We started the 10,000 swing challenge a few weeks ago. We have 16 small group strength classes a week and we do varied single- and double-arm swings in each class that can range from 100 - 500 swings per class. Some gym members are doing them at home and on-the-road too.
Over a period of a few months, we'll rack up 10,000 swings and we'll have a celebration at the end.
The original 10,000 swing challenge was 500 swings in 20 workouts designed by Dan John with a set program as described here. We are not taking that approach because there are other lifts and movements we need to do in classes that better suit the fitness levels and goals of our gym members. The single- and double-arm swings have different benefits to the body, so we are doing both (more detail about the differences in an upcoming blog post.)
Why are we doing the 10,000 Swing Challenge?
Because the kettlebell swing is the key foundational movement for kettlebell athletes with incredible strength and conditioning benefits to the body.
It builds a high level of cardiovascular endurance that is not only safe, but hard to match with any other movement. I truly believe every athlete, at any age, can benefit from a RKC hardstyle swing because it builds a strong body, head to toe, with explosive hip power, torso, and legs involved, both the anterior and posterior chain.
The swing leaves you feeling energized, strong and ready to tackle the rest of your life.
I tell people that swinging is like running with weights, but without the wear-and-tear on the joints.
People are often surprised by the cardiovascular benefits of swings. A former intern of mine ran a 1/2 marathon without running at all. She did snatches and swings for her conditioning and she finished the marathon injury-free and with a respectable time.
With swings, you get the endorphin rush kinda like running, along with amazing metabolic and muscular benefits. With the swing, you are using a large majority of muscles in your body -- in particular the lower body, glutes and hamstrings. People think when they see it, that your arms are doing the work. Nope. It's a lower-body movement that makes the entire back of the body work hard.
It is time-efficient and very safe-to-the-body because hinging the hips is a natural movement the human body is designed to do. Kettlebell athletes use their hinge in their daily life for all sorts of tasks thus saving their backs and knees from unneeded stress and strain.
We use Russian Hardstyle Kettlebell technique and we constantly seek to improve our movement efficiency with the swing. Learn swing technique from an RKC certified coach to prevent injury and then there are no limits to what you can do.
Fall in Love with the Swing
The key to falling in love with the swing is to first learn to move well. You learn to hinge your hips, pack your shoulders, engage your lats and glutes, relax your arms, use hardstyle breathing, activate your cylinder of strength (all the muscles in your torso), understand the movement timing and much, much more.
There are literally hundreds of cues and regressions for the swing, depending what issues present when you are learning it.
It is often not easy to learn if you have not used the backside of your body in strength training before. People often want to squat instead of hinge at their hips. No worries though. An RKC will get you swinging with hands-on coaching.
Mindfulness is a requirement for safety. Swinging a ball of iron is serious stuff, so you have to focus. Our form of training includes no shaking or flailing of limbs. We use precise and controlled movement efficiency with every rep.
Athletes at MoveStrong Kettlebells learn what muscles we are using, why and when and how to engage them with an understanding of the timing of tension and relaxation in the movement.
From a coaching perspective, this is nirvana. The swing is a beautiful movement that becomes poetry in motion when you feel and understand the movement in both your body and in your brain. Watching my students soar is an amazing privilege.
Earn the Weight with Proper Technique
We teach the swing in the on-ramp program before people come to class. Then when they start attending classes, they refine their technique with more coaching and their conditioning increases over time.
Our students select the kettlebell weight they are comfortable using although I may make recommendations depending on the programming. With consistent and moderate kettlebell swings, they get very strong.
Do the Work and Surprise Yourself with Unlimited Strength
We have both men and women swinging 62 lb. - 150 lbs. -- and I promise you they never thought they would ever touch a weight that heavy, let alone swing it! And they do it with outstanding technique (a prerequisite of course.)
Several members nearly swing their bodyweight.
Don't Discount the Fun Factor
Don't discount the fun factor in swinging a kettlebell. It is fun to swing. Ask any of our gym members. Managing a heavy load well is empowering, mentally and physically, and that manifests into increased confidence in the rest of your life. You develop a I Will Try and I Can Do attitude about other things in your life thanks to the swing.
At first, I hesitated to do swing challenge because I didn't want to overdo the swing and risk people responding with, 'oh no, not more swings!' But I don't think that's possible. Our gym members are getting even better at the swing, and in turn, they seem to like swings even more.
The swings work well with the other kettelbell and bodyweight movements we do in our classes. A 100 single-arm swings can be completed in a under 5 minutes, so this is not an obsessive, time-consuming task. I can sneak swings into our programming without calling much attention to it.
Barbell deadlifts: 2 sets of 5 (at 50-80% of max lift)
Single-arm swing: 10 left / 10 right
Double-arm swing: 2 sets of 10
x 4 rounds = 200 swings
Finish with ab wheel, plank or push and hollows
Train Hard, but Train Fresh
RKC-trained kettlebell athletes are taught to never, ever go to failure. We learn to listen to our bodies and stop before fatigue sets in. We train hard, but we train fresh. Safety and Performance are one. We lift light like it's heavy and heavy like it's light, always.
Here is a Sample Training Session
There are many swing variations to keep our body and brain safely challenged. This is a sample training session that we did recently as a class resulting in 400 varied swings. We did sets of 5, 10 and 20 with different amounts of weight and recovery periods.
Single Bell - Alternating Hand - 100 (warmup)
Double Bell - 50
Single Bell - Eccentric - 10
Single Bell - Heavy - 50
Single Bell - Low Swing - 10
Single Bell - Overspeed - 10
Single Bell - Pendulum - 20
Single Bell - Single Arm - Pendulum - 50
Single Bell - Single Arm Swing in sets of 10 - 100
Contact Lori if you would like to learn the hardstyle kettlebell swing or have any questions about the 10,000 Swing Challenge.