10,000 Swings in 28-Days

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Recently on my Iron Body By Artemis Facebook Page I received a comment asking me, “What are YOU doing in the gym these days?”  Typically after a person works diligently for a long period of time towards a specific goal, there are a few months where it’s necessary to take both a mental and physical break from such intensity.  I remember after I tested for my Kung Fu black belt, in the months afterwards I was relieved to have reached my goal and to finally be able to enjoy applying all that I learned in the four years training for it and to just train without having the date of my black belt test looming ahead.  After I returned home from attempting the Iron Maiden Challenge at the end of September I felt the same way.  Even though I did not complete all three lifts and become an Iron Maiden (read more about this in my post Achieve Your True Strength Potential), I was still excited to come home and enjoy my newfound strength that I had trained over a year to attain, and to just relax and train.  Some of you may say, “Well, shouldn’t you always just relax and train?”  Not me, not when I’m working towards a goal that is very important to me.  I enjoy my training, but there is a level of focus and intensity that comes with my training when I have a specific goal.

Iron Maiden Challenge Attempt September 27, 2013 – Pull-up & Pistol Squat

24kg Pull-up

24kg Pistol Squat

For about a month I put the goal of the Iron Maiden Challenge out of my head in that I had (and still have) no specific timeline as to when I will re-attempt this challenge and I didn’t immediately set any future goals, except for to continue to work on my handstand push up.

Then at the end of October we hosted Charlie Weingroff and his Training Still=Rehab seminar (read more about this in my post Heavy Dead-Lifts & Some “Fall-Back” Sunday Reads).  Charlie witnessed my press attempt back in September and while Charlie was visiting Iron Body Studios we talked about my 24kg (~53lbs) press.  He provided me with some feedback as to what I could work on to re-pattern my press.  For the next month I followed Charlie’s direction and I worked on re-patterning my press.  I improved a lot and with the help of Eric’s coaching eye I discovered some game changing things that helped to improve my press.  At the end of all of this I was supposed to try to press the 24kg again but I didn’t feel like it.  Instead what I felt like was to take a break both physically and mentally from working towards and thinking about pressing the 24kg; so last week I did just that.

Change Brings Progress

So how does this relate to 10,000 Swings in 28 Days you ask???  Well, some of you may have seen Dan John’s  recent post on T-Nation about The 10,000 Swing Kettlebell Workout and maybe some of you have not.  Eric started this program about two weeks ago (he’s 5,000 swings in!) and I read through it and thought this is the perfect combination of strength training and conditioning and it’s right up my alley!  On Sunday I will begin this program.  It will give me a nice break from thinking about pressing the 24kg and I can still work towards a full, unassisted handstand push up, head to floor.

The program consists of 500 swings per training session.  You can train for four days per week or five days per week.  Four of those five days you pair your swing intervals with a strength movement; if you choose to train for the option fifth day then that day is just swings.  You can read the program details HERE.

For my four movements I have chosen the handstand push up, weighted pull-up, double bell press, and double bell front squat.  You are supposed to choose a weight that is your 5 rep max.  For weighted pull-ups I chose 14kg (30lbs) however I may change this to 16kg (35lbs) depending on how the first week or two go.  For double bell press I chose double 18kg (~80lbs total) and for double bell front squat I decided to start out with double 18kg (~80lbs total) even though double 20kg (88lbs total) is my 5 rep max.  If double 18kgs is very manageable for the squats the first two weeks then I will raise the weight to double 20kgs.

For the swings I chose 18kg (40lbs) which is very light for me for a two handed swing size bell, normally this is a weight I use for one-handed swings,  HOWEVER, there are 5 sets of 50 swings included in the program so 18kg is appropriate.  Dan John recommends 16kg for women and 24kg for men.  The swing intervals are all two handed swings and they are repetitions of 10 swings, 15 swings, 25 swings, 50 swings, then repeat four more times.   Read more HERE.

It’s been a long time since I trained two handed swing intervals with anything beyond 20 swings or 30 seconds.  Therefore, in order to choose the right bell I completed a test swing day yesterday.  For the test day I just did the swing intervals with the 18kg to see how my grip held up.

I chose 30 sec rest periods in between each swing interval set and then after 50 swings I took 2 min and worked on breathing and stretching.

It took me about 30-35 minutes to complete all the swings.  I did not time it exactly.  My grip was challenged during each set of 50 swings but it was not unmanageable.  After rep number 25 I thought,  “Holy crap I have 25 more swings to go!” But I found my mental focus and kept working.  During the last 10 reps of each set I mentally wanted to just let go of the bell, but I knew that physically I could push through.  My grip was recovering quickly after the first three sets of 50 swings, but after set number 3 of these swing “clusters” (which is how Dan John refers to them) my forearms started to feel like Popeye’s.1007264-popeye

You should choose a two -handed swing size bell that challenges your grip but is manageable to finish all five sets.  If your grip is not challenged then you need a heavier bell.

If I have improvement with the 18kg and it my grip is no longer challenged after the first few weeks then I may raise the weight to 20kg.

I will train the program five days per week, so I will train the four days with a strength movement and then the fifth day of just swings.  I will start on Sunday December 15 and finish on Friday January 10, just in time for my birthday on January 11 :).  After I am done I will write about my results from training this program.

SO, who wants to try the 10,000 swings in 28 days challenge with me???  If you do, comment on this post and list out the four strength movements you choose and your start date.  I look forward to hearing from you!

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