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Here at Eat.Move.Hack. we love a good fitness challenge. In 2013 I did 52 triathlons in 52 weeks in support of a local charity. In 2018 I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. I’ve tackled many fitness challenges throughout the years. I do this because I like to see what I’m capable of. This is especially true as I get older – I’d like to keep seeing how I perform as I age. So, while I’ve been stuck at home I decided to try a challenge that I’ve done before – 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge in 30 days – except with a twist (keep reading to see the EMH twist). I will talk with you through the program so you can give it a try if you are eager for something new.
10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge – What Is It?
Well, I know it may sound overly simple, but the 10,000 swing kettlebell workout is, quite simply, 10,000 reps in 30 days. Simple, right?
It is a strength movement that strengthens the entire posterior chain, primarily through the use of a dynamic hip hinge.
The challenge begins to really emerge when you start thinking through the logistics. Getting through the 30 days can be done in a few ways.
The simplest path is dividing 10,000 by 30 which will lead to 333 swings per day. This is the simplest path forward, but it does not provide any rest days.
No rest days means no margin for error (or injury).
If you want to have two rest days throughout the month then your daily total will grow. It will go from 333 swings to 357. Not much of a daily increase to provide you with two rest days.
You then can decide whether you are going to need to decide how to break it down even further.
Of the 333 will you do just under 7 sets of 50? Maybe sets of 100 swings?
Don’t get too eager from the start. 100 swings is a lot in each set. 50 swings is a lot. Start modest and build up from there.
Alright, so what about a day off per week? This will bump your daily total up to about 384 with 4 rest days.
Why Plan on Rest Days?
Rest days may seem like the weak path through such a challenge. And, some people may not end up needing rest days.
However, as someone that has been through this challenge twice, I would recommend planning them in.
If you have not done this level of kettlebell swings then your hands might show the signs of abuse.
The repetitive movement will eventually lead to calluses on the upper palm of your hands. But, you know what comes before calluses? Blisters. Rest days will provide your hands with a break.
Rest days also allow your muscles to repair and grow stronger. Most people think that strength is grown during working out. In reality, your muscles grow during recovery. Your body needs recovery.
There are certainly outliers among us that can seemingly perform amazing physical feats with no recovery. But, for the rest of us, recovery is important.
You will find, after your rest days, that you are refreshed and stronger the next day back on the bell.
Finally, rest days provide your brain with a break. Trust me, hundreds of kettlebell swings day after day after day will get boring.
The 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge builds physical toughness as well as mental toughness. Don’t take for granted what a few days off will do for your mental wellbeing.
One last point, accept that rest days will make their way into the challenge. Life happens and sometimes a wrench is thrown in your schedule. Accepting rest days on the front end will allow you to accept these life changes.
Why the Kettlebell?
Trust me, it is not. It is, in my opinion, the most versatile piece of workout equipment that you can own.
Almost every exercise that you could perform with a barbell or dumbbells can be performed with the proper kettlebells.
Layer on top of that the movements that are unique to the kettlebell and you begin to realize how great this simple bell can be.
What are some of the benefits of using the bell? Well, if you successfully complete the 10,000 kettlebell swings here are some of the changes you may experience in your body:
- Change to your body composition. The weight combined with volume and repetition should lead to a change in your body composition.
- This will materialize in an increase in lean body mass with a reduction in body fat.
- Increase in grip strength. Think about it – you are primarily using your grip to control this bell as it swings up and down 10,000 times.
- Increased upper body strength – throughout the shoulders, upper arms, and chest.
- Core strength improvement. Will this challenge give you six-pack abs? Maybe not by itself, but it will increase your core strength. Your core is more than your six-pack abs. Think of it as the girdle wrapping around your entire mid-section. This challenge will develop real strength through this girdle.
- Lower body and hip strength. The kettlebell swing is more of a hip and leg drive movement than an arms and shoulders movement. As you hone in on the best technique you will realize the benefits to your legs and hips.
The kettlebell is unique in its weight distribution. Making it the perfect tool.
10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge – And More? What’s the More?
Well, as I mentioned, I had done with kettlebell swing challenge before. It had been a few years since I had done it last, but I recall enjoying it.
However, I also remembered that I let my other core lifts suffer as I made that my singular focus for a month. I got great results from the challenge, but I wanted to see how much more I could accomplish.
So, I decided to add to the mix a 5,000 push-up challenge as well. This would give me all the benefits of the kettlebell challenge along with the “pushing” benefits of a high volume of push-ups.
But, I wasn’t done yet. I wanted some more shoulder and leg work. To get this I added 2,500 wall balls with a 20-pound wall ball.
Almost there. I got the kettlebell swings, pushing movement, shoulder, and legs – I needed a back/pulling movement.
So, I added 1,250 pull-ups to round out the program.
This created the 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge +++ 10,000 kettlebell swings, 5,000 push-ups, 2,500 wall balls and 1,250 pull-ups. Nice!
How Was This Workout Structured?
Not only did I want to get through all of these movements, but I also wanted to get through them in a one-hour workout. I didn’t want to be in my garage working out for hours slogging away at these movements.
So, came up with a breakdown of an hour that would put me in a great position to accomplish the lofty goal.
I knew that most of the hour would have to be allocated to the kettlebell swings. The next top priority would be push-ups.
Finally, I would balance the rest of the hour between wall balls and pull-ups.
I ultimately settled on the 30 rounds of kettlebell swings (every other minute would be kettlebell swings with a 24kg bell).
15 rounds of push-ups (every 4th minute would be push-ups).
8 rounds of wall balls and 7 rounds of pull-ups (these were every 8th minute respectively).
To hit my goals I set up a model where I needed to hit these base numbers on the first few days:
- Kettlebell Swings – 333
- Push-Ups – 167
- Wall Balls – 83
- Pull-Ups – 42
I started with these numbers the first day to see how it would go. Since I had never done these together, I had no idea how I would feel on this 60-minute rolling clock at these volumes.
First day totals:
- Kettlebell Swings – 410
- Push-Ups – 168
- Wall Balls – 110
- Pull-ups – 52
I was pleased with this first day. It showed me that the plan could work. I was worried about push-ups because I have aggravated my shoulder in the past with push-ups so I wanted to start slow.
Program Progress Through the Month
After the first day, I realized this challenge was one I could accomplish.
I then moved into the execution phase. This meant, getting through the entire program and not being derailed by injury (this was my primary concern since I was doing so these various movements at high-volumes).
Early on in the challenge, I started adding extra reps so that I could build up a cushion. I didn’t know when I was going to take rest days, but I knew they were going to be needed.
So, after 10 days without a break I had reached these levels:
- Kettlebell Swings – 4,235
- Push-Ups – 2,018
- Wall Balls – 1,078
- Pull-Ups – 548
So, for all of these movements, I was more than two days ahead of schedule through day 10. This allowed a rest day. So, for day 11, I was off entirely.
Back on the routine on day 12…things felt great. Hit these numbers:
- Kettlebell Swings – 481
- Push-Ups – 231
- Wall Balls – 117
- Pull-Ups – 63
Rest days really do pay dividends. I came back rested and felt stronger.
This was really true when I took off days 16-18 entirely. My birthday was on the 16th and my wife took me and kids out of town. I didn’t want to throw off her plans by insisting on working out, so I just let it flow and let my body recover.
During the month, my highest daily rep total for each movement was:
- Kettlebell Swings – 574
- Push-Ups – 314
- Wall Balls – 147
- Pull-Ups – 82
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but these totals came towards the end of the month. You build strength as you make your way through the month and it showed.
Reps Per Minute
So, we know how many reps I would hit per day – but how did I break down the rep scheme?
Well, I set targets per minute for each movement. If I was going to hit my base daily rep numbers I needed to hit the following per minute reps:
- Kettlebell Swings – 11 reps per minute
- Push-Ups – 11 reps per minute
- Wall Balls – 11 reps per minute
- Pull-Ups – 6 reps per minute
Now, to build up capacity for rest days, I needed to exceed these per minute reps if I wanted to keep the workouts under 1-hour.
However, for the big movements like the KBS and the push-ups, this was “easy”. Since I was doing 30 rounds of KBS if I added 1 single additional rep per minute then I would hit 360 reps in the hour rather than 330.
For the push-ups, the same logic. One additional rep per minute would get me 15 extra reps in the hour.
I understood this early on. On days when I felt strong, I would add one or two extra reps and start banking reps for rest days.
Results from 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge +++?
So, this is probably the primary reason that you have found your way to our page. You want to know whether this crazy program was helpful.
Let me start by saying that results are a very personal thing. Not personal in the way that I don’t want to share. But rather, that it isn’t really helpful to share my results with anyone else. There are so many variables that go into results and they are so unique to each person.
From the program, I had significant visual muscular improvement. I didn’t take any before or after pictures, but I can assure you that I developed a greater muscular definition throughout my entire body.
The program yielded noted improvement in my work capacity and my engine. I feel like I had great results in the development of lean body mass, grip strength, body weight, and full-body strength.
If I were to do this challenge over again I may move up to a heavier bell and really push hard through the routine again.
I may also look at other variations of the core movements (maybe from push-ups to planche pseudo-push-ups), pull-ups maybe work towards muscle-ups (which are still a long way off for me).
I greatly enjoyed the program. At the conclusion of the month, I was pleased with the improvements and proud of myself for sticking with the program. The repetitive nature of the month, day in and day out, forced mental toughness in order to survive. It was a great experience. We may try to get the workout reduced to writing to share with our readers so they can see how the program was structured over the month in an editable excel model.
I have used the chassis of this program to build additional workouts – which we will share in the coming weeks and months.
If you are interested in learning about more Move ideas, check out our category page.