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Preparing For A Krav Maga Test

by: Ehren Hollander


Congratulations on entering the final stages to prepare for your Krav Maga test.  Whether this is your first or your tenth, you’ll find some useful tips below.  These tips were acquired over more than 10 years of Krav Maga experience and testing as both a student and instructor.  In the end, everyone must find their own way, but we hope you find some helpful information below. 

Time in Rank

Before we get started, understand that your final preparations for a Krav Maga test should be just that: FINAL preparations.  Though everyone is different, there are general guidelines that your instructor will prescribe for time spent in each level.  Understand that those prescriptions are made for a variety of reasons, primarily:

  1. Safety: This should be the number one concern of the examiner during the test.  Without the appropriate time drilling individual techniques and transitions, you have the risk to hurt yourself or others.  Without time practicing with various partners, a potential lack of control could put yourself and others in danger. 
  2. Mastery: If there is one thing that you should prove in your test, it’s that you have mastered and own the curriculum.  This does not mean just being able to perform a single technique against a pad, but being able to apply the correct principles and techniques in live scenarios based on range, energy, and targets; You need to be able to prove that you can fight and apply the techniques in your curriculum.
  3. Conditioning: Whether your test is a one hour sprint or an eight-hour marathon, Krav Maga tests are anything but easy.  Most first-time testers describe their first Krav Maga test as the hardest physical challenge they’ve ever completed.  You should be prepared to fight as hard as possible for as long as necessary during your test. 

Your final preparations should include fine-tuning details, ensuring your cardio and muscular endurance are at peak levels, and guaranteeing your transitions are seamless.  If you’re unsure how to perform and/or apply several techniques, it may not be time for you to test.  If this is the case, do not take it personally.

Your Testing Partner

Preparation is absolutely key.  In reality, you started preparing for this test when you took your first class.  However, what you may not have done is started preparing for this test with a specific partner in mind.  Much of your Krav Maga test will be taken with the same partner.  Though you may switch partners or work in groups of multiple people, chances are the majority of your test will be spent with a single individual.

If you haven’t chosen your testing partner yet, do not wait until the day of the test to do so.  Choosing your testing partner as soon as possible will allow you ample time to begin to train and practice together, thus helping avoid any unnecessary stress or potential injury on test day. 

Some pointers on choosing a testing partner:

  • Size Matters: No matter what anyone tells you, size matters in a fight.  Ideally, you are looking for someone who is approximately your size and athletic ability to help ensure the safety of both of you.  What we do is risky, but that does not mean it needs to be unnecessarily dangerous.  During the test, you’ll likely work with nearly everyone at some point.  Throughout the test, seek out the people you’re scared of to truly test yourself and your abilities.
  • Skill Matters: Being able to trust your partner’s skill during the test is paramount, otherwise both of you are in danger of injury.  Selecting your partner weeks before the test allows you time to work together and ensure you understand each other’s nuances of movement.  If someone asks you to partner and you don’t think it’s the best match, it’s not rude to tell that person “no” or that you want to check with your instructor to see who they think may be a good fit for you.  If you need help with selecting a partner, ask your instructor as they may have ideas or have the ability to switch various partners around so it’s even across the board.
  • Personality Matters: No matter how long your test is, you’re going to be spending copious amounts of time under relatively high levels of stress with the same person.  Whether you like to have a “cheerleader” as a partner or someone who can wallow in quiet misery with you, having someone who knows how you like to be treated when you’re tired, a bit beat up, and stressed can make all the difference in a testing experience.

Fitness & Conditioning

The information that follows is just a recommendation based on personally taking over a dozen Krav Maga tests and personally testing hundreds of practitioners.  If you’re going to take any of the advice below, do so in a safe and intelligent manner; as appropriate for your ability.

Your level of conditioning will greatly determine your ability.  If this test is about showing your mastery, then you should understand that mastery is hard to show if you’re winded or cramping up early on.

4-6 Weeks Prior to the Test: Begin increasing your cardiovascular and muscular output.  Focus in interval training (e.g: short sprints mixed with longer, slower periods of output). 

  • In Class: Do more than what’s asked of you.  If your instructor calls for 10 of something (push-ups, sit-ups, punches, etc.) then do 12 or 15 in the same amount of time.  Work with your testing partner to encourage each other. 
  • Outside Class: The easiest and cheapest thing to do is grab a pair of running shoes and hit the road (or treadmill or trails).  Again, focus on intervals of sprints mixed with longer, steady jogs/runs.  Build up your distance runs and decrease your times.  Mix in easy resistance work (push-ups, etc.) into your runs to add another dimension.

Your focus should be on recovery time: the time it takes to return your heart rate and breathing to a normal level after maximum output.  Being able to do this will be one of the most helpful things you can do on your test.

  • Increased active stretching before a workout and static stretching after is crucial to avoid injury.
  • If you can take multiple classes (in a row) at your school, do it!
  • 2-3 Weeks Prior to the Test: At this point, you should be in high gear, physically and mentally.  Your focus for this time period is to mix your new levels of conditioning with technical MASTERY. 
    • Spend these last few weeks going as hard as possible in class, while maintaining technical integrity and safety.
    • Increase your output with your out-of-class fitness regimen. 
    • Focus on increasing push-ups, sit-ups, plank holds and squats as these muscle groups may be called on during your test.
    • Towards the end of this period, you should go lighter on the supplementary workouts to allow your body recovery time, while still maintaining the cardiovascular capability you’ve developed.
    • Continue your increased stretching.
  • Week of the Test: It’s time to cut back on the outside work and let your body get ready for the test.
    • All classes in this time should be focused on technique; staying limber is vital – if you’re a practicing yogi, yoga is a great way to supplement your training; if you’ve never done yoga, now is not the time to start.
    • Do not take classes 2 days before the test.  Get a short, light jog in to keep you moving.
    • Nothing physically strenuous 2 days before the test!


Nutrition will play as big a role in your success as the additional work you’ve added to your regimen.  The recommendations outlined below are personal and should not to be used in place of a medical or health professionals prescribed advice.  However, in following some or all of these recommendations, you’ll most will likely see increased energy and faster recovery in a relatively short time by following these guidelines:

  • Eat Clean:
    • Eat real food: avoid processed food where possible;  
    • Balance your food: Veggies first, protein second, starches third
    • Increase protein and calories: Increased training requires an increased level of protein and calories in general.  Additionally, consuming an additional 20-30 grams of protein within 30 min post workout will help ensure you muscles are able to recover and rebuild.
    • Limit unnecessary and bad fats: Certain fats can be good and help with nutrient absorption, however make sure you avoid trans fats as much as possible.
    • Focus on nutrient-dense foods.                                                                                                                                                                                      
    • Allow yourself to cheat a bit.  Eating well should not be a chore, though it might take a bit of work.  Reward yourself intelligently and intermittently. 
  • Eat When You're HUNGRY.  Avoid overeating by eating slower, using smaller plates, and planning your meal times.  Avoid emotional eating.  Snack with nutritious snacks.  Wait at least 5 minutes before taking a second helping to make sure you’re truly hungry.
  • The Day of the Test: Don’t try anything new.  Don’t eat something you’ve never eaten before and don’t eat anything that you’ve never worked out on before.  Introducing new food to your diet at this point is a huge risk and is just not worth it.  Keep it simple, keep it easy, and keep it clean.  Ideally, you want to eat a few hours before the test so that you have time to digest and be comfortable.  Talk to your instructor about bringing snacks to the test if they anticipate it taking a while.  If you’re taking snacks, again, keep it clean, simple and nutritious: beef jerky, nuts/trail mix, bananas, granola bars, etc.
  • Hydration: Understand that most Americans are constantly in some state of dehydration.  In all reality, if you’re truly hydrated, then you shouldn’t be thirsty.  Getting hydrated is not a day-of or day-before affair; getting hydrated takes several days.  If you’re increasing your workouts based on what was recommended previously, then you should also be increasing your water intake significantly during that time.  Get to the point where you’re drinking enough to where you’re not thirsty throughout the day.
    • For the few days before the test, I generally tell people to continue their hydration activities, but make sure they’re doing so with half water and half sports drink.  The same goes for what to drink during the test.  This will help make sure your hydration is balanced with your electrolytes.


There are 1,000 mental preparation techniques.  From visualizing to meditating, everyone has their favorite.  If there’s something that you subscribe to and has worked for you in the past, then make use of it.  For me, my mental preparation has focused on a few simple principles:

  • This test is about heart and perseverance.  Be stronger than the test. 
  • The test has to end at some point.  Don’t look at the clock, don’t look at a watch.  Just go.  And keep going.  Don’t stop going.  If you get tired...keep going.  If you start questioning why you’re doing this...keep going!
  • This is the time to be proud of all the (extra) work you put in to prepare for this test.  Show it off. 
  • Own it.  Be the strongest version of you that you’ve ever been.
  • HAVE FUN!  You have to be able to smile through this test.  “Enjoy the suck!”  If you’ve prepared for this test, then this should be fun.  Tiring, but fun.  If you haven’t prepared for this properly, it’ll be a bit harder to see the fun in what you’re doing. Remember there is no growth without discomfort.

Ehren Hollander is the owner of Krav Oz, Montgomery County Maryland's top self-defense school.  Ehren has black belts in Krav Maga, Shotokan Karate and Aikido as well as over 20 years of training in various self-defense systems including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, wrestling, Judo and boxing.  Ehren has been honored to teach thousands of civilians, law enforcement officers and military operators over the years and is committed to teaching real self-defense.



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