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Interview with Forest Vance, Part 2

February 2, 2010

Bodyweight and home-based exercise programs are the solution for staying fit in 2010.  With a recovering economy, these programs keep you close to home and save you money as well as time.  Kettlebells fit great within any program because they work out your muscles in an unorthodox manner forcing your body to adapt in ways different than using dumbbells or barbells.  In addition, they are portable, so you can take them to the park, to the pool, to the beach, or wherever you may be heading.  And, if you’re flying on Southwest Airlines, “Bags are Free.”  Take them on your trip while providing the ground crew a workout as well when they lift your luggage.

This post is part 2 of an interview with Forest Vance, certified kettlebell instructor. You can check out Part 1 HERE. So without further ado, here is that interview with Forest:

Enter the Kettlebell, along with your philosophy, Forest, explains the practice of good form.  Unlike other exercises, when you train with kettlebells there seems to be a certain technique that you must practice before you can start the exercises.  Doing the snatch or clean, what do you recommend to people so they don’t bang their forearms?
Good question.  So without shamelessly self-promoting my stuff, I think a much more time-effective answer to this question would be for me to refer to a couple of videos on this topic that I think are really good.  The first video I did myself and can be found here:

It goes over three tips to help improve the kettlebell clean, and it’s gotten a good response so far – and I just posted it about a week ago.  Here’s another one that I find particularly helpful for refining the snatch:

For the benefit of the readers, what size kettlebell should they start with?  Is the goal to gain strength and go heavier at some point?  If so, how long should that process take for a person who uses kettlebells weekly?
I find that a 12k is a pretty good starting weight for the average woman and a 16k is a pretty good starting weight for the average man.  If you’re really strong, obviously you could kick the weight up from there and you could also scale it down if you’re just getting into working out – but I find most people who start training with kettlebells tend to have a pretty solid fitness background going into it.  Maybe it’s the higher intensity of kettlebell training that attracts this demographic.
As far as gaining strength, I think that’s going to vary person to person depending on what their goals are.  Obviously if you’re trying to get stronger and potentially add some muscle, then you absolutely need to work towards using some heavier weights at some point.  But even if your goals are just fat loss or general fitness, heavier training at least occasionally will still benefit you – you’ll be able to handle bigger weights, get more work done, and burn more fat during your workouts if you’re stronger.  I think it was strength coach Eric Cressey who said that ‘strength is the base on which all else is built’, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that.  On a related note, I have so many women I’ve trained that have been afraid to train heavy all their life, and when they’ve finally incorporated some heavy training into their routines – and I’m talking 5 rep range when I say heavy – all other aspects of their fitness improved, because that’s what they were missing to take things to the next level.  And the amount of time it takes to gain strength is an individual thing too – it depends on so many factors it’s really hard to say how long it should take for you to get stronger.

The majority of kettlebell workouts suggest a time frame of around 30 minutes.  What is your opinion on length and goal of a KB workout?
I think 30 minutes is more than enough if you’ve got a plan and you’re focused.  You need to have an idea of what you’re going to do going in, though – not just throw some random exercises together and call it a kettlebell workout.

There are many manufacturers of kettlebells.  What should one look for or stay away from when it comes to making the purchase of a good kettlebell?
Dragon Door ‘bells are my personal favorite – I’ve personally used only four or five different brands, though.  I think, to be honest, it doesn’t make a lot of difference if you’re just doing basic stuff like swings or get ups with your kettlebells, but when you start getting more into kb training and doing cleans and snatches and stuff like that, the quality makes a big difference.  A smoother handle and a more balanced ‘bell makes a lot of difference at that point.  And if you’re a trainer like me and use the kettlebells multiple times per day, the cheap ones with a plastic covering wear down a lot quicker.  So again, it depends on your goals and what you’re planning on doing with the kettlebells.

Cardio is taking a big hit in the fitness world these days.  What is your philosophy about cardio work?
Well, to start, I don’t really like the word cardio 🙂  But seriously, I think it again, depends on one’s goals.  For most folks, research shows us that interval cardio is superior to steady state in a lot of ways – for changing body composition, for improving performance – so I think that’s the best approach for 90% of people.  I still think that for endurance athletes, if their sport is long-distance, they need to do at least some of this type of LSD (long slow distance) work in their training.  I know of some people out that are taking things to the extreme and training ultra-distance competitors on almost exclusively interval work, and while I think it’s a novel idea, I don’t think I’m sold on it quite yet.  So unless you’re training for a triathlon or marathon or some type of endurance event, I’d recommend sticking to interval training.  And using kettlbells for that is perfect!

How can a kettlebell be used to bring out your abs?
The cool thing about kettlebell training is that your abs get worked in almost every movement you do with a kettlebell.  So train hard with your kettlebells and focus on your diet and you’ll have abs in no time 🙂
My thanks again to Forest Vance for granting the interview and helping to broaden our knowledge of using kettlebells.  As I mentioned in the last post, Forest is currently offering a special deal.  Check out Forest’s Quick Start Guide if you want great instructional knowledge on using a kettlebell.  The guide, normally $19.95, is now being sold for only $9.95 and he is including some mp3’s along with a bonus workout.  This is a great value and I encourage you to check it out.  My preliminary look at the Guide showed some great info.  Click HERE for more info.  This offer expires THIS Friday, February 5.  I hope you’ll check it out.  Not only is there great info on many kettlebell exercises, there are also some great workouts that Forest has included as well.

Want to win a FREE copy of Forest’s Quick Start Guide?  Simply post a comment or question by this Wednesday at midnight.  Then, on Thursday I’ll announce the randomly drawn winner.

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