The grand old Duke of Huw, he did 10,000 swings…

Well the title of this blog says it all, but I’ll carry on writing.

On Sunday, the 27th of November I decided I’d get stuck in to a challenge laid down to the world by Übercoach Dan John. I mentioned it in Volume – up or down?. 10,000 swings in 30 days.

Today, 25 days later, I got to 10,260. So I’m pleased with that.

The vast majority of those swings were with a 24kg bell, and performed two-handed. Some were done single-armed, and I did a about 400 of the 10,260 with my 28kg bell. I’ll carry on for a few days – today is 21st December,’ll stop on Christmas Eve, so I might pass 11,000.

The good: I just feel stronger, especially around my traps, lats, and as you’d expect, my glutes, which feel like two enraged anacondas trying to writhe up my back. My chest feels stronger too, which I didn’t expect. Better sleep, better aerobic conditioning, although I haven’t tested that by, say, doing a 5k, but I do cycle from time to time, and notice a difference.

The bad: Dan John appears to have a strict protocol for this, doing 5 x 10/15/25/50 swings (= 500) for two days, then taking a day off, and I absolutely didn’t follow this, partly because I wanted to make this a daily thing, involving harder and easier days, and partly because multiple sets of 50 swings are slightly beyond my hand strength. Eating like a horse with a worm, so in no way do I have a leaner physique from my exertions.

I have really enjoyed this endeavour. It’s given me a sharp kick up the backside. I will go back to ‘normal’ training for a while, then do another one, maybe with 28kg, maybe adhering to Dan John’s protocol with the 24kg, or maybe even making every swing one-handed.


Keep it clean.

With the basics of the swing now embedded in your psyches and your corporeal memories for ever, or at least until I think of another annoying detail that needs clarifying, we can move on to the clean.

The clean is important, not only because it is (obvs) part of the clean and press, and clean and jerk, but also because mastering the clean takes you a good part of the way to mastering the snatch. And the snatch is ace.

As mentioned in an earlier post, the glorious kettlebell is mainly for one-handed use, and the kettlebell clean is a prime example. A great way to learn the clean is to start at the end. You get the bell to the end position of the clean, which is known as ‘the rack’ – just at shoulder height, level with and even resting on your collar bone. Here’s a picture of a nice man to illustrate.


Bell resting on forearm, wrist straight or even bent ever so slightly inwards, stern expression on face – all crucial. To get it up there, lift it any old how, with two hands; as long you end up as illustrated you’re fine. Then you drop your forearm, with a loose grip on the bell’s handle, and hinge slightly at the hips as the bell plummets earthwards, and you’ll end up in the start position for a clean – bell in one hand, arm straight, hanging between your legs as if to initiate a one-armed swing.

You’ll notice as you drop the bell from the rack that it flips over as your arm straightens. Pay close attention to this: you’ll have to get the bell to do that flip on the way up when you start doing proper cleans.

But for the meantime do no more than these ‘reverse, gravity-sided cleans’. Get the bell up to the rack, resting on your forearm, and let it drop, paying close attention to the path that the clever bell chooses on its way down. Swop sides regularly. You’re on your way.