Strength: noun. the ability to overcome.

Swings – The Harder the Better

by GEOFFN on December 16

The foundational exercise in the RKC – The Russian Kettlebell Challenge - School of Strength, is the Swing. It doesn’t matter if it’s two or one hand, it’s still the Swing. Of course, we teach the 2 Hand Swing first and then move to the 1 Hand version after some semblance of mastery has been demonstrated with the 2 Hand Swing.

Of course this seems elementary to most of us – if not all of us. So, many of us, pay the Swing lip service and then move on to other sexier kettlebell exercises like the Snatch. Many of us know that if there is a problem or technical issue with any exercise, its roots can usually be traced back to the Swing.

Last night, in a fit of anger, I just did Swings – the 2 Hand variety. No Get Ups. No prep work, mobility or otherwise. Nothing. “Just” Swings.

And it rocked!

Coincidentally I am limited to “Program Minimum” exercises and their variations this month, so that helped. But I just grabbed my 32kg and went into the basement. I cranked up the stereo with some 80s metal, and banged away. Hard.

17 minutes later without the skin on my pinkies, I decided I was done.

My heart rate was extremely elevated and my legs were quivering.

And my anger had subsided for the most part.

But here’s the thing: I literally had tunnel vision. I only focused on moving that kettlebell as hard and as fast as I possibly could for only 10 reps. I was slamming that thing back under my hips between my legs and slamming on the brakes at the top. Every muscle was working. It felt exhilarating.

Why am I writing about just doing Swings?

Because in today’s fitness landscape we confuse complexity with progress.

I accomplished exactly what I wanted to accomplish last night:

  1. I needed to blow off steam and harness my anger into something productive and by 830pm had yet to train.
  2. I wanted to push my heart rate up and get a metabolic workout in, preparing me for January.
  3. I needed to focus on the Program Minimum, which I committed to do 16 days ago, to work on my base, my foundation, and set myself up for new gains in 2010.

Today, as I write this, although I “only” used a 32kg kettlebell for my Swings, I feel every muscle in my lower body as well as my abs and upper back. Surprisingly more so than when I perform my beloved double kettlebell drills with twice the weight. That should tell me something right there.

I plan on getting at least 2 of these types of training days each week until the end of December.

It makes me wonder how many people would start seeing results if they just kept their training program simple, like 20 minutes of hard, fast Swings two or three times per week.

I know – it’s too boring.

You know what is really boring? “Working out” for years and seeing no visible or measurable change in your body’s appearance or performance.

Here was Monday’s training program (12.14.09):

A. Walkouts x10

B1. Tall Kneeling Lifts: 12kg/15,15

B2. 1/2 Kneeling Bottoms Up Press: 12kg/15,15

B3. Reverse Lunge, bodyweight: 15,15

B4. Get Up Sit Up: 16kg/5,5

B5. 2 Hand Swings 24kg/20

B1 through B5 was performed as a circuit with 60 seconds rest between each exercise. The circuit was performed twice.

Everything is getting much stronger and much more controlled.

I’m really starting to feel “put together” and very, very strong. I can feel my strength returning behind the scenes or beneath the surface, so to speak. I can’t wait to see how I feel when I get on the bar in January.

Will write about the visit to the Iron Tamer’s in a future post. It was a GREAT time to say the least.

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