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The 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Workout

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Written by: Greg Ellifritz

* Realizing that most of you reading this have lost access to commercial gyms due to the viral pandemic, I decided to reprint this article about my favorite home workout.  I’ve been working out at my police gym, but there is talk of that closing as well.  When it does, I will restart this workout.  Since this article was originally written, I’ve completed the challenge three more times.   I think it’s the ultimate workout to do from home.  You can use a heavy dumbbell if you don’t have a kettlebell.  You can also substitute calisthenics for the weight lifting exercises.  Enjoy the re-run of this legendary evil workout.



Yesterday I finished  The 10,000 Swing Kettlebell Workout.


This workout was created by strength coach Dan John as a way to improve both mental and physical conditioning.  It involved doing 2,000 kettlebell swings per week spread over four workouts.  During the “rest break” between swings, you are to work in a low repetition compound strength exercise.  This workout goes on for five weeks and ends up totaling 10,000 swings.


You can read more about the protocol in the link above.  I tried it as prescribed for the first week and then tweaked it a little bit to better suit my needs.  What I ended up doing was the following:


With a 53 lb. kettlebell:

10 swings

1 set of strength exercise

15 swings

30-45 seconds foam rolling

20 swings

1 set of strength exercise

25 swings

30-45 seconds foam rolling

30 swings

1 minute rest


That cycle adds up to 100 swings and two sets of a basic strength exercise.  I repeated it five times each workout.  I found that I liked mixing up the foam rolling between the strength sets better than how Dan originally suggested doing it (a 3-4 minute foam rolling/stretching session after every 100 swings)


To further combat boredom, I adjusted the weight of the kettlebells.  I did the workout described above twice per week.  For a third session, I did everything the same except I used a 44lb kettlebell and did single arm (hand to hand) swings.  The metabolic demand of the 44lb single arm swings is very similar to the two handed 53lb swings, so I used the same numbers.


On the final day, I used the same pattern with a 70lb kettlebell.  The 70 pounder is 1.32x the weight of the 53 pounder, so I divided the total reps required by 1.32 to create the same work output.  It ended up being 379 swings on those days rather than the suggested 500 swings with the lighter weight.


The workout was hard…the first and second weeks especially.  After that, the physical demands weren’t as intense, but battling boredom became more difficult.  It was worth all my effort because I achieved some extraordinary results….


On the first day, it took me 52 minutes to complete 500 swings.  On the last day, I did the same number of swings in 34:18.


Over the five week period, I kept my diet the same, but lost 4.5 pounds and 2% bodyfat.  My waist measurement decreased almost an inch while my hip measurement increased 1/2 inch…those swings really work your ass!  My overall strength levels stayed the same or got slightly better.  My cardiovascular fitness seems significantly improved.


The only downside is that I lost a little arm size, as I wasn’t doing any direct arm work.  That isn’t a big deal.  I’m not training to pose on stage.  The arms will get bigger as soon as I start back with the heavy lifting.


Overall, I’d highly recommend this workout for anyone looking to get a little leaner or for anyone who wants to break out of a “workout rut.”  I’m certain you will find this one challenging.


If you like Coach Dan John’s workout, pick up his book Never Let Go to learn more about his training philosophies.  It’s a good read for any of you strength training junkies.





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