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How to Master the Beast Challenge, Interview with Daniel Kirchmaier, Beast Tamer, RKC-II

Daniel Kirchmaier, RKC-II Beast Tamer Challenge Pull-up with 48kg kettlebell

Dragon Door: How did you get interested in kettlebell training?

Daniel Kirchmaier: I was going to do the Tough Mudder with RKC-II Thiemo Nass, and some other people. He called and asked if I was still into kettlebells. At the time, I had been training with them but was not using good form and hadn’t had the right training—it was a little bit horrible. So, Thiemo invited me to go to the Enter The Kettlebell seminar lead by Sebastian Müller, Steven Graves, and himself. I became very interested in kettlebells after the seminar. Later that evening when all of us went out to eat after the seminar I met my now-wife! And today I taught an Enter The Kettlebell seminar at Kettlebell Bodensee.

Dragon Door: What inspired you to train for and attempt the Beast Tamer Challenge?

Daniel Kirchmaier: It was for a few different reasons—one reason is that I always need a goal. Training without a goal is often pointless—you can end up training everything without accomplishing much. The Beast Tamer Challenge was a difficult goal and very different from my usual training, which made it attractive. I want to achieve difficult goals. The Beast Tamer Challenge can’t be accomplished in a week or two weeks. You really have to get into it, your technique has to be excellent, and you must find time to train. It can’t be accomplished by training for an hour every day—you have to dive deep into it. I really thrive on these types of challenges!

The pistol was somewhat of a problem for me because of a leg injury ten years ago. I had compartment syndrome which means there was a lot of pressure in the lower leg near the shin. They had to almost completely cut out a muscle—I’m not sure exactly how much, but the doctor’s paperwork says "complete removal". So, the balance required to do the pistol is a little bit difficult for me. I have to train it, or I lose it completely, and that made the Beast Tamer a lot more interesting! There are so many reasons why I decided to do the Beast Tamer.

Dragon Door: Was the pistol the most challenging move of the Beast Tamer Challenge because of your past injury?

Daniel Kirchmaier: No, actually not. The pistol was just more difficult because of the balance required, strength wasn't the problem. At the time I was able to do a 170kg back squat and a 200kg deadlift, so the strength for the pistol was already there. The press was the most difficult part for me—and you’ll see it in the video. I was stuck at pressing a 40kg kettlebell for nearly nine months before I was able to press the Beast. At the time of the challenge, I weighed 78kg so a 48kg press was really heavy for me. I managed to crush it, but it was the hardest part of the challenge and required the most time and training.

Dragon Door: Do you have any training tips or advice for people who may be interested in trying the Beast Tamer Challenge or Iron Maiden Challenge?

Daniel Kirchmaier: Yes, work with a trainer who has already achieved the challenge. They will know the struggles and how to overcome them. Someone who has already accomplished the challenge can give you the best advice. And, in my opinion, the key to each part of the challenge is mastering the set-up. If your setup is not good, or you are rushed, then you won’t be able to do a proper max press, pistol, or weighted pullup. Most of the time if I do a lift that’s at or near my maximum weight for 1-3 reps, I’ll need more time for the setup than for the move itself.
Daniel Kirchmaier Beast Tamer Challenge Kettlebell Clean

Dragon Door: How are you defining "the setup" in this context, or what does it mean to you?

Daniel Kirchmaier: I think of it as the whole process of mentally preparing myself in my head about what I am going to do while bringing my body into the right position to start. I’ll begin with positioning my feet, hips, and how to tense up my body. But even before that, I prepare my mind to do it all first. If I need to talk to people maybe 2-3 minutes before the move about how their day is going or what we will eat next, then I can’t properly prepare for the set-up. I have to be there with my mind and body for the set-up.

Dragon Door: Now that you have accomplished the Beast Tamer Challenge, have you chosen your next goal?

Daniel Kirchmaier: I am still defining my next goal, but I really want to crush the Beast Tamer Challenge on both sides. I still can’t press the Beast with my left arm—I’m close since I can press a 44kg kettlebell, but it is my weak side and the 48kg is still a little bit more difficult. So, that is an immediately goal.

I have also changed my training to barbell for a few weeks. Normally, I train with kettlebells, barbell, and calisthenics moves. In the preparation for the Beast Tamer I only trained with kettlebells and calisthenics (pull-ups specifically). Now I want to relax a little bit and train with the barbell to set new direction with different moves like barbell presses—I want to refine the technique because I think my press will be stronger if my technique is just a little bit better.

Dragon Door: What else do we need to know about you as a Beast Tamer and kettlebell instructor?

Daniel Kirchmaier: I really like kettlebells, you can train anywhere. At the end of September, my wife and I go on holiday. We’ll be driving, so there will be two or three kettlebells in the car along with us. That’s something really cool about kettlebells—you can do so much with so little. You don't need a lot of equipment. Kettlebells changed and improved so much of my training—and now, years later, I am still a passionate kettlebell athlete. I think if you combine kettlebells, barbell training, and calisthenics you can really get the most out of the least. You don't need machines. I am so glad I met Thiemo, and that he invited me to the Enter the Kettlebell seminar. Kettlebells changed so much for me.

Daniel and Anna at RKC Summer Camp 2019Dragon Door: How long have you been training this way?

Daniel Kirchmaier: Since the end of 2014, so nearly five years. I did my first RKC in 2016, and the RKC-II this year.

Dragon Door: Congratulations on that!

Daniel Kirchmaier: A fun fact: I wanted to beat the Beast Tamer Challenge this year in September while assisting at the RKC-I. But, the reason I did it early is because of the Iron Maiden, Anna. She couldn’t assist at the RKC in September because of other plans but had already bought a pull-up bar especially for the challenge. So, we both decided to do the challenge at the RKC Summer Camp this year instead.

Dragon Door: We'll be following up with Anna’s story soon too! It sounds like you will have fun assisting in September, especially having already completed the challenge.

Daniel Kirchmaier: Yes, it will be more relaxed because I won’t have to do the challenge on top of helping at the RKC certification. I can now arrive more relaxed and focused on helping people at the RKC.

Dragon Door: With the mental setup strategies you mentioned earlier, it seems like it might be more difficult to properly go through your set-up if you were also assisting.

Daniel Kirchmaier: Yes, I might not have the ten minutes or so for my mental and physical warmup routine. I do it the same way every time, and it helps me prepare to complete those max lifts.

If you watch the video, you'll see the time I take to prepare for the press: I grip the bell and focus on my right arm. I have been going into the lift with the same exact moves for the last few months. The same also applies for the pullup. I prepared and put the kettlebell on the same exact same way for the past several months. This lets me realize that it’s an important time and that I need to focus. Thiemo helped me prepare for the Beast Tamer Challenge, and he is still my trainer. He helps me now whenever I get stuck. It is also cool to know that he was the first Beast Tamer in Germany!

DanielKirchmaierBeastTamerChallengePullup thumbnailDaniel Kirchmaier, RKC-II trains groups and individuals at different locations near Lake Constance (mostly in Friedrichshafen). He can be contacted at: or Follow him on Facebook Instagram and YouTube