Starting Dan John’s 10,000 Swing Challenge

Hey all, we have finally put 2020 behind us and time to start anew with 2021! For me, I entered the year with my rib problem acting up again. I was doing 24kg snatch practice with Quick and the Dead protocols, plus heavy swings and Turkish Get-Ups. Coupled with some external stress I was feeling, this caused my rib problem to flare up and I decided to lay off the heavy stuff and try something different.

Enter Dan John’s 10,000 Swing Challenge.

I met Dan John at my RKC last year. What an awesome guy! He’s definitely done it all. I heard that some of his members of his Dan John University were going to start and track his 10,000 Swing Challenge together.

What exactly is this 10,000 Swing Challenge?

He describes it in this post at T-Nation. Nothing really special about it except that you complete 10,000 swings.

ONLY…TEN THOUSAND….HAHAHA

Once you do the math, you can quickly see how long this could take unless you do something to up your game. 200 swings per workout, twice a week, gets you to 10,000 in 25 weeks or about 6 months. If you manage to get four 200 swing workouts per week, that gets you done in about 10 weeks or little over 3 months.

If you do it the way Dan lays it out in his post, you’ll be doing 500 swing workouts about 4 times per week, and be able to get it done in 5 weeks or a little over 1 month.

Sure you could do it in 6 months, or take all year doing it. But there is something to be learned from doing it at a higher frequency, packed into a much shorter timeframe.

Some of the results that Dan notes were:

Everyone got leaner, dropping a waist size or two, in 20 workouts.

Every coach or athlete made visual muscular improvements in their physiques, adding lean body mass.

Every lifter increased his grip strength and greatly increased work capacity and athletic conditioning. They could all train longer and harder when they went back to their normal training programs.

After the program, every lifter saw a noted improvement in his core lifts. PR’s fell like dominos. Full-body strength and power shot through the roof.

Abs were more visible. Glute strength was tremendously better. The abs and glutes “discovered” how to work again, leading to athletic improvements in sport and in the weight room.

The 10,000 Swing Kettlebell Workout by Dan John

If you do something at that much quantity, you’ll definitely learn something as well as get some cool results! If anything, your swing technique will be refined greatly (or else the kettlebell is gonna trash you in the attempt). Some goals I’m looking for are:

  1. It’s been years since I’ve done any real endurance work. I’ve been constrained time wise with new kids in the family. My hope is that this will up my endurance and work capacity quite a bit.
  2. I hope to see better KB mechanics and technique, which should improve my snatch.
  3. Definitely would love some grip improvement, especially in the hook of my fingers. That should improve my snatch capacity as well, and save me from a few callous rips.
  4. I have been testing a new HRV based system + supplements which are supposed to increase mitochondria. I don’t think I’ve stressed my system enough to really test the possibilities of this system and its supplement recommendations.
  5. If i get any other WTH effects, that’s just an added bonus. It would be nice to see my ability to do hold a real human flag increase, or magically I can do a muscle up. We shall see!

On top of all that, my rib problem was telling me to rest from the heavy work. While swinging is also stressful, swinging the 24kg kettlebell is a lot different than swinging the 36kg kettlebell which is what I was building towards. I am looking forward to taking a break from the heavy KB work, recovering somewhat, and then getting back into it afterwards.

What does my plan look like? First, I need to build to 500 swings. So far as of today, I am at 300. I was not sure how fast I could build to 500 but it looks like it is happening quicker than I thought. I may hit it by the end of 2 weeks versus my previous thought of 3-4 weeks.

Next I decided to structure my workouts into 2 different days.

Day One:

1 Arm KB Swings 24kg in this pattern: 10/10, 15/15, 25/25.

In between sets for each arm, I would rest but do a non-aerobically challenging exercise. For Day One, I would do one arm pushups and pistol squats. I would do 1/1 for each of the 10/10 swing rest periods, 2/2 for each of the 15/15 swing rest periods, and 3/3 for each of the 25/25 swing rest periods.

Note that rest periods were not specified in Dan’s post so I could take as long as I wanted or needed to rest.

Day Two:

2 Arm KB Swings 24kg in this pattern: 10, 15, 25, 50.

In between these sets, I would snatch the 24kg 1/1 after the 10 swings, 2/2 after the 15 swings, and 3/3 after the 25 swings. After the 50 I would just simply rest until I could go another round.

For either Day One or Two, my goal was to accomplish 5 rounds of each of the sequences of 100 swings.

So far, so good. As expected, my grip was starting to go especially on the 50 swing sets. I could feel my forearms starting to bulge and my fingers start to loosen. Still, I hunkered down and gutted it through. I expect my grip to improve as I build to 500 swings/5 rounds per day and then onwards to performing this workout 4 times a week.

More later on this challenge in the next few weeks!