Day One: 500 Swings, Handstand Push-ups, & Plastic Warm-up Pants

A few weeks ago I started to have less than optimal training sessions and I couldn’t figure out why.  First I thought, maybe I’m over-training?  I had been working in some extra press volume to re-pattern my press, but after reviewing my training log I realized that wasn’t the reason.  Then after a conversation with Eric this past Friday we were talking about how it’s been hard to get warm and to stay warm while we train because of the cold weather here in Boston.  BINGO.

I’m a person who is generally always cold, even in the summer time.  That’s why I love 90-100 degree heat waves with insane humidity.  I detest the winter and in fact have a downright fear (no joke) of extreme cold and snow.  In August I literally start to have anxiety about fall approaching because as soon as fall hits, then it’s winter with temps in the teens and below zero and snow.  I hate the snow.  I know you’re thinking “What kind of a New Englander is she??  I’m a New Englander with 50% Greek blood.  That’s who I am.  Bring on the heat!

While talking to Eric on Friday, I reflected back upon my training sessions over the past few weeks and realized that my biggest battle during my training lately was getting warm enough to start and staying warm through my training sessions.  In the book Mass Made Simple by Dan John, Dan John writes about the importance of staying warm to get big.

“If your body is trying to let you get a little bigger, but you insist on shivering, freezing, and shaking, the body is going to shift resources to producing heat.” ~Dan John

Even though Dan John writes about this as how it applies to gaining mass, I believe the same principle applies to generally being strong and efficient during your training.  You can’t be strong and efficient while you train if your body is struggling and using resources to keep you warm.

SO, what does this have to do with 500 swings and plastic warm-up pants?  Well today I was determined to be an inferno during my training session to see if it made a difference.  On Friday I started to think about the layers I could wear to make sure I was warm from the get-go and stayed warm throughout.  I even resorted to thinking about my ballet dancer years and the things I used to do to be as warm as possible.  I started perusing plastic warm-up pants:


and even considered buying a full body knit warm-up jumpsuit to put under or over whatever I was wearing:


Finally I decided, enough with this nonsense.  I have enough clothes in the closet to layer up.  So today I wore two pairs of socks, a pair of leggings and my lululemon Groove pants over the leggings, a tank and a long sleeve shirt on top and leg warmers (talk about “unsexy” training! ;)) The addition of the second pair of socks and second layer on my legs made all the difference. After my first set of 50 swings I was about ready to burst into flames and considered taking my leg warmers off but then I resisted.  I’d rather burst into flames and have a good training session doing it then walk away feeling like I wasted an hour training because I was struggling to stay warm during my entire training session.

The Ultimate “Unsexy” Training


Today was Day 1 for me of the 10,000 swings in 28-days program.  I trained 500 Swings and 30 Assisted Handstand Push-ups.  I warmed up with three sets of easy reps of suitcase carries, get-ups and hanging leg raises.

10 000 Swings Pic

Then I moved onto swings and handstand push-ups.  The training went really well.  The extra layers helped me to stay warm and break a really good sweat.  I found that the two handed swings with 18kg (~40lbs) were easier this time around then they were last Monday when I did my test run of two handed swings.  My grip still started to fatigue during the sets of 50 reps but it was more manageable and made me think that using the 20kg (44lbs) for my swings at some point during this program may actually be possible.  We’ll see how my body responds tomorrow to the handstand push-up volume.  I’ve never trained that much volume of handstand push-ups.  Right now, so far so good.

This is the program I trained today:

5 Rounds of:

10 2H Swings with 18kg

1 Assisted Handstand Push-up (I am working towards unassisted.)

15 2H Swings with 18kg

2 Assisted Handstand Push-ups

25 2H Swings with 18kg

3 Assisted Handstand Push-ups

50 2H Swings with 18kg

2 min rest (I stretched and breathed during this time)

Total: 500 swings and 30 assisted handstand push-ups

I found that I started to really appreciate the sets of 10, 15, and 25 swings and they seemed like a piece of cake next to the sets of 50 swings.  During the sets of 50 swings I found it important to relax my grip and relax into the swing and really let the bell float.  I also realized that as you get tired during the sets of 50 swings it’s important to stay engaged on the back swing.  I’m not saying hike the bell back with an insane over speed eccentric, but no matter how tired you are at rep 40 make sure that you are actively swinging the bell back and brace without over bracing and maintain proper total body engagement.

This was my fourth round of 50 swings… I started to lose my left earphone around rep 30, fortunately I didn’t let the distraction take away from finishing the whole set of 50 reps.

During this first week of the 28-day program I will post updates as to what I am training on a particular day & any additional changes in weights used and significant challenges and/or successes throughout the 28 days. These posts will be in the form of either a formal blog post or simply a quick update on my Iron Body By Artemis Facebook page.  So if you’re not a fan of my page yet make sure to “Like” it on Facebook so that you can follow along with updates.  Also, if you are training this program along with me, please feel free to share your updates with me as a comment on this blog post or on my Iron Body By Artemis Facebook page.

In the meantime I hope that you will enjoy the festive Christmas “Cheer” Theme that I switched to for my blog during this holiday season.  I quite like the little elf at the top of the page 😉 haha!

Stay warm, layer up and do your swings!

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