How to Pass the CF-L3 Exam

By Steven Wingo, CF-L3

In CrossFit, Coaching

August 07, 2016

PDF Article

Steve Wingo explains how to create a study plan that will help you earn the Certified CrossFit Trainer credential.

My experience is important because of who I am not.

I’m not a CrossFit Seminar Staff member or longtime coach from one of the original CrossFit affiliates. Other than the CrossFit courses I’ve taken, I have not been mentored on a daily basis at any of the well-known boxes teeming with master coaches. I don’t have a degree in exercise physiology or kinesiology, and didn’t play collegiate sports. I’m not one of the household names you see all the time in CrossFit instructional videos.

Instead, I’m a 47-year-old attorney with a full-time law practice, a wife, two college-age daughters, and a host of other time-consuming and stressful responsibilities wholly unrelated to CrossFit.

And I’m a Certified CrossFit Trainer, CF-L3.

My CrossFit journey began in earnest in late August 2012, when a box opened close to my home. I was a beat-up, ailing weekend-warrior endurance athlete who showed up with virtually no knowledge of gymnastics or weightlifting. I weighed 132 lb. and could run a mean 5K, and I could ride mountain and road bikes uphill pretty damn well for a middle-aged guy. But from an overall fitness perspective I was in terrible shape.

Like many of you, I quickly fell in love with CrossFit, attending more frequently and starting to really see results. My wife then joined me because she liked the changes she saw in me both physically and mentally. Less than a year after starting, we were on the edge of our seats listening to Chuck Carswell introduce himself as flowmaster at a Level 1 Certificate Course.

In July 2014 I watched a video in which Nicole Carroll, CrossFit Director of Certification and Training, described the new Certified CrossFit Trainer (CF-L3, CCFT) and Certified CrossFit Coach (CF-L4, CCFC) credentials.

There was no hesitation or doubt regarding whether I would pursue the CCFT/CF-L3. I reviewed the requirements that morning and set my plan.

Check the CrossFit Trainer Directory and you will learn few hold the CCFT credential. That is a shame and a problem I want to help remedy. On social media and message boards, I’ve heard some discouraging talk that the test is too hard, isn’t fair, isn’t worth it, is just another way for CrossFit to make money, and so on. None of that is true. CrossFit has provided everything you need to turn yourself into an outstanding coach and earn the CCFT designation here. You are going to have to bust your ass, but it is worth it.

If you have a passion for coaching or own an affiliate, you should pursue the CCFT credential. It is the counterpart to board certification in any other profession. It signifies you have moved beyond the basic requirements to engage in a profession and taken the responsibility to develop a higher level of proficiency.

To help you prepare for and pass the CF-L3 exam, I’ll describe how I prepared for it and hopefully offer some guidance. Here is your blueprint.

Free Download


7 Comments on “How to Pass the CF-L3 Exam”


EC S wrote …

Steve! Great insight. Congratulations on your CCFT; well deserved!


wrote …

Thank you for taking the abundant amount of time thinking to author your valuable article, to share your experience. I am going to follow your blueprint.


Matthew Newmann wrote …

Thank you for the insightful article. I plan on taking the CF-L3. I have completed the progression the way it has been designed. Currently studying my butt off... See you soon L3.


wrote …

Thank you so much for this article! I have taken and failed the Level 3 and have really struggled with finding the courage to start over again and retest.

I also believe that all coaches and box owners should strive for achieving their L3. I am reaching out today to start the process again and I will utilize your tips in the process.


wrote …

What an excellent article Steve, thank you for providing a road map for those who wish to follow your stalwart example.


wrote …

Fantastic article!
I'm taking the CCFT test in two weeks so this couldn't have come at a better time! Congrats on passing the test and thank you for the wise words and brilliant insight!


Chris Sinagoga wrote …

Damn dude. This was a great article. I'll be honest, I have always felt like one of those people who "doesn't need" to get those credentials. I have been doing CrossFit since 2006 and been a gym owner since 2012. There are a ton of costs that always come up and make me second-guess doing certifications. I know it's not the best mentality to have. But I have to say your article is very convincing. I like the idea of it making you raise your game and see the credential as an afterthought.

This will be constantly nagging me in the back of my mind! I think I might try to make it happen in the next 3-4 years.

Leave a comment

Comments (You may use HTML tags for style)