If there is anything I could get across to help people improve their lives, it would be a couple of things: 1) lies destroy your life, no matter what you temporarily gain by it. 2) stress should not be a part of your live, not in a job, not in a relationship; you only have one life, live it to the fullest. 3) movement is life, stay mobile till the day you die!
Welcome to 2018! We had a little mishap with our scheduled Caveman Athlete Of The Month, we had to think quick on our feet, and that we did, we nominated Taco Fleur, owner of Cavemantraining. Without further ado, I present to you Caveman Taco Fleur.
Name: Taco Fleur
Your nickname: Caveman
Speciality: Kettlebells, Movement, and Progression
Quote: Greatness lives on the edge of destruction
Hey, my name is Taco Fleur, I’m the owner of Cavemantraining, writer of kettlebell ebooks, creator of online kettlebell ecourses, my passion is exploring; exploring the world, exploring movement, teaching, debating, analysing, and creating. I would like to thank everyone for submitting the questions for this interview. I tried to answer as many as I could.
Ryan Johnstone: What is Caveman?
Caveman is something different to everyone, to me it means, being very basic in terms of comfort, convenience; like training bare-feet, no shirt, using whatever is at your disposal to get the job done. Approaching most things with an open mind, no following along like a sheep; listen, analyse, research, discover, implement, change, and use. Being direct and without attempting to disguise unpleasantness, if it’s for the better good.
Ryan Johnstone: What is Cavemantraining?
Cavemantraining is a lifestyle. It’s not a sport, it’s not a fad, it’s a lifestyle that becomes you. It’s magic that improves life, and offers everything anyone and everyone needs. It holds safety and technique in high regard. Its primary objective is movement, movement through all planes, and being able to keep moving through all planes for the duration of your life. Increase flexibility, increase strength, increase mental toughness, and increase your positive outlook on life.
It’s about connecting with the basics, the fundamentals, using what works, not what’s new and in.
Mhanu Boulangier: Why Kettlebells over regular weights?
The question contains a big part of the answer, ‘regular‘, I don’t consider myself a regular guy, I don’t ever want to be regular, and I certainly don’t want to train regular. I’m not a big fan of ordinary, kettlebells are far from ordinary. Having said that, I don’t only train with kettlebells, you might see me mostly with kettlebells, because I don’t really film many other workouts, but I do a lot of calisthenics, CrossFit, and also work with dumbbells, sandbags, TRX etc. I use whatever is the best tool at hand. A good example of mixed equipment can be seen in the Dosmio WOD I designed:
Mhanu Boulangier: Where did you learn your techniques?
I learned my techniques through many forms of information, attending workshops, certifications, watching videos, but mostly by executing the movements, breaking them down, analysing them, trying different things, seeing how they affect the exercise, understanding different goals, knowing how to reach those goals etc. My main approach to technique is realising I never know it all, and need to always keep improving, not being stuck on one approach, not blindly assuming that what’s being taught is the only way, no matter by whom—that includes me.
Mandy Gardner: Tell us something most people don’t know about you?
Tough one. Thanks. I guess the only thing not public knowledge, or something I talk about, would be time spend in several children homes, I also spend years without going to school. Not because I was a bad boy or anything, just circumstances. Don’t really regret missing out on school, as it was a waste of time anyway, when I finally did finish the last 4 years of school, I felt like I left it not being any wiser really. Nothing I do today is based on any of the forgotten knowledge from school.
Mhanu Boulangier: Why do you want to train people?
I enjoy helping people understand movement and exercise, as I believe it’s one of the most important factors that contribute to quality of life. I enjoy seeing people progress, I’ve seen people over and over again, going from not being able to squat below knee line, not being able to press any amount of weight above head, not being able to perform a pull-up, to being able to perform a deep cossack squat, press heavy weight above head with ease, performing multiple pull-ups without breaking a sweat… And I love that, I absolutely love seeing people progress.
Steven Walters: What put you on this fitness journey?
I’ve always been very active, whether it was walking, running, cycling, climbing mountains, etcetera, but if I had to pinpoint it to something, I would say that it was my wife who put me on the journey of teaching others. My wife was a certified trainer before I was, and when we moved to Australia, I helped setup her first fitness venture with my business and marketing skills. I got more and more involved in the training, and our business then grew from outdoor boot camps, to gym, second gym, and so on.
Steven Walters: Why kettlebells?
Because they’re truly the most versatile and safest tool to work with, assuming you have laid the right foundations, and progress safely. Which really applies to any type of training one does, but the kettlebell does come with a higher learning curve than any other exercise tool, hence, the reason most people do not venture as deep into kettlebells as some.
Steven Walters: Based on other kettlebell instructors, you seem like a renegade, why are you so different from others??
To answer this question I had to dig a little deeper.
TF: Steven, can you tell me why you think I’m different to other kettlebell trainers? Then I can probably answer the why.
SW: I say that based on The Best Kettlebell Swing—F Everything Else video. I started swinging the kettlebell after watching many videos and reading books from the library, you’re the only person to say that! It’s refreshing not to pigeon hole into thinking there is only one way to swing.
I guess what sets me apart is that I don’t conform, I don’t do what’s best to get people to like me, I do what’s best for the people, whether they like it or not. This doesn’t always mean I’m right, but going against the grain has provided more benefits for myself and others, and allowed me to discover so much more. Here’s a great recent example, I might be shunned today for saying something as crazy as “Chest press should not go past parallel”, but years down the track there might be some research that says I was right. Or the opposite and expose me as a loser. Either way, I tried.
If I did conform, I would have been put in the box of either ‘Hardstyle Guy’ or ‘Softstyle Guy’, and I believe there is so much more than that. Just because the two ‘main’ kettlebell icons are ‘RKC / StrongFirst’ and ‘Kettlebell Sport’ doesn’t mean that you need to choose one, and squeeze yourself into one of those boxes. There is so much more out there. It’s been a hard road, but I never veered from its path, it took me a long time to get the answers, and I believe I have some important answers to regular questions/observations/comments made on our YouTube channel. Let’s take the swing, which you mentioned above, I made that video after receiving probably the onehundred comment from a ‘Hardstyle Guy’, saying that’s not a good swing, it’s not right, and I’m a cowboy. I mean no disrespect, as most RKC and Hardstyle people really know their stuff, they’re strong; but it’s such a shame that in general they’re not respecting the fact that there is other stuff out there—it all seems black or white for them. Why not think: this is how we swing, it’s for a reason, the reason is to get fast heavy low reps out. But there are other types of swings, and they’re not wrong, as long as they’re safe and work towards an objective.
Steven Walters: Where you from?
I was born in Amsterdam The Netherlands, left the place before I was 20, then lived in Spain for many years, met my wife, then moved to Australia where our son grew up for 13 years, moved to Vietnam to live the quiet life (which never happened), then Thailand, and now back in Spain. I mention all these, because, wherever I lay my kettlebell, that’s my home.
Tyler B Clark: Why always the kettle bell? Work out with anything else…?
Hi Tyler, lucky that you only added a space to the name, and not used an ‘a’ in the last part of the word. That would have been 100 burpees next time I see you in Spain!. I use the kettlebell often, because I use what’s best for my body, what’s best to keep me flexible, agile, mobile, and strong. If the best tool was a barbell, you would see me more with that. Indeed, I work out with barbells too in the additional CrossFit sessions I attend 2 to 3 times a week.
Corrie Menendez: What do you tell yourself during a hard workout to keep form and focus?
Good question Corrie, I tell myself, “safety is more important than coming first”, “you’re working out to get stronger and better”. I pay extreme attention to form, even though I participate in a lot of competitive WODs, I always put form and technique first, no matter whether that means I don’t come in first, which it usually does! I simply can’t do it, it’s like lying to myself, and I respect myself too much to be doing that. For example, I sometimes see burpees done in which the sight remain focussed on the ground, backs are rounded, all to speed up the reps. I make sure my eyesight is ahead at the top of the burpee, my shoulders are back, I’m back in neutral position before I do my next rep, and most importantly, if I can’t maintain form on my next rep, I will rest until I can.
Iulia Lupa Ex Park: Where you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years I’ll be 49, and I see myself fitter, more flexible, stronger, wiser, and even more happier than today. The body and mind are amazing, if you spend time on learning to get to know them, you will always become a better version of yourself. PS. still waiting for you two to turn up for that mountain walk! 🙂
Anna Junghans: If there was only one KB exercise you could do for the rest of your life what would that be and why?
It would be a battle between the snatch and bent press. But I think the snatch would win, because I always tend to lean more towards explosive heart raising exercises, rather than strength. The bent press would be second, because it works so many muscle groups in one exercise, it works strength, flexibility, there is rotation etc.
Rosaly Jansen: How you get to look so good on photos?
Claire MacIntyre: What are your short/med/long term goals?
My short term goals are working towards the long term goals 🙂 My long term goals are to have Cavemantraining.com recognised as an incredible, reliable, unconventional source of fitness information for people around the world. To have other similar people aligned with our views participate, and make their living from sharing their knowledge on Cavemantraining.com. To create a fitness community, not only online, but also offline, that helps people find their true potential, understand how to maintain their lifestyle, and how to become happy. I know ‘happy’ sounds corny, but in the end that’s what it’s all about, if one can’t move freely, one is not happy. If one is unhealthy, one is not happy. I’m so happy, that all I need is a kettlebell, and my family.
Emma Ward: Basic history of yourself, why you do what you do, and how that benefits you and your family?
Hi Emma, most questions above already covered the basics, so I’ll address “how does what I do benefit my family”. I believe that movement is a huge part of the key to happiness, so the fitness values that I instil in my son will benefit him tremendously. I actually believe that it’s a crime if one does not teach movement to their kids, whether direct or indirectly. The kids eventually lose their ability to function properly, they lose squat technique, thoracic mobility, overhead mobility, strength to perform potential life saving tasks like pull-up, push-up etc. All of this has a waterfall effect, and attributes to a non productive life.
Kim Hansen: What drives you! You put a lot of effort in showing people how to train. Is it worth it?
It’s worth it, for sure, the joy it gives me to see someone progress, and appreciate the tips given to them, is always worth it. The knowledge and training I provide helps people stay injury free, to fend for themselves, become confident, and so much more.
David Roy Moore: If you could go back in time what’s the one thing you would change?
If there was one thing I could change, I would go back to stop my mother from taking the LSD that drove her down a path of madness. A life full of sadness for her, destroying my grandfathers life, and what not. I would want a better life for her. As for me, I’m perfectly happy where I am, knowing that changing anything in the past, would change where I am now. Even a change for my mother, would mean I would not be where I am now, as I probably would have never left the Netherlands at a young age, which is something that gave me the best life experience ever. I’m the man I am today, because of what has happened to me, one change, could change everything. In other words, I have no regrets.
Don Giafardino: Well I’ve never been to Spain. But I kinda like the music. They say the ladies are insane there. And they sure know how to use it. Is this true?
Hey Don, who’s ‘they’? The music is full of passion, the place is full of history and culture, which I absolutely love. The sea, the beach, the mountains, everything is awesome here. I’m also unsure about what they’re using? So, I can’t say if it’s true or not. But come down, bring a few Maces, and we go and check it out together.
Colette Copland: Do you have a favourite KB? Do they have names?
I care about each and everyone of them, I would not leave one behind on a mountain! Like on this 11 hour hike of hell, well, to me it was heaven, but… There was talk about leaving a kettlebell behind, but, over my dead body.
Never thought about giving them names.
Colette Copland: Are your wrists bruised?
Nope. Not when snatching or cleaning. Bruised wrists means incorrect technique, which can be one or several of the following:
- Incorrect power generation
- Not opening up the hand
- Tight grip
- Not corkscrewing
- Incorrect trajectory
- And so on
Great time to plug the Cavemantraining online kettlebell courses that teach you how to prevent all this.
Emma Roberts: Where did kettlebell training originate from and what is the history behind it?
In short: the kettlebell was way different when it first was used, in fact, it was not used for training, but for weighing crops in Russia, i.e. they’d hang 1 pood (16 kilo) on one side, add another if required, to create balance, once balance was obtained, they knew what the approx. weight was. Then I think they got stuck into the Vodka, and the macho men wanted to show their abilities by lifting several poods in ways I would love to have seen as a fly on the wall! From there the kettlebell got refined with a different shape and handle, to be more appropriate to train with. Then a guy called Pavel carried one of these babies over to the USA, he then got an interview in a famous magazine, and the rest is history. Yeah, not sure about the Vodka, but the rest is pretty much on par, which is what you can see in this video if you have the time, lots more other info too:
Emma Roberts: How often do you train with kettlebells per day/week?
I pick a kettlebell up pretty much every other day, if not just to move it out of the way. I train 2 to 3 times a week with the kettlebell, but it also depends on what else I’ve been doing, because I also do CrossFit, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. And sometimes, as you know all too well, I do these crazy long walks with a kettlebell, after which I have to recover for a week!
Emma Roberts: How many years have you been training with kettlebells?
I’ve first touched a kettlebell back in 2004 when my wife started her fitness venture, it was just the usual thing that most people do with kettlebells, i.e. farmer walks, presses, and attempts at swinging. Then around 2009 I got more serious about the kettlebell, and started to understand how they’re the best tool for training.
Emma Roberts: when will my fore arms not hurt from our Sunday’s session?
They will stop hurting once the following concepts are understood and implemented, which are; generating just enough power with the legs to make the bell float at the right height, to allow opening up of the hand, corkscrewing, and letting the bell land softly into racking position, rather than letting it bang. A couple of other important things that will help with that are; no gloves, a heavier weight, and coming more regularly will help too 🙂
Tracy Fukuoka: What core fundamental KB skills should a beginner master before moving on to the next level?
The core skills that anyone who wants to keep training with kettlebells should learn and perfect, before moving on to more complicated stuff are:
- Assisted clean (squat)
- Dead clean (squat)
- Hand insertion
- Hip hinge
- Deadlift (hip hinge)
- Hang lift (hip hinge)
- Double-arm swing (hip hinge)
- Single-arm swing (hip hinge)
- Swing clean
Those are the ultimate basics and fundamentals that would apply to most people that want to get serious about training with kettlebells. Most often though, there is not enough time spend on hand insertion or racking. Which all leads to bruised wrists, and potentially giving up on one of the best training tools.
Jay Evans: What nutrition advice would you give someone looking to loose weight, but gain strength and endurance for long distance events?
I wouldn’t give any advice here, as I only provide advice on the things I truly feel knowledgeable about, nutrition and sport can get quite complex, and long distance events certainly are not one of my skills. When it comes to nutrition I simply listen to what my wife tells me to eat, as she’s the nutrition expert between us.
Jerry Gray: How & when did you get involved with kettlebells. Did you attend any workshops?
Hi Jerry, yes I did attend many workshops and certifications, I do find that most of them did not cover the fundamentals, or they felt rushed, i.e. it was all about the continuing education credits, rather than the knowledge.
Heather Underwood: Give a one sentence description of each of the kettlebell styles and the benefit of each.
I will assume the styles to cover are Hardstyle, Softstyle, Juggling, and due to lack of name, what I call Caveman Kettlebells:
- Hardstyle: fast, short, maximum effort, and heavy; objective to get more explosive and stronger
- Softstyle: paced with sprints, long, efficiency, and mixed weights; objective to increase endurance and do more reps
- Juggling: everything is mixed; objective to move the kettlebell through all planes of movement, improve hand eye coordination, proprioception, and agility
- Caveman Kettlebells: learn all of the above, and what’s in between, employ what’s best for your goals at any given time
Mike Lasnier: What advantages do Kettlebells have over training with barbells?
I have written about this before and will list a link to more info, but as a summary I would say that kettlebells:
- Are a unilateral tool
- Allow natural adjustments during movement
- Can travel through all planes of movement
If you go to the following article and scroll down to Barbell vs Kettlebell, I created a comparison chart, which clearly lists the pros and cons.
Denice Harlow Johnson: Is there a “best” workout duration and number of days per week to train strength versus cardio?
There is no magic number that works for all. The best workout duration would the one that works best for your goals, based on what you’re doing, and how you’re feeling.
Tom Kreider: What is the best way for a novice to get aquatinted with Kettlebells?
It would depend on how you want to learn, how much time you have, and probably the deciding factor, how much you want to spend. Getting a good coach to work with you would be the best way to get acquainted with kettlebells. If you want free resources, you should check out the work we’ve been putting together for free over the past years Kettlebell Fundamentals, if you wanted something with more in-depth knowledge and coaching time included, I would recommend our online courses. Joining one of our Facebook groups is also a great way to learn more.
Mark Ashton: What’s the least number of kb exercises to get a workout of all the major muscle groups – and what are the exercises.
Interesting question, and easy to answer. That will be what I call Worlds Best Kettlebell Combo. It works the core, cardio, explosiveness, flexibility, timing and mobility. It’s a squat thruster and half snatch. Rack, squat, hip hinge, pulling and overhead work in one combo! If it was the only two exercises I could do, and to get the most out of them, I would change the drop from overhead, to an eccentric press.
Mark Ashton: Can kb exercises replace dips and pull-ups which currently I add to my kB training?
I don’t think that pull-ups should be replaced, I include them in my training regularly. But if there was no other option, and we had to come up with the best exercises to replace pull-ups, I would say the Bent Press is the best. As for kettlebell exercises replacing dips, it could never replace the actual exercise, but I think that if we’re talking about the effects of the exercise, if we want to get stronger triceps, then I’d say “Hell yes!”. Try some heavy overhead holds, overhead walks, tricep presses, even skull crushers (although not as great as the others mentioned).
Peter Hagen: What are the relative benefits of swinging with heavier or lighter weights? Have you found benefit in a “supper heavy” (100+ lb) kettlebell?
Really, as with any exercise, the more load, the more resistance, the more benefits for hypertrophy or strength. The lighter the weight, the more you can work on cardio and endurance. I’ve never swung a kettlebell heavier than 40kg (which is 88lb), I sure do feel it more in the glutes and hammies than with any other weight.
Juan Meza: What is the difference between Russian swing and American swing?
Ha, love this one. One you should never do! I tell a lie, one you should not do with heavy weight. More info here The American Kettlebell Swing, Should You Do It?
But if you want a short explanation, the American swing is usually a continuation of the Russian swing, i.e. the Russian swing ends chest height, the American swing continues from there, usually with a shoulder raise. If you want to get efficient at the American swing, you treat it like a double-arm snatch. I truly, truly hate heavy American swings. Just had to do them the other day with 32kg, and several times did it almost topple over to the other side. Understand that the movement standard (the requirements for a rep to count) is base facing up, ears past the biceps, i.e. this heavy mother is balancing above your head upside down; deciding whether it goes back down the way it came up, or hit you in the back of your head. Now pair this with some fatigue. The more I write about the American swing, the more I do it, the more I start leaning to the side of, cut this ugly mofo out all together.
Nikki Banks: Do you get into a mind-frame before training. A lot of people when interviewed say that they can get a great workout by thinking of something to create a mood ( powerlifters use Anger for example).
I had to think about that, and I believe that there is nothing I need to do, to get in the mood. Believe it or not, but I’m in the mood 99.9% of the time. But if I have a serious workout and need to push to get to the end, all I do is focus on the end, not about the current rep count, just the end.
Dániel Horváth: Would you recommend getting heavier bells than 32kg for the average guy who only wanna get/stay fit? Or go double 32 if he is up to challenges instead of 36 and so on?
That all really depends on the goals, and the level of technique the ‘average’ guy is at. Both single and double bells are good, they have different effects on the body during training.
Guys, thank you. Feel free to discuss any of this further on:
If you had to interview me for an article, what questions would you ask?