Sacramento, CA Kettlebell Workshop @ FVT

I’m going to do a recap and “top 10 take-aways” list from last Saturday’s Sacramento Kettlebell Workshop here in just a sec … but first, have a quick look at this footage –

I got “challenged” to do one of my kettlebell combos with my biggest KB – and my wife caught it on film! Check it out:


Okay, enough of that 😉 –

Every time we hold a kettlebell workshop at the studio, it gets a little bit better … and I think Saturday’s event was no exception.

This time around, we had folks come in from over 100 miles away – which was a first! – we made it a two-session, optional full – day (five hour) event, which was also a first – and most importantly, I think it was the most fun I’ve ever had teaching one of these.  So thanks again to all who attended.

There were so many things that I ended up covering, that I wanted to share with those of you at home who couldn’t make it out –

So, I thought I would put together a quick list of the top 10 highlights of the day, based on initial feedback –


1 – Kettlebell footwear tips

One important point I covered was what kind of footwear to use when you’re training with kettlebells.

I covered this topic in depth in a post on this blog some time back; if you missed it, check it out again here:

=> 5 Reasons Why You Should Train Barefoot


2 – What size kettlebell to use

This is something I haven’t covered at previous workshops, but realized that it was an important thing a lot of beginner KB users are struggling with. Check out this video to for some tips:

=> What size kettlebell to use (video)


3 – History of the kettlebell

I added a fun little intro piece about the history of the kettlebell, and folks told me that they enjoyed it. Here is some info for you, from Wikipedia:

=> History of the kettlebell


4 – Simple warm up

A simple kettlebell warm up that you can use any time, to get ready for a great KB workout:

  • KB sumo deadlift – 8 reps
  • KB halo – 8 each way
  • ‘pumps’
  • repeat 2-3 times total

This warm up, by the way, is from Enter the Kettlebell by Pavel:

=> Get Enter the Kettlebell


5 – Box squat/vertical jump/towel swing progression

A couple of drills, that are great to help you learn the fundamentals of the kettlebell swing.

First is the box squat – practicing sitting back on to a box/bench/etc. – and learning how to move through the hips.

Then, you progress to the same movement, but jump out of the bottom – to simulate the explosiveness of a swing.

Finally, the towel swing is done with a towel inside the handle of the KB – this is a separate drill, but it teaches you to use your lower body, in the way that you learned to in the box squat progression – and then you can put everything together and improve your swing technique!

(This one came from Enter the Kettlebell as well.)


6 – Simple three step TGU progression

This is the Turkish Get Up, broken down into its simplest steps.

  • The pick up – roll to the side, pick the KB up off the floor
  • The 1/2 get up – the movement performed up to the hip bridge position
  • The full get up – the movement performed to the full standing position

Here is an article and video breaking down the full Turkish Get Up progression for you:

=> How to do the Turkish Get Up


7 – Pull up progression

I covered some tips to help you do more pull ups – which are an amazing complimentary move to your kettlebell training. You can find some great pull up tips in these two articles:

=> How to do more pull ups fast
=> “Controlled cheating” for more pull ups


8 – KB clean tip(s)

The technique tip on the kettlebell clean that I think helped everyone the most was to use less hip snap than you would in a swing.

See this tip broken down in more detail in this video:

=> Kettlebell clean tips


9 – Power breathing

We did a series of really cool power breathing drills, and a lot of folks ended up setting pressing PR’s.

See these covered in more detail in The Naked Warrior by Pavel:

=> The Naked Warrior by Pavel


10 – Swing => high pull => snatch progression

This progression seemed to help attendees get the feel for the snatch exercise the most.  It is broken down into detail in this post/video series:

=> Learn the KB snatch


All in all, it was an awesome day. I had a ton of fun teaching it, and want to say thanks again to everyone who made it out.

If you missed this workshop, I hope to see you at the next one! And, in the meantime, don’t forget – the next best thing is to grab one of my “flagship” programs, here:

=> The Kettlebell Basics Swing Manual
=> The 10×10 Kettlebell Solution


Thanks again for reading, and talk soon –

Forest Vance, MS, RKC II

How To Build Mental Toughness With Kettlebells

Twelve weeks ago, we put together a training group for a mud run event.

And now that official start time is 36 hours away, what’s done is done … we’ve done all we can when it comes to mental preparation, it’s time to GO!

I have been reflecting a little today about the last twelve weeks of training … we put together an awesome group of folks for the event …  I’ve learned a LOT as a trainer during this time.

One specific take-away I wanted to share with you and that I think can help you a lot with your kettlebell training is …


Mental toughness is a learned skill

I had folks from varried backgrounds and training experience levels sign up for this program.  So here’s what I discovered:

Let’s try and flash you back to the first time you ever worked out. Maybe it was 20 years ago. Maybe it was this month. Either way, you have a “starting point” when it comes to your training. You didn’t start with a hard mind at 3 years old.

I still remember the first time I lifted weights HARD. I was 15 and it was in a football weight training class.  I didn’t even make it 30 minutes without running to the side of the building to have a puke.  Which I wasn’t super excited about at the time.  BUT – it made me realize I could push myself to a new level.

Over the last 15 years or so, I’ve been subjected to a LOT of hard workouts.  And each time I push myself a **little** harder, it takes me to a new level.

This is why I think folks that are just getting started have a hard time really pushing themselves to exhaustion. They really don’t even know what it’s like. It’s not even in their realm of thinking.

And this is also why I think people that were athletic, that maybe have trained hard in the past, many times get injured, throw up, etc. when they first get back into it. Because their MIND knows how to push hard, but their body’s forgot 🙂

How To Build Mental Toughness With Kettlebells

So – the moral of the story is that you need to be striving to push yourself a little bit harder – than you ever have before – on a somewhat frequent basis. Now, let me be clear – you CAN”T train like this every day, or even every week. But you should be training hard every once in a while to really test your limit and get to a new mental toughness set point!

Train hard, and talk soon –


PS – If you liked this article, check out this other recent one I did on my toughest leg workout ever:

=== >> Story of the Hardest Leg Workout Ever

PPS – I also have a special deal on one of my programs that’s PERFECT for learning how to push yourself to the limit. More details on that one coming very soon.

Forest Vance, RKC II

Kettlebell Challenge Workouts Contest Winners + Special Offer (3 days only)

Huge thanks to everyone who entered the Kettlebell Challenge Workouts give-away contest … I was seriously shocked by the response.  As I write this, we have a total of 99 comments on the entry post!

My assistant wanted me to pass along that she had a really tough time picking the winners.  And I totally agree – there were SO many amazing entries, and I want you to know that I appreciate each and every one of you who entered the contest.

We ended up choosing Alia & Jeff … so keep an eye out, I’ll be sending you both info on how to grab your free copies of the full program shortly.

Now, if you didn’t win, no worries … the Kettlebell Challenge Workouts program is now officially available, and we’re having a special promotion to kick things off.  You can grab the full program for over 50% off for the next 72 hours or so.

Head over, get all the details and grab your copy now by clicking the link below:

=> Kettlebell Challenge Workouts special offer

Thanks and have a great weekend –

Forest Vance, MS, CPT, RKC II

Win a Free Copy of Kettlebell Challenge Workouts

My new Kettlebell Challenge Workouts program is coming very soon … and you can win a free copy!!

It’s a “mega-bundle” of more than a dozen kick-a@@ kettlebell challenge workouts you can do any time, any place, with just a single kettlebell and your own body weight, and in 20 minutes or less.  And the full program will be officially available in a few short days …

So, as we get the finishing touches of the delivery process ironed out, and as a gesture of appreciation to you, a loyal reader, I’ve decided to give away two free copies of the program before I officially release it.

All you have to do to win your copy is leave a comment on this post detailing your number one fitness goal … and your biggest obstacle/frustration/etc. that’s keeping you from accomplishing it.  I’ll have my assistant go through and pick the best two comments so the contest is as fair as possible.  And all I’ll ask for is a little feedback from the winners after they’ve read through the program, watched the videos and tried the workouts themselves.

Leave a comment below to get entered to win … and keep an eye on your e-mail inbox to get first word of the Kettlebell Challenge Workouts program’s official release!


Burpee – Squat – Swing Kettlebell Challenge Workout

I live in a great area of California, and an amazing and unique part of the world, really …

In 90 minutes or less, I can be riding a cable car in San Francisco, wine tasting in Napa valley, or snowboarding in Lake Tahoe …

So, my wife and I headed into the mountains for a long-overdo trip to the snow this last weekend … and we had an absolute blast.

Now back in High School and College, I would go up for the first time of the season, and I would be SORE as heck. In muscles that I forgot I had.

Interestingly, these days, I don’t get very sore at all, even after a long layoff.  And I’m convinced that the biggest reason for this, is the difference in my approach to training, vs. how I used to.

Back in my high school and college days, I took a much more “traditional”, bodybuilding-style approach to my workouts.  I would train with both free weights and machines, and largely focus on training specific body parts.  I DID get strong, and better at the specific moves I was doing … but looking back, there wasn’t a ton of real-life carry over.  In other words, I never felt like my strength in the gym helped much in the real world.

This has totally changed in recent years … and I think one of the biggest factors has been my discovery of kettlebells.  KB’s are the ultimate all-around training tool.  You train all your muscle groups at once, and focus on athletic-based movement patterns, rather than isolating specific muscle groups.

They prepare you for whatever life throws at you … you get strong and in great condition at the same time.  With the end result being, you can do things like go snowboarding, or play a pick up game of basketball, or run a 5k, or whatever else you like to do – and be in great shape to do it!!

Now to get a little more specific with how I set up my kettlebell workouts … one thing I do myself and with my personal training/boot camp clients is regular KB challenge workouts.

I talked a about these in more detail the other day – so instead of repeating myself, if you want to know more about the challenge workout concept, how it  is used in an overall workout programming scheme, etc., you can check out that post here:

=> January 2013 FVT Kettlebell Challenge Workout

And, today, I got another kettlebell challenge for you to try.  First, watch the video, then read through the recap below it:

Video Recap

This one is really simple, there’s three exercises- burpees, goblet squats, and two-hand kettlebell swings. These exercises are done in a ladder fashion for time.

So you’re going to start off with one burpee, make sure you clap above your head. Have your kettlebells set up about 5 feet in front of you so you can do your burpees then take a step forward and do your goblet squats and swings. So step forward, grab your kettlebell and do two goblet squats. Then do three kettlebell swings and set your kettlebell down. Step back and go to two burpees, 4 goblet squats, and 6 swings. Then 3 burpees, 6 squats, 9 swings. Go all the way up the ladder, as fast as possible, until you get to 10 burpees, 20 goblet squats, and 30 swings.

Record your time then come back and do the workout again in a couple of weeks or a month to see if your fitness level improves. This should be in addition to your normal workout program, it’s not a stand alone program. It’s just a fun way to mix it up and challenge yourself physically and mentally. And it’s just a kick ass workout.


That’s all I got for ‘ya today.  KB training is THE way to go, if you’re looking to change your body, get into great overall shape, and be ready for whatever life throws at you.  More specifically, we use kettlebell challenge workouts as a core programming concept at FVT, with great results.  Plug them into your routine to take things to the next level today!

Thanks, and talk soon –

Forest Vance, MS, RKC II


PS – We’re putting the finishing touches on a new complete kettlebell challenges program, and will have all the details on it for you available very soon.  If you’re interested, and you haven’t signed up for the email newsletter, make sure to do so now to get first news of it’s release!  Just drop your best email address into the box at the upper right of the page.

January 2013 Kettlebell Challenge Workout

A big mistake a lot of folks make who are training for general, “aesthetic”-based fitness goals like fat loss, muscle gain, etc. – is that they set zero performance-based targets.

So – let’s say your main goal is fat loss.  Your biggest measurement of progress should be your weight, body fat %, measurements, etc., for sure.  But, setting performance-based goals for yourself should be a key part of the process as well.  You need a way to see if you are getting stronger and making progress in your workout program.

BUT – being specific, and knowing the best way to measure your workout progress, can be tricky.  You know that, for example, doing swings with a given weight is getting easier – but are you really getting stronger/getting in better cardio shape/etc.?

Well, we use kettlebell challenge workouts for this exact purpose at my Sacramento, CA boot camp.

Challenge workouts, done somewhat infrequently (every two to four weeks), are a great way to test yourself both physically and mentally, and see how your overall fitness level is progressing.

Try today’s kettlebell challenge workout.  Record your score.  Train hard, come back to the workout in two to four weeks, and see how those performance-based fitness targets are coming along!

Video Recap

Hey – Forest here from Forest Vance Training and FVT boot camp in Sacramento, California. Today I have a brand new challenge workout for you for 2013.

Our challenge workouts are meant to challenge you both mentally and physically. They are going to be scored in some way, and what we do at our studio is repeat them once a month throughout the year. We do this, number one, so that our folks can see how their fitness level is improving over time. Number two, is that it’s a fun, physical, and mental challenge that helps to mix up the monotony of a normal workout routine.

January 2013 Challenge Workout (workout recap)

  • burpee
  • body weight squat
  • push up
  • kettlebell swing

Perform each exercise for 45 seconds continuously, completing as many reps as possible with perfect form. Rest for exactly 15 seconds.  Repeat the process with the next exercise in the sequence. Do five rounds of the entire sequence total, resting for 60 seconds between rounds.

Keep track of how many reps of each exercise you get in each set. Your score is the total number of reps you get in the entire workout.


So, to sum up, in addition to your general, “aesthetic”-based fitness goals, make sure that you are setting some performance targets for yourself as well.  Kettlebell challenge workouts are a great way to do this.  Incorporate them into your existing routine for faster progress right away!

Thanks for reading, and talk soon –

Forest Vance, MS, RKC II

PS – If you liked this article, make sure to sign up for my kettlebell email newseltter!  You’ll get a free copy of my Beginner’s Guide to Kettlebell Training when you do – just drop your best email into the box at the upper right of the page to get started now.

Interview with Hardcore Strength and Conditioning Specialist Travis Stoetzel

Happy Monday!  I got a killer expert interview for you today from my man Travis Stoetzel.

Travis is a highly unconventional hardcore strength and conditioning specialist that focuses in on serious athletes and trainees to help them improve their overall performance and physique.

He specializes training athletes specifically in aggressive sports such as wrestling, MMA, and football and does this with his unique “Aggressive Strength Method” of training.

He owns a gym in Omaha NE, called The Forged Athlete where he helps athletes and serious trainees alike accomplish their performance and physique enhancement goals.

For more information on Travis, go to his personal blog at and look into all of the other articles, posts, and videos available or grab his FREE training system, the Lean and Mean Blueprint at

Take it away, Travis –

1. Travis, what exactly is your main program all about?

My main program Bags, Bells, and Bodyweight is first and foremost geared towards improving performance. So increases in strength, power, and conditioning all at once are my main focuses with that. Typically I focus on blending together different modalities of training such as barbell training, power and explosive training, kettlebells, sandbags, and of course body weight.

With this, drops in body fat are normal as well as gains in lean mass. One of my main focuses besides improving overall performance is improving your mindset. Tough workouts will not only make you stronger physically, I’m a HUGE believer in the mental side of things.

2. Your workouts incorporate all different forms of training – body weight, kettlebells, metabolic conditioning – and they’re HARD! What exercise methods have you studied and how do they influence your work?

From a young age I’ve been involved with bodyweight training. This was due to me being involved in wrestling at a young age. My dad got me hooked on pull ups, push ups, and sprinting very early. I LOVED it all. When I got into Middle School, that’s when I started training with weights and fell in love even more with training.

After college was done and I was finished playing in competitive sports, that when I started training with other tools such as kettlebells and sandbags. I wish I would have known about these strength tools back when I was in school!

Now, I continue to travel around to different seminars learning new things. I’ll forever be a student of strength. If there’s been a workshop or seminar on training, I’ve more then likely been there… Strongman, Olympic Lifting, Kettlebells, Sandbags, Bodyweight, Gymnastics… I love it all and I’ll forever be devoted to improving my craft.

3. Who exactly is your program for? As in is your program only for advanced folks? Or do you provide workout/exercise modifications for people who are still building up their overall fitness level?

Since my training programs are geared mainly towards performance, most people think that they are only for athletes but it’s my belief that everyone is an athlete at heart. We all need to be able to move freely, we all need to be strong, and we all need to be conditioned.

With that in mind, my programs are mainly geared towards the hardcore fitness enthusiast and power / combat athlete such as football players, wrestlers, and fighters. My programs are not typically for beginners.

With beginners, I direct them towards developing a solid base level of strength and conditioning via bodyweight training.  You can NEVER be too strong or conditioned with your own bodyweight, but that is where you need to always start in building your level of fitness.

4. What type of results have individuals experienced with your program? Could you provide a few examples?

The results that are produced through my training programs go across the board.

One client was able to shed 25 lbs of fat and at the same time add back on 10 lbs of muscle. In the same time he improved his levels of strength, power, and overall conditioning. He started from being an out-of-shape college slacker to being accepted into the Marine OCS program and winning the “Gung Ho” award that was out of 300 different candidates.  He was also able to complete the infamous, Spartan “Death Race”.

As I mentioned before, my programs not only make you stronger, more explosive, leaner, and highly conditioned physically, they will also transform you mentally as well.

There’s been literally hundreds of testimonials I’ve received over the years from clients online but one of the best I can remember is from a man I will call RD to keep his identity private. His results and feedback from my programs have truly left me speechless and proud beyond belief.

When he first found me via my YouTube channel, he was not able to complete a single workout I posted within my videos.  He stuck with it and after a while, he took the next step and invested into my program, Warrior Ripped. In short, RD lost a total of 45 lbs, gained back a solid 15 lbs of muscle and dropped 20% bodyfat going from 36% down to 16% in 12 weeks. I can remember how serious he was as he would email me every week on his progress. He told me my program not only changed his life, it saved his life. Before starting he was in a dark place at the time and was severely depressed. Building up a stronger and leaner body helped him gain his confidence of old back and now has a totally new outlook on life.
That’s what it’s all about!

Another testimonial I like to share is with one of my clients that was able to make it just a few match away from qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Wrestling Team. I’ve trained him for the last couple of years now using the methods I have within my Bags, Bells, and Bodyweight Training System. The guy started out strong but overtime we’ve made him stronger and even more of a killer within his mind.

5. Would you be kind enough to provide a sample workout or two for my readers to try out at home?

Yeah, here’s a couple of my favorites from Bags, Bells, and Bodyweight…

Phase II – Day 3

1A) KB High Pull OR Snatch (If advanced) 5 x 10/arm (for high pulls) OR 5 x 5/arm (snatch)

2A) HSPU or Wall Walks 4 x sub
2B) Bent KB 1arm Rows 4 x 8 OR Bent SB Rows 4 x 8

3A) KB 1 Leg RDL 3 x 8/leg OR SB RDL 3 x 15
3B) Inch worms 3 x 5 total

4A) SB OR KB Complex 3 rounds x 5 movements x 8 reps each
a) Clean
b) Front Squat
c) Overhead Press
d) Drop Lunge
e) Front Carry to Failure

Phase 10 – Day 2

1A) 15/30 ALL OUT Goes x 4 rounds of each of the following (15 secs ON / 30 secs REST):
a) Vertical Jumps
b) Ice Skaters

2A) SUPER HEAVY SB Shouldering – 1 rep each shoulder every 20 secs x 5 mins
3A) 1A KB Bottoms Up Press 3 x 5-8/arm – regress to regular press if need be
3B) 1A KB Bent Row 3 x 5-8/arm
3C) 1A KB Swing 3 x 8/arm

4A) HEAVY Sled Drags 4 x 50 yards (forwards x 25 yards then backwards x 25 yards)



That was awesome!  Thanks again, Travis.

Have a great week, and talk soon –


PS – To learn more about Travis’ main training system Bags, Bells and Bodyweight system, click here

Kettlebell and Body Weight Challenge Workout

I am continually amazed at just how effective kettlebells are for getting a brutally efficient workout in a short amount of time.

Take the workout in the video below, for example.  This kettlebell and body weight challenge is a heart-pumping, calorie-burning, metabolism-boosting session that’ll take you around 20 minutes, and requires just a single kettlebell, and a place to do pull ups.

Do this workout as prescribed, really get after it and get the best time possible, and you’ll be surprised at how tough it is.

(Quick note before we start – this workout is BEST done as a one-off session, as an “add-on” to your already planned-out kettlebell training program – something like the 30 Day Rapid Fat Loss Kettlebell Solution.  It is NOT intended to be a stand-alone, complete workout program.  This is very important to note before we start.)

Watch the video first, then check out the workout recap below it:

Video Recap

  • 7 kettlebell goblet squats
  • 14 kettlebell swings
  • 14 push ups
  • 7 chin ups

Simply complete the sequence above five times as fast as possible.

And – leave your time in the comment section below, and let me know how you fare 😉

Forest Vance, MS, RKC II

PS – If you liked this workout, you can find more like it – plus a complete outline to help you lose fat as fast as humanly possible – in my 30 Day Rapid Fat Loss Kettlebell Solution program, here:

=> Rapid Fat Loss With Kettlebells