 10 swings to sternum height using 1 arm per 30 seconds of work is the requirement for a counted rep.

Throughout the test I ended up completing 10 swings in just under 20 seconds with 10 seconds to spare. During this "break" I set the bell down and was forced to relax as much as possible. Unintentionally this test ended up being similar to the popular Tabata protocol, 20 seconds of work 10 seconds of rest, which is used very much in my training.

To be completely honest, the first 6 minutes of the test felt relatively easy. As the time passed around minute 7 I noticed my deep  Transverse Abdominus muscles and lower back beginning to fatigue. The bell was still achieving the height desired and my form was still crisp, yet this was the first time I felt this deep fatigue feeling, which may have been lessened if I wasn't restricted from swinging bells for  the last several months.  By the 19th and 20th round of 10 swings I was happy for it to be over and felt accomplished.

My final thoughts regarding the swing test. The Strength Matters swing test was a very doable test. This test requires more endurance, patience, and stamina than other tests I've taken in the past. My hands felt great afterwards with no rips, tears, or bumps. More people are able to perform swings, which makes this test much more accessible, however with high reps using the same repetitive movement it needs building up to. It does require more mental stamina, full body endurance, usage of relaxation drills, and strong functioning ab muscles, and back muscles to get use to the final duration. My only critique would be to allow the kettlebell to be set down after 10 successful swings with 2 hands, especially when working in a fatigued state. Like any test, you need to train for this.

Would love to hear your thoughts.


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