4 Technique Tips for a Bigger Bench

Holiday GAINZZZ is in full effect!

We are kicking off this 6 week pilot program on Monday, and I am SUPER pumped.

(If YOU are interested in getting in on the fun, we still have spots left – more info HERE)

One of the lifts that we will be focusing on is the bench press.

Now a lot of people bench … but they don’t realize the just how important technique is when it comes to lifting more weight.

Take my client Sarai for example:

FullSizeRender (10)

6 months ago, she was barely hitting 95 pounds (a 25 pound plate on each side) for sets of three …

Working on the lift consistently, getting stronger overall, and just as importantly, refining her technique … she hit 135 for two sets of three this last week.

Great stuff Sarai – keep it up!

Okay – here are 4 technique tips to for a bigger bench:

1 – Make sure your feet are in a stable and solid postion. Exact placement is up to you … but you want to be able to put all of your energy from the legs and hips into driving the bar up.

2 – Hop down into a push up position … don’t even think about it … and make a note of where your hands are. This is a good rule of thumb for your grip / hand width while benching. Also, be sure to use the rings on the bar as “land marks” – so that you can be consistent with the same grip width every time.

3 – Your back should be arched and kept that way during the entire lift. The arch should come from your thorasic spine, NOT your lower back. Also very important though – your butt must stay ON THE BENCH the whole time.

4 – The bar should touch at the bottom of the rib cage. And the path should be more or less straight up and down. A lot of people bring the bar way too high as it comes down to the chest – but again, think bottom of the rib cage as a rule of thumb.

A lot of people bench press. But they don’t realize the just how important technique is when it comes to lifting more weight. These 4 training tips will help you bench more, AND do it safely.

Put them into practice at your next workout!

And if you are interested in getting my help with building muscle over the next 6 weeks, check out the Holiday Gainz pilot program HERE.

Keep training hard, talk soon -

- Forest Vance
Master of Science, Human Movement
Certified Barbell Instructor

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Best Stretch for Tight Hips

Hard training can lead to tight hips.

Spend the day sitting, and the problem quickly becomes worse.

Enter the “Couch Stretch”.

Dr. Kelly Starrett invented – or at least recently popularized – this awesome move.

It’s one of the best stretches for tight hips.

And maybe the best part – you can get it done while you’re watching your favorite TV show! :)


- Start by standing in front of a couch
- Put your back knee on the couch and keep your front leg on the ground
- Put your back foot up against the back of the couch
- Point the back toe
- Squeeze your glutes, and the glute of the up leg in particular, to stabilize your lower back and correctly position the hip joint
- With the butt squeezed, dril the front of the hip towards the ground
- Work on this daily for at least 2 minutes per side

Try doing the Couch Stretch daily for a week – two minutes each leg, each day – and pay attention to the change you can create.

- Forest Vance
Master of Science, Human Movement
Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist

PS - For tight hips, I also recommend you check out this routine:

=> How to “unlock” your hip flexors

It outlines a complete program you can incorporate into your fitness plan to loosen up your hips, reduce pain, and get you moving better.

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More Pull Ups in 30 Days – Your Complete Plan

We’ve been talking about Obstacle Course / Mud Run Training for the last few days.


A CRITICAL part of doing well in these events is being able to do things like jump over walls, swing from monkey bars, and climb ropes …

And in addition to actually practicing the activities listed above, doing a variety of different types of pull ups – and getting good at them! – is HUGE in getting you in top shape for race day.

Now I know that pull ups are something a lot of folks struggle with.

So I’ve put together a 30 day plan to help you get better at them.

This is important – you must follow it EXACTLY as outlined. It may seem simple … but if you don’t follow it to a “T”, it won’t work.

It is NOT just “doing lots of pull ups”, as some have commented on skimming it, and not actually doing it :)

It is a specific schedule that you must follow for best results.

All that being said – check it out:


More Pull Ups in 30 Days – Your Complete Plan

1 – On day one, do one all-out set with perfect form, and see how many pull ups you can do.

It’s very important to do this and establish a baseline number for yourself, so we can test at the end and see how you’ve improved.

2 – For 30 days, “practice” your pull ups frequently (3-5 times per week, do a couple sets of chin ups or pull ups).

You can do these any time – at the beginning of your current workout routine, between sets of other exercises, at the end … if you have a pull up bar set up at your house, you can even just hop up and crank em out at any point during the day.

3 – Do NOT go to failure! Always leave a rep or two “in the tank”.

This is important. A lot of folks, in an effort to do more pull ups, get to the point where they are going to failure at EVERY session and are always trying to beat their personal best. DO NOT do this. We are training the nervous system with this method, and part of the idea is to train your body NOT to fail and to do reps with perfect form. IF you go to failure, this method will not work.

4- Mix it up from day to day.

Some days do standard pull ups. Some days use band assistance / a slight jump assist w your feet on a box / etc and go to higher reps. If you are strong enough, some days do weighted pull ups and work in a lower rep range. Mix up your grip – pull up, chin up, parallel grip, etc.

A good idea would be to keep a log of exactly what you did on each day, so that you can make sure to switch it up each time you do your pull ups and keep things balanced out.

5- At day 27 or 28, REST and STOP doing pull ups completely for two or three days.

6- Re-test at day 30 and see how many more pull ups you can do in one all-out set!


Whether you have an Obstacle Course Race or Mud Run coming up … or you just want to get better at doing pull ups … this is a solid plan to follow for the next 30 days.

Would love to hear how it goes for you if you try it!

If you DO have an OCR or Mud Run event you’re prepping for, be sure to also check out Mud Run Domination:

=> Mud Run Domination 6 Week Training Plan (on sale this week)

And have a great one -

- Forest Vance
Certified Personal Trainer
Master of Science, Human Movement

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Mud Run Domination Workout

long obstacle race 460

Got a Mud Run Domination – style workout for you today.

It’s great to help you get conditioned for an upcoming race – incorporating short bursts of running with pull ups, lunges, jumps, crawls, and carries – or just shred body fat and get fit.

Let’s get right into it -


1 – Dynamic warm up:

2 – “Road Work”:

– regular / towel / travelling pull up ladder w partner – 1/2/3 OR 2/4/6 x2
– run .25 mi
– partner swing lunges – 3×10 each leg
– run .25 mi
– box jumps with partner – 3×12
– run .25 mi

3 – Finisher (3 rounds):

– waiter / rack / suitcase carry w KB – 30-60 secs per side
– bear / army crawls – approx 30 yards
– sprints – approx 100 yards


Enjoy that Mud Run Domination workout.

For the full 6 week training plan, click here.

And have a great day!

- Forest Vance
Certified Personal Trainer
Master of Science, Human Movement

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OCR Training – Where to Start (2 simple HIIT workouts inside)

tough mudder photo

At the end of the day, fat loss, increased strength, and improved overall health are likely the primary fitness goals you’re after.

And we can accomplish these goals with consistent, intelligently designed workouts and clean eating.

Simple. Not EASY .. but simple :)

That being said – having something to train FOR – like an Obstacle Course Race (OCR), for example – can be a GREAT motivator for a lot of folks.

What we find is that in the PROCESS of training for an event like this, you end up being more consistent with your workouts, eating cleaner to fuel your training, and taking better care of your body in general. And by doing all these things, you end up losing fat, getting stronger, and improving your overall fitness level.

So if YOU are considering doing an Obstacle Course Race or Mud Run of some kind, I have a simple plan for you to get started.

If you are already doing full-body, high-intensity, kettlebell / bodyweight – based workouts, you are on the right track. You probably have a nice base of fitness built up already.

But one thing that may or may not be a part of your workouts now is running. And this is something you’ll need to do at least a little of if you’re looking to do an obstacle course race.

It’s also a great way to get in better shape and burn some extra fat at the same time – even if an obstacle course race or mud run isn’t in your plans for the near furture.

So – let’s say you are doing three boot camp – style workouts per week right now, on Monday / Wednesday / Friday.

A SUPER simple – and super effective! – way to add running into the mix, and get started on your obstacle course race training, is to do a short, 20-30 minute interval run on Tues / Thurs – like this:


(run/walk interval workout 1)

– 5 min walk to warm up warm up
– 2 mins jog/run (as fast a pace as you can maintain for 2 mins)
– 1 min walk (recovery)
– repeat interval 5 times total
– 5 min walk to cool down


(run/walk interval workout 2)

– 5 min walk to warm up warm up
– 30 seconds run (shorter interval, so faster pace than the example workout above!)
– 30 seconds walk (recovery)
– repeat interval 10 times total
– 5 min walk to cool down


Losing fat, gaining strength, and improved overall fitness is probably what you’re after.

But having an event to train FOR – like an obstacle course race – is a great driver to bring you to your goals.

Try incorporating some interval runs into your workouts, like the ones outlined in today’s article, if you’d like to get started on your training.

Train hard, and talk soon -

- Forest Vance
Certified Personal Trainer
Master of Science, Human Movement

PS - Later this week, I will be putting up the training plan we used at FVT to prep for the recent Obstacle Course Race we did as a team.  Stay tuned!

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Explosive Strength + Farmers Walk Workout

farmer walks

The Metabolic Monsters workout I shared with you a few days ago was a hit.

So got another one for you to try today!

Let’s get right into it -


Explosive Strength and Farmers Walk Workout
from Metabolic Monsters

Cycle through 5 exercises covering the major movement patterns of your body using explosive/power-oriented exercises for low reps all the way through.

As well, instead of taking rest, you’re going to be doing heavy dumbbell Farmers Walks in between exercises to maximize overall workload and the metabolic training effect on your body.

After you finish a circuit, then take 3 minutes rest and go again. Perform this circuit for 2 to 4 rounds. After 4 rounds, your explosiveness will really start to fade and the training won’t be as effective.

Exercise 1 – One-Arm Dumbbell Power Snatch – each arm x 3 reps

In-Between Exercise … Heavy Dumbbell Farmers Walks x 30 feet

Exercise 2 – Explosive Medicine Ball Push-Ups – 3 to 5 reps

In-Between Exercise … Heavy Dumbbell Farmers Walks x 30 feet

Exercise 3 – Bottom Start Front/Back Squats – 1-3 reps

In-Between Exercise … Heavy Dumbbell Farmers Walks x 30 feet

Exercise 4 – Band Chin-Ups x 4-6 reps

In-Between Exercise … Heavy Dumbbell Farmers Walks x 30 feet

Exercise 5 – Dumbbell Stiff-Legged Deadlifts – 2-4 reps

In-Between Exercise … Heavy Dumbbell Farmers Walks x 30 feet

And you’re done … you will have hit literally everything in your entire body with heavy weight while loading yourself during the Farmers Walks done instead of rest.

This Metabolic Monster will develop strength, explosive power (while in a fatigued state) and overall work capacity while cranking up your metabolism.


That’s a great one to do on your next total body conditioning day.

Check out the full Metabolic Monsters program for 50+ more workouts like it here.

And make it a great week!

- Forest Vance
Certified Personal Trainer
Master of Science, Human Movement

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5-4-3 Hill Training Workout

Team FVT completed the San Fran Spartan Super last weekend:

And I’m not going to lie – it was HARD!!

Not so much the distance … 8.5 miles of running / hiking / walking is challenging, don’t get me wrong … but if you are in condition for it, very do-able …

Not so much the obstacles … though they were varied and challenging, we were pretty well prepared for them …

The course and the conditions are what made this one so brutal.

There were 4 mile or mile and a half hills that were just KILLER.  SUPER steep – almost everyone was slowed to a walk.  The carry obstacles – carrying a sandbag and carrying a bucket of gravel – were on the final two hills, which seemed especially mean :)  It was hot – between 90-100 degrees – with very little shade … and the water stations, surprisingly, were few and far between.

But hey – we all felt GREAT the next day for having accomplished such a feat.

And the reason I am telling you about this in such detail is because I have a killer hill workout for you to try today.

This will help you train for doing something like the Spartan Race, if you are so inclined …

Or you can just use it to get into awesome shape.

It’s from from the Metabolic Monsters workout collection - and it’ll get ya! ;)

Check it out:


5-4-3 Hill Training Workout
by Nick Nilsson, creator, Metabolic Monsters

Naturally, you’re going to need access to a hill for this circuit. The hill that I use is about 30 degrees incline and about 50-60 meters or so of distance straight up.

Round 1 – Speed/Power Training 

– 5 rounds of 95% speed sprints
– Your rest is how long it takes to walk back down
– By 95%, I mean not full-out sprints. Perform them just slightly under max speed.
– Rest 3-4 minutes before going to Round 2 or until you get relatively complete recovery.

Round 2 – Power/Explosive Training 

– 4 total rounds of kettlebell swing throws up the hill.  You’re going to alternate between two different types of swing/throws.
– First, you’ll do single-arm swing-throws with a smaller kettlebell (I used a 25 lb kettlebell).  After you heave it, run to the landing spot and repeat (start running before it hits the ground).  Do this all the way to the top then walk back down, carrying the kettlebell. That’s your rest.
– Second, do two-arm swing-throws with a heavier kettlebell (I used a 53 lb kettlebell for this). Walk to the landing spot because honestly, it’s bloody impossible to run at that point in the workout. Repeat this all the way to the top then walk back down, carrying the kettlebell. That’s your rest.
– Go back to the first one-arm swing/throws, then finish with another round of twoarm swing/throws. Rest 3-4 minutes before going to Round 3 or until you get relatively complete recovery.

Round 3 – Strength/Endurance Training 

– 3 times up and down the hill without stopping (just turn around and head straight back up) wearing an 85 lb weight vest and two 20-lb ankle weights (to hit the hip flexors). Total extra weight 125 lbs.
– If you don’t have a weight vest or ankle weights, you can do a Farmers Walk carry instead (though you may find your grip gives out partway through…in that case, take a brief rest and continue once you’re able).


WOOO doggy – that’s gonna be TOUGH!!

Enjoy ;)

And for dozens and dozens more workouts like this one, check out Metabolic Monsters by clicking here.

Thanks for reading, have a great day -

- Forest Vance
Certified Personal Trainer
Master of Science, Human Movement

Posted in Motivational, Workout | Leave a comment

meet John :)

I am so proud of my personal training client John.

When he first started training at FVT, he thought he was in pretty good shape, especially for being over 50 … he was about 220 pounds or so, and though he wasn’t really doing anything fitness-wise at the time, he had worked out at various gyms and had done other fitness programs in the past.

fat john

Thing was, John would work out on his own, but he knew he would not always do it right.

Not only that, he kept getting hurt, and as a result would have to stop training and would lose much of the progress he worked so hard for.

Since starting on our program, John has made some AMAZING changes and improvements … in not only his fitness, but his quality of life!

He has lost over 20 pounds (he’s gone from a little over 220 to 196), but more importantly, he has also totally changed his “body shape”. He’s lost two pants sizes, and gained muscle in the upper body – in the arms and chest. He’s also put on some lean mass in the legs, where he wasn’t as inclined to focus on when training on his own :)

John has improved his flexibility and mobility, and is not getting injured like he was before. Which is SO important, because now he can train consistently without having to take breaks and miss workouts, and lose the progress he’s worked so hard for.

Finally, when it comes to doing active things like hiking and biking and walking, it’s a world of difference from before, in just how easy it is. John feels better and more energetic, and truly has a new outlook on life.

Congrats to you John!

We are honored to have you as a loyal client at FVT, and are so glad to be a part of the transformation you’ve made.

Now John made his transformation by training hard, training smart, and training consistently – about three hours per week, total.

He’s also made some simple – but POWERFUL – changes to his eating habits, that have made ALL the difference.

If you would like my help in making similar changes, I recommend you start here:

=> John’s Training + Nutrition Plan

This is the training and nutrition plan that John followed to make this dramatic body transformation – and still follows to this day as he pursues new goals.

If you have similar goals to John, I recommend that you get this plan and follow it to a “T” -

I think you will be blown away by the results!

Thanks -

- Forest Vance
Certified Personal Trainer
Master of Science, Human Movement

PS - Check out the workout and diet plan John followed to make his transformation here:


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NFL Squat Workout (don’t try this at home)

jj watt back squat

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 …

And 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! :)

So I was FOCUSED.  I experienced some of the the HARDEST workouts of my life at this point in time … and I also made some of the most amazing gains …

See, 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 did it with a training partner – and he threw up not once, not twice, but three times – during the session!

Pushing yourself mentally and physically like this every once in a while – being safe and using good judgement of course – I think is a GREAT thing for your long term progress.  You not only test yourself from a fitness standpoint, you test your MIND – which is at least as important when it comes to reaching your ultimate training goals.

So keep training hard.  Don’t give up.  And talk soon -

Forest Vance
Certified Personal Trainer
Master of Science, Human Movement

PS - If you are looking for “NFL level” mental toughness … but you’re not planning on playing pro football anytime soon … I recommend you check out:

=> Strength Psychology

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weak, small, and afraid of EVERYTHING

Mike Gillette was one of the smallest and weakest kids in his class who grew up in a household over-whelmed by domestic violence and substance abuse.

Yet, he overcame all this to become a real life action hero.

It’s a life which includes time spent as:

– An army paratrooper

– A SWAT commander

– A member of the Martial Arts Masters Hall of Fame

– A counter-terrorism consultant to the Department of Homeland Security

– A bodyguard to Fortune 500 executives and film stars, like Sylvester Stallone, and…

– A record-setting strongman who has been featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and Guinness World Records

He has over 25 different use-of-force and weapons systems instructor designations to his name. He’s been an in-demand tactical trainer for a literal alphabet soup of elite government agencies – FBI, DEA, DHS and TSA (in fact, he literally wrote the training manual for those last two).

You’d look at all those accolades and, like me, think to yourself “man, he must have been BORN a hero…”

But you’d be wrong.

You see, when Mike was a child he couldn’t have been further away from the person he is today.

He was small. He was weak. And he was afraid of EVERYTHING.

His personal story is one of weakness transformed into strength.

Because mental strength isn’t genetic. You’re not born with toughness of mind.

No. Mike developed a tough mind by dealing with what life threw at him.

He knows what it takes to go from your ‘today’ self to your tough-minded ‘warrior’ self.

Listen to an interview with him at the link below – I LOVE listening to interviews, and this is one you don’t want to miss:


- Forest Vance
Certified Personal Trainer
Master of Science, Human Movement

Learn the 3 Psychological ‘Shortcuts’ Used by Special Forces and Secretive Government Agencies that Rapidly Transforms Ordinary Guys into Tough Minded, Nerves of Steel, Combat-Ready ‘Warriors’

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