Evolution

You are an evolved human being, aren’t you? Well, you’re reading a bog on the internet. That must count for something.

Your evolution into homo sapiens involves a myriad of elements that distinguish you from lower primates. One of these is the opposing thumb. Apes’ thumbs only oppose the first finger, whereas we can oppose our thumb to all of our fingers. The evolutionary advantage of such dexterity is that we are better able to hold a kettlebell.

What else sets you aside from the chimps and bonobos? Your backside. While most primates have gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius that work roughly the same as ours, when it comes to gluteus maximus, ours is very maximus and those of the primates is still a bit minimus. Basically apes have no arse. The huge size of our maximus, relative to other primates, is what allows us to function so well as bipeds, since this muscles not only propels us forward but also supports the musculature of the lower back. And this, dear reader, is why you absolutely must train with the king of gluteus maximus, the kettlebell.

Your eyes. So beautiful. And such excellent colour differentiation. Many primates are ‘dichromatic’ and do not distinguish between the rich palette of colours available to us humans. The evolutionary reason for this, obviously, is to be able to pick out the right colour-coded weight of kettlebell in the gym.

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Feeling challenged again.

So through the month of December I set myself a version of Dan John’s 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge, rose to it and, as our Premier League footballers would say, smashed it.

When the euphoria had died down, I had a think about jumping straight back into the deep end of Challenge Pool, and 30 days ago came up with a number that I thought would be a bit tough for snatches with that same 24kg bell.

Over the years I have stayed with the 20kg bell for my snatches. I once did 220 in 10 minutes (with multiple changes of hands). But I’d probably done 220 snatches with the 24kg in 10 years. Don’t judge me. 4,500 was going to be tough, I thought, being around 150 each day.

Well, I did it. 4,735, which works out at an average of 157 per day, although after the first pathetic day of 106 laborious efforts you might have bet against me getting anywhere near 4.5k. My main rules were to do a set every day and to avoid two sets in a day if at all possible. My main source of pain was my hands – not accustomed to 24kg bells. Right now they are calloused and tough  – and so are my shoulders, now that the pains have gone.

I’ll take a few days off the daily grind and let it all sink in, then come up with another 30-dayer. And keep you posted.

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.