Preparing for the PCC Experience

by Doug Fioranelli on May 26, 2015

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Al and Danny Kavadlo Finger Tip Pushups

In our ever-growing, fast-paced world, the need for instantaneous information extends through many areas in our lives – especially fitness.  Topics like: The 5 Best Exercises You’re NOT Doing and Three Secret Hacks to Gain Strength Instantly promise quick results with minimal effort.  Much of the fitness industry has gone the way of the late night As Seen on TV infomercial where we bounce from different training ideas, exercises and equipment only to have them all collect dust in either the corner of the room or the corner of our minds.

I do not blame the trainer for getting sucked into this slick style of marketing, nor do I blame companies for using these marketing tactics to gain a wider audience and increase their bottom line. In this day and age we are responsible for ourselves and it would probably serve us best if we took a few deep breaths before we dive into the latest trend.

I have been a proud RKC instructor since 2008 and have been happy with Dragon Door’s products and courses; I’ve also admired their marketing strategies. Like it or not, marketing is essential to grow a brand or business and it usually requires something memorable or out of the ordinary to make a person take action. Seeing the Kavadlo brothers performing feats of strength with only their bodyweight is truly inspiring and sends that immediate shockwave of determination through the body: I want to do that.

Al and Danny Kavadlo Elbow Levers

Still, I didn’t want to jump right into the PCC certification for fear that it was Dragon Door’s way of staying relevant in the ever changing landscape of fitness and it would not be as good an experience as advertised. After taking a step back and doing more research I decided to sign up and I am glad that I did. All throughout the years Dragon Door has remained true to their roots and backed up their marketing by providing a learning experience of the highest quality.

First off, they bring out the best instructor team. Al and Danny are the best not only because they can wow any mortal human being with their movement prowess; they can also actually teach the movements they are performing in a safe and progressive manner.

Like every other Dragon Door course I have attended, Al, Danny, Adrienne and the rest of the team were focused on the curriculum and were direct with their approach. Their primary objective was to not only teach the movements in easily digested portions, they also wanted to teach us how to instruct our clients through the progressions.

The other thing Dragon Door has done remarkably well with the PCC is to make the course all-inclusive for every age and fitness level.  People might have one of two types of reservations when considering the PCC: Either it is going to be too difficult or it is going to be too easy. I was in the former class, having only trained bodyweight basics like squats, pull-ups and push-ups; I had never challenged myself with advanced progressions and variations.

Balancing the course to make it appropriate for everyone in attendance seemed like an impossible task, but the instructors handled it beautifully. I can say this is truly a certification that includes everyone. The participants at the PCC I attended in Encinitas this January were a great mix of male and female fitness enthusiasts ranging in age from 18 to over 60, each bringing different training backgrounds and skill sets. For every core exercise presented the instructors had several remedial options as well as advanced options. Everyone was able to find variations to practice that were challenging, yet appropriate for their individual fitness level.

L-sits PCC Encinitas

The PCC Century Test

In true Dragon Door fashion, you have to demonstrate proficiency in basic movements and pass the Century Test to earn the PCC credential.

I had a client ask me recently “why does there need to be a physical test to prove you are a good coach?” I thought about it for a moment and told the client that “testing is a way to truly devote yourself to a challenge and bring out a better version of yourself.  You have to put some skin in the game!”

After signing up, I had to ensure I was successful at completing the test and passing the course. Here is the blueprint and workouts I used during my PCC century test preparation. I hope it serves you as well as it did me.

Do Your Homework

Before diving right into a program I wanted to first understand exactly what I was getting into. I found a great article on the Dragon Door website by Adrienne Harvey which helped address the exact exercises, repetitions, techniques, order and time allotment I needed for the test. I wrote all of these on top of my workout training page so I always had them in front of me.  They are as follows:

Century Test Chart

I officially began my training six weeks out from the certification. After my research I decided to test myself to see where I was from the start. I went in fresh after my normal warm-up and went through The Century trying to be as strict as possible with form.

I was mostly happy with the results, however there was work to be done and this baseline test showed me exactly where I needed to center my attention. I could feel that my form became sloppy as each exercise wore on. In my previous training programs I had not been performing push-ups and pull-ups in the higher repetition ranges I needed to pass the PCC test, so this would be my primary focus.

Getting your Reps Up

I dedicated three of my five training days to the specific bodyweight exercises of the PCC.  After practicing various combinations of calisthenics, I would rest and perform the PCC test at the end of my workout to see if I improved. I liked adding the test at the end of the workout because the PCC certification test is performed at the end of the three-day training course so fatigue will be a factor and being able to pass when you are tired is essential.

One workout I did I called The Century and a Half. Like the name implies, you do the entire Century at the end of your workout and after your pull ups, you start right back with the squats and perform all of the exercises for half the number of repetitions.  I allotted myself a maximum of 12 minutes to complete the century and a half routine.

If you find your general conditioning lacking, it may cause a problem during the PCC test. For this, I added some sprints into the training mix.  Trust me; you want to be in good cardiovascular shape for the Century. Your adrenaline will be pumping–and after your 40 squats so will your heart rate.  If you cannot catch your breath the rest of the test could be a struggle and you don’t want to let your cardiovascular system be your undoing.

I have a local track that has pull-up and dip bars so it was a perfect place to combine calisthenics with cardiovascular training.  For my favorite workout I would run 400m at a pace that was comfortable and then I would do as many pull-ups, hanging knee raises and push-ups as I could with good form.  When I was done I would repeat three more times.

Not only was I training my cardiovascular system I was performing the calisthenics movements during a state of elevated heart rate and, especially after a few runs around the track, a state of fatigue.

If you live in an area affected by real winter weather or don’t have a track with pull-up bars, simply bring a jump rope to a location that does.  Skip for 1-2 minutes and then perform your bodyweight exercises for however many rounds you see fit.

With meticulous thought towards every detail, Dragon Door has truly done it again with their PCC certification course. It is a testament to how they understand fitness and the people who seek knowledge to make themselves and their clients better. If you are willing to practice the basics, you should have no problem passing the PCC exam and enjoying the weekend. I know I sure did!

Danny Doug and Al


Doug Fioranelli, PCC, RKC-II, holds a Master’s degree in Kinesiology and is the owner of Rise Above Performance Training™ in Belmont, CA.  Check out his blog for more training articles and videos at

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Don’t Mess With Texas

by Danny Kavadlo on May 19, 2015

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Danny Kavadlo With Awesome Hat

My brother Al Kavadlo and I rode into town this past Friday rarin’ to go, looking forward to bringing Progressive Calisthenics to the Lone Star State for the very first time. The bodyweight beasts we encountered were obviously just as excited as we were, judging from the incredible level of enthusiasm, energy and positivity!

Remember the Al-amo

Remember the Al-amo

Day One

I love the first day of the Progressive Calisthenics Certification. We enter the room as strangers but leave as family. From one-arm push-ups to full press flags (even a first-time one-arm pull-up!), many PR’s were established, as many bonds were made. The calisthenics wrecking crew muscled up to the challenge and then some.

More human flags than you can shake a stick at!

More human flags than you can shake a stick at!

Day Two

The roadhouse thunder raged on during Day Two. Squats, lunges and pistols were followed by back bridges, gecko bridges and even stand-to-stands! We got down on the ground for the mid-section holds and back up on bar for back and front lever progressions. The feats of strength, balance and flexibility were rivaled only by the solidarity and encouragement. This group of Texas tornadoes delivered the goods!


The Sharp Dressed Men of PCC.

The Sharp Dressed Men of PCC.

Strong gals train calisthenics!

Strong gals train calisthenics!

Day Three

The last day of PCC begins with hand balancing and ends with the Century Test. But the true balancing act is juggling the emotional highs of such a special experience with the bittersweet feelings of leaving our new-found calisthenics brothers and sisters. The real test lies in the days to come: now that this world-class experience comes to an end, how do we maintain the strength, the technique and the bond we all shared with one another?

PCC Texas Partner Pistols

Sure ‘nuff, even though the weekend is now over, our journey is just beginning. Thanks to the PCC blog, Dragon Door’s extensive library and Dragon Door’s upcoming Health & Strength Conference, the PCC community will continue to grow. Remember, the first rule of PCC is you do talk about PCC, so keep on spreading the word!

We’re fixin’ to head back, y’all hear?

PCC Dallas Texas 2015 Group Photo


The posse’s getting bigger,




Danny Kavadlo is one of the world’s foremost authorities on calisthenics, nutrition and personal training. He is the author of the Dragon Door titles Diamond-Cut Abs and Everybody Needs Training. Danny is known for his minimalist philosophy, simple approach and motivational talents.

A true in-person experience, Danny is a Master Instructor for Dragon Door’s Progressive Calisthenics Certification. He has been featured in the NY Times, TRAIN, Men’s Fitness and is a regular contributor to Learn more about Danny at

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Actions, Not Words

May 12, 2015

“Don’t think, feel! It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” –Bruce Lee, from Enter The Dragon It may seem obvious, but if you want to get something done, the only way to do so is to take action. […]

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Upgrade your Life and Looks with the Knee and Leg Raise Chain

May 5, 2015

The humble but powerful knee and leg raise progressions featured in the PCC Workshop and Convict Conditioning don’t always get as much attention as some of the more visually intense exercises. Even though these moves might not be tailor-made for showing off online, don’t underestimate their importance. These progressions are the sort of “strong silent […]

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PCC Italy – A “Penne” for my Thoughts

April 28, 2015

In the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to assist at 4 PCC events throughout the US and Europe. Attendees often come in feeling like they’re the only ones in their town practicing Progressive Calisthenics, but leave knowing they’ve found a community of people to which they now belong. Ever since I attended my first […]

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PCC Germany: Rock You Like A Hurricane

April 21, 2015

Here I am. Munich’s second Progressive Calisthenics Certification workshop. It seems like only moments ago, my brother and PCC Lead Instructor Al Kavadlo and I traveled to KRABA, one of the most spectacular training facilities in the world, to deliver Germany’s first ever PCC. Well, history repeats itself and our second event in “The Fatherland” […]

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Crow Pose and Beyond

April 14, 2015

Before I ever considered becoming a personal trainer, one of my earliest fitness breakthroughs was the first time I achieved a crow pose in yoga class. It blew my mind! Before then I had assumed hand balancing was reserved for gymnasts and acrobats. As far as I was concerned, it was not appropriate for me […]

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Strength Cycling for Continuous Improvement

April 7, 2015

Though progressive calisthenics training brings plenty of benefits, ranging from increased flexibility, control, and of course, strength, your body perceives it as a stress. As such, the body builds resistance toward it, which manifests in you getting stronger. Twenty push-ups today might force an adaptation, but twenty push-ups a month later might not. One way […]

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The Meathook

March 31, 2015

Using all of the body’s musculature together as one cohesive unit is among my favorite aspects of bodyweight training. Iso-lateral calisthenics moves like the “one arm push-up” are misleadingly named, as they require strength throughout the entire body—not just one of its appendages. Few iso-lateral moves demonstrate this full body harmony better than the little […]

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The Hand Truck Workout

March 24, 2015

My clients count on me to be an innovative trainer. In fact, I’ve always enjoyed finding new and effective ways to work with people way before the trend of ‘being different just to be different’ became popular. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when my client Lorraine came in for her training session at […]

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