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Strong First Level 1 Prep Guide

You are one week out from your first Strong First Level 1 Instructor course and you have heard the stories of torn skin, bloody hands, and the 5-minute snatch test.

You are nervous, anxious, but ready to get this certification under your belt after months of preparation.

We have been there, we’ve done it, and we know how the days leading up to the weekend can feel.


Here are our best tips for a successful weekend:

1. Know the Requirements to Pass

I would say “Duh” but you’d be surprised how many people are not clear on what weight they have to snatch for their test or the newer overhead press requirements. It would be a nightmare if you’ve been training with 12 kilos but need to snatch the 16 kilo. Make sure you prepare and train properly.

2. Plan Wisely

When you first show up, almost everyone will be doing their warm-up routine – either foam rolling, stretching, crawling, Kinstretch drills, etc.

Stick to your own routine – it’s what your body knows best. Now is not the time to try anything new and outrageous. Even if the person next to you demonstrates the newest Ido Portal shoulder move, test it out later.

There’s a lot of nervous energy on day one at check-in, so take a deep belly breath, you got this!

If you have been cutting weight to hit the weigh-in goal to snatch the lighter bell, know the weigh-in happens in the first hour. Feed yourself afterwards so you have energy for the rest of the day.

There will be demos… lots of them. Someone will volunteer OR get pulled up into the spotlight to show their swing form or press execution. The team leaders are only there to help make you the most successful at what you do – not to critique you in front of everyone. The cues that they give are priceless.

Injuries do happen so bring RockTape, Theragun, your toolbox of breathing drills, FRC drills, and have a good supply of ice when you get home. Nothing like finishing day one, wanting to ice and having to haul it from Duane Reade back to your apartment like an exhausted zombie.

3. Conserve and Pace Yourself

Day one contains drills, demos, and group training. You might want to go all out because of the adrenaline surge. Resist this urge. Pace yourself so that by day three you are still relatively fresh for the snatch test.

If you are feeling uber fatigued and shakey in the legs during drills toward the second half of the weekend, ask your team leader if you can bell down for a portion of the team workouts. Use what feels appropriate because everything leading up to test day is learning.

4. Timing During the Snatch Test

There will be one person for your group with a stopwatch during the snatch test calling time at each minute mark, then the last minute every 15 seconds, and counting down the last 10 seconds. Make sure you hear them so you don’t time out. I learned that from experience.

Finish strong. I’ve heard of friends losing their grip on the bell on the last rep of the snatch test disqualifying them from passing that weekend. Finish strong, every rep counts.

5. Food Prep

I don’t like anything to mess with my digestion or make me gassy or bloated before swinging a bunch of kettlebells. Especially the bloated factor, you don’t want any competition for space as you are learning to breathe down into your belly and brace your core as you swing.

I would highly recommend making your own food and bringing it with you to the course. Also, bring more snacks than you would normally eat. You are burning so many calories over the weekend and you don’t want to feel drained by test day.


6. Sleep Like a Pro

Don’t stay up late and no nightcaps! Just eat, shower, and go to bed when you get home each night. The last thing you need is getting off your routine and feeling more tired than you should the next day.

Do what it takes to get quality sleep: eye mask, earplugs, sound machine, blackout curtains, blue blocker glasses, whatever you need to get the best night sleep.

7. Mitigate Soreness

I was sore AF and woke up the next morning and needed to shake it out. Do what you can to mitigate the muscle soreness that will accumulate over the weekend. Magnesium and vitamin C at night, ice bath, hydration, foam rolling, and a low inflammatory diet high in protein. If you need some Normatec Compression Therapy in midtown Manhattan, we are here to help. There will be an influx of SFG trainers coming in the week after the certification so book early!

If you have had IV drips in the past with high dose Vitamin C, I found that to help immensely with the soreness through the weekend.

8. Thank Your Assistants and Team Leader Profusely

These people will feel like family by the end of the weekend and are there to elevate yourself to the next weekend. They may say things intended to make you mentally tough but are a wealth of knowledge in cleaning up bad form. They will give you cues you’ve never heard on how to not tear up your hands before test day. Listen, be a sponge, and digest everything.

9. Chalk, Chalk, Chalk Everywhere

I never used chalk while training but for some reason when I showed up there were people who used chalk during their snatch test and throughout the weekend. I always saw it as a sign of adrenal fatigue or poor form. Then I let my judgement go. Everyone has gotta do what is best for them. If you have respiratory issues like me, bring your go-to inhaler whether it be a steroid inhaler or an allergy inhaler, because the clapping of the chalk all over the gym will irritate your lungs and make it hard to breathe.

10. Switch Up Your Partners

Its super easy to stick with your friends or training partners but working with lots of different body types will help you see movement better and ultimately make you a better trainer and more precise in your own lifting form.

Now go prep, rock the weekend, and tell us how it went. Email us at or drop us a DM on Instagram @urbanwellnessclinic

We love to hear success stories, horror stories, and all the tears of joy that will be shed when you pass your snatch test after all these months of hard ass work! If you need any Active Release Technique or some soft tissue love after the weekend, call us for an appointment at 212-355-0445 or book an appointment online.

Best in Health,
Dr Emily Kiberd