There’s an unending amount of fitness challenges you can google on the internet these days, with some of them looking fun while others looking extremely ridiculous and out of this world.
One of these fitness challenges that took everyone by storm during the start of the pandemic was the “100 Kettlebell Swings a Day” challenge.
Now this challenge isn’t anything new or groundbreaking -- in fact, I found people talking about their experience completing the challenge in 2014. (1)
I’m not sure who made it popular again when everyone was forced to stay at home for quite a while in 2020 but it surely made home workouts more fun and has been proven to get your whole body pumping… so I jumped on board!
If you’re interested in doing the challenge but don’t know how it’ll benefit you or if you’re new to using the kettlebell, you’re in luck because I’ve laid down everything you need to know about it below.
Kettlebell Training 101
Anyone who goes to the gym is familiar with the kettlebell equipment -- that odd shaped and sometimes colorful dumbbell that resembles a kettle without a spout but weighs as heavy as a cannonball.
Fun fact: Kettlebells were first used in Russia, but for reasons not anywhere near getting fit. They were used as counter-weights in the markets and vendors would often show off how strong they were by pressing, tossing, or swinging them for fun.
This became a skill that fathers would then pass on to their sons when they started seeing the physical benefits that resulted in goofing around with these counter- weights. And the rest is history. (2)
It’s relatively easy to get the hang of kettlebell training, it’s convenient as you don’t need a wide range of weight increments to train, and it’s very affordable for people who don’t have the budget for a monthly membership at their local gym. (3)
When you exercise with a kettlebell, you target a large amount of muscles at the same time i.e. your glutes, quads, hamstrings, core, chest, back, and arms (so… basically the whole body!). Training with a kettlebell gets those calories burning, improves your balance, and helps you gain muscle mass, too.
It’s a great routine to add if you’re training to gain more explosive strength, improve your cardio, or if you’re looking for weighted exercises that can reduce the risk of back pain and neck pain. (4)
Popular kettlebell exercises include Kettlebell Swings, Kettlebell Goblet Squats, Kettlebell Halo, Kettlebell Single-Arm Push Press, Kettlebell Deadlifts, Hand to Hand Swings, and the list goes on.
The Kettlebell Swing is one of the most known and preferred exercises when using the kettlebell, and for good reason. It targets a huge number of muscles all at once, it definitely helps you get in shape, and it’s fun!
Anyone trying to grow their glutes as well as strengthen their lower back, legs, and core, along with other benefits, will enjoy adding this exercise to their home/gym workout set. (5)
How do you do a Kettlebell Swing?
To do a standard kettlebell swing properly, I always remind myself to use my hips instead of my arms to get the kettlebell up at least to chest level, making sure to swing and thrust my hips with momentum.
Finally, to get the maximum benefits of the exercise, I squeeze my glutes and keep my back straight when I get the kettlebell up.
It’s best to do a swing with both feet hip-width apart and both hands on the kettlebell’s handle. I prefer to have a micro-bend on my knees as I prepare to swing and straighten my legs once I thrust my hips and get the kettlebell up in the air.
So What Happened When I Did 100 Kettlebell Swings a Day?
Magic happened. Really, I kid you not!
My aching back? Gone.
My jelly legs? Solid as an oak tree these days.
My core? I think I see my abs peeking out already!
My cardio? Twice as good as before.
My weight? I lost 14-15 pounds by the end of the challenge.
My mental health? Better than ever.
And this was just my results from doing this challenge for 30 days. After that, I’d do the challenge at least twice a week and haven’t stopped since.
At first, I used to ignore the kettlebells at my local gym and even the ones I had at home which I bought on a whim. I was quite uninformed of their benefits back then and I used to think traditional weights were far more superior to it.
But when the gyms closed due to the rise of COVID19 cases and we were all forced to stay at home, I was not prepared to face a fitness problem where I did not have access to a lot of the conventional weights that I was used to, my mind went to buying dumbbells, there are a few affordable dumbbell sets out there that I can use and it won't break the bank, I've bought a set before along side a short barbell and weights for the barbell, but this time I thought to myself, maybe try something new.
Another thing I have to admit is I haven’t really been doing a lot of cardio workouts for a year or two, I never liked ellipticals or exercises bikes that much, and I have to reluctantly admit that my cardio is only half as good as my weightlifting prowess. Even when the gyms were open, I rarely took interest in improving my cardio.
I only had a few free weights with me at home and that included my kettlebell. Left without much of a choice, I decided to do my research on how and where to start with kettlebell training. And I do not regret incorporating the kettlebell to my home workouts since I started, kettlebells are definitely worth it for me.
By adding 100 kettlebell swings to my home workouts, I was able to hit two birds with one stone: I built and strengthened my muscles while increasing my cardio. Not until I started doing 100 kettlebell swings a day did I realize how bad I was at cardio training and it motivated me even more to keep doing the challenge.
Not to mention, it also helped me stay in shape for the whole quarantine period because this challenge definitely made me burn a lot of calories and kept my fat build-up at bay, which was more likely to happen if I didn’t move around due to my now sedentary lifestyle.
It may not be as impressive as others but showing up and accomplishing 100 kettlebell swings a day made me feel so good about myself. It helped me to stay healthy, physically and mentally, even as everybody struggled to make sense of the lockdowns.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted a study with the University of Wisconsin which showed how doing kettlebell swings, and kettlebell training in general, was an effective way to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time due to being a hybrid of an aerobic workout and resistance training. (6)
Results from the study showed that, on average, an adult doing kettlebell swings would burn 20 calories per minute of training. A 20-minute kettlebell training session would help you burn an approximate 400 calories which is equivalent to 30 minutes of running or an hour of weightlifting. (7)
If you’re doing 7-10 kettlebell swings per minute, you’d have already hit 100 kettlebell swings in less than 20 minutes and would have burned more or less 200 calories by then based on ACE’s study.
We should take note though that this was based on a number of participants, both male and female, that used a variety of kettlebell weights depending on their age, weight, basal metabolic rate, and muscular endurance.
So if you’re short on time, or don't want to use a treadmill or a spin bike, it’s easy to squeeze a kettlebell workout in your day schedule and be confident that you’re burning a lot of calories and fat.
Is 100 Kettlebell Swings Enough?
If you’re just getting started with the kettlebell, definitely. Even those who consider themselves as bona fide gym rats need time to get used to the movement if they weren’t doing kettlebell training up until this challenge.
However, kettlebell training aficionados can do 100 kettlebell swings in less than 5 minutes without pause and should rather aim for the 20-minute mark rather than settle for the 100 reps.
Challenge yourself and try to add 100 to 400 more reps a day if you find that 100 kettlebell swings is starting to get a little too easy for you.
What Happens If I Do 200 Kettlebell Swings a Day?
Short answer: You burn even more calories, lose more fat, and gain more muscle!
Long answer: Doing 200 Kettlebell Swings can help you lose a heck of a lot of calories, enhance your kettlebell swing technique, gain more muscle mass, and train your mind by sticking to it.
More importantly, by adding 100 more reps, you start to see how you can pace yourself to finish this challenge to prevent fatigue and injury.
Do put in mind that doing a higher volume of kettlebell swings is a TOUGH challenge to beat, especially if you’ve been training with the kettlebell for only a short time.
What if I Go For 500 Kettlebell Swings a Day?
Dan John started the idea of doing a 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge together with other athletes and coaches from T-Nation back in 2013 with the goal of pushing boundaries to improve their health and physique. (8)
In this challenge, Dan aimed to do 20 workouts with 500 kettlebell swings per workout over the course of 4 weeks.
The results were extremely impressive; all the participants’ waist sizes went down a size or two, they became leaner, they saw an improvement with their grip strength, and found that their core and glutes were much stronger. Some had much more visible ab muscles in just 4 weeks.
Aside from the huge calorie burn, doing this challenge can help to tone your body and give you an amazing physique in just 4 weeks.
If you are going for 500 kettlebell swings a day, do take extra caution though as this is a hardcore challenge and is not in any way meant for beginners. Heck, it might even knock out the most experienced athletes by the end of the challenge.
Are You Ready to Take on the Kettlebell Swing Challenge?
The kettlebell swing is a great full body exercise you can do at home and at the gym. Doing a hundred of this a day not only gets your blood flowing but provides you with heaps of physiological and mental benefits.
By doing this challenge, you can improve your cardiovascular health, build muscle endurance, and increase your strength. (9)
Coupling the kettlebell swing challenge with a good diet and other mindful habits will surely lead you closer to your fitness goals faster than you can imagine.
If you want to melt unwanted fat and get toned without having to spend a lot of money and time, then this is THE sign for you to do the 100 Kettlebell Swings a Day challenge.
What do you think? Are you ready for it? If you’ve completed the challenge before, we’d love to hear about your experience. Let us know in the comments below!
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