Thursday, 10 May 2012

Interview with Will Metcalf, CMS and All-Round Legend

There is no denying that Will Metcalf is an outstanding kettlebell sport athlete, not only because he lifts beautifully, but because he has overcome some huge obstacles to get to where he is right now. 

I first met Will in 2010 at the WKC World Championships in Chicago.  Not only was I struck by his immaculate lockouts, but found out quickly after having a chat to him that he is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.  Since then, learning of Will's journey over the last year has made him one of my personal kettlebell sport heroes and I know that many other people have been truly inspired by Will's lifting and his story. 

The following interview gives some wonderful insights into how Will has done so well in this sport and some of the inner workings of his mind that have allowed him to overcome some seriously difficult obstacles.

Will, you're the man!

1.   When, and how, did you first find out about kettlebell sport training and decide you wanted to do it?
This is funny because I flopped around for a while thinking I was doing KB sport training, was having some success based on determination and brawn.  When I first got on the real 5-6 day a week program it was like being hit by a truck

2.   Who is your coach and why did you choose them as a coach?

Chris Duffey- I tell everyone the story he was recommended to my wife Melissa via Maya at the ice chamber.  She and I had watched Maya get her MS in NY a few years ago at the AKC event at Reebok- we were so transfixed by the quality of the lifters- we flat out asked Maya what to do.  We met first with Duff I wasnt really lifting much at the time- was about to have my knee scoped- he saw me do LC with 2x20kg and told me to stop “ that was dog shit” was his quote!  After my surgery he got me to try biathlon… was love at first snatch!

Will 12 Weeks Before the Worlds Last Year
 3.   You’ve had two major operations in the last year – how do you think kettlebell sport training has affected your health and recovery?

(This kind of answers the next 3 questions) Its been two fold really- the surgery for brain aneurism rocked my world, like really thought life was ending.  When I came out of it OK I needed something to prove to myself that I was OK, that I hadn’t lost everything.  However in the very beginning I couldn’t so much as swing and 8KG.  So in that regard the Bells gave me something to focus on yet the surgery made me retrace my Bell work. 
I read the article Surya (like the best lifter out there- woman Jerks like a MACHINE) about how having gone back to the basics and rebuilding had made her better- I figured this was my shot.  Duff and I started small, literally 2 min jerk sets at 6-8rpm with 2x12kg  and thought to really break down everything- once your head is cracked open like a coconut its amazing how your ego goes away and doing the 12/16’s isn’t such a bad thing cause Hell you can lift. 
Will and Coach Duffey and Teammates
I got back to training 12 weeks before Chicago and Duff assured me he’d make me ready- he has yet to disappoint. 
After getting my CMS in Chicago with ease after watching Teammate Scott Tighe get his MS- I knew I was headed back under the knife so again it was time to dial back.  This time it was 10 weeks no bells, no overhead lifting. When I came back from that it was time to work our way to the 32 kgs- Coach duff has been great, he knows when the mental part is weighing you down – he also knows when to tell you to Man the F*ck up and lift. 
I spent the 10 weeks, doing TONS of leg work, fast twitch and power stuff knowing it was going to pay off.  Ive always excelled at snatch because I can keep an abnormally low heart rate( Ive re-done my CMS numbers and never got a heart rate above 152) however the 32…that when the fun starts.  My first “ test with the 32’2 at the end of January I went 28 Jerks and 33/41 snatch…I thought there was NO way possible id ever get there- in comes Duff- lays out a plan, we stick too, try and stay healthy…12 weeks later My PR 80 Jerks ( pretty sure that s2nd all time in North America to Stonges 101) and 136 snatch. 
My key to success has always been that when I rack the bells or pick up the bell- I tell myself there isn’t anyone in the US that wants this more than I do.  It’s not always great but those certain days…that’s what its all about.
4.   Just three months after brain surgery you hit biathlon CMS at the WKC World Championships, how on Earth did you do this?

      See above.

5.   At the IUKL championships you recently competed with the 32kg bells.  How have you coped mentally with losing fitness and dropping back to lighter weights after your surgeries in order to be able to progress so quickly? 

      The keys for me that I found work the best are, having a weekly plan,  Leg work outs at least once a week- no wimpy stuff either ( squats, jump squats, deadlift, good morning’s, box jumps, plyo steps- the real shit) Add Cardio- I do it 5-6 days a week 30-70 minutes a day, then a few times a week I do yoga- it adds to the flexability and calms the central nervos system- you cannot lift under duress!

6.   How many days a week do you train and how long are your training sessions usually?

CMSing it up in Chicago 2011
At least 5 some times6/7  I try and do 1 hour of weights and 1 hour cardio a day on average- some days takes 3-4 hours some days only 45 mins?

7.   Where do you normally train?

I luck out that I can train where I work- Canyon Ranch Lenox, they are fantastic to me and almost never get mad about all the chalk.  It’s a large facility with multiple places to train.  Typically when the weather is warmer I’d do everything in my garage.

8.   Do you ever get frustrated when you train and, if so, how do you deal with that frustration?

HAH!  If you don’t get frustrated you aren’t doing it right.  I do usually when I am chasing something, One day I wanted to crack 150 snatch with the 28kg- I hadn’t been doing much heavy snatch work so when I didn’t get it I got all mad and tried 4 more times to do 10 minute sets the same day- once my hands were completely screwed I learned my lesson.  Now when I have those days I try and do lighter shorter sets just to get the volume in, jerk the 20kgs at 16-18 rpms for 5 mins…that’s some volume.

9.   What advice would you give to others interested in the sport?

Learn the technique, I get everyone can’t afford a coach all the time- spend the money on learning how to do the lifts right- learn them from an ACCOMPLISHED coach- there are tons of coaches out there that continue to produce lifters who cant make the full 10- don’t use those guys!  Biggest advice though- lose the ego, very few men get to competing with the 32’s because they go too early, I know for my size I set the standard for myself in training to not move up until I could do 80-100 jerks and 180-200 snatch with each weight size- oh and you go into the set trying to complete the time….thats the goal.

Will with Andy Fitting
10.   Anything else you’d like to add?
Just a thanks to everyone, My Coach C-Duff, Scott Tighe for commiserating with me, Melissa for dealing with me, You and Rohan for chalking my bell!  And being so supportive. Cate I, The IC crew of Surya, Jessica, Maya and Steven for all the free advice- all the WKC people for the support- Andy, Lifford and of course VF for his passion. 
KB sport is full of some of the most unique people out there- I wouldn’t give it up for the world.


  1. Awesome interview, Will is the man truely an amazing person and athlete. Im glad I have had the privilege of being friends and lifting with Will and coach Duffey.

  2. Great interview. What really resonated with me is the amount of hard work Will must put in.

    I noticed with my own lifting, the more work I did, the faster results came.

    Great work Emily.

  3. Will, you are an inspiration to everyone lifting kbs today. It feels like your journey is just beginning! The sky is the limit.

    Em and Ro--great interview!


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