Dan John is one of my favorite strength and conditioning coaches. A Fulbright scholar, he is creative and intelligent and it shows in his training. What I really like about him is he never writes a program he hasn’t tested himself. For me, that lends him instant credibility. When he talks, I listen. A while back he published a workout using KB’s and 4 basic strength-training movements (Db or Bb press/dip/pull up/goblet squat). I decided to put this work out to the test with some modifications to suit my specific purposes.
The work out as written by Dan Jon:
2 days on, 1 day off, for 30 days (20 work outs total)
1 x 10 KBS (two hand swing)
1 x 1 strength movement
1 x 15 KBS
1 x 2 strength movement
1 x 25 KBS
1 x 3 strength movement
1 x 50 KBS
After each round of 10, 15 and 25 reps, rest 30-60 seconds. In the later clusters, you’ll need the full 60 seconds or more for grip strength recovery. After each set of 50, rest will extend to 3 minutes or more. During this post-50 rest period, perform a “corrective.” Stretch anything that needs it, like the hip flexors. Do a mobility movement of choice. Repeat this cluster 4 more times for a total of 500 swings and 30 reps press/dip/pull up/goblet squat (rotate between movements each work out). At the end of 30 days, assuming one was following the 2 on/1 off rotation, one will have completed 10,000 KBS. Dan John recommends males using a 24 kg bell and females a 16 kg bell. For the strength movement he recommends using a weight that can be done for 5 reps. Further, if one is doing 2 on/1 off (5 workouts every 7 days) he recommends doing the KBS, only, every 5th work out.
He doesn’t specify if each set of KBS are unbroken. He does state that he was able to dramatically decrease his completion time over the course of the 30 days.
My reason for choosing to test (and modify) this program:
I consider myself proficient in KBS with above average grip strength and endurance.
I just ended a pretty demanding Olympic lifting training cycle.
My right shoulder is injured. The continued Snatching and Jerking worsened the injury.
I had to do something drastic to allow my shoulder to heal. I decided that I would not do any overhead, pressing, or pulling movements for 30 days.
Because I was not going to press, pull, or go overhead my choices for basic strength movements were limited.
How I modified the program to suit my training goals:
I elected to do only 2 basic strength movements – the BS and FS.
I elected to rest a strict 30 sec immediately following each strength movement.
I elected to rest a strict 3 minutes, only, following each set of 50 KBS.
My goal was to do each set of KBS unbroken.
My rotation would be day 1 BS, day 2 FS, day 3 off, day 4 BS, day 5 FS, day 6 off, day 7 BS, etc.
I decided to start with .7 1RM, respectively, for day 1 of both BS and FS, based on the number of reps I would be required to do.
The logic behind how I structured the training program:
I chose the BS and FS because I’m not doing any upper body movements for the next 30 days. It is said that squatting is a movement that will result in strength gains in the entire body. I want to test that theory.
I wanted to experiment with a phenomenon called post-tetanic potentiation (PTP) or short-term neural adaptation. A muscular activity can have an effect on follow on muscular activity. The prior activity can either decrease the muscular performance in the later exercise or it can increase the performance during the later exercise (Abate et al. 2000). When the later exercise sees an improvement in performance it is called potentiation. Think of it this way – doing something really hard first in order to make a follow on task easier.
Potentiation refers to an increase in force output as a result of previous muscular activation (Abbate et al. 2000). There are many kinds of possible potentiation, but as stated above my goal is to experiment with PTP
I first experienced PTP years ago doing the German volume method.
KBS are extremely effective in developing one’s ability to more effectively activate the posterior chain and to do so for longer periods of time before power production drops off, i.e. one can make more power longer.
The more one can activate the posterior chain when squatting the more weight one can squat. The more weight one squats the stronger one will get.
Relying on PTP I was theorizing that the more I swung that KB the easier my squats were going to feel. I hoped that my 30th squat would feel easier than my 1st squat.
I plan on adding weight to my squat every work out.
At the start of this program my BS 1RM was 390#, my DL was down to 465#, and my SP was an injury limited 155#.
My waist measured 37.75”, chest measured 47.25”, thighs 26”, forearms 12.75”, and neck 18” at the start of the work out. I’m including these measurements in order to track body composition changes. I will take measurements again in 30 days.
10,000 KBS, Workout 1, 4 July
-Completed the work out in 46:15. BS weight 275#. I got 8 hours of sleep the night prior.
-I stayed strict to my 30 seconds of rest following each set of BS, and 3 minutes of rest between each cluster.
-I was able to complete each set of KBS unbroken.
-Back Squats felt very good. My 30th rep indeed felt lighter than my 1st rep.
-Over all I felt like a million bucks after the work out. My forearms were tired at the end of the 500th swing, but not smoked. My posterior chain and core felt outstanding. I felt energized and sharp the remainder of the day and excited for the following day’s training.