1 tip for better kettlebell form

This morning while leading my kettlebell workout group, I noticed a mistake that several people were making when doing their swings.

I gave them a simple cue, and it improved their form in seconds.

I got this cue at the first RKC I attended in 2009, and have used it since with great success.

It’s great because it gets your neck neutral with your spine when you are doing hinging movements like the swing, instantly making the move safer and more efficient.

The cue is:

“Look where the wall meets the floor.”

You see, one common mistake is that people look up when they swing.

I remember when I was in high school, our coach would tell us to do this when we were doing back squats. “Look at the ceiling, get your chest up!”, he’d scream.

Maybe that’s where it comes from, who knows.

But you don’t want to look up when you are swinging or doing other hinging movements, because it puts extra stress on your neck, and makes the movement far less efficient.

Another common mistake is that people look down swing they swing.

This is also bad because it tends to cause more rounding in the back, and turns off the muscles in the core.

The great happy medium is to think about looking where the wall meets the floor. So you’re not looking up, you’re not looking down, you’re kind of looking straight ahead and down slightly.

If you are training outside, another similar cue is to “look down at the horizon”.

It gets your neck right where it needs to be for a safe and effective movement. And I find it works for the majority of people as a fast fix.

Give it a try at your next KB workout, and see if it helps.

And keep in mind – this is just one little coaching tip.

But it’s tips and cues like these – for the right person, at the right time – that can make ALL the difference in keeping your workouts safe, and you getting results.

These are the kind of tips you’ll get when you participate in our 42 Day Kettlebell Challenge, that starts today.

The direct link for info and to sign up is below:


I normally don’t send the direct link to sign up without having folks apply first, but since we are starting today, and you would have to sign up within the next few hours if you still want to participate, I’m just going to do it.

When you sign up, you verify that you meet the requirements listed on the page below:


And that you are in healthy and fit condition to participate in an intensive program like this one.

This is likely the last Challenge we are doing like this in 2019, so if you’ve been thinking about getting in on one, now is the time.

Details and sign up using the link below:


Look forward to hearing from you!

– Forest and the FVT Team

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 KettlebellBasics.net 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.

Kettlebell Warm Up

kettlebell warm up
Planning on lifting this puppy? You'll need a proper kettlebell warm up first ...

There’s a school of thought out there that says warming up isn’t necessary.  That if you have minimal muscle imbalances, that if you’re mentally prepared for physical activity at all times, that you should be able to hop right into your workout full bore, right out of the gate.  That when our ancestors had to run for their lives or run to catch an animal or lift a giant bolder or whatever, that they didn’t get a chance to warm up.  And that even in real life today, there are situations where one may need to lift a heavy object, run fast, etc. without the luxury of getting physically or mentally prepared first.

And so while I do suppose there is some validity in this line of thinking, I mostly disagree with it 🙂  Maybe if you’re in law enforcement, training for combat, etc. and your life depends on being able to perform at a high level without a warm up … in that case I can totally see why you would want to train this way …

But I can also tell you from personal experience – I feel WAY better when I go through a sequence of exercises/movements to methodically and specifically prepare me for the workout ahead.  And honestly, for those of you simply looking for general fitness, and without specific performance needs like the ones listed above – why WOULDN’T you warm up?

 Warm Up – Definition and Benefits

To start, here is the definition of a warm up from SparkPeople.com, along with some specific benefits:

A warm up is the act of preparing for an athletic event or workout by exercising or practicing for a short time beforehand. Warming up helps reduce your risk of injury and the aches and pains that come with exercise. The physiological reason to warm up is to assist your circulatory system in pumping oxygen-rich blood to your working muscles. The idea is to increase circulation throughout the body in a gradual manner. A proper warm up safely prepares the body for the increased demands of exercise. Cold muscles do not absorb shock or impact as well, and are more susceptible to injury.

A warm-up helps you prepare both mentally and physically for exercise and reduces the chance of injury. During a warm up, any injury or illness you have can often be recognized, and further injury prevented. Other benefits of a proper warm up include:

  • Increased movement of blood through your tissues, making the muscles more pliable.
  • Increased delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This prevents you from getting out of breath early or too easily.
  • Prepares your muscles for stretching
  • Prepares your heart for an increase in activity, preventing a rapid increase in blood pressure
  • Prepares you mentally for the upcoming exercise
  • Primes your nerve-to-muscle pathways to be ready for exercise
  • Improved coordination and reaction times

The Kettlebell Warm Up

Here is the sequence I use to prepare for myself and training clients for kettlebell workouts; it is both field-tested and backed by research and science as one of – if the best – way to warm up and prepare yourself for physical activity:

1. Self Myofasical Release

Deep tissue massage therapy modalities such as myofascial release improves flexibility, function, and performance; speeds up the recovery process; and reduces chronic pain and injury risk. Regular deep tissue massage breaks down adhesions and scar tissue that form in the fascia. With the use of a few simple, inexpensive tools (foam roller and a soft ball), you can perform daily self-myofascial release (SMR) and receive much of the same benefits as weekly professional bodywork.  And it’s fantastic to do before a workout; click the link below to check out a full article about it:

=== >> Self Myofasical Release

2. Joint Mobility

Joint mobility training is important for several reasons:

  • It improves performance by helping you learn how to properly engage each joint and muscle group in your movements.
  • It increases the efficiency of your movement.
  • It drastically decreases the chance of injury by elimiating incorrect movements along incorrect joints.

Here are more details about joint mobility training and a quick video on how to do it:

=== >> Joint Mobility 

3. Dynamic Stretch

A ‘dynamic warm-up’ or ‘movement prep session’ is the last element in my warm up sequence; click the link below to learn how to do it:

=== >> Dynamic Warm Up How-To

In conclusion, while there are some folks out there that think warming up for your kettlebell workout isn’t necessary, unless you have specific training needs like the ones outlined in this article, I disagree with this line of thinking.  There are many proven benefits of warming up, and honestly, if you can, why not?

The warm up sequence detailed in this article is perfect to get you ready for your next kettlebell session. Incorporate it into your existing kettlebell routine and see increased results today!

Forest Vance, RKC II

PS – Signed up for my weekly email newsletter yet?  You’ll even get a free copy of my Beginner’s Guide to Kettlebell Training when you do so – just drop your name and best email into the box at the upper right of the page to get it now!

15 Minute Kettlebell Circuit And Some Special News …

To start, here’s a 15 minute kettlebell workout for you to try –

This is a nice one if you’re pressed for time. Throw in some joint mobility drills and/ or a dynamic warm up at the beginning, a few stretches that focus on tight muscle groups at the end, and you’ve got a complete workout.

Here’s what it looks like:

1 Get Up Right
1 Get Up Left
12 Swings Right
12 Swings Left
6 KB Squats, KB in right rack position
6 KB Squats, KB in left rack position

Repeat 2x (beginner), 3x (intermediate), 4x (advanced) for time

Make sure to pick a heavy kettlebell that challenges you!!

The special news is that I’ve added a couple of new bonuses for you all:

1. A short ‘Beginner’s Guide To Kettlebell Training’ is now included when you sign up for the KettlebellBasics.net newsletter

2. A PDF report version of Kettlebell Rx: Three Training Mistakes and How To Fix Them is now included with your purchase of the KettlebellBasics.net Quick Start Guide.

That’s it for today!  Have a great weekend.