“Welcome to a tale of 20-20 hindsight!! A decision has been made, and those of you who know me in real life might be pretty happy about it. I’m only 5’3.5” tall and hover around 123-128lbs normally depending on the time of day, how much water I’ve chugged etc. Most people’s weight will fluctuate throughout the day – I have been known to have variances as large as 5-6 lbs in 24hrs, and not look or feel different. The problem is WHY I know this.”-Excerpt from the article “Strength Trumps the Scale” written by RKC II, Adrienne Harvey
As many of you know, there had been some changes to the RKC certification requirements this year that went into effect starting in April, 2013. The most notable change was a new weight class that Dragon Door had instituted for the snatch test portion of the certification. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what I am talking about, to become an RKC certified instructor, one (yes just one) of the certification requirements is to pass a 5 minute drill where you have to perform 100 snatches in 5 minutes using a specific kettlebell per your weight class (and yes, there are weight classes for this certification) Originally, I was to test with my 12kg (26lb) kettlebell for the certification as I weighed 122 pounds. The cut off for the original weight class was 123.5 pounds which would mandate the use of a 16kg (36 pound) kettlebell, ten pounds over 26 pounds…which is a BIG HIKE UP in terms of strength. I’m not saying it isn’t doable, but the lack of progression from one weight class to the next was…well..lacking, and I was having a hard time training to optimally pass the 16kg snatch test (which had given me a serious case of the “RKC jitters”). The solution? Cut my weight and stay below 122.
I woke up one day and found out that the weight classes had changed for the certification. Instead of testing with a 12kg kettlebell, I now had to test with a 14kg kettlebell because my weight at 120 qualified for a middle weight class that mandated the use of that 14kg kettlebell. The new cut off from the middle weight class to the upper weight class was 136 pounds. Any woman weighing 136 pounds and above is now required to test with the 16kg kettlebell.
Allow me to say this: THANK GOD!
Ok, time for a confession. Up until the end of January I had tried as hard as I could to maintain a weight of 122 pounds without a struggle. At 5’3” I had gained a considerable amount of lean muscle mass. Last year, at 119 pounds I could barely swing a 20kg kettlebell, let alone do a military press with a 24kg kettlebell. Last year, I thought doing interval training with a 16kg kettlebell was rough, but here I am swinging a 32 kg kettlebell without a problem. My point here is that I got stronger. I got a HELL of a lot stronger, and the stronger I became, the more by body changed. Prior to February, I had fallen into a state of serious anxiety (*sigh* and I digress) as I would watch my weight teeter back and forth between 121 and 124. I was holding steadily at one point around 121.5 pounds, which originally would have made me “dangerously close” to the use of a 16kg kettlebell per the old RKC certification requirements. And, I had received some not so wise advice from other people about cutting my weight back to purposely go under the 123.5. After about a month and a half of trying to fight my body, I started to feel not just “funky in the head”, but crazy. The high volume training with (looking back over my food logs) not enough nutrition to sustain them had caught up with me. It caught up with me BIG TIME! My energy sank, my strength suffered, and I struggled to get through some of my more demanding workouts. For…what? Fear of a scale?!?!?!
I hate having to even admit that I was attempting to hold my weight back under what wasn’t natural for me, but what I can say is that this experience has really opened my eyes to this whole weight cutting issue. I realize that we all want to be lean and be strong. I also understand that when you are involved in a fitness career, all eyes are on you in terms of your physique. No one wants to be viewed as a trainer who doesn’t take their body and healthy lifestyle seriously, but I don’t think we need to be making ourselves mentally ill over maintaining body weights that aren’t natural for us. As the question was posed before in “Strength Trumps the Scale”, what is this all about? Should we train ourselves down and forfeit our strength? Are we to live in fear of scale, fretting over numbers when our performance is what is REALLY important? NO! Let your body do what it needs to do and reap the benefits of all the more health and strength because of it!
I had wasted nearly 5 months of my RKC preparation worrying myself sick over a weight class that has now been adjusted appropriately to be fair for all levels of strength across the board. My only complaint about the change to the RKC snatch test weight classes is that this change was not made sooner. Personally, I was afraid of getting bigger and attempting to use a 16kg kettlebell for the 100 rep snatch test. I was afraid because, at the time, I was struggling to find a way to properly progress to meet the demands of this test. Now, having found out that I can go to Vienna in April and test with an appropriate sized kettlebell for my relative level of strength, I am rest assured that I will be able to meet the demands of the test. There is now a clear line of strength progression that, in my opinion, makes more sense that just hiking up a huge weight class for my size. With all that in mind, I have decided to take matters into my own hands and show yinz exactly how I feel about this whole scale thing.
What you are about to see is the most important part of RKC prep training. It involves your bathroom scale, a pair of ski goggles, and your snatch test size kettlebell.
Case in point: let your body do what it’s going to do and GET STRONG! As for me, 122 just wasn’t cutting it and I’ve decided to let the gains I very well deserve happen. Hell, I NEED them! Folks, forget numbers and let your overall athletic performance dictate a weight that is appropriate for you to maintain And hey, who knows? If within a year I got this strong, whose to say I won’t be able to consistently pass the test with a 16kg in the future? After all, I know some women out there my size who have done it, and if they can demonstrate an awesome feat of strength like that, then it’s only a matter of time before I can as well. Best part of it all as I can continually and appropriately progress to new strength gains.What is even better is that you can do it too! Proper progression is the name of the game here! Take your time, be patient with yourself, and reap the rewards of strength in the future! Your body will thank you for it in the long run!
I stand before you today weighing in at a lean, mean 124 and gaining more muscle as we speak! I stand before you a much stronger version of myself than what I was one year ago. I refuse and will CONTINUE TO REFUSE to ever cut my weight again. Watch out world! I may be strong now, but I’m about to get even stronger! I hope that you all do the very same for yourself as well!
Special thanks to Dragon Door for incorporating the middle weight class using the 14kg kettlebell for the RKC snatch test . This is a great addition to the certification and my hope is that this weight class addition will serve to cut out the issue of weight cutting as well as allow for proper and sensible strength progressions over time. Proper progression to heavier lifts just makes perfect sense, and that’s real talk ya heard?
Remember to eat smart, train hard, and enjoy your life!
Janelle Pica-HKC, CPT