Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reflections on the 10,000 Kettlebell Challenge

 I LOVE kettlebells!!  And there is no denying it.  For Christmas last year, the number one item on my wish list was a 30 pound kettlebell.  So, you can only image how thrilled I was when a few days before Christmas I found a package on the door step. When I lifted it I couldn't help but notice that it was heavy...I mean really HEAVY, like say, ummmm, 30 pounds worth of heavy!  The next day I found that the package was neatly wrapped and placed under our Christmas Palm Tree...yay me!!!

I soon stumbled across a kettlebell challenge on Facebook.  Wooohooo, you KNOW I am going to "Like" almost anything that has to do with KBs on Facebook!  In reading the articles about this challenge I soon learned that is was, well...challenging!  A 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge for the month of January.  Thirty-one days to swing a kettlebell 10,000 times doesn't seem too difficult at first glance, mainly because it's a little difficult to wrap your head around a number that big.  Broken down to a daily (more manageable) number would roughly calculate to 323 swings per day which I could spread through out the day.  What I didn't do was take into consideration a few things like rest and recovery, running days, and all of life's unexpected obstacles.

I had started the new year in Las Vegas (which was a blast) and didn't get back home to even start the challenge until Jan. 3.  Then it was necessary to unpack, do massive loads of laundry, replenish groceries, and get back to work immediately.  Let me tell you, it is HARD to get back into the swing of things after the holidays PLUS 4 days in Vegas.  But I kinda opened my big mouth and announced to a few people (all of my Facebook and Nutrisystem friends) that I was going to kick this challenge's ass.  There was no wussing out now even though I was easily 3 days behind schedule.

I had to start with my 25 pound KB since it had been a few weeks since I had done any sort of exercise.  I did about 25 swings and thought my heart was going to jump out of chest and smack me upside the head. Okay, perhaps I might have underestimated the physicality of this challenge.  And maybe, as my boyfriend likes to point out, I was acting a lot 'harder' then I actually am (What?! You wanna piece of this??).  At any rate, with a lot of breaks, a lot of sweat, and gasping for air life an overweight smoker in a marathon, I managed to pump out 250 swings before my hamstrings locked up and my hands turned to hamburger meat.  Good gawd, what made me think I was ready for a 30 pound kettlebell??

Since this is my year of conquering goals I KNEW I couldn't just give up.  I could only hope that as I kept swinging that bell I would get stronger and either be able to swing everyday or get more reps in allowing for some time off.  350 swings per day didn't seem that daunting of a task until I went skiing.  I had to get up early on that Thursday to do my swings, shower, pack, eat, and be ready to leave the house at 11am.  Believe me, I had contemplated bringing my kettlebell with me but I could just imagine the ridicule that would ensue not only from my BF, but also from our friend who owned the cabin we'd be staying at overnight.  On Friday we were on the mountain 9 am til 3:30 pm and still have a 2-3 hour car ride home.  After burning 1000+ calories skiing, there was no way I would be able to complete any swings that day.  I would have to try to double up on some days to allow for these types of breaks.

Sierra-at-Tahoe view of Lake Tahoe

I watched as my ticker slowly inched (more like 'millimetered') it's way from 0 swings, to 850, to 1500.  As I started to get all impressed with myself I also noticed the "swings to go" part of my ticker...8,500 swings to go.  Holy hell, I wasn't even half way and my calluses were already screaming and threatening to turn my hands into "Man Hands" (Jerry Seinfeld would be appalled).  I did the only thing I could, I stepped things up...400 swing day 3-4 days in a row.  Then 500 swings a day, every other day so I could run on my "off days".  Then 1000 swings per day..WITH the 30 pounder!!!  I soon found myself with a full week left of the challenge and 'only' 3505 swings to go!!
I will admit, I broke down and bought a pair of workout gloves.  My calluses had gotten dangerously close to bleeding and yes, I am slightly vain, but personally, I don't think this means I'm any less tough!

Well, having gotten a bit  'lazy' in the challenge I was swinging the bell every few days at 1000 swings per day.  Then, on Monday, January 31st...after having to work 2.5 hours overtime (unexpectedly) and then going grocery shopping since the cupboards looked like Old Mother Hubbards...my BFF called needing to stop by for 'girl time'.  Soon after, at 9:30pm, the BF came home for "dinner"...after everyone left and I was cleaning up I realized I hadn't completed my last 205 swings...and tonight was the deadline!!!  So, in my skirt and tights, I picked up that 30 pounder and blasted out 205 swings, finishing the challenge!
Some changes I've noticed through the  of this challenge:

~Improved Strength.  There is no doubt I am stronger.

~Improved muscle tone. Especially noticeable in my arms.  My legs have always been very muscular so, although I am sure they benefited, I haven't paid enough attention to them to say for sure.  My butt looks better in my yoga pants +++.  And my abs are definitely tighter.

~Better form.  About half way through the challenge I noticed that I was feeling it more in my abs (including my obliques) and could sense an all over balance that hadn't been there previously.

~Flatter stomach...I can actually see some definition.  This is why I LOVE kettlebells.

~Better endurance.  All I can say is that since about the second week of the challenge I have managed to comfortably run 4-5 miles (even intervals) and have also been able to complete the 5 milers in 45 minutes.  Could be a combined result of HIIT training and goal setting and/or the kettlebells.  Where ever it is coming from, I'll take it!
I wish I would have taken measurements and/or done body composition tests.  Although I didn't really drop any pounds, I feel that there is a change in my body, particularly in my core area. The next time I take on a challenge like this I will be sure to do measurements.

Now that the challenge has ended I will be starting my Team In Training Marathon program and diving right back in to my Lauren Brook's Kettle Bell DVD's and .  She recently released volume 3 which incorporates the TRX system with KB's.  I'll be ordering that one soon and investing in the TRX as soon as I pick up a few more hours at work...or maybe I will ask for one for Valentine's Day.
Here's a quick and super easy recipe you can make ahead of time.  A little comfort food for those chilly winter days.

Lentil Soup with Butternut Squash

4 cups Veggie Broth
1/4 diced onion
3/4 cup dry lentils, rinsed and sorted
2 cups diced butternut squash
1 TBS oregano
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
salt to taste
Super easy...place everything in a large soup pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender.  This can easily be frozen in small containers to make lunch on the go a snap.


  1. Congratulations on the challenge Lynn!!! I bet you look great!

  2. Holy Cow! You are Superwoman - or Wonder Woman (maybe a combination of both!) I had heard about kettlebells but didn't know much about them other than the fact that they were really expensive. So, when I came across one on clearance for ten bucks I snatched it, thinking it was a good deal (although it was only 10 pounds which everyone says is way to light). Still, I studied up on YouTube vids and even a 10 pounder is not easy - and I've been lifting weights for over 2 months now! I'm amazed at your ability to swing that thing around and finish out that challenge strong. Amazing.


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