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10,000 Kettlebell Swings Project – Week #1

Posted Jun 11 2013 10:08pm

10,000 kettlebell swings

What motivates you to exercise?

I exercise because it makes me feel good.  It makes my muscles strong, my joints limber.  I do it because I want to be able to take on life, whatever challenge it might bring.

But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that strength and stamina don’t come about in 15 minutes every other week or so (no matter what internet fitness gurus might tout).  To get stronger, you gotta show up.  And show up again.  And again.  And again…

But here’s the problem – I am busy.  I’m sure you are, too.  I cherish my time to relax and decompress.  And I don’t want to have to fight through complicated workouts, nor do I want to have to constantly come up with complex routines for myself.

As I’ve gotten busier, my workouts get less consistent.  I’ll be too busy to pick up my kettlebells for a week or two, then I’ll hit it extra hard with all my pent up energy and be too sore and tired to do anything the next week.  Start cycle over.

I needed to create a simple program for myself that I could just show up and do, that would also be effective and, most importantly, sustainable.  The older I get, the more I believe there is genius in simplicity.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.  

- Albert Einstein

I had heard years ago that if you want to become an expert at something, you must spend 10,000 hours doing that thing. There is some critical limit that you cross after 10,000 hours where you are far more competent than those who have spent less than 10,000 hours on any skill.

So, basically, practice makes perfect, right?

Well, I don’t have 10,000 hours to devote to something, but I wondered what 10,000 kettlebell swings would do to my body.  I mean, it’s not 10,000 hours, but it’s a start.

Now, I should say that I have definitely done more than 10,000 swings in my life.  When I was training for and competing in kettlebell sport, I probably did a zillion swings, snatches, jerks and whatnot.  But I have a different body now after lots of bodywork, mobility drills, nutrition changes, and time passing.

Kettlebell swings are a terrific exercise to “major in,” because they work nearly every muscle in your body.  Swings primarily hit your glutes, hamstrings and abdominals, but because they’re a multi-joint, functional exercise, these aren’t the only muscles that benefit.  Plus, they help strengthen the antagonists to flexion or sitting muscles – something most of us could use a lot more of.

Enter some quick mental math… I average about 32 swings per minute give or take, but I low balled it and went with 30 (that’s how I roll to make sure I reach my goals).  So, at 30 swings a minute, 10 minutes would be 300 swings.  If I did that three times a week, I’d be doing 900 swings a week.

But 10,000 swings in 10 weeks at 1,000 swings a week is so much tidier, don’t you think?  So I upped it to 11 minutes of swings three times a week at 990 total (plus those extras – remember how we low balled it?).

This all came about after I’d already done a set of 300 swings last Friday, so I was ahead of the game to begin!

Thus, this past week was my first full week of doing 1,000 swings.  I used a 16 kg bell and did intervals of one minute on, one minute off.  After the first day or two, sweet mother of aching muscles my hamstrings were sore!

I questioned my stamina and wondered if this would really be sustainable, but by this Friday, I barely noticed the intervals.  Not that they were easy, mind you, but it was all over before I really started feeling it in my lungs, and my hamstrings aren’t sore at all anymore.

So next week I’ll change it up a little with different weights and shorter rest periods, maybe even throw in some one handed swings, just to keep it interesting.

I should say that after I decided on this challenge for myself, I did a quick Google search to see if anyone else had thought of this (duh, of course they have).  The results that popped up were all mostly around doing 10,000 swings in 30 days.

If you’re super fit and already train with kettlebells regularly, that’s probably a really fun way to push yourself.  I am not doing that because, well, it’s exhausting.  All told, it would add up to 2,500 swings per week.  I need to reserve quite a lot of hand, arm and shoulder strength, not to mention mental awareness, to work on my clients, so I have to keep that in mind.

And is it really sustainable?  If you’re giving yourself a short term challenge, it’s probably fun to try.  But what I’m trying to do is make workouts a priority three times a week (in addition, mind you, to an active lifestyle…I don’t believe gym time negates hours upon hours of sitting day in and day out).

I’ll post weekly on this project and let you know what I notice as I work my way through 10,000 kettlebell swings!  1,300 down, a lot more to go.

What do you think about the 10,000 Kettlebell Swings Project?  How are you staying motivated to consistently get in some good quality exercise?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

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