Friday, August 26, 2011

Progressive Rest Ladder "200", my new favorite way to do 200 16kg swings

Since I came home from vacation I've found myself training alone more often since a large portion of my regular students have also been away during these summer months. Most of my training gets done via leading my classes but when left on my own, well....that's when I resort back to the boring stuff. Boring can get alot of work done in a short amount of time (which is the point), but how can I help make it translatable for others not so motivated to do the boring stuff on their own?

Last week I came up with this combination of work/rest with the 16kg, a bell slightly heavier than my "training" weight, the 12kg or 14kg. This is my starting point to 200 consecutive swing reps w/16kg, and then w/20kg, and then w/24kg. I could do these continuous workloads now, but that's not the point. The point is how can I teach someone else how to do it? Alot of my routines are designed keeping in mind the cardio, strength and skill levels of my students. I am a teacher afterall, a coach, a leader, a trainer. (how cool is that?)

Most of my past routines/combinations use "regressive" rest periods w/progressive work periods, in other words the work increases and intensifies by decreasing the rest taken. Here in this workout the rest periods increase. You might wonder why if the goal is to take out the rest completely.

As I mention near the end of this video, short rest periods have become overrated, and I confess I've had my part in this style of training. I've recently started to revisit 1 minute long rest intervals much to the delight of my students! As Mark explains, longer rest periods use a different energy system, an example would be the difference between sprinting and running a marathon. If we get used to running long distances we adapt using techniques (and weights) that allow us to become more efficient at that gaol....which is fine if all we want is get good at running marathons.

You can become efficient at any intensity. You can be efficient at running 10 miles or at running 400 ft but the two use diffent muscle fibers. Running slow or jogging uses mainly red fibers, which requires less strength and speed having less potential of the powerful white fibers. Shorter workbouts and longer rest periods allow you to train white fibers. White fibers require more time to regenterate than the red fibers, and by givng yourself the proper rest, longer rest, you're going to get stronger and develop more muscle than just always going long and slow. It's not that one is bad and one is good, they just do different things and create different effects.

The goal is to do 200 continuous heavy swings with power. Not to simply "fall" into the swings, or to "survive" the experience, but to smoke it! When you take more time to rest between sets you can come back stronger, eventually completing more and more continuous swing reps, strongly, with less rest.

200 swing reps w/progressive rest ladder

40 2 hd sw, 15 sec rest
40 2 hd sw, 30 sec rest
40 2 hd sw, 45 sec rest
40 2 hd sw, 1 min rest
40 2 hd sw

200 swings 7.5 min

repeat 2x for a 15 min workout.

If you are used to doing longer workouts then use this as a warm up or a way to end your workout as I do. No need though. This is all you need to start with twice a week. We all don't have time to make training a #1 priority, but we can all find at least 15 minutes twice a week, can't we? If training to use a heavier and heavier bell always start with a weight you know you can swing for 40 continuous reps before increasing the weight.

PS I don't think I was able to finish explaining why I taped this video yesterday....I was as close as I've ever been to skipping my workout. After I taught my 30 min swing class I lolly-gagged for about 15-20 minutes whining to Mark how I wanted to stop. I knew I wouldn't, but it helped to use the video as motivation to not give in....


Pat Carroll said...

How do you go from 5x40 to 200 swings? Do you go back to decreasing rest periods? Or switch to lighter kbell?

Hanneke said...

Love it! Thanks! Not just for this one but for all your great posts (routines), I look forward to them more and more....

Tracy Reifkind said...


It's coming, lol! I can't write 3-6 months worth of training in one blogpost!

.....this is just a suggestion to start with.....

Tracy Reifkind said...


you're welcome! More to come, as I move through my next progressions I will post the video.

Fatguy said...

GREAT POST! Love it, thanks again!

Maribel said...

I swear, sometimes I feel like I'm channeling you.

Last week and this week have been really tough for me with the kids going back to school and starting soccer. This week I've had to train on my own (why is this like 100 times harder than doing it in a group?) and yesterday was a doozie.

My plan was to do Max VO2 snatches since I missed last Saturday's class. I got to 20 sets and I just didn't have the strength (so much less strength in the afternoon!) to continue with snatches. But I KNEW I could do swings and even presses.

Here's what I came up with.

10 2hd w/20k - 15sec rest
20 2hd w/16k - 15sec rest
30 2hd w/14k - 30sec rest
40 2hd w/12k - 1min rest

I did this 3 times and ended with practicing cleans.

I felt so bad not being able to carry out my plan, but switching gears to do this made me feel fulfilled. Adding the heavier weights and just going back to basics really made up for it.

I don't know that I could swing a 20k 40 times've just given me another goal :)

I've learned so much from you! Can you tell?

Pat Carroll said...

Thanks. I'm moving from 20/40 toward 40/20 with a 24k, but looking for something different once a week.

sb4life said...

Are you still maintaining a pace of 10 swings per 15 seconds? If you want the workout to mimic sprinting whether than a marathon, would you opt for a heavier bell or a faster pace than your standard pace?

Tracy Reifkind said...


glad you like it, I hope to post more detailed info on how I train, the how's as well as the why's.

Tracy Reifkind said...


The biggest compliment about your comment is how you wrote your routine using my shorthand! love it!

No worries about Max, we did not do it last week, we did something else equally as hard!

Tracy Reifkind said...


There are as many KB routines as there are recipes for food....infinite!

Tracy Reifkind said...


The sprinting analogy was about shorter more intense work sets, not a literal translation of spped...the intensity comes from a heavier bell because as I wrote, the goal is the 24kg, not to do more or faster swings.

As you can see in the video I always work at 40 RPM.

Nadine said...

Hey Tracy!
I did this today with a twist -
all with the 16kg
40 2Hsw/:15
40 2Hsw/:30
40 2Hsw/:45
40 2Hsw/1 min
40 2Hsw

30 2Hsw/:15
30 2Hsw/:30
30 2Hsw/:45
30 2Hsw/1 min
30 2Hsw

20 2Hsw/:15
20 2Hsw/:30
20 2Hsw/:45
20 2Hsw/1 min
20 2Hsw

10 2Hsw/:15
10 2Hsw/:30
10 2Hsw/:45
10 2Hsw/1 min
10 2Hsw

fun, but I think your way was harder! LOL
Next time I think I may start with the 12kg and work my way up to the 20!
As always, thanks for the post!

Tracy Reifkind said...


I like it! And you said you couldn't write your own workouts....I better watch out!

(I think I'll twist your twist!)

Nadine said...

Awesome! =)

Tracy Reifkind said...


I "twisted" it and I love it! (imagind Oprah saying "love it" in a high voice, lol)

I'll post it soon.....

oh and it only takes 35 minutes for 800 swings....

Nadine said...


800 swings in 35 min. !!? Can't wait! =)

Tracy said...

Awesome. I did it last night. After being sick for the better part of a month and missing a LOT of kettlebell I'm finally getting back to it. So, needless to say - with the 16kg last night my forearms were smoked. LOVED every second of it. I am calling it the forearm ripper. Thanks, Tracy :D Great progression!

Tracy Reifkind said...


That's what makes 2 hd swings the most difficult....if you don't train them regularly!

The grip!

Fatguy said...

2hd swings over 1hd? I FINALLY got my form down to where my hamstrings are what feel it the next day (instead of my lower back, thank you to my San Antonio RKC!). And my grip is what's holding me back now. 20 swings per set, and by the 7th set, my forearms are screaming!

I'm deducing from your comment to to Tracy, Tracy, is that if I mixed 2hd and 1hd, my forearms would feel it less?

Anonymous said...

Tracy, this is now my favorite kettlebell workout! I have had KBs for a few years but have done very little with them to be honest.

I'm a "grip guy" and do 90% of my training geared toward improving or maintaining different facets of grip strength that interest me - whether it's for grip contests or USAWA contests.

Now I'm trying to drop another 12lbs to compete in a weight class (199lbs) that will suit me better and I have 5 weeks to do that. Of course that's a doable time frame. I've also changed my diet and am eating less.

I think your "200" workout will help me get there a bit faster than anything else I was doing. I'm using a VERY light weight because my cardio conditioning is terrible.

I follow your husband's blog too and just wanted to thank you both again for being so generous with your time, knowledge, expertise, and encouragement! It means a lot and is something that I and others remember.

Ben Edwards