What is Kettlebell Sport?

Author Pro Kettlebell
What is Kettlebell Sport? - Pro Kettlebell

Kettlebell sport is also known as girevoy sport, or GS for short. Girevoy is Russian for kettlebell lifter.

The object of kettlebell sport is to lift one or two bells as many times as possible within a certain amount of time (usually 5 or 10-minutes).

Why Try Kettlebell Sport

Many people practice kettlebell sport strictly for the exercise. It's unmatched in efficiency (you're getting strength, cardio and endurance training benefits at once), it's widely accessible (low-impact) and easy to scale as you progress by increasing the speed of the reps and/or the weight of the bells. Others love the deadlines and challenge a competition provides and choose to compete in kettlebell sport lifting competitions to achieve the most clean reps within the time limit; good technique is critical.  The Origin of Kettlebell Sport ​ The sport of kettlebell lifting was created in Russia - where the first known competition took place in 1948 with unified rules and regulations forming over the subsequent decades and culminating with membership in their National Sports Federation. ​ Today, aside from the athletes around the world who practice kettlebell sport to increase power endurance performance in their own primary sport, many individuals and clubs also participate in kettlebell sport competitions.

Types of Kettlebell Sport Events

Competitions are typically 1 or 2 days held over a weekend and lifters travel to these events. A small competition may have 25 competitors and a large one may accommodate 150 or more. There are several different kettlebell sport events, or "lifts," and the most common are (similar to Olympic weightlifting): Jerk Snatch Long Cycle (clean and jerk)

In Olympic weightlifting, the lifter is trying to lift as much weight as they can at once. A kettlebell lifter can choose which weight they're going to compete with, which is a weight that is challenging for them, but certainly nowhere near their max so they can repeat the lift anywhere from 20-200 times or more during their 5 or 10-minute set. ​ Competitions issue rankings which are determined by your actual weight or weight class, the weight of the kettlebells you use to compete, and the amount of reps you complete within the time limit.

In most kettlebell competitions, snatch is performed with one bell by both men and women and lifters are allowed one hand switch during their set. Jerk and long-cycle are performed with two kettlebells by men and either one or two bells by women, depending on the hosting organization.  Each organization has their own ranking table and rules, but the most universal rules are: 

  1. you can't put down the kettlebells and
  2. you have to "fixate" overhead, which means stopping completely with your arms locked out straight before continuing to the next rep.

How to Get into Kettlebell Sport

If you’re interested in giving kettlebell sport a try, check out our sport training programs. 

The kettlebell sport programs you'll find on Pro Kettlebell Workouts use weight percentages so different people can follow the same program and all get fantastic results. So, to get the best results you do want a variety of weights heavier and lighter than your competition weight (your "100%") available to train with.

Our lifters have used these programs to achieve top places and high rankings at kettlebell competitions all over the US and Canada, and many athletes including runners, cyclists, skaters, and rowers, have reported jumps in power and endurance resulting in personal bests in their own sport after using our kettlebell sport programs. 

Tip: As tempting as it may be, DO NOT skip the conditioning exercises, and don't try to make up missed training sessions by cramming them together back-to-back. The magic happens on your recovery days!

For a great introduction and taste of kettlebell sport, start with the 4-week KettleSPORT Skills and Drills series. More intense programs include: One-Arm Long Cycle (12 Workouts), Two-Arm Long Cycle (12 Workouts), Best Snatch in Town (15 Workouts), and Biathlon Training Camp (45 Videos).

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