Can you conquer the Kettlebell Challenge?

10,000 Kettlebell Swings in 4-5 Weeks

Brock D. Vickers

After being in lockdown for God knows how long, people turned to the most efficient tool on the rack to get fit: the kettlebell. Try going to your local sporting goods store or ordering one of these 16 kg cast iron bad boys, and you will likely find you are S.O.L. 

Still, for those of us fortunate to have an open gym, or at least already own a kettlebell or two, a new challenge has been sweeping quarantine: The 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Workout. Since Joe Rogan first started touting kettlebells and his company Onnit on the most successful podcast of all-time, the handle weight has seen a resurgence around the country at “Boxes” and gyms alike. 

This super-efficient, Russian backed training tool is pure, practical lifting, and this 4-week challenge is anything but easy. 

Here’s the Breakdown:

  1. Four Weeks of intensive kettlebell swinging to build endurance and grip (as well as grit) and improve body composition.
  2. Through five workouts a week (20 Workouts over four weeks), you will have repped out 10,000 kettlebell swings (500 swings per workout).
  3. Between sets of swings, do one of the following lifts: chin-ups, squats, dips, or overhead press.

Why this Challenge: 

  1. Get leaner
  2. Add Mass
  3. Increase Grip Strength
  4. Increase Conditioning
  5. Full-body Strength
  6. Abs. Abs. Abs

The Challenge:

Over four weeks, you will perform 10,000 kettlebell swings through five workouts a week. For those of you doing the math, that’s 20 workouts, 500 swings per workout.

In between sets, perform an essential strength exercise of your choice: pushups, press-ups, chin-ups, squats, dips, etc. Train for two days, then take a day off and repeat. Use whatever weight you can manage, and don’t feel guilty about dropping down to a lighter weight. Men shoot for a 24kg kettlebell, or 53 lbs (I’m starting with a slightly lighter bell and progressing up), and women use 16 kg (35 lbs). 

Tackle the reps any way you’d like, but these are a ton of reps, so start with a plan such as:

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

That’s 100 reps a cluster. Rinse and repeat five times. Your exercise will look like this:

  • 10 Swings
  • Press 1 rep
  • 15 Swings
  • Press 2 reps
  • 25 Swings
  • Press 3 reps
  • 50 Swings
  • Rest 30 – 60 seconds

Variations:

This challenge is no joke, and for those of you who choose to accept it, I will be doing it with you. To make it through this workout, you may find you need an extra day of rest, and that’s okay. Adapt or die (literally in this case).

If an extra day of rest is needed, take it and stretch the workout into the fifth week. If you are a baller and beat the beast, only do the swings and laugh at us mere mortals on the fifth day of each week. 

As you progress in the workout, feel free to increase the weight of your cannonball. This is not a challenge to increase the max of the kettlebell size, though feel free to do that if you want; instead, this is a challenge to break up the monotony of the times. 

Things to Remember:

    1. Focus on Form

A kettlebell swing is an efficient movement and a full-body blast, but it is a swing: not a squat, not a thrust, not a hinge. For proper form, check out this video:

      2. This is a Marathon (and a Sprint)

The goal is to complete the challenge, therefore taking the time you need; however, this is a timed event for an extra push. The kettlebell blasts the body for strength and conditioning. Meaning, the less rest you take, the more you will get out of it. Still, take the time you need to recover and move on. Take a minimum of 30 seconds and up to 60 seconds if needed. 

     3. Track Your Progress

Just like dieting, make sure you are tracking your progress. The point of timing the workout is to see the improvements by week four (or five). Did your overall times improve? Are you using heavier weight? 

Likewise, we all can compare and contrast our current selves with ourselves in four weeks. Snap a photo on day one, feel free to share it with us, and then compare it against you on day 20. 

I’ll be sharing my week to week progress on the blog. Here we go.

Level 1 Team Member Brock Vickers is an actor, writer, and athlete who loves to play on stage, in front of the camera, with words, and in the gym. He has made his way from the muggy bogs of Southeast Georgia to the City of Brotherly Love, making notable stops all over the United States from American Stage in St. Petersburg, Florida to Capital Stage in Sacramento, California. 

Photos by Rebecca Cureton

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