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How 10,000 Kettlebell Swings Helped Me Transform My Body

From Men’s Health

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was working out five days a week. I ate relatively healthy, too. While I was never exactly shredded, I was making good progress on the big lifts and felt comfortable taking off my shirt in public. But when lockdown started, all of that changed.

I was still eating like a person with an active lifestyle, but the most movement I was getting was walking from my bed to the couch. My gym closed. My office closed. The natural routine of my day-to-day life crawled to a near stop. That, coupled with the new existential threats of daily existence under the pandemic, meant I was eating a lot of take out, and food became a distraction from the casual terror of everyday life.

When I stepped on the scale last month, I discovered I’d packed on about 21 pounds. It wasn’t a surprise that I’d gained weight. With all the changes over the last few months, of course I was going to put on weight. The question now was what did I want to do about it?

Photo credit: Men's Health
Photo credit: Men’s Health

Dan John‘s 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Workout has earned a reputation as a simple, brutal fitness challenge. The breakdown of the program uncomplicated, but daunting: you’ll perform 500 kettlebell swings, five days a week for a total of 20 workouts over four or five weeks. The swings are supplemented with squats, presses, or dips for four of the weekly training sessions. John claims that people who have taken on the challenge dropped fat while adding muscle, saw noticeable improvements in posture and body composition, and made significant gains in overall strength.

I wanted a program that didn’t require regular gym access while still offering big results to combat my pandemic pounds and general malaise. Swinging a kettlebell 10,000 times seemed like the best available option.

By the time the challenge was finished four weeks later, I had dropped nearly all the pandemic weight and a quarter of my body fat. The change was not subtle, and the work was not easy. This is what it was like for me to swing a kettlebell 10,000 times in a month.

Week 1 of the 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge

There are thousands of trainers on the internet insisting their programs are the absolute best way for people to lose weight. What those people often leave out is that the equation is often even simpler than following their plan. You need to expel more energy than you’re putting in (this is called a caloric deficit). That can happen through careful focus on diet, exercise, or most effectively, some combination of the two.

When people don’t get the results they want it is usually because they didn’t actually follow the program. They don’t do all the workouts. They eat food they’re not supposed to. If you want to achieve your goals, the key is consistency and tracking. Unfortunately, I am terrible at consistency and