Re: your KB training concerns

I had a guest article and video published on a fitness colleague’s blog the other day.

The article and video outlined one of my kettlebell challenge workouts.

I got several comments with very positive feedback. But one of them – from an “anonymous ortho surgeon” – was pretty scathing, to say the least 😉

At first I was a bit upset when I saw the post. But then I quickly realized that I was HAPPY he posted his comment – because if he’s thinking this, odds are other folks are as well – they just might not be saying it with such “conviction”, for lack of a better term 😉

So I thought I’d share with you the three big points touched on in his response – and my answers – to hopefully address some of your top KB training concerns:


Point #1 – “Kettlebell training is bad for your back”

My answer –

With all due respect, if you feel that the swing is an exercise that is bad for your back, I would challenge you and say that you are likely doing the exercise incorrectly.

The swing is in fact GOOD for your back if done correctly – it promotes proper movement patterns and strengthens the muscles of the posterior chain, among other things.

Here is an article recently published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research that does a great job of explaining further:

Point #2 – “This workout is random, has no rhyme or reason, and is not backed by science”

My answer –

The workout in this post (one of my kettlebell challenge workouts) is not intended to be a complete, be-all-end-all program. It is to be done periodically to test your fitness level and for a fun challenge.

The concept with these challenge workouts is that you can do them once, go back to following your regular program for a period of weeks or months – and then come back to doing them again to see how you’ve progressed.

Loads of research from the last 5+ years points to the fact that interval training is superior to more traditional steady-state cardio … which another benefit of performing this specific workout, if you wanted to be more “scientific” about it.

Here is one research article that supports this – a quick google search would find you dozens more:

Point #3 – “Why are you programming 200 swings into a workout”

My answer –

In short – for both the physical and mental challenge! Because that’s what a workout like this is all about!! 🙂

That being said – in this specific workout, yes, the total volume is 200 swings (100 at the beginning, 100 at the end) … but that does NOT mean you would need to do all 100 swings in a row.

With good form and a proper weight, this is in fact do-able with virtually zero risk of injury. (Again, I would challenge your swing form.) HOWEVER – for folks who are just getting started, are still working on their form, etc. – breaking up the set with rest is 100% fine (like doing five sets of 20 reps each, or even ten sets of ten).

I am all about making KB workouts challenging but do-able for all ability levels.


To sum up – if you’ve ever had concerns about any of the things I touched on in the message above, hopefully today’s email was helpful for you.

And the bottom line is, whatever form of exercise you choose – whether it be running, pick-up basketball, or kettlebell lifting – there is inherent risk involved. You can get injured. But the benefits are many, many times over more worth it than the potential harm. That’s why we do it 🙂

Thanks for reading, train hard, and talk soon –

Forest Vance
Master of Science
Certified Russian Kettlebell Instructor

PS – If you’re looking to improve your kettlebell training form, no doubt, the #1 best way to do it is with a highly qualified in-person KB trainer. Look for one in your area.

But that’s also unfortunately not possible for everyone. The second-best thing is top-notch video instruction. Which you’ll get over five hours of, with our new KB workshop DVDs. And they are on sale for a short time longer. Check them out here:

=> Kettlebell Workshop DVDs (on “launch discount” now)

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