Optimizing The Kettlebell Swing Part 9: Programming The Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing

Welcome back for Part 9 of our 10-part series on Optimizing The Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing!

Last week we worked on fine-tuning your swing and emphasized going back to the basics; specifically in using the Static Stomp Deadlift and training the back and forth of “light” and “heavy” swings.

When it comes to fine-tuning your swing you should place no weight minimum on your training.

In other words, don’t be afraid to refer back to some lighter bells that you once used to learn your 2-Handed Swing…


In Part 8 we encouraged you to “tinker” with your swing, the cues you use, and your training routine, reminding you that you know your body best.

Take the knowledge you acquire with a grain of salt and always trust your gut.


True mastery is a dedication to the process; not the result.



Today we’re wrapping up our 9-week long conversation about the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing and arming you with more tools for our 2-Hand Swing toolbox; Programming Tips.

The key to building life-changing strength is consistency.

A training routine consistently done over a long period of time will absolutely work.

In order to be consistent however your training needs to be sustainable; it needs to leave you with a feeling of being able to come back day after day, week after week.


Sorry your, “work me till I can’t stand up tomorrow” mindset doesn’t exactly fit the bill...

Sustainable training all falls back on knowing your body and following a program that creates an environment for you to train frequently without setbacks; sustainability.

By the end of today’s post you’ll have everything you need to create your own world-class programs that deliver life-changing results.

The Rule of 100

Pavel Tsatsouline - the man responsible for bringing kettlebells to the west - has a plethora of programs that have been tried, tested, and proven successful with a wide range of body types, ages, and demographics.

We give credit to, and founded Evolution on the basis of, one program in particular called Simple and Sinister.

The program is - well - simple; 100 Swings and 10 Getups done anywhere from 3-6 days a week.

For the purposes of this series we’ll talk specifically about the swing portion of Simple and Sinister.

Though should you want to learn more about the Getup, we recommend you visit our homepage and sign-up for our FREE 7-part instructional video series on Optimizing The Getup.


The combination of mastering the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing and the Getup can be - and has proven to be - absolutely life-changing.

So why 100?

It’s actually quite simple, Pavel challenged himself to come up with a program that’s as simple as possible - but not simpler (to quote Albert Einstein) - the result was 100 swings done anywhere from 3-6 days a week.


For the VAST majority of people this is going to sound like it’s not enough work.


To you we simply say; “try it”…

As we’ll get into in just a minute, there are a number of different ways you can train your “100” swings, however we felt it was important to point out that 100 is simply our baseline.

If a training sessions volume creeps up towards the 150-200 range, it’s without a doubt a “high-volume session”.

On the flip side a session with a volume of say 60-80 swings would be on the “lower end” of the volume spectrum…

Knowing how and when to use both is what will make your swing practice seem like a different task everyday you train.

Numbers Don’t Lie

There are 2 important factors you can use to individualize your training and get the most from your training at the same time.

  • NL

  • Tonnage

NL = The Number of Lifts you’ll do - or have done - in a particular training session.

  • For example if you did 100 swings in a training session your NL would be 100.

Tonnage = your NL multiplied by the weight used (in either pounds or kilograms).

  • For example if you did 100 swings with the 32k bell your Tonnage would be 3,200k for the session.


Your tonnage is a great way to determine your workload.

For example, let’s say you’re comfortable 2-Hand Swinging a 40k bell for 100 reps (done in sets of 10 by the way).

A “heavy” day for you might mean a total NL of around 60 with the 48k; lower number of lifts but a higher intensity of weight…

Your Tonnage for that training session would be 2,880k (48k x 60).

Now say you want to do a “light” day with the 24k and you’d like to do 160 reps because the bell is considerably lighter than your usual 40k training bell.

Your Tonnage for said training session would be 3,840k (24k x 160).

While the bell you’re using is lighter, the Tonnage you’re accumulating is actually higher than that of your heavy day…

It’s not a bad thing, but something to take note of.

It all comes back to our point of you knowing your body better than anyone else.

If you have family in town, a newborn who’s not sleeping, or maybe you’re just stressed from job-related issues, those factors all come into play when you’re trying to become the strongest version of yourself.

Don’t live and die by your NL and Tonnage...

Personally we feel they can be great training markers to refer back to during stressful times (or on the flip side times when you feel amazing and want to push the mark).

Using The Clock

How you do your 100 swings is completely up to you…

If you follow the Simple and Sinister testing protocol you’d do a set of 1-Handed Swings (you can do the same with 2-Handed Swings) for a set of 10 reps every 30 seconds.

You’d repeat this format of 10 swings every 30 seconds for 5 minutes and thus finish your training session of 100 swings in 5 minutes...


Talk about efficient; 100 swings in 5 minutes is no joke!

It’s worth pointing out that us coaches RARELY train this many swings in such a short period of time.


Personally, we prefer longer rest periods (I mean who doesn’t?!) allowing us to do the same about of work over a longer period of time.

A typical session we like is 5 reps every minute on the minute (OTM) for 20 minutes.

You still get 100, but done in 20 minutes vs. 5…

This allows us to train with heavier weights, fine-tune technique, and in spite of what you might think, actually prepare you for a 5-minute swing (or snatch) test very well.

The clock can be your best friend when training ballistic kettlebell exercises such as the 2-Handed Swing, 1-Handed Swing, Clean, Jerk, Complexes, and Snatch.

Here are two that we constantly use in all our programs…

OTM

On-The-Minute is exactly what we just mentioned by doing 5 reps every minute on the minute for 20 minutes.

The term “On-The-Minute” means that at the top of every minute you’ll do a given number of swings (in this case 5).

If 5 swings takes you 10 seconds to complete, you’ll get 50 seconds rest before doing your next set of swings.


With enough training you’ll begin to understand roughly how much time it should take you to do a set of 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20…


While you might want to challenge yourself and do more than 20 reps in a minute, keep in mind your goal; strong, consistent, sustainable, training.

If you want to hammer out more than 20 swings in a minute we’d recommend simply challenging yourself with the 100 reps in 5 minutes routine we mentioned earlier - though again we wouldn’t recommend you do that more than once every 4-6 weeks.

Don’t test to train. Train to test.

Every 30-Seconds

Performed under the same format as OTM is your Every 30 Second work.

For example you can do 10 swings OTM and get roughly 40 seconds rest every minute, OR you can do 5 swings every 30 seconds with roughly 20 seconds rest each time…


What’s the difference?


While your NL will wind up being the same, the training session itself will feel entirely different.


Your 10 OTM will likely feel “easier” - depending on the bell you’re using of course.


Your Every 30 Second routine will feel more challenging because of the fact that you are starting and stopping more frequently during your session.


The first rep of any set requires the most power from you.


In a set of 100 swings done 10 OTM for 10 minutes you’ll have 10 total “first rep” reps in there…



In a set of 100 swings done 5 Every 30 Seconds for 10 minutes you’ll have 20 total “first rep” reps.


Every time you put the bell down and pick it back up again it requires a little extra “umph” from you…

This is why ladders of Dead-Stop, or Power Swings (from Part 5 ) challenge you FAR more than traditional swing ladders.

A Calm Mind = A Strong Body

The key thing to remember whether doing OTM or Every 30 Seconds is this:


Sloppy form is unacceptable.

Most people begin to rush their swings, snatches, etc. when all of a sudden placed in a situation where the more time it takes for you to complete your set, the less rest you get.

Which we can’t argue with…however, don’t fall into this trap!


Take your time and focus on high quality reps every single rep, every single minute.

Each swing demands your full undivided attention. In addition, Hardstyle Kettlebell training is very much a “you get what you give” relationship.

Referring back to our “light” 24k bell scenario, 9 times out of 10 someone new to kettlebell training is going to take it easy with that 24k compared to their 40k bell…

This is where you can go wrong.

That 24k demands the same respect and attention to detail that you give the 40k bell. If you can do that with every set, every day, every week, then you’re well on your way to mastering the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing.

That’s a Wrap

As we mentioned last week in our Fine-Tuning post, you now have everything you need to learn, train, and master the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing.


Play around with different rep and set routines.

If you want to dial the Geek-Meter up a notch, track your NL and Tonnage to get a better idea of the work your putting in.


As always the key is to punch the clock consistently.

Listen to your body. And most of all, don’t forget to enjoy the ride in the process.


Next week we’ll transition into the world of possibilities you have with your training once you’ve mastered the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing.


It’s a fun world full of 1-Handed Swings, Cleans, Snatches, Jerks, Complexes, and more…

But, only once you’ve truly mastered the 2-Handed Swing are you ready to tackle the rest that the kettlebell has to offer you.



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