Like many of you, the pandemic began, schedules became fluid, time was freed up, and this allowed for putting time into personal wellness. I took some online classes and put more time into my trainings and running. Because now I could. But as this pandemic has drawn on, enthusiasm for training at home has waned. I needed something to give me a fresh sense of motivation again.
This was when I happened to ask a friend about his New Year’s resolutions and he jokingly challenged me to do 10,000 kettlebell swings in January. At least I thought he was joking. I had never done more than 300 in a single training session so committing to 10,000 in 31 days seemed daunting. This challenge was a modified version of Coach Dan John’s 10,000 kettlebell swings in 20 days challenge. If you don’t know who Dan John is (check him out on IG @CoachDanJohn), he is an author and strength coach, as well as competitive athlete, who gives great training advice.
That’s 322.5806 Kettlebell Swings a Day.
When I broke the challenge down it looked like 322.5806 swings a day, give or take. I figured I could give it a try. If things got too painful I could abandon ship (even though this is not exactly my MO). There didn’t need to be a time frame, so I could do some here and there throughout the day. It might even prove useful, doing a few swings between my therapy sessions, breaking up a long day of sitting. Sitting all day is not the best for posture or your back. I’d make this my “Everest” for 2021 and have achieved my New Year’s resolution by the end of the first month!
The first day I started with a round of 200 swings with a 16kg competition style kettlebell from Rogue Fitness. Technically this is a bit light for me, but because I was committing to a volume I was unfamiliar with, I was trying to be careful and not get injured. Later that day I was feeling good, and a little competitive, and did 300 more. I really don’t like to fall behind.
I did 15 reps in 20 seconds, then rested 45 seconds before beginning my next set. The next day I only did 200, trying to preemptively manage soreness, fatigue, and burnout. I stuck with 16kg for the month of January, varying the number I did each day while keeping an eye on the goal. Sometimes I did 600. One day I even did 1000. This was a huge breakthrough for me. I never would have thought that I could do so many swings in one sitting.
Meeting One Goal Inspires Another
When I completed January with 11,000 swings, I felt like I had accomplished something great. Not only that, after only a month I noticed muscle definition in my arms and back that had disappeared over the last few months of pandemic. And what I learned has been astounding. If you know anything about kettlebell swings then you know they are famous for being a full body workout, recruiting core, back, glutes and legs. They improve fast twitch muscle fibers, build strength, burn fat and increase power. Used by many different athletes, runners and basketball players alike to improve their push off and jump, they are a great and fast way to see changes in muscle definition, aerobic activity and endurance.
Another thing I learned from putting effort into only one move that is easy to master, not only did I “grease the groove,” like Pavel Tsatsouline calls it in his book Kettlebell – Simple & Sinister, but I achieved something I could then build on. Which I did. I committed to doing 10,000 swings every month for 2021 and subsequently completed 10,000 kettlebells swings in 17 days with a 20kg bell in February. Even faster than Dan John’s 20-day challenge.
I’m now looking forward to my 2021 training year in a way I could not have anticipated. I have goals and benchmarks. Though, alas, no Sherpas.
What will be your Everest this year?