10K Swing Challenge Done!

Well that was fun! Here are some notes about the experience:

How long did it take?

It took a little over 5 weeks, counting a multi-workout build up to 500 swings in a single workout.

What did the week look like?

I tried to workout 4 times a week. My schedule ended up being working out on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. I found out that in my current state of fitness and ability to recover, repeating a 2 on/1 off schedule was too much. However, mid-week when I was busy, it worked out well to give myself an additional day off between workout days.

What did the workouts look like?

I detailed the daily workouts in my initial 10k Swing Challenge post. However, I did modify the 2 arm swing day, breaking up the last set of 50 into a broken 50 of 25 and 25.

Rest periods were organic. I didn’t stress myself with jumping into the next set or try to compact my overall workout time. I just rested as much as I thought I wanted or needed, and then continued.

Workouts varied from about 50 to 75 minutes depending on the day and energy level.

I was glad to have spent some workouts before officially starting the challenge to build up to 500 swings per day. I hadn’t been swinging all that much for endurance but doing other kettlebell things. I think I might have gone into an overtrained state if I had jumped directly to trying to knock out 500 swings per workout.

What did I experience?

During the time of the challenge, it didn’t feel overly difficult or hard. Probably the hardest part was to last to the end of a 50-75 min workout without mentally feeling like stopping. Up to that point, I had only had workouts of 30-45 min in length, so adding time doing extra sets did start to feel monotonous. However, thankfully this feeling faded and I was feeling good to continue and get to the end of 5 sets of 100 swings, with other stuff done during the rest periods.

On some days, I felt either achy or depleted and would simply just remove the extra stuff I did during the rest periods. I would only swing and that ended up being fine.

Grip was definitely an issue. It’s probably one of my biggest limiters at this point. When I got to the 50 rep 2 arm swing set, my forearms would start to burn, especially my left forearm, and I could feel my fingers start to loosen. Not wanting to toss or fumble the bell due to loose fingers at some point, I broke up the 50 rep set into two sets of 25 which was much more comfortable, and respecting my current abilities at this time. By the end of the 10,000, my ability to maintain grip through a 25 rep 2 arm set was pretty good. It is likely something to upgrade in the near future.

Pacing was something I thought a lot about. In the beginning, I could not do full power swings and last to the end. I made a decision to moderate the power for this stage and just build some endurance to maintain multiple 500 swing workouts a week. Towards the end, I could see where I could start adding power and my swings grew in energy.

What benefits did I get?

A lot! Here are some:

I expected to slim down and did. Although I did not weigh myself nor have some sort of weight or fat loss goal, I knew I had slimmed down by checking my love handles which were nearly gone.

I could feel my endurance and fitness was improved. It took about half way through before my system adjusted, but also was starting to see my love handles dwindle, as well as my appetite grow in response to energy demands.

Splitting the workouts between 1 arm and 2 arm, I got better at both.

My hinging got better. I played with bending the knees more and less, and also how much I bent over.

I also played and tuned my balance forward and back, adjusting to the bell’s mass as it moved from between my legs to the apex of the swing (and snatch during the 2 arm workouts). I found that if I got my backwards lean just right to match the forward energy of the bell, it would actually help my grip…so interesting! Certainly the balance aspect contributed in other positive ways to swinging and snatching, in the areas of force absorption and being more efficient.

On the 1 arm swing, I played with something Chris Gaines of PerformanceGaines showed me, which is engaging a bit more rotation of the body to send more energy into the bell.

On the 2 arm swing, one of the main things I learned was better stability of my torso during the back swing. Previously with 2 arms, I would feel my back flexing in response to the weight of the bell going between my legs. It wasn’t a lot of flexing but it was enough to occasionally aggravate my back. I finally figured out a small cue which was to wait until my upper arms contacted my ribs, and when they did (and as my body was snapping down into the hinge), I would just push my lower rib cage a little bit against my upper arms. This would lock my rib cage against my arms and create a nice solid block of stability against the energy of the bell working on my hinge. No more back aches!

During my rest periods, I would either do one arm pushups and pistols on the 1 arm day, and snatches on the 2 arm day.

With one arm pushups and pistols, I didn’t get anything particularly new, except to just get more reps of each into my workout.

With snatches, I got a few things out of it. First was the use of rotational energy from my body to give more power to the launch of the bell up to snatch position. While not strictly taught in hardstyle, it does lean more towards Girya Sport style whose competitors can snatch into the 100s per set with ease.

The second was getting better at the first snatch after the hike from bell at rest in front. Previously it always felt hard as I could not take advantage of my tissue’s storage of energy from the previous snatch rep. Sometimes it would feel like I was horsing the bell up to snatch and then it would get better on subsequent reps. However, I figured out how to hike the bell between my legs as fast and with as much power as possible. Once I could do that, then the first snatch started not feeling like I was muscling it up and it was taking advantage of stored tissue energy from the first, powerful hike. I figured out a combination of how to get leverage with my arm on a 24kg bell and a lean back before hiking, and then upon hiking, my hips/body would come back to meet the bell, maintain balance, but also add acceleration to the bell as it went between my legs. This allowed more tissue storage of energy which I could use to send the bell out and up.

One last result – I was hoping for at least WTH (What The Hell) effect and got it with a greatly improved human flag! The other day I was able to hold a human flag with one leg out, with left arm up, for about 1.5 seconds. Super stoked!

What’s next?

My current thinking is to adjust the sets to increase the reps just a tad. Grip work is definitely one focus for me in this next phase and I want to slowly increase my swing reps and build it up. This should help with my snatch endurance, especially with the 24kg where I felt that my callouses were getting built up from panic gripping towards the end of a 100 rep set.

I might adjust the exercises within the rest periods too. Likely I will increase the reps per set for the one arm pushups and pistols.

For anyone who wants to try this, I would highly recommend it. Doing anything with lots of repetitions and over an extended period will teach you something and get you results for sure!