Story of the Hardest Leg Workout Ever

Hardest Kettlebell Leg Workout

This is the story of the hardest leg workout ever.  Please – DON”T try the sample workout I’ve provided unless you are 1) masochistic 2) like vomiting or 3) for some crazy reason just like really hard workouts.


– Forest

It was the winter of 2003. I had just finished my senior year of college football and was getting ready for the draft in the spring.  I had two college all-star games coming soon, prospects of the NFL combine, and pro scouts scheduled to visit my college campus in a couple of short months …

At this point in the game, a players stock can rise or fall a huge amount.  Shaving a tenth or two off your 40 time, adding an inch or two to your vertical jump, adding a few reps to your 225 bench press rep test can mean moving up several spots – or in some rare cases, even rounds – in the draft.  Which can amount to, well, a lot of dough 🙂

I was training with a couple of other players my agent represented at a facility in the San Francisco bay area … and it was unique experience to say the least.  We’d get up in the morning, eat breakfast, and go train for a couple of hours.  Then, mid-day, we’d get rest up, eat lunch, take a nap, get a massage, whatever … and then hit it again for about two more hours in the afternoon.  Then we’d head back to the hotel, sleep for 9 or 10 hours, and repeat – six days a week.  For six weeks straight.

I made, hands-down, the most amazing gains of my life during this time period.  My vertical jump went up from 33 to 36 inches – and I weighed 308 at the time!  I also hit 32 reps of 225 in a row on the bench press and got my 40 time below 4.9 …

The point of the story that you can apply to your own training is this, though – the way I was able to accomplish so much in such a short time period was due to three big factors:

1) total focus – I lived, ate and breathed training.  May or may not be possible for you and your current life situation.

2) lots of recovery time – also, may or may not be possible for you and your current life situation.

3)incredibly hard training – without a doubt possible for you and your current life situation.  And that’s what I hope you take away from this post …

My Hardest Leg Workout Ever

My trainer knew I had strong legs and was a big back squatter.  But he also knew I typically lifted heavy … and that strength endurance wasn’t my strong point (at the time).

So, one day when he was feeling especially mean and I didn’t have any events/tests/etc. on the schedule for a couple of weeks, he put me through his 10×10 back squat workout.  It went something like this:

  • Pick a weight you can back squat 15 times MAX.
  • Do 10 sets of 10 with it, resting exactly 60 seconds between sets.
  • Also, make sure to use a 3-0-3 tempo during the sets – that is, take 3 seconds to lower the weight and 3 seconds to lift it.  So 10 reps should take you a full 60 seconds to complete.
  • Collapse, vomit, lose consciousness, etc.

Sounds so simple … but oh is it so hard 🙂  I had the deepest soreness I’ve ever experienced in my legs after this workout.  I literally had to hold the hand rail to go to the bathroom for two or three days afterwards.  I did it with a training partner – and he threw up not once, not twice, but three times – during the workout!

And that’s the story of my hardest leg workout ever. If you want to try something like it, this is a kettlebell squat workout I put together to smoke the living hell out of your legs … but, be warned.  It is very hard 🙂

10×10 Double KB Front Squat Workout

  • Pick two kettlebells you can front squat 15 times MAX.
  • Do 10 sets of 10 with them, resting exactly 60 seconds between sets.
  • Also, make sure to use a 3-0-3 tempo during the sets – that is, take 3 seconds to lower the weight and 3 seconds to lift it.  So 10 reps should take you a full 60 seconds to complete.
  • Collapse, vomit, lose consciousness, etc.

In summary, I hope you learned something from this post about the importance of training hard to reach your goals.  You don’t have to throw up to make gains – but you do need to push yourself.  Do this on a consistent basis, and you’re well on your way to reaching your ultimate kettlebell fitness goals!

‘Till next time –


PS – If you’re looking for LOTS more complete kettlebell workouts like this one, click this link:  The Kettlebell Basics Weekly Workouts Program

MORE Kettlebell Exercises For Abs

This is (at least) the third post I’ve done on kettlebell exercises for abs … but given that almost everyone wants to lose belly fat … and given that if you’re reading this blog, you’re a fan of kettlebells … it’s one of those topics most of us probably can’t get enough of 🙂

Enjoy this video from fellow RKC Chris Lopez – in it, he covers five kettlebell exercises you should be doing for your abs, but probably aren’t.  In addition to showing us some cool and unique kettlebell moves, Chris does a great job of covering the critical coaching points of each exercise in detail.

Thanks –


Video Recap (exercise descriptions)

Reverse Ab Curl

You will need a relatively light kettlebell depending on how strong your abs are. You will be using a medicine ball or a light ball, like a basketball.  Be sure it is tucked in-between your heels and butt, this occupies your hamstrings and forces your hip flexors to relax and allow your lower abs and obliques to work on getting your knees up to your elbows.  Use the kettlebell above your head for leverage, the lighter you go, the harder it will be for your abs to work.  Be sure to keep your back flat and curl up and repeat.  Make sure the kettlebell on top of you isn’t lifting off of the ground, if it is use a heavier weight.

Push-Away Squat

Start the exercise by holding a light kettlebell in a gauntlet position.  Think about front squatting, but at the same time, drive the bell away and keep your back as straight as you possibly can.  This works your shoulders and abs.  Your body will want to somewhat collapse and your abs will start to fire and brace, try to keep your spine straight.

Renegade Row

If you don’t have two kettlebells, you can use a platform or a couple of thick books. In addition to your back, it works your obliques.  Prevent any rotation in your hips, squeeze your glutes, and brace your abs to resist any rotation going on in your torso as you are moving the weight up.  The wider your feet are in the exercise, the easier it will be.  Place one hand on the platform, the other on the kettlebell and row.

Opposite Hip Touch

Same as the renegade row, make sure you aren’t twisting during the movement. Brace your abs, place your shoulders over the top of your elbows and your elbows above your wrists, squeeze your glutes, and rotate your hand to the opposite side and return.  Repeat the motion with the other side.

Spider Man Climb

Get yourself into a push up position with your toes together, take one leg and drive it all the way forward as far as you can, with this leg forward, keep your hips low and squeeze your glute, then bring your leg back under control without moving your torso or hips.

PS – Chris Lopez, RKC has a lot of knowledge on using kettlebells for fat loss – click here to learn more about his unique workout methods: Kettlebell Revolution

What Size Kettlebell to Use (part 2)

A little over a year ago, I did a post on what size kettlebell to use (you can see that post if you missed it by clicking here) … it was a basically a recap of a great video I found on YouTube from Anthony DiLugo from

I’ve still been getting at least weekly emails/comments/etc. regarding this topic as of late – so I thought I’d sh0ot a quick video with my personal take on the subject – hope it helps you in choosing what size kettlebell to get started with:

Video Recap

Hey guys – Forest Vance here from – today I am going to cover with you what size kettlebell to use.

This is a question I get all of the time via email and comments on the blog.  I just wanted to shoot a quick video and go over some basics that I go over with my clients when they try to pick what size kettlebell to start off with.

Now, I should preface this by saying that it depends.  It depends on what exercises you are going to be doing with your kettlebells, what level you imagine yourself getting to.  As a general recommendation (this is Pavel’s recommendation) the average woman is going to start of with 8 kilo (18 pounds) the average man is going to start of with 35 pounds (16 kilo).  If you are a strong woman you can start off with a 12 kilo, if you are a guy who hasn’t been working out consistently and are just getting back into it, you can also start with a 12 kilo.  If you are a strong guy you could start off with a 20 kilo or even all the way up to a 24 kilo – although I will that say I have seen guys who are in great shape and thought they were very strong and fifteen minutes into a workout they are toasted with a 16 kilo 🙂

That being said, I always recommend everyone starts with two exercises before they move onto anymore advanced kettlebell moves, which are the swing and Turkish get up.  And if that’s the case then you are going to need two kettlebells. To get a good swing and Turkish get up workout, you will be using different weights.  These two weights would still be a good recommendation for your swing to start off with, a lot of women that I train will typically start off with a 12 kilo.  So maybe if you are getting two kettlebells, for guys start off with a 16 and an 8 kilo, and women maybe you start off with a 12 kilo and you could actually go with a smaller kettlebell than this, like a ten pound or twelve pound, something like that for your Turkish get ups.

So that gives you a basic start on what size kettlebell to start off with, I hope that was helpful for you, see you at!

Thanks for reading and talk soon –

Forest Vance, RKC II

PS – Dragon Door KB’s (in the video above) are my ‘bells of choice – to learn more, click here:

=> Dragon Door KB’s

Kettlebell/Body Weight Challenge Workout

I have a new kettlebell/body weight challenge workout for you today … but first, I want to make sure you understand how a workout like this would fit into a long-term kettlebell programming scheme:

Do you stick to a structured and periodized kettlebell program – or do you “mix it up” and change your workouts constantly?

Are you endlessly searching out new kettlebell exercises and workouts to try, at the expense of starting and finishing a single, complete, solidly designed routine?

Bad news – you have Kettlebell ADHD.

All the variety sounds cool at first – new fun workouts, lots of different kettlebell exercises to impress your friends, etc. …

And changing your workouts over time is a good thing to keep your body from adapting.

The problem, though, is that with too much KB exercise/workout variety, it’s almost impossible to learn all the moves correctly in any reasonable amount of time – especially if you’re a kettlebell beginner.

The key is to stick with a program just long enough (typically 4-6 weeks) to see results, but not long enough to adapt and stall out your progress.

Now that’s out of the way:) … on to the challenge workout:

A cool, unique, and fun workout thrown in OCCASIONALLY and at the RIGHT TIME in an established and structured workout program is actually GREAT for accelerating results and keeping your workouts interesting.

Here’s a kettlebell/body weight challenge workout for you … just remember that this is intended as a one-off challenge you do maybe once per month or so and NOT a regular program:

  • power jacks
  • push ups
  • reverse lunges
  • knee-to-elbow mountain climbers
  • KB swings

Do 20 reps of each exercise.  Perform the workout circuit-style, moving from one exercise to the next with as little rest as possible.  Do five rounds of the circuit for time.

Good luck and train hard –


PS – For more kettlebell challenge workouts like these – and a complete ’30 day rapid fat loss’ plan built around the same theme – check out this program:

2012 Challenge Workout Special

Kettlebell Lower Back Pain – Causes & Fixes (revisited)

How To Eliminate Kettlebell Lower Back Pain

We had an AWESOME ‘Kettlebells For Fat Loss’ workshop last Saturday at my gym in Sacramento, CA.  I love doing these workshops (I get to talk about one of my favorite things for hours on end!) – and it’s cool to see folks from 50, even 100 miles away come in for a half day of intensive, un-interupted kettlebell instruction.

Now like anything else that’s rapidly growing in popularity, there’s a lot of mis-information out there on kettlebell training/technique/etc.  And with folks at these events more often than not being self-taught, there’s some serious “re-learning” of the basics going on, to say the least 🙂

That being said, I see the same “kettlebell issues” pop up over and over again at these workshops – and with training clients in general – and one of the biggest ones is kettlebell lower back pain.  That is, people complain of their lower backs hurting during and/or after a kettlebell training session.

Plainly put, this is bad.  Because kettlebell exercises folks typically get back pain from doing – like swings, snatches, and cleans – aren’t exercises for your lower back! In fact, if you’re doing these exercises correctly, you shouldn’t feel them in your back at all.

Now while there are a variety of reasons why this can happen, in 90%+ of cases I see there are two main causes: 1) muscle (specifically core) weakness and 2) poor form.  In this article, I’m going to cover each of these KB LBP causes in a little more detail, and show you how to fix them.

Kettlebell lower back pain reason #1: muscle weakness

Lifting a kettlebell in a balistic fashion – as you do in a swing, snatch, or clean – will require your body to brace to stabilize the movement.  It will also place demands on the core muscles of your torso, including your lower back.

If your core muscles are weak, you won’t be able to brace effectively.  And you’ll get lower back pain.


Check out this post for a quick test and my #1 exercise to improve your core strength:

How To Tell If Your Core Muscles Are Weak (plank test)

Kettlebell lower back pain reason #2: poor form

Poor form – specifically during KB movements where you flex forward at the hip – is another cause of kettlebell lower back pain.


In a previous post on this blog, I covered two common kettlebell technique mistakes that cause lower back pain (and fixes to them as well) – click the link below to see that post now:

Lower Back Pain During The Kettlebell Swing – Causes & Fixes

In summary, kettlebell lower back pain can be caused by a variety of factors, but the two main ones are 1) muscle weakness and 2) poor form. The tips in this article will help you address both of these issues – use them to eliminate your lower back pain and accelerate your KB training results!

Train hard –

Forest Vance, RKC II

P.S. For more great tips and tricks like these delivered straight to your email inbox – and a free copy of my Beginner’s Guide to Kettlebell Training – just sign up for my newsletter by dropping your name and email address into the box at the upper right hand corner of the page!