Kettlebell training has been regaining popularity and growing inside the walls of gyms in the west for a short time now. However, the cannonball with a handle has been used for fitness for hundreds of years in Russia but has a slightly pedestrian origin story.
Originally used as a scale weight to weigh out dry good in marketplaces, it only took a few goofs, and a heighten environment rich in testosterone as well as questionable decision making for those scale weights to be tossed around and eventually used as a lifting implement in order to see which man was the manliest of men.
Kettlebells were initially weighed in POOD (16kg) and are still often today referred to as pood. They would be used primarily as circus acts by old-time strongman and were an even commonplace in physical culture in the mid to late 1800’s, but with the emergence of barbells and other what we call conventional today equipment came on the scene, they sort of faded into history. I have some of my views on what that was the case, but nothing is concrete or proven.
Physical Culture History
Russia has been steeped in physical culture for hundreds of years much like the west but has invested a lot of resources into finding the best training methods, equipment, athletes, and coaches. We will go further into that a little bit later.
It is no surprise that the kettlebell was born from Russia because of its history, The fact that they saw an object that’s intended use was so far and away from physical culture and found practical use in making them stronger, and harder human beings is again no surprise. Much like the Scottish utilized stones from nature to test the manhood of youth, and still to this day embrace that tradition
It is important to note that there are theories, and possibly some lineage that shows a tool that is similar to the kettlebell being used in Germany and its furthest origins stem from there but there is no real evidence concrete evidence. There is a real possibility that scale weights of this sort were being used across many different European/Asian countries.
Don’t Call It A Comeback
The tool has made a resurgence and is in gyms all over the west. From kettlebell specific gyms all the way to commercial gyms. It is great to see that what was once a mainstay has found its way back into the spotlight.
Kettlebell lifting has become the national sport of Russia. An extremely brief description of it would be a variety of movements done for a specified time, and the winner with the most amount of reps at the end wins. It is more complicated than that, and I am not doing the sport any justice. It is an incredible display of strength endurance.
Hardstyle VS Kettlebell Sport
Much like most things on this planet that has any interaction with a human being, there are going to be three camps, two that land on either side and one that is indifferent.
I am in the third camp. I see the benefit of both methods as well as the detriment of both ways. Like everything, there are both positives and negatives to both styles. Here are some of the primary objectives of both.
Great for improving other sports, Posterior chain development, and power
Increased emphasis on strength development
Valsalva (biomechanical) breathing and universal tightness from feet neck during movements
Hip hinge swings
Focus is generally on low volume and high intensity (shorter sets)
Focus on efficiency
Pendulum style swing
High volume with little to moderate intensity
Emphasis on strength endurance
Both of them are amazing for what they do, I have respect for both of them but to be honest being a strength and conditioning coach I feel more connected to the “hardstyle” of kettlebell lifting because of its ability to directly improve an athlete’s ability to perform in its efficient way.
Heavy Snatch 5-10 sets 1-5 reps
Conditioning Snatch 1-3 sets 100-300 total reps
Heavy Swing 5-10 sets 1-5 reps
Speed Swing 10 sets of 5
Conditioning Swing 1-3 sets 100-300 total reps
Heavy Press 5-10 sets 1-5 reps
Speed press ten sets of 5
Conditioning Press 1-3 sets 100-300 total reps
Heavy Clean 5-10 sets 1-5 reps
Conditioning Clean 1-3 sets 100-300 total reps
1 Arm Front squats
Tricep Extensions (all variations)
Front/Side/Rear Laterals (all variations)
Pull-ups (all variations)
Rows (all variations)
Bicep Curls (all variations)
GHD/Nordic Raise (all variations)
Good Mornings (all variations)
Step ups (all variations)
Hamstring curls (all variations)
Heavy swing/Heavy Snatch
3 Accessories 1GPP movement
One core movement
Heavy Press/Conditioning clean
Three accessories 1GPP movement
3 GPP movements
One core movement
Speed Swing/ Conditioning Snatch
2 Accessories/ 2 GPP movements
Friday Or Saturday
Speed Press/ Conditioning Swing/ Conditioning Clean
One core movement