Preparing for the PCC Experience

by Adrienne Harvey on September 30, 2014

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Adrienne Pull-Up

While we’ve shared a lot of information about what happens at PCC workshops, there are always still questions revolving around the same couple of topics: How do I prepare for the Progressive Calisthenics Certification, and is the PCC right for me?

Unlike many certification workshops in the modern fitness world, the PCC is a highly physical three-day workshop AND it has a strictly judged physical test (The Century!) to ensure you’re fit to present yourself to the world as a PCC Instructor. While this can seem daunting, there are some clear-cut strategic approaches which can help you both be prepared to pass the test, and be physically (and mentally) prepared to really get the most out of your PCC experience. (Be sure to click here for Paul Wade’s excellent PCC Q+A article written in January of 2013 which I hope you haven’t missed.)

One of the things I like most about The Century is that it’s a balanced test. While the numbers may not look frightening, having to perform each rep to our standards for the required number can prove to be challenging to say the least. I’ve personally seen very fit, very experienced people who were well prepared for the test need to take a second to mentally reset between exercises in the midst of testing.

Practicing the basics to the point that they are second nature is not only great for testing, but is also helpful for situations where you find yourself having to instruct a large group of people, or multi-task in some way while troubleshooting a client or student’s technique. In other words, performing the exercises during testing can tell us how you might perform as an instructor and leader. Not to mention, the testing occurs after three days of exhilarating and fun physical learning!

Testing at the PCC in Sweden

Attention to Detail During Testing at the PCC in Sweden

We usually have to remind especially inspired attendees not to go to complete failure while they are trying out some of the progressions we present during the workshop. It is hard after you get that first muscle-up to slow down and not immediately get back up on the bar for the 2nd, 3rd or 4th attempt at another. I’ve seen guys so overjoyed at their own progress after getting a game-changing cue from Al, Danny or myself that they’ve shredded up their hands while practicing it over and over again. (Yikes!)

Someone preparing for the PCC should really have two goals, passing the Century test is the more obvious of the two, but the other goal should be a focus on general strength, skill, and volume. The volume will also help prepare your body (and hands) for spending more time on the bar, pole, or floor. Suppose your most favorite (and/or most challenging) exercise falls on the 2nd or 3rd day? You will want to have as much strength and mobility at your disposal for trying as many of the progressions as possible—especially since the PCC instructors and your fellow attendees will be there to help you past any sticking points.

Adrienne coaching Tony towards a clutch flag at the PCC

When mentioning this particular topic, people often voice concerns that they think we will be doing muscle-ups and front levers 8 hours a day for three days in a row. Don’t be intimidated by the range of material the workshop offers, but do be prepared to attend at your best.

Also, I hope that you will bring us questions and moves you’ve been struggling with—we can help you work on them, and at the same time, the other attendees benefit from seeing how a given issue can be resolved. This is incredibly helpful for everyone’s own practice as well as that of their clients. I try to bring up stories of how either my clients or I overcame an issue so that others can try the approach too. So bring your strengths, but bring your “weaknesses” too.

By preparing for the Century, you will be drilling yourself well for the basics, which is often the most important aspect of being a professional trainer. While we would all love to be constantly coaching others on extremely advanced exercises, the reality is most of our clients will be everyday people who will need to start out at the very beginning. While many of us have long since progressed from the initial steps in Convict Conditioning (the basis of the PCC) and are slowly approaching the master steps, we need to remember how to really drill down and help someone who is just starting out. Often, beginners bring restricted movement patterns that can prove perplexing to an instructor who isn’t fully prepared.

It’s easy for us to be tempted to skip over that “easy stuff”, but I always remember an attendee at one of the very first PCC Workshops who was incredibly fit and able to do rep after perfect rep of “regulation” push-ups. But, when working through the progressions he was unable at first to correctly demonstrate a push-up from the knees. Fortunately with some attention to detail, and activation of the abdominals and glutes, he was not only able to demonstrate a knee push-up that would truly help a beginner, but he was able to progress further with his own push-ups because of this extra knowledge and experience. Similarly, when I get stuck on a given progression I go back and make sure I’m not taking my own strength for granted, simply because I’m able to “muscle through” a particular move.

The great thing about the PCC is that ALL levels of the progressions are useful—no matter your client’s fitness level. So, getting proficient with the Century Test is a crucial task, as is working up to a volume level that will allow you to fully participate in the workshop.

Jen Kalmes Pull-Up

PCC and RKC Instructor Jen Kalmes confidently completes a pull-up rep at a PCC Workshop in Minneapolis, MN

While we’ve seen a trend towards more men attending than women, everyone who has come to the PCC has been able to fully participate and learn from the experience. Women often ask me if I think they should “even bother” signing up, because somewhere along the line a rumor must have gotten started that we’re going to be doing backflip muscle-up spinaround jump squats (don’t ask me how to do that, I just made it up for emphasis) for three days in a row. But, the women who have shown up to past PCCs have not only thrived at the workshop but always seem to surprise themselves. Similarly, women with training backgrounds not as grounded in raw bodyweight strength often discover a whole new world of training to explore. As I’ve said many times before, if you understand the principles, you can really coach anyone—even people who have different strengths than your own.

The real treasures of the PCC are not just being able to perform or work towards performing cool moves and exercises, it’s being able to break down the movements for any situation. If there’s a common thread I’ve noticed among past attendees of the PCC workshops it’s a willingness to try new things, an innate form of leadership, and an intense desire to help others.

The PCC is an instructor course, and while many people do attend for their own knowledge (which we think is fantastic, by the way) we do find out that after a while those same people can’t help but share the information with others.

The world needs this accessible do-it-anywhere route to fitness, as well as instructors of all shapes, sizes and abilities to lead the way. I hope to see you bring your “A Game” to an upcoming workshop!

***

About Adrienne Harvey, Senior PCC Instructor, RKC-II, CK-FMS, Primal Move Nat’l Instructor: Originally RKC Certified in 2010, and RKC Level 2 certified in 2011, kettlebell and bodyweight training have been crucial in Adrienne’s personal quest for fitness. A core member of the PCC team, Adrienne loves sharing her knowledge with small groups and individuals. She also loves to develop recipes and workout programs to further support performance, body composition, and of course—FUN. Go to http://www.giryagirl.com for more information about Adrienne!

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Suit Yourself

by Danny Kavadlo on September 23, 2014

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Danny Kavadlo Dressed up in a Suit

This was not a post I planned on writing, but it had to be written. You see, when the above photo was innocently shared on social media last week, it sparked a conversation that, quite surprisingly, I had never seen publicly addressed. The subject was something I’ve personally spoken about many times, but had no idea how many others were on the same page. Again, my Calisthenics Brothers and Sisters, it’s proven time after time just how much we have in common in this path of fitness and life.

The comment that initiated the conversation was made by Karen Lee, the wife of Jason Lee, PCC Instructor. This is what she said:

Karen Lee Social Media Screenshot

Good call, Karen! Here it is.

A few months ago I wrote an article for Bodybuilding.com in which I described what has become known as the Calisthenics Body: a male physique that is strong and broad in the shoulders, wide in the lats and shredded in the abdomen. I detailed how, despite the high amount of lean muscle mass of this streamlined human machine, he remains narrow in the waist, though muscular in the legs. Simply put, calisthenics staples such as bar work, push-ups, pistol squats and levers, along with a clean diet, result in a very distinct body type. (For more read the entire article here.)

Most commercial clothing sold in America is not tailored to fit the Calisthenics Body. Rather, it’s mass-produced for the “Wal-Mart Male”. Whereas the PCC male hits the pull-up bar a few times a week, many Americans hit the bar at TGIFriday’s for an oversized drink and nachos platter instead. For the record, any food consumed that we do not metabolize for fuel will be stored as body fat, not only harming your pull-up game, but increasing your waistline. Besides poor eating habits, many people choose to be sedentary whenever possible. Unlike the Progressive Calisthenics enthusiast, the average American drives when he can walk, sits when he can stand and makes excuses when he can train. This lack of activity actually lowers the metabolism, which further increases body fat (not to mention estrogen) in the Wal-Mart Male. It’s a downward spiral from there. Hence the “ginormous waist” to which Mrs. Lee refers, which comes standard-issue on most pants.

Danny Kavadlo -- Calisthenics Abs. Can you pinch an inch?

Calisthenics Abs. Can you pinch an inch?

Since the target demographic of major clothing manufacturers doesn’t exercise, the pants-with-the-oversized-waist are often complemented by wide-bellied jackets with pint-sized shoulders. This is why you have to buy a jacket two sizes too big and get the mid-section drastically taken in if you do push-ups, pull-ups and dips with any regularity at all. Sad but true.

It is not only the suits affected by this madness. Jeans, drawers, shirts and shorts are all manufactured with the ample-bodied desk jockey in mind. Even athletic apparel is tailor made to fit the physique of the overweight! That’s right. It’s hard to get a pair of workout pants with a leg-to-waist ratio that resembles that of anyone who actually works out! Ironic, don’tcha think?

The fact that most clothing companies cater to the average, overweight consumer really shouldn’t come as shock to anyone. After all, that’s the target of almost every commercial product there is, from cars to televisions, mobile devices to appliances, and obviously food products and supplements. The industry changed to “suit” the needs of the typical consumer. Again, not surprising.

It’s hard to find clothes that fit. No wonder Al and I seldom wear shirts!

It’s hard to find clothes that fit. No wonder Al and I seldom wear shirts!

But what I do find surprising is that sizes themselves have changed. By this, I am not referring to the fact that “Medium” or “Large” are bigger than they were years ago (as is the case with both clothes and food portions). What I am speaking about is that a lot of clothing labeled “32-inch” waist actually has a waist that’s bigger than 32 inches. Be it slacks, jeans or boxers, the printed measurement is not always the actual measurement! How can this be, you ask? It’s easy. We are being lied to. In order to keep the Wal-Mart Male happy, his corporate masters will tell him anything… even that a 35” waist is a 32”.

Danny Kavadlo With Pants

So what can we do? Well for starters, if you find a particular brand that fits your physique, then stick with it. Every company measures things a little differently. See which, if any, work for you. Apart from that, always make it a point to try things on. Allow extra time. Even different clothing made by the same manufacturer will have disparities in sizing. You never know how anything will realistically lay out until you experience it firsthand. That statement holds true for clothing and just about everything else life. Good luck and let me know how it works out.

Oh yeah, one more thing… make friends with a tailor!

Keep the dream alive,
-DK

***

Danny Kavadlo is one of the world’s most established and respected personal trainers. He is a Master Instructor of Progressive Calisthenics and the author of Everybody Needs Training: Proven Success Secrets for the Professional Fitness Trainer. A true in-person experience, Danny is known globally as a motivator and leader in the body-weight community. Learn more about Danny at: www.DannyTheTrainer.com.

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Bodyweight Conditioning: The Basics

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In Progressive Calisthenics, we tend to emphasize strength. Many of the most visually impressive calisthenics moves require little more than a high strength-to-mass ratio. Though I often point out that true bodyweight mastery encompasses flexibility and balance as well, if you actually want to perform well in sports (or any prolonged physical activity) there’s another […]

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Do you remember the feeling of your first pull-up, first push-up, or even your first plank? Those accomplishments are unforgettable milestones in your fitness journey, but it can be easy to take them for granted once you’ve moved on to new challenges. Did you ever help someone else accomplish a new feat of strength? Becoming […]

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People are always asking me if I know Coach Wade. “Is it true?” they ask. “Can he really do one-arm handstand push-ups? What does he look like? Is there a Progressive Calisthenics Certification coming to my city?” “Yes there is!” I tell them. Tell everyone you know! The first rule of PCC is you DO […]

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Push-ups. You move in one plane of motion, up and down. Squats. The same thing. Pull-ups too. Everyone here will agree that bodyweight exercises are great, but it’s important to realize that there are many, many different ways of doing them. If all you ever do are one dimensional exercises, even if you build a […]

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Growing up, I was a scrawny, geeky kid who spent my free time reading comic books, fantasizing about having mutant powers and dreaming of looking shredded like my heroes in the stories. The first time I ever saw an elbow lever, the kid in me got excited. I’d always wanted to be a superhero, and […]

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