I originally posted this topic while I was in the middle of the challenge, and that is what you’ll read below, but if you want to jump straight to the full write up, here is the link
Going to do something a little different: I’m going to do a program write-up AS I’m doing the program. Primarily because this is just a 7 day run, and I finished day 3 today, so it won’t be super tedious at this point, and I feel like getting live feedback from the community would be awesome.
If anyone follows my training log, they’ll know that, on Sunday, in a conversation with @SvenG, I ended up talking myself into taking on @Dan_John ‘s 10k kettlebell swing challenge in the span of 7 days.
For those unfamiliar with the challenge, here is some awesome reading on it
It is, originally, 10000 swings to be completed with a 24kg bell over the span of 28 workouts.
However, I am psychotic.
But along with psychosis, this was actually my deload week between two 5/3/1 Programs (BBB Beefcake, which I recently did a write up, and 5/3/1 for Hardgainers, detailed here, which I’m excited about)
During my run of 5/3/1 BBB Beefcake, I tore a muscle in my tricep/teres minor, and was experiencing frequent popping in my left bicep, leading me to believe a tear was on its way. In turn, I needed something to keep me grounded during my deload, as I have a tendency to self-destruct when left to my own devices. The kettlebell swing was one of the few movements I could do that wasn’t bothering some of my various accumulated injuries, and given that the muscle tear was preventing me from deadlifting heavy, being able to drill the absolute hell out of my hip hinge appealed to me.
Plus, I’m an absolute and total @Dan_John fanboy, have always wanted to run this program, and found a great excuse to do so.
Since I only had a week to get it done, I broke out the trusty calculator and realized that, using a round-based approach (as in, do X many swings per round), 22 swings for 65 rounds each workout would get me 1430 swings per workout and end up being 10010 swings in 7 days. That seemed like it could actually work!
I also just want to point out that “Eat the Big Elephant First” is a play on some advice Dan gives in “Mass Made Simple”, a combination of “eat the elephant one bite at a time” and “if you have to eat a plate of frogs, eat the big frog first”. I felt this was VERY fitting.
CURRENT PROGRESS: DAY’S 1-3
Here are the videos documenting my experience so far
It’s been pointed out to me by MANY kettlebell aficionados that my swing is HORRIBLE and weird. That about sums up my technique on EVERYTHING, so the swing isn’t special that way. But I’m heading down that road to Hell with good intentions, as I’m making sure I snap to the top and rip the bell back down. Over the course of 1430 swings, there’s going to be some junk reps, but, as you can see, toward the end of each video, I am, in fact, beat to Hells, so I’m doing SOMETHING with this.
STRATEGY AND LESSONS LEARNED
Before the first official workout, I did a pilot workout, that consisted of 20 rounds of 22 swings, performed Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM), filling the remainder of the minute with a variety of bodyweight exercises (dips, chins, ab wheels, etc). I found that I had about 30 seconds of rest after the swings were done with each round, and at the end of 20 rounds had achieved a solid training effect, but it was survivable. I was NOT going to train between swings with the full blown approach, so I factored that in.
Through that pilot run, I picked up a few tricks.
- Armor: Despite running “Armor Building Complexes” every day for 5 minutes for the past several months, I needed some REAL armor to get through this. I could tell that swinging the bell that much was going to tear up my hands, and that ANYWHERE I had touch/contact points with my body needed to be adequately covered with material to keep from tearing the skin apart and suffering skin rashes. From review I’d read of the program, skin issues were the most common one. So, that day, I sprung for a 3 pack of mechanics gloves (you can see them in the video) and ensured to wear my fight shorts (a tip I got from Brian Alsruhe) on top of my traditional strongman shorts, in order to keep my inner thighs covered and prevent my forearms from chaffing the hell out of them. I also took to wearing my strongman belt, to keep my lower back warm and give my elbows something to brace against…plus it gives me something to play with between rounds. I went with my No Bull trainers, because they were close to what I deadlift in, and I ultimately wanted this experience to build my deadlift. And I kept my headband, because it’s awesome, and keeps the sweat out of my eyes.
For the very first workout, I went with an EMOM approach, getting 65 rounds in 65 minutes…and was honestly a bit bored. Those 30 seconds of rest gave me a LOT of time to think…so I thought “How do we make it faster?” Two immediate options were more swings per round, or shorter rounds. I ultimately settled on the latter, because it meant I’d keep at 10010 swings total vs going higher than that, because f–k me if I’m going higher than that.
So workout 2 was 55 seconds per round, which shaved off 5 total minutes and had me at about 25-26 seconds rest per round. This was less boring, but there was still more.
With workout 3 today, I cut it down to 52 seconds per round, and suddenly REALLY appreciated the value of 3 seconds. My rests per round were now down to 18 seconds per round, which I still can’t figure the math on that, and the workout as quite miserable. I’m not sure what insanity I plan to do tomorrow, but I am appreciating having a gradual improvement through this.
ADDITIONAL TRAINING/OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
I’m still training at around 0350, and I’ve taken this on fasted. I’m using this deload as a mini diet break and enjoying NOT force feeding myself. And after 1430 swings, I’m hungry, so no force feeding necessary.
With that being said above, once the workout is done, I head into my kitchen, down a protein shake, come right back out to my garage and do some more Dan John inspired insanity with something I call “TABEARTA”: The Tabata Protocol using Barbell Bear Complexes. For those unfamiliar with the Tabata Protocol, it’s 8 rounds of 20 seconds on/10 seconds off, for a total of 4 minutes which, if done right, feels like absolute hell. Some more awesome reading on it
- The bear complex is a barbell complex (yet another fantastic idea from Dan John Rebuild Yourself with Complexes) that consists of a clean to a front squat to a press overhead to passing the bar to your back to a back squat to a behind the neck press to the front. That’s 1 rep. You can run it fasted by running it as a Cluster (clean into a thruster, the thruster itself a front squat into a push press) to a back thruster. That’s what I do here (With TABEARTA done to open)
And lemme just say: doing TABEARTA AFTER 1430 swings is QUITE an experience. I’ve never redlined so hard. I finish up with some band exercises (pull aparts and pushdowns), some light curls to rehab that bicep, some ab wheel, some reverse hypers, and then 5 minutes of burpee chins: another big metabolic and conditioning hit.
Much like how the Velocity diet is a shotgun blast of fat loss, I feel like these swings paired with TABEARTA and the burpee chins may, in fact, be a fantastic 1 week “fix” for conditioning…because I am reaching some new levels here.
I’ve got 4 more workouts to go. So far, the plan is to stick with 1430 a day, and keep slashing rest times as possible, but when the weekend rolls around I may have to get a little more creative to maximize family time and minimize training time. We’ve all been there.
Happy to have anyone follow along, thanks for reading, and looking forward to any questions or comments.