Chris Lopez: Hey, everybody. It’s Chris Lopez. Certified Turbulence trainer from kettlebellworkouts.com. This is your monthly kettlebell workouts – tiki kettlebell workouts VIP interview of the month. Today I have a new guest. Somebody that we haven’t heard from and somebody that can really impart a lot of knowledge and insight on kettlebell training. He has been doing it for a while. He has his own studio out in Sacramento, California. This is fellow RKC Forest Vance. Forest, how are you, sir?
Forest Vance: I’m doing great, Chris. I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on the call.
Chris Lopez: My pleasure. Welcome to the call. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about you because we haven’t heard from you before. Let us know a little bit about how you got into kettlebells and a little bit about your training philosophy and maybe just your little elevator speech there and let us know who you are.
Forest Vance: Sure. Sure. Absolutely. Like you said, I am based out of Sacramento, in California. You know, I have been involved in sports and into working out for about I think the last 15 years. I was actually just thinking about this. I did my senior project in high school and I designed like a little training program. Took myself through a six week workout. That was like 15 years ago. I am 31 now. But anyways, like I said it evolved in sports. I actually played football at the college level and I actually played a couple of years. As they say a cup of coffee in the NFL, I played a couple of years in the NFL. After I moved on from that had a couple of meanderings that didn’t really work out, but after that it ended up being I was always really into the workout side, the exercise side. So I ended up getting into personal training and that was about eight years ago. That was about four and a half years ago I was actually training at a big box type of gym at that point. There was a guy that was into kettlebells. He wasn’t like a real expert or super knowledgeable. He was doing these workouts and I started training with him a little bit. I loved it. I was hooked like instantly.
I got into training with him. I took some instruction from a kettlebell trainer that was in my area and ended up getting RKC certified level one about – I think it was six or nine months later. Then I got my level two RKC last year. Now for the last four years I have had my training business out here. I have a training studio, we focus predominantly on kettlebells. We do other stuff too. I also have a blog and websites and YouTube videos. All kinds of stuff on kettlebell training.
Chris Lopez: So you pretty much got into the industry like all of us; played a little bit of sports. I didn’t know you played in the NFL. I mean we were exchanging emails you said you were a pretty big guy around 200 pounds maybe a little bit over. Yea, I had no idea you had a pro football career. That’s pretty awesome. Who did you play for?
Forest Vance: I played for the in Greenbay and in Kansas City. I actually played offensive line. So I played – I was actually 310 when I was playing. I’m about 6’4 and a half. I mean you know to play offensive line you have to be – I was actually undersized for playing pro football. Now I’m about 245 250 somewhere in that range. I’m down about 60 pounds. I’m still pretty big, but I have a naturally really big frame. That was one of the things that really got me into training too. As soon as I – I knew my career was over I lost that 60 pounds in a course of about just over six months actually – it was really rapid. That kind of sparked my whole career getting into personal training in the first place too.
Chris Lopez: There you go. Okay, so let’s dive right into some kettlebell stuff. I know you got an e-book out right now that talks about the swing, the hard style swing and using some cues and really getting people to understand how to do the swing. Most people do it wrong.
Why don’t you talk about some of the most common mistakes people make when they try to swing a kettlebell for the first time or even trainers, for that matter. I see a lot of trainers out there doing it wrong and then talk a little bit about some of the corrections you would make on the spot and are there any verbal or mental cues you would give some of the listeners so they can kind of clean their technique up?
Forest Vance: Absolutely. How about I give you three things? I will give you the top three mistakes that I see from virtually 98% of people. Especially people that are self-taught and haven’t been with an RKC or really quality kettlebell trainer. I would say, I will give you the top three.
Number one is that a lot of people think a swing is like a squat and a front raise because that is kind of what it looks like; it looks like you are doing a squat and then raising way up to shoulder level.
The thing that you have to remember it is a hip hinge, a dead lift and then it is a hip snap and the weight is coming up and floating up at the top.
That is a huge thing that we spend lots of time with getting that hip hinge down and teaching people how to do that. A really good progression we are in a college area – it would be ideal if we could use some kind of visualization. The biggest thing with that there is a face the wall drill where you are actually doing like a sumo dead lift and you are facing the wall. That gets you into a great hip hinge position where you can literally learn how to stay square, keep everything straight up and down, keep your knees from coming forward over your toes. I mean you can also do the hinge facing away from the wall so you are like hinging and driving your butt back and hinging your hips back and working on keeping your back totally flat loading up the back of your body. I would say that would be number one.
A number two big mistake is a lot of people will swing the bell too close to the ground. So in other words they are not hike passing the weight, using a football analogy – high passing the weight so it is close to their body and they are keeping the center of gravity close into their frame. They are swinging it close to the ground, which from what I had seen with probably hundreds of kettlebell clients that I train now is that is like the biggest reason why people get lower back pain. Such a common thing people get pain in their lower back from doing kettlebell swings. I’m not sure if this is supposed to hurt. Is it a lower back exercise, what is going on. No. kettlebell swings have a little bit of a lower back involvement. You definitely shouldn’t have pain in your lower back. If you are then you are doing it wrong. And I also use that analogy of if you are picking up something heavy off the ground everybody always knows that if you are picking up a heavy object you pick it up and bring it close to your body and you don’t lift it up so it is way out away from you. Same thing with the swing. Bio mechanically the best thing to do is keep it as close to your frame as possible.
And then I would say the third thing would be is a lot of people come up and when they lock out at the top they over extend and lean back like you know, they will get over extended and they will end up overarching their back and laying back. The correction we use for that one is to have people practice and do 20 holds like they are doing a standing plank. We come around and do that body hardening drill. We will have them hold a plank. We will have them get a partner and hit them in the legs, hit them in the stomach, hit them in the upper body, get them really tight and have them transfer that feeling up to that standing position. Those are three really common mistakes and quick fixes that people can use.
Chris Lopez: Great information there. Maybe we will use that as a big of a segue just because you were talking about the plank. Now there is the plank that regular gym trainers do and then there is the certain plank that RKC guys have been taught. Can you – can you talk a little bit about the RKC style plank and how it differs from the regular style plank?
Forest Vance: As you know, the whole – a lot of the concept behind hard style is maximal compression and tension. When you are doing those planks you are practicing that developing tension, getting tight throughout your whole entire body. As an example, like I said that body hardening drill is a very good way to practice that. You get into your plank position but then you are looking right between your hands, your lower back is neutral and then you are driving your heels back toward the wall. Then you have a partner come up and actually hit you. They hit you in the legs. They hit you in the butt. They hit you in the gluts. They hit you in the abs. Hit you in the ___[00:10:09] and you are getting everything super, duper tight. That is helping you develop your maximal tension which is a big part of hard sale. And that transfers over to all of those other things that we are doing. Yea, we can get more into the relationship between tension and relaxation with other drills and stuff too. That is a basic starting point.
Chris Lopez: Great explanation there. In hard style, we have six core lifts. The Getup, Military press, the Squat and those are the grinds. Then we have our ballistics so the Clean, the Snatch and of course, the Swing which is the foundational movement. Outside of those six hard style drills, what other exercises do you feel are essential for anyone to learn when they are training with kettlebells?
Forest Vance: Okay. I am going to give you four here. The first two they are not pure kettlebell exercises, but I think they are really important. So I am going to put them in here anyway.
Chris Lopez: It’s your show, man. You can do whatever you want.
Forest Vance: Okay, cool. The first one I’m going to say is the pull-up. Like I said you can obviously do a pull-up without a kettlebell. If you have – if you are training with kettlebells as you progress a great way to add a load to the pull-up is to put a kettlebell on your foot. You can use a belt and chain on your waist or whatever. And the reason being is that with the six core kettlebell movements certainly they hit all the major muscle movements. They go through your major movement patterns. However, you don’t really have a pure pulling movement. I think that is really critical. I think the pull-up is probably the best one. Yea, it’s probably the best pulling. Overall, total pulling movement you can do. I am going to put the pull-up in there.
The next one I really like is the Pistol using bodyweight or a kettlebell is a great way to add balance or add additional distance to that one. And then it would say the reason for that is there is different progressions. Certainly we have a whole progression we can work with people who have been doing the physical squat. It is such a good movement because the hip and the core mobility and stability that are required – the relationship between those. If someone can do a pistol squat they have all of that stuff functioning really well.
I would say those are my two non-pure ones. Then my other two that are really, truly kettlebell exercises; the windmill I think is a great exercise for strength and mobility, shoulder integrity & spine mobility. It is a little bit – it is tricky to master. I know, personally, that was one of the movements you have to master for RKC II. And when I did the RKC I you know, I messed around with windmills a little bit, but didn’t have anybody that was really good show me how to do it. When I learned it finally I was like this is a fantastic exercise for opening up the hips. I have tight hips. Like I said the thoracic spine mobility so many people getting sedentary and working sedentary jobs everybody has gotten tight in that area of the body.
And the last one I would give you would be the long-cycle cling and jerk because it is like probably the toughest exercise that exists. Like total body exercise. Thirty of those for time with like double kettlebells it is like an incredible total body annihilation. Those are my four, pull-up, pistol, windmill, long-cycle cling and jerk.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of tomorrow’s interview with Forest Vance.