Thursday, January 29, 2015

10,000 KB Challenge

I have been busy beating myself up lately with a great Kettlebell challenge.  I love challenges because they are always difficult and make me push harder than I would otherwise.   As I say to all of my athletes/clients, "getting outside of your comfort zone will only make you stronger" (both mentally and physically).

So three weeks ago I decided to try Dan John's 10,000 Kettlebell Challenge.  Dan John if you don't know, is one of the premier strength coaches in the world, is a former athlete himself, and knows a thing or two about designing effective programs.  No way around it, doing 10,000 Kettlebell Swings over the course of one month is going to hurt.

In the video, we are on Day 12 doing our 4th set of the KB Swings w/ Barbell O/H Presses

Here are the details of the challenge from the T-Nation website...

In four or five weeks, you're going to perform 10,000 proper kettlebell swings. These will be split among 20 workouts. You'll do 500 swings per workout.

Between sets of swings, you'll perform low-volume, basic strength exercises. You will train 4-5 days per week. Train 2 days on, 1 day off, and repeat. Men will use a 24kg kettlebell (53 pounds). Women will use 16kg (35 pounds).  

Use an undulating rep scheme to reach 500 total reps per workout:

Set 1: 10 reps
Set 2: 15 reps
Set 3: 25 reps
Set 4: 50 reps

You've now completed 100 reps or one cluster. Repeat the cluster 4 more times for a total of 500 swings. Between sets, experienced lifters will add a low-volume strength movement.

Here is a sample workout for one of the days

10 Swings
O/H Press 1 rep
15 Swings
O/H Press 2 reps
25 Swings
O/H Press 3 reps
50 Swings

Rest 30-60 seconds; repeat 4 more times.

I am doing the challenge with my friend Gordon, and I would highly recommend finding a friend to do this challenge with.  Having someone else to suffer with will make it just a little easier than doing it by yourself.  

We are performing the workouts 5 days a week; Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat, and Sun.  The Fri workout is only the 500 KB Swings, no other strength exercise.  It feels somewhat like a rest day, but not really.

The goal of this challenge is to start week 1 with a heavy but manageable strength exercise for each workout and have it become easy in week 4.  The strength exercises we are doing are
Day 1 Barbell O/H Press (115 lbs)
Day 2 Dips (with a 45 lb weight)
Day 3 KB Swings only
Day 4 DB Goblet Squats
Day 5 Chinups (with a 25 lb weight vest)

The first week my hands and forearms got completely trashed.  Since then, however, the Swings have become easier, I don't need much rest between clusters, and my grip strength is a heck of a lot stronger.

We are timing ourselves for each workout to measure progress. Our first couple workouts were in the low 40 min range.  We are now on Day 12 and our time to complete the workout is in the low 30 min range.  We also took body composition measurements before we started the challenge.

Here are the results of our body fat composition before the start:

Gordon                                                     Sloane       
200 lb                                                       185 lbs
14.7% body fat                                          6.9% body fat
170.5 lb of lean mass                                173 lbs of lean mass
29.5 lbs of fat mass                                   12 lbs of fat mass

It will be interesting to see what changes we see after the 20 workouts.

Here are the results that Dan John and other coaches/athletes saw after the 20 workouts:

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

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

3.  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.

4.  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.

5.  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.

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