What I learned from Dan John's 10,000 Swing Challenge

 I decided to do Dan John's 10,000 challenge in the month of July when I turned 39. I want to share what I did, why I modified it, and what my results are.

The challenge

  • The challenge is this: Do 500 Kettlebell swings on a 2 days on/1 day off cycle. That works out to 20 workouts and 10,000 swings. 
  • In each workout, superset one strength exercise with the swings for low rep ladders of 1/2/3. The strength exercises are kettlebell presses, goblet squats, dips, and pull-ups (because I was concerned about my elbow which I've injured a couple of times, I replaced it with ab wheel rollouts. I think Dan John would approve because he has written that they work the same muscles.).
  • I used a 52lbs/24kg kettlebell. That is a lot for me because it is almost 1/3 of my bodyweight.

Why I modified it

I tested the workout in June, and I realized two things. One, my grip gave out between 200 and 250 swings when I used the 52lbs/24kg kettlebell. Two, I can't get that workout in during my normal 30-40 minute time slot.

I decided to address that by lowering my goal to doing 200 swings per workout which meant it was a 4000 swing challenge. I needed to learn to adjust my grip so that I could sets of 20. I had to learn to tense and relax my grip during each rep. Before this challenge, I gripped the kettlebell very tightly the entire set. This is something that Strongfirst has talked about recently in their newsletter. I had to learn it so I could have grip endurance.

The first week, I started with 160 swings and added one set each workout until I hit 200 swings that first week. My sets were 10, 15, 20 and repeated that four times (180 reps) and did one extra 20 swing set to make 200 swings for the workout.


  • I feel great. Dan John says you feel taller. I can see that. I think I feel more athletic and explosive. That doesn't really matter because I'm not much of an athlete, but I do play with my kids.
  • Measurements: 
  • Weight: down .8 lbs. 
  • Belly button: down 3/8ths inches. 
  • Arms: up 1/8th inch
  • Leg: down 1/8th inch
  • Change in how I look (these are not objective measures): I think I see more arm definition than at the beginning of the month when I take my shirt off. My wife commented randomly that my face is thinner.
  • I can handle the 52lbs/24kg kettlebell. That was always a little out of reach. I'd like to be able to clean and press it now.
  • My dips got a lot better. In each dip workout, the end reps were really good. I learned that I need a long warm-up on my dips. 
  • I repeated a 20 minute Airdyne ride exactly like I had the month before and my heart rate dropped 12 beats per minute since the last time I did it. That's a 15% drop in my heart rate without training for it.

My thoughts

If you told me I could do a simple workout for a month to feel better and build arm size while dropping waist size and weight, I would do it every time. It isn't the workout for the rest of my life, but I will return to it once or twice a year.

What I'm doing next

I'm going back to Dan John's Easy Strength workouts. That is 2x5 of the basic push/pull/squat/hinge/carry movements. I'm focusing on kettlebell exercises, bodyweight exercises, and sandbag exercises. I also do easy Airdyne rides and a sprint day.

I will probably come back and do the full challenge down the road in 6 months or so. I want to do the full 10,000 swings next time, so I will focus on building grip endurance to do it. I'll be tacking on 20-25 rep of swings to other workouts to keep and build grip endurance.


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