Kettlebells are a great tool for developing strength, mobility, and conditioning, but many people are still clueless about how to properly use them. The best kettlebell certifications out there if you are looking to further your knowledge for personal reasons or so you can help teach techniques to others can be found below.
Please note that I obviously haven’t tried all of the courses listed below. This isn’t meant as an endorsement of any type of cert. It is simply a list of potential certs that you may want to look into if you are trying to further your kettlebell knowledge and be more qualified to teach and use them.
Because of the nature of kettlebells you may want a hands-on course, particularly if you are unfamiliar with them. If you don’t know basic movements, this will give you first hand experience with a quality instructor. You can get a designation for cheap to try to impress clients, but the most important part is that you learn how to use kettlebells for your benefit and the benefit of those you train.
StrongFirst has one of the most respected KB instructor certs available. It was designed by Pavel Tsatsouline, who is well-known for his KB and strength and conditioning knowledge. This cert requires passing both a written test and a physical test.
The exercises you must prove proficiency in are: swing, get-up, double clean, press, double front squat, and snatch. This cert requires you to re-certify every 2 years. You can find out more information about the physical test here as well as a calendar of upcoming SFG Level 1 courses.
If you are looking into taking the SFG or RKC course, Scott Iardella has an excellent post about 10 Critical Rules for Success with these certs. It’s a really good read from someone with experience with both SFG and RKC.
The Russian Kettlebell Challenge instructor certification is another great option. It consists of a 3 day course and you must demonstrate proficiency with the Hardstyle Pushup and the Snatch. You must also demonstrate a mastery of foundational KB movements, an understanding of KB safety, an ability to teach, and adhere to the RKC code of conduct. Here is a calendar of upcoming dates and locations for the course.
The International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation (IKFF) has 2 levels of KB certs. The Certified Kettlebell Trainer Level 1 course focuses on the swing, clean, press, push press, jerk, long cycle, snatch, and squat. The IKFF also requires a physical assessment to pass the course. You can find the upcoming calendar here.
The National Exercise Trainer Association (NETA) has been around since 1977 has a Kettlebell Specialty Certification designed for personal trainers. This course is in-person and focuses on fundamental KB movements and techniques. You can check their upcoming schedule here.
CrossFit has continued to increase in popularity in recent years and they offer many specialty courses for trainers and coaches. Their CrossFit Kettlebell Trainer Course requires a CrossFit Level 1 cert and attendees are taught how to perform and instruct exercises, motor-skill development, and how to design KB programs for clients. To pass, you must attend the entire course and pass the physical assessment.
Agatsu is a Canadian company that focuses on KB training. The have a handful of courses, including the Agatsu Kettlebell Certification. While they are based in Canada, they have courses taught in various countries throughout the world.
This is an in-person course that requires and 80% score on a written exam as well as a final exam that consists of performing KB circuits and a demonstration of technique. Men must use a KB of at least 16 kg, while women are expected to use one that is at least 8 or 12 kg. The exercises used are the swing, clean, snatch, windmill, and Turkish Get-up.
The American Sports and Fitness Association (ASFA) has an online certification for Kettlebell Instruction. You don’t have to actually pay for the exam until you receive a passing score, but this cert has no requirements for education, other than an online exam and doesn’t require you to demonstrate any technical proficiency. If you are serious about becoming a KB instructor, this probably isn’t for you.
The Kettlebell Athletics Level 1 course is for fitness and strength and conditioning professional who want to further their knowledge of KBs. This is a 12 course that is done in-person. They also offer a Level 2 cert for more advanced techniques.
The NPTI, National Personal Training Institute, offers a Kettlebell Training course at different locations throughout the United States. This course focuses on balance, stability, coordination, power, endurance, stamina, and injury prevention.
The International Sports and Fitness Trainers Association, or ISFTA, offers 2 different levels of KB certs. Their Level 1 course focuses on program design, teaching movements to beginners, primary exercises and their progressions, and more advanced concepts. Exercises include swings, cleans, overhead press, deadlift, squat, floor press, rows, slingshots, figure 8s, and renegade rows.
This course has a written exam, consisting of multiple-choice questions, and a practical exam that has 12 pass or fail objectives that demonstrate proficiency. You must pass both aspects to achieve the Level 1 cert. You can find an upcoming calendar of events here.
Kettlebells are a great tool, and becoming proficient with them is great for your own personal training program. If you are a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach, learning to become an instructor will be and extra tool in your box to help you prepare your clients and athletes to perform at a higher level.
There are many other kettlebell certifications out there, but this is a pretty thorough list. It is up to you to decide which one best fits your needs. The best certs teach you a variety of information, training tips, and techniques for kettlebells as well as get you comfortable with teaching the movements to your clients or athletes.
Photo By: Travis Wise