THE CLUBBELL SWING CHALLENGE
Work Hard, Rest Hard
THE CLUBBELL SWING CHALLENGE
Test Workouts - April and May 2014
Actual Program - 3rd September to 1st October 2014
Work Hard, Rest Hard
During the spring of 2014, I had a conversation on an internet forum with another member about Clubbell Swinging. I suggested that we have an open discussion on the forum and maybe come up with a challenge; a program that could be done by all levels of Clubbell swingers/fitness enthusiasts.
The conversation motivated me to study program design and create a concrete program, which the forum owner presented as a community challenge. There was a proper setup on their web site including program details, instructional videos etc.
Although I am the author of the program (with a tweak to the active recovery element made by the forum owner), it would not be right for me to give all the details on this web site. Please find all the necessary links below. To access the program details you will need to register. Registration is free.
Web Site: Dare To Evolve
Link to The Clubbell Swing Challenge: HERE (free registration required. You WILL NOT be bombarded with e-mails as a result of registering.)
IMPORTANT: For those of you who do not know me, I am NOT trying to get you to sign up to another web site for any type of personal gain. I do not believe it is right for me to give full details about something that was born on another web site. Although I created the program and undertook all the testing, there was extensive work undertaken by the forum owner to set it up. I want to respect their contribution to the endeavour.
Although I am not providing full details of the program on my web site I do believe it is ok to highlight some elements that are buried deep within the forum and original conversation. Call it a summary of relevant information:
The Structure of This Article
This article contains the following:
1. Link to my Clubbell Challenge training logs.
2. Questions pertaining to the Clubbell Swing Challenge.
3. My thoughts after undertaking several test workouts.
4. Results from the Beta Tester who undertook the entire challenge.
5. Concerns raised by a forum member about the Challenge structure.
6. Miscellaneous notes.
My Clubbell Challenge Training Logs
Why is there a 3-4 day time between test day and start of the program?
Originally it was 2 – 4 days but was changed because this is a program that is not for an individual but the collective and it has to cater for varying fitness levels. Each person that undertakes it will have a different point of departure. 10 minutes of one continuous movement pattern can take its toll on the body. 3 – 4 days is a good recovery time after taking the initial test.
If one is used to these movement patterns and feels they are fully recovered after 2 days, it is probably ok to start the program sooner….
....change CB weight for any of the exercises during the Main Program….
Taken from the Q&A on the Community Swing Challenge page
….The trainee can choose whichever Club configuration (single/double/2 handed) they wish and the weight they want to use. I believe it is ok for the trainee to change Club weight during the main program if they wish. I encourage the use of intuition here.
What was previously a belief is now personally experienced knowledge (albeit anecdotal). It is ok to change weight during the main program and during sets or specific exercises. It is recommended that the same Club configuration used originally is maintained for the main program (i.e. doubles, singles etc), but it is not mandatory. Individual focus will determine the approach taken (example – Clubbell configuration for the Front Swings should remain the same to aid in the post-test. Side Swings have more flexibility as they are not the main focus of the post-test. Keeping the same configuration, however, will aid in more proficient Clubbell athletics within those movement patterns and carry over to the other related movements. Etc)
To increase the challenge:
1. Increase the weight of the Clubbell.
2. Increase the time of the set and decrease the active recovery time (i.e. 70 second set, 20 second active recovery)
3. To make it more challenging for the legs and/or cardio switch the sets for the Rock-Its and Swings (i.e. 4 sets of Rock-Its and 2 sets of Swings).
To decrease the challenge:
1. Decrease the weight of the Clubbell.
2. Decrease the time of the set and increase the active recovery time (i.e. 50 second set, 40 second active recovery).
My Thoughts After Test Workouts
I had planned to write something prolific but am just gonna ramble!
Over the last week and a bit I have completed 3 x Clubbell Swing Challenge Pre-Tests and 3 x Main Program workouts using different configurations of Clubbell (Doubles / Single / 2-Handed).
This whole thing came about from a conversation between myself and fellow forum member. The final program was something that I was always going to do in the Autumn for the fun and experience, however, it is now something that I am looking at implementing into my training every few months.
I will highlight what I see as the Pros and then talk about the potential Cons as I see them. What I love about this whole process is that my Pros/Cons/Uncertainties may not be your Pros/Cons/Uncertainties and that adds to the rich flavours of life.
Anyways………to the Pros:
THE PROS (in my opinion)
1. The 4 main exercises are easier for beginners in comparison to some of the other exercises. They are the bread and butter of Clubbell training, in my opinion, and lay the foundation for the more complex exercises that follow.
2. Although they may be regarded as ‘Beginner’ exercises I feel the program offers something to the intermediate and maybe advanced Clubbell Athletes. I regard myself as Intermediate and when I reach a certain level with a certain weight I can regress back to the foundational movements and increase the weight from there.
3. There is additional compensation release within the program (6 minutes) over and above the standard cool down. Recovery is King!
4. Depending on Clubbell configuration and weight chosen, many fitness goals can be reached such as fat loss, strength endurance, grip strength, cardio, Clubbell Athletics…….
5. The program is intuitive. One can select Clubbells, weight and rest periods.
6. It is short and punchy! 28 days excluding the Pre and Post Tests.
THE CONS (in my opinion)
1. The program is intuitive. This may not be appropriate for some people.
2. The compensations (Yoga poses) may be too hard for some. Regressions are available as required.
I’m not altogether sure if this program is suitable for doing at High Intensity. I say this because of the additional compensations that are included. I don’t have enough knowledge within this area but I feel that if one is exercising at High Intensity, rest breaks should consist of constant movement (chugging, vibrations etc), as opposed to static yoga-type poses. This uncertainty makes me label this program as a low to moderate intensity program depending on fitness levels and Clubbell weight chosen.
Well, that about wraps it up from my side. Please feel free to ask any questions or add to the conversation. It has been a phenomenal experience and I hope others can benefit from it as much as I have.
All the best with your individual Clubbell and self-development journeys.
Beta Tester Results
The Beta-Tester has finished the complete Clubbell Swing Challenge. Please find a summary below.
RESULTS – PRE-TEST AND POST-TEST
|Reps – Pre Test
9th April 2014
Reps – Post Test
|Double||(10, 12, 17, 15, 10, 10)
TOTAL – 74
(126, 30, 22, 30, 30, 18)
|Rests||6 rest breaks||5 rest breaks||-1|
|Heart Rate||83 bpm||124||
THE CLUBBELL SWING CHALLENGE – FEEDBACK
My husband is the co-creator of this program BUT I will be honest about it. I only lie to my husband when I burn the dinner and hide the bad food. I am not a fitness person so have nothing to compare against but maybe that is a good thing.
My results – Muscles are more firm. Legs, arms and stomach. I feel strong and my muscles are supporting my body better with less pressure on my bones. Lower back feels amazing and it now has a stronger support. My stomach (husband calls it the core) feels very strong and is protecting my organs more. I feel a lot more healthy and also have less fat.
Good Points – A healthy way to get fit. I think it is an amazing program because it safely builds up muscle, strength and fitness. It can also make the heart more powerful.
Bad Points – None, My results tell me it is great.
What would you change? – Maybe do the Upward dog later during the cool down. there are 4 lots of upward dog in the active rest part of the program. It is the first cool down. Make it later in the cool down.
The program in one sentence – The clubbell swing challenge gives a ying yang balance and makes the body progress in a safe healthy way. I believe in it and don’t care that this is two sentences!
Third Party Concerns
These are observations raised by a forum member. I have written permission to reproduce those concerns.
Andy, I love what you are doing here and appreciate all your work. I have concerns and will endeavor to be as honest as your wife.
I welcome feedback.
I have to start by saying that my responses reflect where I am at on my journey; and not a reflection of your pathway. There will be observations but that is all they are. Anyone and everyone please join the conversation and give your insights.
The Pre-Test is just that; a test. It is a separate entity to the main program. I call it the point of origin. The place where we can have a basic written and internally experienced picture of where we are starting.
Alas the front cover of the book may stop people from reading the contents but I see no other way of structuring it. This does not mean,, however, that it cannot be restructured. Because this is a Clubbell Swing Challenge the test is there to create a challenge and can be used as a point of comparison for people when they finish the main program and undertake the Post-Test.
There are many facets to the Pre-Test based on where people currently are with their training/fitness journey etc. I highlight 3 basics.
Complete Novice – Finished the Pre-Test.
Oh my God. My forearms are burning. My quads are on fire. The musculature around my lower back is aching. Wow! Stuff this I’m outta here……….or………..Let’s do it. Let’s get fit!
Intermediate Clubbell Athlete – Finished the Pre-Test .This is where I believe that I am currently floating with my level of Clubbell Athletics.
Hmmm. My non-dominant arm found it hard due to the nature of the grip. This will be an area of focus when I undertake the full program. The Bruiser was great to work with and I will also focus on maintaining shoulder pack so that the heavy weight does not pull me out of structure.
Experienced Clubbell Athlete – Finished the Pre-Test.
That was interesting. Everything was perfect. Breathing, movement and structure were spot on. I don’t need to do this program.
Everything was perfect. I will increase the weight during the main program and/or do the test again with a heavier weight. It is important to always go back to the basics as they are the foundation for the more complex movements.
Great. Now I have moved to a greater weight of Clubbell, it has highlighted a potential weakness in my performance that needs addressing. If I don’t address it at the foundational stage it will rear its ugly head during the more complex movements.
These are just a few of potentially myriad thought processes……….
My biggest challenge was my hands kept slipping and then my forearms got to hurting. This bothers me in the sense that the exercise should not have as it’s weakest point slipping hands and sore forearms.
For me, this is the very essence of Clubbell Athletics. To expose and shore up weaknesses that other tools do not. I can hook grip a 20lb dumbbell and swing all day but the moment a different type of grip comes into play (20lb Clubbell), then BANG! “What happened?” . Maybe this Clubbell is telling me something that the other tools were hiding.
If one chooses to believe the theory, grip strength is one of the seven indicators of longevity. See link HERE. This is a link to an external web site for the UK National Health Service. Clubbells are an aid to increasing grip and forearm strength that is different to the other conventional tools (in my humble unprofessional opinion!).
Personally I hook grip stuff all day. My bag is 7kg and I carry it around a lot. Clubbells give a reprieve from this by insisting on a sabre-type and/or ice cream cone grip using primarily musculature as opposed to muscle and bones.
When I first started using Clubbells my hands were slipping all the time. I thought this nuisance would never stop. Then one day it did stop.
You have come out of a 10,000 swing Kettlebell program. It is possible (and I highlight the word possible as I don’t know) your body has created specific lines of tension from the isometric hook grip. There is nothing wrong with hook grips, however, the Clubbell is exposing your arms to a different type of isometric hold and needs to adapt to it.
I’ve trained in ways where my pulse would get as high as I could get it (big time huffy-puffy, gasping for air) and I’ve trained where I felt I used every ounce of strength I had. This was neither.
I wasn’t gasping for breath when I did all 3 of the Pre-Tests but my pulse was above 140 most of the time. A year ago I would have been gasping for the very breath that I felt I need to stay alive. For me this is great, I can have a workout, get cardio benefit and not feel game over at the end. There are many reasons why one is not gasping including: the weight is too light, one is more fit than when one was gasping during exercise or one is in flow with breathing, movement and structure.
Also, you have completed a 10,000 Kettlebell swing challenge. It is possible (or very likely) that your body has adapted to these movement patterns and is uber-efficient, hence no huffing and puffing.
I’m not so happy with 2H CB Front Swings for more then a little bit because the hold curves the chest.
I do not believe the 2 handed front swing curves the chest if there is crown to coccyx alignment, arm lock and shoulder pack. Have a look at SH performing the 2 handed Front Swing on the Mass Evolution Program. The rounding or concaving of the thorax or mid-back will be due to one or more of these elements ‘out of structure’ and/or a heavy weight pulling forward and making one move ‘out of structure’. If you try a few swings with a lighter Clubbell you should feel a difference. This is, in my opinion, the Clubbell exposing potential areas for development.
When I did the 2 handed Clubbell Swings in the Pre-test, my rate of perceived technique was 8.5 (10 being perfect technique). I had shoulder pack, crown to coccyx alignment and arm lock. I believe this meant less overall reps based on where I am currently at with Bruiser swinging but the reps I did do were quality reps and potentially non-injurious. Also the compensations ensure the thorax is opened up after the test/workout.
Double CB Front Swings are excellent in that they naturally keep the chest and shoulders in good position. So I’m not so sure about this program.
Doubles can be used in the program. It is not limited to the 2 handed Clubbell configuration. The trainee can pick the hat that suits them best. Doubles are a later mountain for me so I’ve chosen 2 handed work.
Doubles have their own challenges (for me grip, grip ,grip!), but for maintaining correct structure I believe they are easier compared to 2 handed. 2 handed Clubbell swinging has the challenge of the short arm/long arm situation so focus on structure becomes more apparent. This is one reason why I a starting my wife with double Clubbells.
I’m thinking there are better ways to achieve the goals. I really like the way Andy laid out the program and with some changes it might still be good for strength and endurance.
I believe that the current program is good for strength and endurance. I got a taste of it during the 3 Pre-tests that I did but will not now for certain until I undertake the program proper.
If the program is changed to get around things such as grip/forearm strength deficits are we potentially creating problems further down the road?
The Pre-test is a gauge to determine a point of origin. The main program is used to develop the attributes to carry out the Post-test with (in theory) stronger, fitter, more proficient Clubbell Athlete in the foundational movements that other more complex movements are built off of.
The main program has 2 exercises (and I believe Rock-Its to have more of a cardio effect than swings), 4 strength exercises in the form of isometric holds and strength-surrender due to the nature of the isometric holds (aka Yoga poses).
Do I know if the program works? Only on paper. It is great that we have a beta-tester so that we can see what the results are for her.
I am in no way suggesting that this is the final version of the program. I’m not emotionally attached to it and defending it. It may well manifest into something completely different. I am only attempting to address the concerns with the program as it stands and highlight my personal experience with it to date.
What about using something like your following and adding swings in between. Keep the following exercises not taxing and gradually increase the number of swings over the course of the program. We could still re-test swings at the end with time. Just an idea. .
1. Barbarian Squat
2. Variant of the Clockwork Squat from Mass Evolution
3. Front Clean and Press
6. Big Wheel
The number of swings naturally increase as the trainee takes less and less rest breaks. Call it gentle progressive training! The active recovery (in theory) immediately unloads the chains of tension ready for the next set.
It is possible to integrate some/all of the above exercises. I call these exercises the ‘top of the Clubbell food chain’. In my opinion they are accessible by the select few that have worked the basics before taking on the lion. Sure anyone can pick up a Clubbell and do these exercises but will the basics be in place? What one sees externally is only a small facet of the internal mechanics that are taking place. In the Tacfit Clubbell program these exercise are are the top level out of four levels. I spent 4 months climbing the mountain after doing Shane’s three month Mass Evolution program.
The thing I personally like about The Clubbell Swing Challenge is that it is accessible to all.
I think anyone wanting to attack the big complex exercises needs to work through one of Shane’s 3/4 month programs to build up the foundational strength to do the basic movements, coordinate the movements to create a complex movement (two or more exercises strung together such as Swipe, Clockwork Squat etc) and then refine the entire exercise.
I may be wrong. All the above words are just how I view it. I do not write any of this to challenge your concerns but to provide a different thought process for consideration. My experience with the three Pre-tests were different to yours and this is the fantastic thing about individual journeys.
This is everyone’s program. Please feel free to indicate which changes you would like to see to the program and we can set up an alternative version. This will be the first steps towards the natural evolution of The Clubbell Swing Challenge.
Currently established – We will be doing Clubbell Swings
The way I currently see it is that the final program needs to have the following elements in place:
1. Goals – Performance/Fitness goals; Primary goal(s) and desired secondary goals (by-products).
2. Protocol – The goals will determine how the workout is structured (time/reps/sets/circuits/weight/rest)
3. Frequency – Balancing work and recovery/How many times a week/4 Day wave etc/Length of the total cycle)
4. Exercise selection – Just the Swing/Complementary opposites etc.
5. Mobility Warm Up – Specific movements to prime the body for the upcoming work.
6. Compensation Cool Down – Specific yoga poses to address the functional opposite of the work that has been carried out.
7. Scalability – Different levels to suit people with different fitness levels.
7. Beta testing
8. Other stuff not included above!
We already know which tool we are going to use and section 4 above may yield further tools (bodyweight etc).
For me, establishing section 1 above is a must to determine what follows. I don’t believe that one program can be all things to all people but if structured correctly can have a cascade of attribute development.
I have listed a few attributes below. Please feel free to add to the list:
Stamina (muscular and mental)
Endurance (strength/muscular and cardiovascular)
I know goals are still being established but I took the liberty of going through all our conversations to date and putting something together. It includes:
1. A challenge
2. A (or 2) Clubbell(s)
3. A Goal – Cardio
4. Another Goal – Better – Clubbell athlete, agility, co-ordination, timing.
5. A further Goal – Strength endurance
6. A different Goal – Strength surrender (My twist to the proceedings)
7. A combination of Mobility, Tension release (Compensations) and a Compensation Flow.
Call it a template for discussion, if you will.