Do Masks that restrict air work?

I was recently asked this question for the 10th time in the past few months so I thought I would address it. So the short answer is probably not for the reasons you see most people wearing the masks. I see a lot of “hard core” guys wearing gas masks and doing all sorts of crazy intense workouts in them. So the first thing is, if your are a fire fighter that may find yourself in an extreme hypoxic situation and want to get comfortable with being uncomfortable than this may have a practical purpose. Thinking that your body will adapt and create more red blood cells is probably unlikely.

There has been lots of research on training at high altitudes and competing at low altitudes. There is reasoning behind this type of training. At high altitudes the atmospheric pressure is lower, so the body will receive less oxygen with each breath(the % of O2 in the air is the same though). Over time the body will adapt and create more red blood cells to try and attach more oxygen. Upon returning to lower elevation the athlete will then have more red blood cells with the ability to now hold more Oxygen with the increased atmospheric pressure at the lower elevation. The problem is it takes the body weeks to months to fully adapt to high altitude to create more red blood cells. Wearing a mask for short bursts of training is not going to change the atmospheric pressure. Wearing a mask will restrict breathing and increase carbon dioxide in the blood which will increase the respiratory rate(breathing more frequently). Some argue that the difficulty in breathing through the mask will strengthen the diaphragm, but in many cases I think the difficulty in breathing will lead to more rapid and shallow chest breathing which is completely opposite of what happens in diaphragmatic breathing.

A mask is something I would never put on a client to train. A really well balanced conditioning program that has anaerobic and some aerobic conditioning involved is the best bet. In May I have a group of clients and friends getting ready for a StrongFirst kettlebell certification in Salt Lake City. SLC has an elevation of 4200 ft. This isn’t even really considered high elevation, but some are concerned. Tucson is about 2600 ft. Will there be a difference? Maybe a bit. So how am I training them. Well I want people to be able to do the snatch test in 4minutes and 20 seconds prior to going to the cert. So a solid conditioning program should not have too much of an effect. I am suggesting that they go to Mount Lemmon at a about 4500-5000 feet and attempting the snatch test at least once prior to the certification. This isn’t to attempt to create an adaptation,  just to have a understanding of how they will feel at that elevation prior to the trip.

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One arm Pushup Progressions

StrongFirst Tucson Certification at Evolution Tucson

This guest blog comes in perfect timing as the StrongFirst Bodyweight Certification  just announced it will be at our facility in Tucson, Arizona May 11-12,2013. Pavel and many of the SFG leadershipwill be here! I am happy to have a friend of mine from Omaha Nebraska write on a subject he is pretty darn good at. Bodyweight training and One arm pushups!


From a young age I’m sure I knew that one-arm pushups existed, just like I was sure that Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster existed.  Other people had claimed to have seen one, so there was probably something to the rumors.  However, the burden of proof was on them, because grainy photos and shaky videos leave a lot to be desired, and your crazy uncle Jim – who you swear used to be able to do a whole bunch of them once upon a time – doesn’t count anymore.

Fast forward to 2008.  I was about two years into “the fitness scene” as I had taken up Muay Thai two years before.  Along with that I took in probably 5 different types of curls, tricep kickbacks, 8 ½ different types of bench-press sort of exercises (for 3×10, of course) and an assload of crunches.  Oh, and nothing for the legs.  Because seriously, I kicked enough people in practice and jumped rope for conditioning, so I got plenty of “legwork” in.  I might have done a pullup once or twice, but don’t quote me on that.  And here it was, 2008, and my friend Drew invited me over to his oil-stained driveway to try out this thing called “kettlebells”  because this badass Russian defector and former Soviet Special Forces trainer told us we should – or else.  His name was Pavel, and you might have heard of him.

Drew was keen on me hearing about him too, and talked about him and his epic badassery non-stop before our Spanish classes three times a week.  Being an American with a Russian family history (I don’t speak Russian, but my middle name is Dmitri – true story), I figured I should make my heritage proud and try out this cannon ball with a handle.  The first thing I tried to do with it was curl it.  I had a lot to learn.

Drew showed me most of the essential kettlebell exercises and I was hooked.  He also showed me something else – a book called The Naked Warrior.  Apart from laughing at the title (I was 21 and a little less mature) I was intrigued.  You mean you could use your bodyweight for more than just running?  And what’s this I see…is that…a squat on one leg?  And a true one-arm pushup?!  The Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot were together in one awesome compendium of myth-breaking, icon-smashing cold, hard facts, along with a way to make both of these monsters your pets.  I tried the pistol.  I made it, but not before using more muscles than I thought I had.  I tried the one-arm pushup.  I failed.  And here’s the unfortunate part: I failed for years.

I gave up and took on “tamer” exercises, but the one-arm pushup always sat in the back of my mind – taunting me, daring me to come out to play.  Last June I had had enough.  I bought The Naked Warrior on DVD and sat down to watch it and see if I could glean some details from the DVD that I didn’t from the book.  Fortunately for me, I did.  Within the first 10 minutes, I picked up a tip that I hadn’t been able to put together before: the hollow position!  A light bulb went off.  I paused the DVD, walked over to the bare spot on my bedroom floor, applied this tip, and for the first time ever I knocked off a legit one-arm pushup. 


Like Neo becoming The One in The Matrix, like George Taylor discovering that the Planet of the Apes was Earth all along, like Moses being called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, the veil had been lifted from my eyes and the world became clearer in an instant.  I saw raw, real bodyweight brute strength for the first time in my life.  Beyond just that, I saw the things that had been holding me back all this time.

The first thing I saw when the veil was lifted was that I had the strength to do it all along – I just didn’t have technique.

The second thing I saw was the intricacy interwoven in the movement’s simplicity.  Knowledge of universal strength-training principles and the ability to apply them will take you as far as you want to go in your physical development.

The third thing I saw was that one broken link in the chain would ruin the whole thing.  You’ll either fail at the movement, get hurt, or do some weenie-ish fake variation and call it a one-armer.  None of those are acceptable.


Before I get into details about building yourself up to one-armers, let me first say that the following movements and exercises are absolute prerequisites: the RKC Plank, legit standard pushups for reps, and one-arm planks, as well as the ability to maintain the hollow position (squeeze your glutes and brace your gut for a punch – this may sound familiar).  If you can’t do these, don’t bother trying one-arm pushups just yet.  You’ll only get hurt.

As far as actually building up to one-arm pushups is concerned, there are a variety of ways, methods, systems, etc. that purport to be able to help, but in my eyes none is better or simpler than the one found in The Naked Warrior.  It isn’t given much space in the book, so I’ll summarize: “In order to do one-arm pushups, you must do one-arm pushups (specifically on an elevation until you can do them on the floor).”  In my experience, things like archer pushups, some of the steps in Convict Conditioning, and a variety of other more difficult pushup variations are great for a challenge or building up some in-between strength, but if you want to do one-arm pushups, you’ll have to practice their exact groove.  Otherwise, don’t expect much.

Getting yourself into the proper position is as simple as following a few principles

  1. Keep your shoulder pushed down.
  2. Keep the crook of your elbow pointed forward (“screw your shoulder into its socket”).
  3. Get into the hollow position.
  4. Kick your hip over to your working side.  Much like a military press, having the hip under the working arm will support you in completing the movement.


One arm Pushup Skill

Example of Step 2.  Keep your hand planted and try to point the crook of your elbow forward.

Aleks Salking 1 arm pushup


Example of Step 4: Kick your hip over slightly, as you do in a heavy military press.  Please ignore my pasty, glow stick legs.

You’re ready!  Now here’s what you do…

Apply all of the above tips and find your optimal position on the ground.  This is crucial, because if your elevated one-arm pushups don’t mimic what your one-armers would feel like on the ground, when the time comes to try them out on the floor, you’ll likely miss it.  Stay in your one-arm plank position on the floor, practice going down just an inch or two, and adjust as needed.  Find this ideal top position.  Practice it.  Note the tension required to maintain this position.

Once you’ve grooved your top position, you’re ready to practice the full movement.  Find an elevation (retaining walls work perfectly) on which you can do between 8-10 reps.  Apply the newly-grooved feeling from your one-arm planks and start pushin’.  Pause at the bottom, and push back up.  As they get easier at this elevation, lower your hand position and do it again.  Over the course of the next few weeks and months, repeat.  When you’re feeling good, attempt one on the floor.

Elevated One arm Pushup

You’re ready to join the push league!

I wish I had more complicated instructions to give you so I’d feel more important, but really, this is it.  Grease the Groove, and practice when you’re feeling good.  Another option is to practice your one-armers in the context of Dan John’s 40-Day Program , which I’ve done to great effect.  Whatever you do, keep the reps low and stay fresh!   Here’s an excerpt from my practice of elevated one-arm/one-leg pushups during the 40-Day Program.

One-arm/one-leg pushups practice.

Day 1: 2×5/5 (mid-thigh level)

Day 6: 5/5 (mid thigh), 3/3 (knee level), 2/2 (below knee)

Day 16: 2×5/5 (just above knee)

Day 33: 2×5/5 (below knee)


As time goes on and you start to get the hang of the movement more and more, and you’ll build up unreal strength in this movement.  I even built up to a half-bodyweight one-arm press just by improving my one-arm pushups, so this is more than just a party trick – it’s a real strategy for getting as strong as you look – and then some.  Apply the above and you’ll get to watch your strength skyrocket.   It’ll take time and practice, but trust me – it’s worth it.

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Strong First Snatch Test Training

I have received numerous questions this week about passing the StrongFirst and RKC Snatch tests. There are numerous ways to get it done. It really depends on what your starting point is to decide the appropriate program. If you have never snatched a 24 kg kettlebell your program is going to look very different than the program I am about to lay out. This program is good for someone that is intermediate to advanced. This is good for someone that hasn’t passed the test yet but may be close or has passed it but barely and wants some more wiggle room. I strongly suggest that you can pass the test in under 4 minutes and 30seconds prior to attending the cert. Also if you tell me you have passed it but your hands were hamburger afterwards, you are not ready. Your hands will be sore a beat up at the certification you need to OWN this snatch test before you go. Meaning….. You need to be able to pick up that 24kg bell cold if need be and pass the test with time to kill. One more thing… Probably THE MOST IMPORTANT piece of advice I can give. DO NOT use the snatch test as a training protocol. I hear guys all the time saying I have been doing the snatch test every week and I haven’t passed yet. This could be the worst idea for your preparation. Remember it is called the Snatch Test…Tests are tests not training protocols. This is a great way to burn out and rock your CNS.

So here is a basic protocol. Just 2 days of snatches per week. You really don’t need more than this.


Training Session 1:(higher weight lower repetitions): Snatch  with testing bell weight (24kg for most men 16kg for women): 5 right/5 left on the minute for 5  minutes.  Each week add one repetition per arm per minute. Week 2 is 6/6, week 3 is 7/7, week 4 is 8/8, week 5 is 9/9, Hint: week 6 is 100 snatches in 5 minutes. Also week 6 does not need to be done on the minute. It should just be your snatch test. Set the clock for 5 minutes and go to town.

What if you are not ready to snatch the 24kg for the SFG Snatch Test?

For those of you that have poor form with snatching or can’t manage your snatch sized kettlebell, start with a kettlebell size you can manage. When you have completed 6 weeks of this bell you have then earned the right to move up a bell size. Start the program with the 20kg Kettlebell. When you are able to pass the snatch test with the 20kg kettlebell then start the same progression with the 24kg bell.

What if you have already passed the Snatch test, but just want to get faster with 24kg?

Simple. Do the above protocol with the 28kg kettlebell. Then do the snatch test with the 24kg on week 6. Problem solved. Again if you have almost passed the snatch test with the 24kg kettlebell don’t use the 28kg bell for this protocol.

Training session 2:  Higher Volume/Speed snatching day: Should be done 3-4 days after Training session 1.

I do like the VO2 max protocol of training for this method. 15seconds of snatches Right:15seconds rest: 15sec snatches Left : 15 seconds of rest. Work this progression: start with a light bell (1-2 sizes below you snatch test weight). Most men should start with the 16kg bell. In the beginning the goal is to get 10 minutes of hitting 7 repetitions in the 15 seconds. When that is accomplished the goal is to hit 8 snatches in the 15 seconds.  The goal is speed with good form. I don’t see the added benefit of going for 9 or 10 repetitions in 15 seconds. For most people what you end up getting is sloppy repetitions. Remember, form is crucial. When you are hitting 7 repetitions you will have completed 140 reps in 10 minutes(with a 35lb Kettlebell that is almost 5000lbs of volume). When you move to 8 repetitions you will have completed 160 repetitions (5600lbs of volume). So sloppy reps add up and could cause issues.

Days can be spaced out as needed and you can always do more swings on other days as long as you aren’t driving yourself into the ground. Days 1-4 are not meant to be consecutive days.

On a side note, if your hand is tearing with these protocols you may need to look at your technique or have better hand care. If you are advanced in kettlebell training your hands should be conditioned for this program. There isn’t too much volume . Hand tearing is usually the result of poor technique, using too heavy of a bell or too much volume. Remember, hand ripping is not a badge of honor, it is an injury and a result of careless training.

TO REGISTER FOR THE UPCOMING StrongFirst Tactical Strength Challenge visit  $25 and you get a StrongFirst T-shirt (Must Register Early)


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Baconfest 2013 at Evolution Fitness Tucson

In complete contradiction to my last post we will be having a Bacon Extravaganza Potluck at Evolution Fitness February 8th from 5pm to 7pm. Kind of Like Happy Hour……. But with Bacon. No Turkey Bacon is allowed, nor are other form of NOT BACON. This should be a great time for everyone in the Evolution Fitness Community to come together and have some fun. I know we are Personal Trainers but it’s ok once in awhile. So bring your favorite bacon dish. I have heard rumblings of Bacon Meatballs and possibly bacon tacos… We shall seeBacon Kettlebell, Bacon Fest at Evoluiton Fitness Tucson

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Can your food taste too good?

Ok I wrote a blog last year kind of poking fun of the Paleo Diet craze and I just wanted to revisit this topic for a bit. This isn’t going to be knock on the Paleo diet or a rant. My biggest thing with it was that people really turn a bit looney and very cultish around the Paleo movement. Now I will say if you want to lose weight and clean up your diet, it is a great way to do it. I still am not as phobic of beans and limited portions of brown rice as the Paleo folk but it is what it is. This whole thing isn’t just about Paleo, but also about people that want to eat clean and end up eating too much. I personally have tried Paleo and unprocessed eating numerous times and I have done it very successfully losing considerable amount of weight.  I have also tried it another time and actually gained a few pounds of undesirable weight? The only thing I could think of is portion control. I just ate too much.  I dug a bit deeper and realized that there was a reason I was eating more the last time I tried it. The first time I ate lightly seasoned meat and really didn’t add much salt, paleo friendly dressings or oil. I ate unsalted almonds, tuna from the can, and yams without butter. The second time around I ate meats seasoned with paleo friendly marinades, Tuna with some natural type of Mayo or oils and seasonings, cool recipes for Paleo pizzas and other recipes with Agave nectar as a sweetener etc….. Lets discuss a few things.


This is the way we react when food hits our mouth. We actually get a neurological kick from certain foods. The more palatable the food, the more we desire it. Many times the opioid receptors can be involved which are very addictive. Hence the reason you crave certain foods even though you know you will pay for it the next day or know you committed not to eat it.  Wikipedia actually has a really cool definition of palatability(read it after this), which can give you some more insight. The bottom line, the more palatable the food the higher the chance you will override your body’s natural feedback system to stop eating when you are full. Think about that awesome desert that was so creamy and sweet. You were so full from dinner but that one bite was so amazing it turned into 10 bites.

Food Science

The food science industry has come leaps and bounds in the past 20 years.  I remember when I was at the University of Arizona studying nutritional sciences. We learned    food science was fighting food infection and toxicity, and understanding how food could be mass produced in the most safe and effective way.  We learned about pasteurization, carmelization, and irradiation. I learned  the correct temperature to cook meat, and why we get Montezuma’s revenge when you go to Mexico. We really didn’t get into too much detail on how food was tailored to our taste buds. Food science has really come a long way to really figure out the human palate. Everything from the chip commercial that says you can’t just have one, the consistency of mayonnaise, splenda, and the boom in tasty protein shakes all have to do with food science. That chip that is just salty enough and not too “greasy” has been chemically engineered to your mouth. Not too much, not too little, but just right.. I remember when I was in High school back in the late 80′s and Early 90′s. I heard that protein would help give me the muscles I needed to be bigger. So off the the nutrition store we went. My dad bought me some Muscle Gainer 10,000  and I couldn’t wait to get home to drink it. Well I opened it, put it in some milk, and started sipping. Just as soon as I sipped it I started gagging. This stuff was thick, clumpy, a bit smelly, and it hit my stomach hard. I swore someone put sawdust in a can and sold it to me. To say the least, Muscle Milk and these other brands taste like dessert nowadays. Thank you palatability courtesy of food science. Another example is bread..Half the reason we love it so much is because  it makes food go down easier, we have become addicted to the softness and a tinge of sweetness that bread gives our food. Talk about food science at work. Nearly all the ingredients in store bought bread act to help make it softer and more enjoyable, High Fructose Corn Syrup in bread??.. Bread nowadays is soft and stays like that for days or weeks..

Bread is aweful for you







Salt and Oil

For the sake of this article olive oil had to come from a olive and there had to be a process to get the oil out of it.   Oil really isn’t all that natural, especially if you are trying to a be true cavemen. I definitely think there are some health benefit of oils, but using oils also has other issues when it comes with food and weight loss. It isn’t just the calorie kick we get from oil, it is that whole palatability factor. Same with Salt. In limited portions salt is fine, salt got a bad rap for affecting blood pressure, and I am not even going to talk about that. Again salt really does have a huge impact on palatability. Think about that chip you can’t resist. It would just be a potato without salt and oil.

So what does this have to do with the Paleo Diet?

The Paleo Diet has been known as the caveman diet. Simply defined as the hunt it, kill it, pick it, harvest it, and eat it. If it comes in packaging it’s probably not Paleo, but many will argue. Here is the thing, I see Paleo Pizza’s made from an almond flour crust, some sort of cheese that has nothing to do with dairy and I see a movement of Paleo friendly foods coming more and more common place in pre-packaged form. There are more and more fancy paleo recipes out there full of condensed coconut milk, agave nectar, and other foods that in their basic form are very paleo friendly. The second we start adding oils, salts, and sweeteners(natural or not) we are really starting to mess with that opioid response we get from food. Bottom line, cavemen didn’t process oils and use seasonings, I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am. I remember the first time I wanted to eat natural and as unprocessed as possible.  I would eat tuna (ok it was from a can so it isn’t all that natural) and didn’t add anything to it, I also ate some raw veggies and maybe a piece of fruit with it. I would struggle getting down 2 cans of tuna and a cup of raw broccoli, and I am a very big eater. I didn’t stop because it was gross, I really stopped because I felt full.  The second I added some oil, salt, and some seasoning I could almost double my portion size. Kind of funny how palatability can really affect the body’s natural response to feel full and stop eating. Same with nuts. I eat a serving of unsalted almonds I am OK leaving it alone. You put some Blue Diamond salted/roasted almonds in front of me and I can eat half a bag easily.


I know that we want food to be enjoyable and eating bland food really isn’t all that great, but I also see that many of us (including myself at times) have really swung so far in the direction of eating for flavor rather than fuel, and if you have weight loss goals or just health goals in general you may want to really take a close look at why you feel like you need to eat so much in the first place. In my opinion it has a lot to do with us over flavoring our foods with oil, salts, seasonings, and other things that may or may not be highly processed. This goes for protein shakes and smoothies that are supposed to be healthy for us. I am definitely glad protein powder doesn’t taste as nasty as it used to, but now they are equally as sweet as desserts. If I am eating just for fuel, my smoothie would be about 400 calories(1-2 servings of frozen strawberries blended with protein in a water base).  It tastes a whole bunch better with 1.5 cup almond milk, 1 cup of strawberries, 2 tbl spoons of almond butter, and protein. The difference is shake #2 tastes awesome and shake #1 just tastes good. Shake #2 has close to 700 calories, and guess what, I always wish there was more of shake #2 as well. I have tried it with just putting raw almonds in my shake and it isn’t nearly as awesome as almond butter in it.

So I guess the take home message is if you are eating healthy, but eating too much look at what you are putting in your foods.  If you are adding oils, salts, and natural or artificial sweeteners.. STOP IT!  Try to tone back on the fancy stuff and you may be amazed how your portions just get smaller and your hunger may go down.


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Staying with the program…Even when it is tough

I have been in this industry for going on 15 years now, and have been lifting weights of some sort for close 24 years….. Wow just typing that really freaked me out.. Yep, started when I was 14 years old and about to turn 38. The saddest thing is I spent so much of my life bouncing around. I guess in retrospect it really has helped mold who I am today, but man there are a ton of “what if’s” that go through my head.  If I just had the guidance and direction in my 20′s that I had today………. Man the that is an awesome fantasy… I faced what many people struggle with. I can’t say it has all been bad. I remember in my early 20′s I wanted to get ripped and get huge and have a big bench.. So I benched 3 x week to failure, cut carbs and wondered why I got ripped and weak. Really with all of the years of lifting weights I have underneath me, I really should be an elite lifter. The truth is I have made more gains in my strength and conditioning in the past 4 years than I have made in my entire life, and the last 2 years have been unprecedented in gains of strength for me.

The best thing I ever did for myself is to just stop the BS of exercising and really focus on strength training. It isn’t an exercising session, or a workout, it is a training session.. Strength has lots of definitions nowadays, but the definition for me is,  am I lifting heavier things. period. Just for the record I do care how I am moving and yes I am moving well and have stayed injury free in this process.

Dan John has coined the term keeping the goal the goal, and that means until you reach the goal, you stay on path to hit the goal. It doesn’t mean you stay on path till you get bored. I had a pretty big awakening a couple years ago that I was seriously underpowered for the years I have had underneath me training. Much of it had to do with exercising too much, as well as pushing too hard and injuring myself more times than I would like to admit. FYI, doing a million thrusters with light weight then running 400m for time is a great way to not get any stronger and injure yourself. So, for the last 2 years I have done programs by Jim Wendler, Pavel, Dan John, and others and have finished each one stronger than when I started. Sometimes stronger means my 1 rep max increased, other times it meant increased the reps I did at the beginning of the program. After each program I would do a week or so of fun conditioning stuff , then focus on strength programming continued.

A few months ago Chris Falkner my head personal trainer and strength coach at Evolution Fitness Tucson put me on a strength and hypertrophy program. An 18 week program.  Yes, that is over 4 months long. The best and worst part of the program is that it started me out with weight that was rather light and it always had me leave A LOT in the tank. Meaning when I was at my heaviest lift I got to lift it once and it felt light. Every part of me wanted to rep the weight out and go for rep out or just add on weight and go for a 1 rep max on certain sessions. The thing is, following the program means when it says do 1 rep at X amount of weight, it means do 1 Rep at X amount of weight, not 2 reps or anything else. If I chose to do an extra rep, I am no longer following the program, I have now made my own program. The best part of this is, each week that 1 rep has felt just as light as it did on the first week, the difference is the weight has gone up significantly over the past 3 months. Strength is a gradual process and so many times people want to put on 50lbs of strength in One month and forget that Strength is a Journey.  Another huge benefit is that I have not had so much as a pinchy shoulder or tweaked back.

Leaving room to grow and not killing yourself every workout is truly a great key to getting stronger.  Strength is very different than conditioning. Conditioning can improve rather quickly and can disappear just as quickly . Strength increases happen over longer periods of time especially for an experienced lifter. So to the person that has a few crappy workouts and thinks that getting strong is too hard you have 2 choices, get over it and understand that strength is a journey or take Zumba.

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Kettlebell Combo Swing: some tips for the 10,000 swing challenge

Here is a little tip on how to mix up your swings on the 10,000 kettlebell challenge. So far we are 10 days into the month and many of you are already creeping up on 5000 swings. Swing on!!!


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Strategy for the 10,000 Swing Challenge at Evolution Fitness

We are really excited about partaking in the 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge for the month of January. This probably isn’t the nastiest challenge in the world, but it is done mostly to develop consistency and of course a little fun. One of the best ways to stick to something is to throw down a challenge.  If you are new to kettlebell training this is a great way to get lots of reps in and work on perfecting the art of the swing. If you are a honed in veteran than this is a great way to put in some serious work and become even better at the swing.

So How does it break down?

Well there are a few different ways to get through this challenge. If you were to do 323 swings every single day of January you would achieve your goal of 10000 on January 31st. Not a bad option, but it also doesn’t leave much room for a busy day or just a bad day where you didn’t get to train, and we all know that can happen. There is also a version of doing 500 swings per day 5 days per week which will leave at least 2 days off per week to not have to swing. I am sure you could also come up with some other cleaver ways of some 300 swing days and some other 800 swing days to manipulate it as well. The point is getting it done! If you are taking kettlebell classes at Evolution Fitness all of our classes will have a bit of increased load of swings. Don’t worry, we will still have our strength focus, but swings will definitely be a bigger part of classes. We will even turn our metabolic conditioning classes into swing based classes where you will be able to get 500-800 swings in one class.  I would recommend purchasing a bell for use at home if you want to partake in this challenge… We will actually give a bit of discount to those that want to buy a kettlebell from us! 

What type of workouts do we recommend?

There are numerous ways to skin this cat:

Grease the Groove:  If you have a job where you have the flexibility to bring a kettlebell with you, or have a day off from work and want to get some swings in, this may be a great way to accomplish it. Pretty much GTG is simple. Set a rep goal for your day and throughout your day pick up the bell and do 10-20 reps, set it down and repeat at random times each day till you get your goal.  You may find yourself getting 2-4 sets in an hour and then other hours you may only get 1 set, the key is hitting your goal throughout the day. The benefit is you shouldn’t feel taxed and overly worked. This should go good on days that you may feel tired or a bit sore from training. On these days you can also tend to work in a heavier kettlebell on some sets as well and not feel over taxed.

Swings on the Minute:

This is a great way to do the swings and get one hell of a workout. (depending on bell size, more on that later).

Set the timer for 25 minutes: Do 20 swings and rest till the beginning of the next minute and do another 20 swings. This will give you 500 swings. If you are shooting for a 320 swing day then just set the clock for 16 minutes. If you use a heavy bell this can crush you, if you use a light bell it will be more of an aerobic workout. 20 swings should take you about 30 seconds which should give you 30 seconds of rest before you start your next round of swings.

You could also do 25 swings on the minute for 20 minutes, but I would only suggest this for more advanced swingers and grip strength can really come in to play here especially with a decent sized bell.

15 seconds of work, 15 seconds of rest: This is good if you want to do single arm swings or if your grip strength starts to get too taxed during a regular workout. In 15 seconds you should be able to hit 10 swings, so in 1 minute you should be at 20swings.

You can work these into your training sessions as a finisher.


Use them all, you have 10,000 swings to play with it. The other day I decided to do 20 swings on the minute for 25 minutes to net 500 swings. Minute 1: 20 Single arm swing with the 16kg kettlebell,  minute 2 single arm swings with the 24kg Kettlebell, Minute 3 single arm swings with 32kg kettlebell. After about minute 9 I alternated single arm and regular 2 handed russian swings following the same pattern of 16,24, and 32kg kettlebells. After swinging the 32kg bell it was almost like a set of active rest using the 16kg bell, but I was still moving and swinging with good form. If you think about it, this workout had a volume of over 26,500lbs of swings.

On a Grease the groove type of day I would probably do a good number of swings with the Beast(106lbs) and mix it up as well.

Remember this challenge really isn’t about destroying you for an entire month. Manage your fatigue and have fun with it. If you are having a less than stellar training day, grab a lighter bell than you would normally use and get your reps in. That doesn’t mean guys that deadlift 400+ pound should be swinging the 12kg bell either. Also, if your form starts to suck, stop or go lighter. This challenge isn’t worth injuring yourself.  Another word of advice, I don’t recommend doing more than 30 standard swings in a row unless you are going light or you are advanced. I have seen people rep out 100+ swings in a row but the form just goes down considerably.

The good thing about doing swings is, it shouldn’t over tax you or interfere with your strength goals as long as you don’t over do it when you shouldn’t. I have heard of people doing this challenge in only 10 days. For the record I wouldn’t condone that unless you really really really wanted to prove something, something I am not really sure of though. Enjoy the the ride, keep a journal and get other people involved with you. Doing it in a community will make this a much more enjoyable experience. Facebook about it, blog about it and most importantly keep your training journal!!!

We will have our board tracker up at Evolution Fitness to get the competition juices flowing a bit :-)


10,000 Swing Challenge at Tucson Kettlebell

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Twas the night before Christmas Evolution Style


Twas the Night Before PDF for Web

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Are you Correcting too much?

I have to say that over the past 4 years or so the training industry has seen an influx of corrective exercise, functional movement, and mobility/stability based systems which have done wonders for the fitness industry.  Many of them border on, or are very physical therapy based. It seems that the PT world and the Personal training/Strength Coach world have kind of found themselves sharing some common interests in movement and making sure that tons of fitness and strength aren’t built on a horrible foundation. This has been very  needed in the fitness industry. Numerous bloggers and internet coaches are now coming up with videos and articles talking about angles of rib cages, hip angles, and toe alignment. If anything is off, there is a slew of corrective strategies that go along with an “issue” which now take precedent over training intensity and volume, and this is sometime needed. But I see it time and time again,  a training session now turns into a mobility session and which now turns into a  pseudo physical therapy session.

I want to say ahead of time,  I respect and have  practiced the FMS. I am also familiar with the principles of Z-health and others in this realm and I think they all have major benefit.I also like a slew of other programs out there as well. My one on one training practice is primarily corrective exercise and many sessions are very slow paced in the beginning with my people because that is what they need for a short bit of time. We work lots on flexibility and mobility work. But for the majority of us,  I guess the point I want to make is, sometimes you just need to train your ass off folks. I am not saying train into pain, or train yourself into oblivion and destroy yourself every workout, but if every session consists of 45 minutes of joint mobility drills, ankle circles, and band half kneeling drills with a light goblet squat, get-up, and swing session, you need to pull the curve back the other direction. Just because there is a slight ssymmetry doesn’t mean the world will stop and you blow out a hip. Every single one of us has a different frame, body type, and movement pattern and you are doing yourself a great injustice if you are trying to fix every little thing that may be potentially wrong. I also believe that some of those asymmetries, and stability issues are also saving many of our asses from injury and trying to fix them sometime opens up a can of worms.

I am done with my thought, and that all this was. Just seemed to be a little long to be a facebook post:-)

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