What 10,000 kettlebell swing workout taught me about financial independence

Since I got three kettlebells for $110 in late August, I have ramped up my workout level. I have set up a yoga mat in the garage to allow me to work out using the kettlebells. After five months of not lifting any weights (other than the kids), it felt great to finally lift some weights again.

Then in late-September, I came across the 10,000 kettlebell swing workout and became very intrigued. I have thought about doing the 10,000 push up challenge in the spring but it seemed way too focused on the upper body. Since I have been doing kettlebell swings for a while, I thought 10,000 kettlebell swings workout would be more manageable. So without thinking too much, I decided to give it a go. 

The original 10,000 kettlebell swing workout consists of the following:

  • 10,000 kettlebell swings dispersed throughout 20 workouts over four weeks, 500 swings per workout.
  • Between sets of kettlebell swings, you’d do one of the following: chin-ups, goblet squats, dips, or overhead presses.
  • Use a 24 kg kettlebell (53 lbs) for men, 16 kg (35 lbs) for women.
  • 5 reps, each rep consists of:
    • Set 1: 10 reps 
    • Set 2: 15 reps 
    • Set 3: 25 reps 
    • Set 4: 50 reps
  • In between each set, you’d do press, dip, squat, and chin-up with various reps.

Given that we have two 8 kg (16 lbs) kettlebells and one 16 kg (35 lbs) kettlebell and we have no chin-up bars, I decided to complete the workout with a slightly altered program. 

Here’s what I came up with…

  • 3 sets that consist of:
    • Set 1: 50 swings + 20 side bends + 15 pushups + 15 mountain climbers
    • Set 2: 50 swings + 20 overhead tricep extensions + 15 bicep curls + 12 single leg row & clean
    • Set 3: 50 swings + 20 goblet squats + 12 single-arm rows + 12 single-arm kettlebell snatches
  • Repeat three times to get 450 kettlebell swings, then do one final 50 swings to complete the workout.
  • All these moves above are done with one 16 kg (35 lbs) kettlebell with the exception of pushups and mountain climbers which are done via bodyweight. 
  • At the end of the 500 kettlebell swings, depends on how I feel, I sometimes tag on additional exercises, such as lunges and chest presses.

Being a keener, I completed the 10,000 kettlebell swing workout in 27 days, one day ahead of schedule. The workout was a lot harder than I anticipated. Interestingly, I didn’t lose any weight, however, I do feel stronger and better overall. It’s quite likely I have built up more muscles over the 27 days.

To my surprise, the 10,000 kettlebell swing workout has taught me a lot about financial independence. Here are some lessons I have learned.

It is HARD at the beginning but it gets easier

The first week of the 10,000 kettlebell swing workout was brutal. My body was sore all over. It was gruesome to get through each work out and my shirt was completely soaked by the end of each workout. However things got a little bit easier by the second week. By the third and fourth week, I started to reduce rest time in between each set, sometimes even taking no rest. I even started increasing the amount of rep for each exercise or adding some more exercises to make each workout more challenging. 

Similarly, I recall when we started our financial independence journey, it was a drag to track all of our expenses in our budget excel sheet. I wanted to reduce all of our expenses, which meant cutting back significantly on things like groceries and eating out. This resulted in some arguments between Mrs. T and me. It took some adjusting period for us to figure out what worked for us. Eventually, we found a more balanced approach to what to spend our money on. Tracking expenses also became second nature. We also tracked our net worth and make sure we monitor our progress over time. By using apps like Wealthica for tracking our portfolio and net worth, we can simplify our lives.

Investing and growing net worth took the same path as well. It took us a while to understand that high MER mutual funds weren’t doing us any good. It was a steep learning curve to learn about how to invest in dividend stocks and how to determine the best dividend stocks. It took even longer to understand how to read quarterly and annual reports. It also took some time for us to develop the hybrid investing strategy of investing in both dividend paying stocks and index ETFs. We also learned to simplify our portfolio and make life easier by tapping into the likes of all-equity ETFs and all-in-one ETFs. All the learning was hard at first but it definitely got easier and easier. 

Stay mentally tough & stay motivated 

It would have been easy to give up the workout after the first few days. It would have been easy to give up completely when my body was sore. But I didn’t. I made sure I was mentally prepared for this challenge workout. I kept myself motivated by celebrating each time I finished 1,000 swings. I would tell Mrs. T how many swings I have left to demonstrate my progress and kept myself accountable. 

The financial independence journey is a long journey. It’s not a journey that one would expect to complete in a year or two’s time. It takes years and years to reach financial independence. Sometimes even after you reach financial independence, due to the changing circumstances, you may find yourself needing to continue the journey for a few more years. While on this multi-year journey, it is easy to give up. Therefore, it is important to stay mentally tough and stay motivated. 

For us, we keep ourselves motivated along our financial independence journey by celebrating the small successes. Rather than setting the FI number as the ultimate goal and only focus on this goal, we set up yearly goals and small financial milestones. When we accomplish these goals or milestones, we celebrate. We may go out for a nice meal, go for a nice staycation, or buy ourselves small treats. 

Consistency & commitment are the key

Doing 500 kettlebell swings in one workout is hard. Doing 20 sets of 500 kettlebell swings over a span of 28 days is extremely challenging. Working out consistently became an important factor. With this workout program, I couldn’t just do 500 kettlebell swings, do nothing for days, then finally get back to the workout when I feel like it. It took consistency and commitment to finish the entire workout program on time.

Financial independence is exactly the same – it takes consistency & commitment. There aren’t any shortcuts or magic pills to reach financial independence. You need to live below your means, invest money, grow your net worth, and grow your passive income streams continuously. You need to practice these continuously, not 50% of the time or when you feel like it. 

The journey is quite boring

I will admit that the 10,000 kettlebell swing workout was quite boring. Although I tried to add some exercises here and there, the bulk of the workout stayed the same with no alterations (i.e. 500 swings for each workout). For those people that require consistent changes to their workout routine, this is probably not the workout for them.

Since the financial independence journey is a long one, it can get quite boring at times. This is especially true when you got everything down to a set of routines. For example, we have been living below our means for many years. We save money to invest in assets that would generate passive income. When it comes to investing, we try to enroll in DRIP whenever we’re eligible and leave things on autopilot. The investing part certainly hasn’t been exciting. In fact, it’s pretty damn boring.

But boring is good. By keeping it boring, we have managed to grow our dividend income and net worth consistently. So it is important to accept boring and avoid looking for excitement. While boring, progress can be made in the long run!

Take a breather from time to time

The workout program allowed for eight days of rest days over a span of four weeks. In other words, two rest days each week. Although I completed the program one day ahead of schedule, I don’t think I could have finished it any earlier. After the first week, I realized that the longest stretch I could do was three straight days of workout. My body needed rest after that, especially my forearms. Taking a breather also allowed me to refocus on what’s ahead. 

Similarly, it is OK to take a breather from time to time on the financial independence journey. What that means may be different from person to person. For us, it means going out for a nice meal or going to a nice cafe to enjoy the present moment. It also means taking the time to reflect on what we have accomplished already and celebrate our progress. 

Final thoughts

At first, I was surprised by the similarities between the 10,000 kettlebell swing workout and the financial independence journey. But after spending some time examining the two, I think it totally makes sense that the two share so many similarities, since both require similar characteristics to accomplish. I am happy that the kettlebell swing workout taught me something about financial independence.

So what’s next for me? I have decided to take a few days of break before starting out the next 10,000 kettlebell swing workout. I plan to alter the program slightly to make it more challenging along the way.

When it comes to financial independence, we know we will get there one day. We aren’t too set on becoming financially independent by a certain date. We know we are doing well, so we want to remain flexible and be open to opportunities whenever they present themselves. For now, we will continue what we’ve been doing for the past nine years while still enjoying the present moment.

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14 thoughts on “What 10,000 kettlebell swing workout taught me about financial independence”

  1. Wow, 500 swings/day! That’s impressive. Great job completing the challenge.
    You’re right. The challenge sounds very similar to FI. Nothing good in life is ever easy.
    I need to get back to working out…

    Reply
    • Thanks Joe. It was pretty challenging when I started it but it did get easier. Once it got easier I tried to alter the exercises to make them more difficult. It’s great to get back to working out, I certainly have enjoyed that.

      Reply
  2. I was really intrigued how the kettlebell workout would be compared to Financial Independence, but after you made the analogy, it all made sense! I’m really blown away by your hard work, Bob! Starting is always the hardest part. Thank you for the inspiration as always!
    P.S. I can’t imagine how sore you were.

    Reply
    • Thank you FreshLifeAdvice. It was a hard workout and I really enjoyed doing it. I ended up completely 2 sets of 10k kettlebell swing workout in a span of 8 weeks. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Congrats on knocking that out! I’d stumbled across that before and have been wanting to get started with it but my work schedule knocked my workout plans out of whack and it’s been really hard to get back into the groove of working out. But I’ve started up again over the last 1.5 weeks and man my body feels so much better for it. Once I get a bit more consistency behind me, and get through the holidays, it might be time to give the 10k swing challenge a go.

    Reply
    • Thank you JC. That’s awesome you’re able to get back to working out. It definitely feels great to work out again, doesn’t it? I might do another 10k swing challenge in Jan, we’ll see. 🙂

      Reply
    • Well if it’s just 500 swings I can do them in under 10 minutes, depending on how much rest I do. I added all the extra exercises to challenge myself and the entire program would take about 45 minutes or so.

      Reply
  4. I’m not terribly familiar with this kind of workout Bob, but it sounds like a great analogy for reaching Financial Independence.

    Good health and financial independence are two things I can definitely get behind! Cheers!

    Reply

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