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Indianapolis Colts Strength & Conditioning Coach, Jon Torine Discusses Kettlebells and CK-FMS

January 18, 2011 09:00 AM

Getting into the strategic template of strength coach Jon Torine is not easy. As strength and conditioning coach for the Indianapolis Colts, his training techniques can help or hurt a player, a fact he knows all too well. So, implementing techniques that work has become the goal of his career. Finding techniques, he has found, is easy, but finding the right ones can take some trial and error.

When Torine discovered Kettlebells, he found one of the most effective techniques for his template, a way to challenge not only the players’ strength, but also their mobility and stability, a way to maximize their genetics to the ultimate. But when he found out about CK-FMS, the training even went a step further.

The CK-FMS (Certified Kettlebell-Functional Movement Specialist) program helps physical trainers and coaches to identify and correct training issues with their clients, or in Torine’s case—with his players. From looking at placement to movement, this training shows how to maximize the power of the Kettlebell by making sure the individual is doing the exercise to the best of his or her ability, eliminating poor movements rapidly and turning out faster results. It also allows trainers to better measure the client’s results and cater the program to the individual. The CK-FMS program is a seminar, but also comes as a home-study program. We asked him about his experience with the program, with Kettlebells and about his career.

When did you start doing Kettlebells and what was your initial response?

I learned the FMS in 2001/2002, Kettlebells a couple of years ago. Gray Cook, MS, PT, OCS, CSCS, RKC had learned Kettlebells and ran it past me. We started doing basic things he thought would help us out: arm bars, get ups, swings… When I met with him and started doing program, I started seeing changes I couldn’t believe. Now, Gray could tell me to run into a parked car and I probably would do it.

I understand Gray was able to help you correct a technique with one of your players. Tell me about that.

When doing get-ups, a couple years ago, I saw a pattern. One of the players said something was wrong with one particular exercise; I started seeing dysfunction while players were performing it. I told Gray Cook. He said he was working on that [issue' right now. When he got done and showed me his solution, we were able to take the Turkish get-up to a level I never thought possible.

What do you think about the CK-FMS program that Gray helped to create with Brett Jones, Master RKC, MS, CSCS? I understand you watched the home-study program.

I have watched all 15 DVDs of the CK-FMS Home Program. I am a harsh critic. I have a tough filter for systems and programs. This is absolutely an A+. I don’t give out As too easily. This was outstanding. It’s a gold mine as a strength coach. I picked up nuggets I have already implemented this week. This is something I can and do truly use. There is so much information it could be a bit overwhelming. I re-watched it already. It utilizes the basics of assistive, RNT, (static, dynamic), Resistive and Explosive exercises.

Is it better to do CK-FMS with Gray and Brett in the seminar or do the home program or both?

The best thing is to do both, but if you have been around this for awhile, it won’t do you a disservice to just do the home program. You can do it on your own time. I have watched it a few times.

What makes Kettlebells so effective?

I don’t believe you get strength without movement efficiency. Being just strong doesn’t mean much without fluid movement; it’s staying strong and stable while being harassed, that’s what you need in football and that’s what I believe Kettlebells does for you. The ability to stand in different positions and lift is more impressive than just bench pressing, although we do regular lifts as well; but a player standing in a scissors stance or a good loaded single leg deadlift is more impressive. If you told me 8 years ago I would say that, I wouldn’t have believed you. Kettlebells are bio-mechanically correct. Instead of letting the weight do the work for you, the Kettlebells make you do the work. I think it is the principles around the tool or because of the offset center of gravity. Regardless of what you do, it works. I love that it forces you to move in order for it to move.

The players can see automatically how the moves we do with Kettlebells are really related to what we do on the field. They’ll tell you before you tell them. Swings are related to hip hinging movements. It is absolutely incredible. We use dumbbells too, but Kettlebells are what really makes it happen. Athletes want to be athletes. Using Kettlebells really shows off their athleticism. It’s right up their alley.

How did you introduce Kettlebells to them?

We started off slowly to let them get used to them, doing the arm bars first. We started seeing true stability taking over. Later, we did snatches, high pulls, swings… I learned along with them. What I learned last year, I implement this year. They know I am probably one of the most conservative coaches as far as working with their bodies. I’m more paranoid than they are. They know I am not going to just put them through some fad.

How do you determine what is good or bad for your players?

When finding a technique, I take a few steps back, take a breath and ask "does this fit into our template, our system?"

How do you measure results?

It is tough to measure results. We look at power numbers, meters per second, watts generated, movement screens, see if loads are appropriate, if they are good in get-ups, dead lifts, chins, etc. We look at if the guy can do a single leg squat on his own with Kettlebells. We are big on body composition. We look to see if a player can lift respectable loads, has power, individual and position specific body composition, anaerobic endurance, good movement capability, good nutrition. We teach about circadian rhythm and sleep. Everything is important and affects the game. We meet with each player individually to go over their goals. We give them a whole plan and they execute it. It is different for each player. We try to maximize their genetics. In the NFL, the only result that matters is the won/loss record and realizing you win as a team and you lose as a team. Each one of us (players, coaches, staff) has a role that is clearly defined and, at the end of the season, either we all succeeded or we didn’t.

What is you favorite Kettlebell routine?

The Turkish get-up, the single arm/ single leg dead lifts and swings. I have implemented these strategies into my template and that is a tough club to get in.

What advice would you have for other coaches?

First, screen your team. Clean up poor movement patterns. Learn as much as you can. Don’t implement everything, filter (how and why). Everything you see on the Internet is not necessarily applicable. Earn your people’s trust so that when you implement something, they will trust you because of your proven history and know that you are not the next fly-by-night and aren’t going to put them through the next big fad that may or may not be good. Be as specific to the sport as you can. Your role is a support role. You are there to aide the success of the player. If it doesn’t help the player prepare for the game on Sunday in a safe and productive manner, ask yourself why you are doing it.

How did you get into being a strength & conditioning coach?

I had been around football and martial arts my whole life. I loved sports but knew I wasn’t the best athlete. I didn’t even know that this job was a possibility. When someone told me, I couldn’t believe it was something I could get paid to do.

Professionally, I am one of the luckiest people I know. When I came out of Springfield College in Massachusetts, I was fortunate enough to volunteer with Rusty Jones with the Buffalo Bills. I tried to soak up as much as I could. But, I couldn’t afford to live there. I was getting ready to leave when they told me they wanted me to stay and give me a position as an Assistant Strength Coach. I thought there were 20 million people more qualified than me. I was really surprised. Taking that position was an awesome experience.

In 1998, got the chance to interview with the Colts. They hired me because they liked Rusty’s style and I was Rusty’s understudy, in a sense. I have been here ever since.

Besides coaching, how do you spend your time?

I am getting ready for a mini-marathon. I use Kettlebells, too, as part of my routine, although, what is hard for me is too easy for the players. I don’t have as much time as I would like so I don’t do certain things I would like to do, like RKC, because my boys and my wife take priority for me. I have a six-year-old boy and a 5-year-old boy.