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I wasn’t planning on doing another fitness challenge for quite some time. It feels like it was just the other day when I completed my 6-pack abs challenge at the end of January. However, this whole coronavirus quarantine situation has really taken a toll on me mentally and emotionally. No one could’ve predicted just how much people’s lives would be impacted.

As a web designer, I’ve been fortunate to work from home for several years now. Unlike so many others who have been severely affected financially, the opposite happened to me. Business owners suddenly have all this free time on their hands. Therefore, they either want a new website built or a ton of changes with COVID-19 notices. Needless to say, I’ve been consumed with work which has led to stress and depression.

It was actually my wife who suggested I attempt another challenge to help me get out of this funk. Honestly, my eating habits have been terrible lately. So giving me something to focus on physically is probably just want I need. It took me a few days to brainstorm an appropriate challenge. One that isn’t too difficult, nor dependent on a diet but more so on mental toughness. Thus I came up with the idea of doing 100 kettlebell swings a day for the duration of lockdown.

How I Decided On 100 Kettlebell Swings

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the kettlebell swing is absolutely my favorite exercise. Not just with kettlebells – any exercise period. For one, it’s a full-body exercise that works a TON of muscles and suitable for multiple goals. Weight loss, cardio, strength, endurance – you name it! Secondly, the motion is so quick and fluid that you can do many reps in a short duration. Finally, it’s not so taxing on the body where it’ll leave you sore and gasping for air.

If I tried to do 100 squats a day I’m betting the challenge would be over before it even started. Hell, I’ve never even attempted close to that in 1 set. Doing kettlebell goblet squats in a 4-minute Tabata format gives me wobbly knees. I’d hate to think what a high-rep count would do! 100 swings, on the other hand, are easily done in 2 to 3 minutes. There are no excuses for not finding the time.

So why did I choose 100 swings and not a higher number? Well, I have a few reasons. It’s not going to impress anyone, that’s for sure. I’ve read a lot of takes on doing 300 swings a day and the benefits that offers. I’ll tell you right now that would not be feasible for me given what I want to do and the rules I’m setting (more on that later).

100 Swings Allows Me To:

  • Continue My Workout Routine
    • I don’t want this challenge to overwhelm me and interfere with my normal kettlebell workouts. Typically, I do five 15 to 20 minute workouts a week. 100 kettlebell swings a day is a good sweet spot for doing just enough while not overexerting myself.
  • Power Through During Difficult Days
    • If I were to get sick (coronavirus or not), I believe my willpower can carry me through this challenge. Even the crappiest days shouldn’t jeopardize this streak.
  • Perform The Swings in 1 Set
    • This is actually my first rule. I’m not breaking the swings up into smaller sets. Do them all at once, get it out of the way, and continue on with my day. This is absolutely possible at 100 reps.

Lockdown Challenge Rules

Having already mentioned doing the swings consecutively, I have a couple more rules to keep things interesting. The next rule is that I’ll be using just one kettlebell weight – 35 lb. (16 kg.). This is comfortable for me as a medium weight that provides just enough resistance to get to 100 without burning out. I’m starting to understand why 35-pound kettlebells are the most popular.

As far as the style of the kettlebell swing, I’m staying with my preferred Russian variation. Although I won’t rule out doing squat-style, I can’t imagine not doing hip-hinge style the majority of the time. The same goes for using two hands. If perhaps strength is a factor on a particular day, I might switch hands mid-way through the set. However, I don’t see that happening.

The last and most important rule is that this challenge will continue indefinitely until life returns to normal. What does that mean? I’m referring to my residency state in Pennsylvania where business and social lifestyles are no longer restricted. This could go on for another a couple of months or longer. No days off (unlike my weekend workout breaks) – I may come to regret this!

Goals and Expectations

What I hope to gain from this is more mental relief than physical improvements. In past challenges, I’d update progress on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. For this challenge, I might discuss it on Instagram once in a while but nothing too detailed. I’m holding myself accountable so don’t expect daily videos for proof. You’ll just have to take my word!

At the very least I’m confident that lockdown will continue for another 30 days. I certainly have an opinion on these drastic measures but what I think is irrelevant. Nothing I say or do will change the guidelines I’m expected to follow. However, I won’t allow myself to sink further into negative emotions. I still have that sense of accomplishment after each workout and even after doing these swings.

As much as this challenge is for my psyche, I believe I will see some body toning. Hopefully in the mid-section! Furthermore, since these swings are supplemental to my regular workouts, I’ll be curious to monitor my weight loss during this time. Right now, I’m actively trying to stick to consuming 1800 – 2000 calories a day. Although I’m sure to have some bad days here and there, I’m much better at staying committed to exercising than dieting. So doing these swings daily is another way to offset any hiccups for my eating habits.

Join Me In A Lockdown Challenge

How have you been feeling throughout this pandemic? If you’re depressed or frustrated I’d encourage you to undertake a daily fitness challenge as well. For those of you who own a kettlebell, perhaps set your own number of swings per day. It doesn’t have to be 100. The point is to pick a number you can accomplish that isn’t too easy but won’t drain you on difficult days.

People who are unable to purchase a kettlebell because of supply issues can still participate with effective bodyweight exercises. One such exercise that I regularly incorporate into my kettlebell workouts is the CrossFit Burpee. The repetitive act of going from a horizontal position on the floor and then quickly jumping up is great for cardio. Maybe try performing as many as you can without exhausting yourself in a single session and use that number for your own challenge.

The CrossFit Burpee

Whatever exercise you decide upon, I’d love to hear about it. Comment below or tag me on Instagram. We may not have the ability to control what regulations local, state, or federal governments enact. We DO have the choice to take care of ourselves both mentally and physically. Participating in a lockdown challenge is one way to ensure you do just that. Best of luck!

UPDATE 10/1/20

After 164 days and 16,400 swings, I decided to end this challenge based on a few things. First, things were starting to open up again in my state. While there is still a lockdown in effect, the rules and regulations implemented are so ambiguous it’s hard to tell what’s allowed and what isn’t. Secondly, it doesn’t appear that this pandemic is going away any time soon. There’s almost a guarantee that cases will go up again and how that impacts business closures and daily life is anyone’s guess.

What I will say is that I absolutely feel stronger in my core, arms, and legs. It was a real grind to continually do 100 swings every day regardless of how I felt or other responsibilities. I believe 100 is just the right amount where it doesn’t feel like too much of an obligation but there is still a sense of accomplishment. I would suggest sticking with this rep count at a weight that feels not too light or too heavy. Even if it is the only exercise you get for the day, you’ll see some results for sure!

Ryan Faucher

I'm a web designer and kettlebell enthusiast on a quest to lose fat, build muscles and live a healthier lifestyle. I truly believe that exercising with kettlebells in conjunction with dieting is the most effective and efficient way to reach this goal. If you have the will and motivation, there is no reason you can't do the same.
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