Last month I took on a challenge to do 10000 kettlebell swings in a month (editors note: yes, ten thousand). This was something I had seen posted by coach Dan John. I fancied something different for a few weeks, and this definitely fit the bill.
|It proved to be a fun and challenging four weeks. 20 workouts over 27 days (plus a few extras), 500 swings a time. I did week one with a 24kg bell, 2-3 with the 32kg and the last with the 40kg.
My aim was to include as much volume as possible with plenty of hypertrophy/strength endurance type work, with a good dose of heavier strength work thrown in. There were also plenty of correctives, as Dan would call them thrown in too. (Plenty of single leg and shoulder prehab work)
I finished slightly bigger, leaner, hit personal bests in my back squat twice, front squat, barbell Turkish get up three times, fat grip trap bar deadlift and my ass is solid! So I'd say I definitely got something positive out of that four weeks….
I was asked during the final week if I thought this was a good thing to do, and what results did I see. From a programming stand point, I wouldn't exactly say including 500x KB swings a day 5 days a week for 4 weeks is sensible programming, but it is definitely beneficial to take on challenges from time to time that stretch you and make you step outside of your comfort zone.
At times getting through the swings, especially with some of the combinations and high level of volume I threw together, became every bit a psychological test as much a physical one. I liked that about it.
A strong body requires a strong mind. What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve. That works in reverse also.
From a physical standpoint, the high volume of work for the posterior chain definitely had a carry over to other lifts. Those squat PB's hit during the challenge I'd say came largely down to stronger and more active glutes. My midline stability is also a lot stronger. Two areas that don't always get enough focus in a training program.
I honestly didn’t find the swings themselves that challenging to begin with, hence upping the weight of the bell used as the weeks went along. The limiting factor at any point was grip. I found no issues with the lower back or glutes, as long as mobility was kept on top of.
If you’re feeling strain in your lower back when doing swings, you’re probably doing them wrong. Kettlebell swings don’t hurt backs, swings done poorly hurt backs. Work capacity feels like it has improved after a lot of work, so it will be interesting to see how this carries over when I get back to rowing and all the other myriad of ‘fun’ I like to put myself through.
If you never test yourself, you'll never truly know what you're capable of. There is a time and a place for comfort zones, but the real achievements, progress and magic happens when you push your boundaries.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Hard work and effort wins at the end of the day in my book.
If you're looking for something different to do, and fancy a challenge for four weeks, then you could maybe think about giving this a go.
Caveat, if you’re not proficient at the hinge and kettlebell swing, you’re probably not ready to be attempting to throw a heavy weight between your legs 10000 times in a month.
If you do indeed give this a go, be as simple or creative as you like with how you get the swings in and push your limits, relative to your training age and experience level.
Also pay close attention to recovery. Soft tissue work, mobility, plenty of food, water and sleep are all as important as the work itself.
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