The best girya-lifters took part in holiday festivities in Red Square in front of Joseph Stalin who loved this sporting event. One girya-lifter is believed to have said: “I was in no mood to continue the competition, but when I saw Comrade Stalin looking at me I immediately snatched the record”.
The winner, Black Sea Fleet sailor Alexei Protopopov managed to snatch a 32-kilo girl 1,002 times with short breaks. In the 1950s, the “best girl man” was Ivan Nemeses; the peasant from Altai clinched the USSR championship title eleven times.
In 1993, Russian enthusiasts formed the International Federation of Girl Sports. In 2004, the first meet of Russian girl masters and American kettle bell pros took place in San Francisco.
A 16-kilogram (35 lb) “competition kettle bell Arthur Saxon with a kettle bell, cover of The Text Book of Weight-Lifting (1910)The Russian girl (, plural girl) was a type of metal weight, primarily used to weigh crops in the 18th century. They began to be used for recreational and competition strength athletics in Russia and Europe in the late 19th century.
The birth of competitive kettle bell lifting or Gregory sport ( ) is dated to 1885, with the founding of the “Circle for Amateur Athletics” ( ). Russian girl are traditionally measured in weight by Food, corresponding to 16.38 kilograms (36.1 lb).
The English term kettle bell has been in use since the early 20th century. Similar weights used in Classical Greece were the halter, comparable to the modern kettle bell in terms of movements.
Variants of the kettle bell include bags filled with sand, water, or steel shot. By their nature, typical kettle bell exercises build strength and endurance, particularly in the lower back, legs, and shoulders, and increase grip strength.
The basic movements, such as the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, engage the entire body at once, and in a way that mimics real world activities such as shoveling or farm work. Unlike the exercises with dumbbells or barbells, kettle bell exercises involve large numbers of repetitions in the sport, and can also involve large reps in normal training.
Kettle bell exercises are in their nature holistic; therefore they work several muscles simultaneously and may be repeated continuously for several minutes or with short breaks. This combination makes the exercise partially aerobic and more similar to high-intensity interval training rather than to traditional weight lifting.
Like movements performed with any exercise tool, they can be dangerous to those who have back or shoulder problems, or a weak core, when performed without proper education and progression. They can offer improved mobility, range of motion, agility, cardio vascular endurance, mental toughness and increased strength.
The following is a list of common exercises that are uniquely suited to the kettle bell for one reason or another. A kettle bell exercise that combines the lunge, bridge and side plank in a slow, controlled movement.
Keeping the arm holding the bell extended vertically, the athlete transitions from lying supine on the floor to standing, and back again. As with the other slow exercises (the windmill, get-up, and halo), this drill improves shoulder mobility and stabilization.
It starts lying on the ground with the kettle bell over the shoulder in a straight arm position, as in the top of a floor press, but with the other arm along the floor straight overhead. The trainee then gradually turns their body away from the kettle bell until they are lying partially on their front.
The kettle bell is held hanging in one arm and moved smoothly around the body, switching hands in front and behind. Also called a front leg pass, this is a backward lunge, circling the bell around the front leg, returning to the standing position, and repeating.
Like the slingshot, but the bell is swung forward until the arms are parallel to the ground. Starting with the bell in the rack, the bell is pushed away to the side slightly, the swung down to the other side in front of the body, and reversed back up into the rack.
A variation of the press where the other arm assists by pushing open palm against the ball. Stand on one leg and hold the kettle bell with the opposite arm.
By then lowering and raising the kettle bell you can work stabilization and power. A press utilizing a bent-leg windmill position to lift heavier weight than is otherwise possible.
One bell is rowed to the chest while maintaining the plank position, then returned to the ground and repeated with the other arm. Alternatively performed with a single kettle bell, one arm at a time.
This requires more control than an ordinary push up and results in a greater range of motion. Feet may be elevated to increase the difficulty, until the trainee is performing a handstand push-up on the kettle bells.
In any movement involving the rack or overhead position, the kettle bell can be held with the ball in an open palm (sometimes called the waiter hold) for a greater stabilization challenge, or for even more precise control and added grip challenge, the bottom-up hold, squeezing the kettle bell by the handle upside-down. Holding a single kettle bell in the rack position bottom-up with two hands (“by the horns”) makes for goblet exercise variants.
Conventional swing: The kettle bell is swung from just below the groin to somewhere between the upper abdomen and shoulders, with arms straight or slightly bent, the degree of flexion depends on the trajectory of the kettle bell. Hang clean: The kettle bell is held in the rack position (resting on the forearm in the crook of the elbow, with the elbow against the chest), lowered to below the knees, and then thrust back up in to the rack.
The kettle bell is held in one hand, lowered to behind the knees via hip hinge, swung to an overhead position and held stable, before repeating the movement. Jerk: As a push press, but with two dips, for more leg assistance (as in the barbell clean and jerk) Thruster: A rack squat with a press at the top using momentum from the squat.
Pistol squat: A single-leg squat with one leg held straight in front parallel to the ground, holding the bell in the goblet or rack position. An easier variant for those with less hip mobility is to perform the squat parallel to a step or ledge, so that the foot of the free leg can dip beneath the pushing leg at the bottom.
Carry: Walking with the kettle bell held in various positions, such as suitcase, rack, goblet, or overhead. Row: While bent over anywhere from 45 degrees to parallel with the ground, the kettle bell is held hanging from a straight arm, pulled up to the hips or laterally, and lowered again.
Keeping the bell arm vertical, the upper body is bent to one side and rotated until the other hand is touching the floor. The single kettle bell version is called the suitcase walk.
These build grip strength while challenging your core, hips, back and traps. The kettle bell is swung from just below the groin to somewhere between the upper abdomen and shoulders, with arms straight or slightly bent, the degree of flexion depends on the trajectory of the kettle bell.
The key to a good kettle bell swing is effectively thrusting the hips, not bending too much at the knees, and sending the weight forwards, as opposed to squatting the weight up, or lifting with the arms. The one-arm swing presents a significant anti-twisting challenge, and can be used with an alternating catch switching between arms.
Within those variations there are plenty more variations, some are, but not limited to: pace, movement, speed, power, grip, the direction of thumb, elbow flexion, knee flexion. The kettle bell has more than 25 grips that can be employed, to provide variety, challenge different muscles, increase or decrease complexity, and work on proprioception.
Competitive lifter (Greek) performing jerk with 32 kg kettle bells (rack position). Contemporary kettle bell training is represented basically by five styles. Hard style has its roots in powerlifting and Gj-rykarate training, particularly hobo undo concepts.
With emphasis on the “hard” component and borrowing the concept of time, the Hard style focuses on strength and power and duality of relaxation and tension. Gregory, sometimes referred to as the fluid style in comparison to the Hard style, represents the training regimen for the competitive sport of kettle bell lifting, focusing on strength endurance.
Juggling is a training style where the practitioner releases and catches the kettle bell with all manner of spins and flips around the body. Kettle bell training is extremely broad and caters to many goals, some being, but not limited to: mobility, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, strength, speed and power.
The sport can be compared to what the CrossFit Games is to CrossFit, however, the sport has been much longer in existence, and is only recently gaining more popularity worldwide, with women participating as well. One such example being Valerie Wazowski, who at age 52, was the first US female lifter in the veteran age category to achieve Master of Sport in 24 kg Kettle bell Long Cycle.
21 (1908), p. 505: “PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE USING SCHMIDT'S Celebrated 'MONARCH' DUMB-BELL, BAR BELL AND KETTLE BELL SYSTEM”; also spelled KETTLE-BELLS (with hyphen) in a 1910 advertisement for the “Automatic Exerciser”) ^ a b c Rathbone, Andy (2009-01-04). “The kettle bell way: Focused workouts mimic the movements of everyday activities”.
Blast Fat & Build Strength With Innovative Equipment!” Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies 15 (2011): 542-544 ^ a b Iv ill, Laura (2008-11-22).
“Exclusive ACE research examines the fitness benefits of kettle bells” (PDF). Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies 15 (2011): 125-127 ^ Kettle bell Swing Vs. High Pull”.
The fitness benefits of kettle bell training have been tested for hundreds of years, and we still use them to this day because they get results. But like dumbbells, kettle bells are pieces of equipment that also help you with unilateral movements, i.e. single arm presses, split squats, lunges, Turkish get-ups, etc.
Russian Special Forces personnel pride themselves on their “wiry strength, lethal agility” and consistent staying power. There is no better way to burn fat than with sets of Kettle bell Swings, Snatches and Clean and Jerks.
High rep Snatches work more muscle groups and will build strength in the lower back, shoulders, and hip flexors. For twenty minutes straight perform as many rounds as possible of the above exercises.
At a moment when everything around me felt swirling and variable and plagued by contingencies, investing in my literal, physical body and its capabilities seemed not only wise, but meaningful. The northern studio had wall-to-wall padded floors that encouraged training barefoot, and crops of Edison bulbs sprouting from banks of reclaimed wood descended from the ceiling.
In fine weather, the metal curtain door of the industrial loading bay would be lifted to let the damp, sea-tinged air mingle with our heavy effort. Intimidating and appealing, these bells, more than any other piece of equipment, seemed to reflect the space’s curious amalgam of associations: heavy-duty and faintly martial yet inviting, attractive, and optimized for health.
At the time, kettle bells were mostly a novelty item in North America, and thus primed to absorb any meaning imposed on them: the locks advertised them as “hardcore” and vaguely hazardous, too dangerous for even an experienced lifter to wield solo. In just a few short years, the kettle bell would go from being seen as a hardcore, taboo piece of equipment, to an emblem of CrossFit, to a more norm core strength studio staple.
The kettle bell ’s most recent turn, secured by the 2020 pandemic, has been its domestication: Where a home gym once meant an elaborate, space-gobbling array of pulleys and benches and weights spread across a suburban basement or garage, these days, a fulsome home fitness setup might be no more than a mat and a couple of kettle bells nesting in the corner of a studio apartment. Rogue Fitness, one of America’s largest weights manufacturers, posted contrite messages to Instagram as they documented the scramble to meet the sudden demand.
It has the whiff of weaponry (the Russian slang word for it is “cannonball”), and when you’re heaving one in the general direction of your face, or swinging it back and forth between your legs as if mustering to let it fly, the knowledge that this thing could do serious damage is never far off. And yet the kettle bell also has a certain yin-to-the-yang elegance about it: The bottom-heavy bell suggests a crookedness, gravity, a desire to remain on earth, while the addendum of the handle cast upward is a provocation and invitation that says lift me, try me.
After publishing an article in a weightlifting trade magazine entitled “Vodka, Pickle Juice, Kettle bell Lifting and Other Russian Pastimes,” Pavel (a first-name-only kind of guy) would go on to develop training videos, programs, and best-selling books, including Power to the People! In 2001, he was profiled in various media as “the evil Russian and named the year’s “Hot Trainer” by Rolling Stone, appearing in a photo spread with a kettle bell thrust overhead.
It made sense that regular people might be drawn to ways of replicating the fantasy of urgency, higher meaning, and authority in the safe space of their soft, middle-class lives. 9/11 and the subsequent U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq only stoked the public’s hunger for the ritualized brutality of pseudo-military workouts, which hit peak in the mid-aughts.
Despite all the combative bluster, the “evil Russian ’s” kettle bell programs were, in fact, rooted in pragmatism and moderation, with an emphasis on efficient training for real-world tasks, breath work, and developing the mind-body connection. It's vaguely Justified militancy slots into the punishment quotient in popular fitness movements like CrossFit (some old-school Crossfires call their kettle bells goods, keeping an Imperial Russian measurement in circulation).
On the other hand, the kettle bell also appeals to the optimization and scientification of working out, emphasizing compound movements and coordination across chains of muscle groups. Heavy, handled weights designed to be lifted, swung, and thrown for sport and play turn up across cultures and historical periods.
In Ancient Greece, athletes whisked handled stone weights called halters through the air to gather momentum and propel them further in the long jump; in some of the oldest Scottish Highland Games, competitors flung handled, belled weights up and over bars; and in 10th Century China, Shaolin monks trained with heavy stone padlocks in ways that resemble modern kettle bell exercises. Despite its pan-national origins, the modern kettle bell ’s direct ancestry is most often traced to 17th and early 18th century Russia, where it was developed as a scale counterweight to measure grain and crops.
Soon, Russian farmers discovered that girl had a secondary, showing-off function and began using these weights to perform feats of strength and compete with one another at cultural celebrations and festivals. The advent of industrialization, deterioration of religious authority, and new ideas about genetics, race, and nationalism all contributed to a growing fascination with the strong, symmetrical, and deliberately cultivated human form.
It was under the influence of these continental trends that St. Petersburg physician Vladislav Kerensky more or less single-handedly cultivated strength training as an organized activity in Russia. During the 1870s and 1880s, he traveled across Europe, coming into contact with various figures in the growing cult of strength and fitness, cross-pollinating training tools and techniques.
In the kettle bell, the government may have recognized a popular activity worth laying claim to during a period in which the social authority of the State was beginning to erode. Many of America’s first fitness buffs followed from the tradition of Eugen Sand ow, the grandfather of modern bodybuilding, who made his living as a circus strongman after immigrating from Prussia to England as a young man.
Strongman culture suggested that you could actively work to build a body to match your preordained, nationally bestowed excellence, exercising the right to grow powerfully and American large. It also appealed to the mingling of spiritual ideals and strength endorsed by movements such as Muscular Christianity, which saw fitness as a way to build a perfect body to mirror a pure soul.
Unlike the barbell and dumbbell, however, the kettle bell did not find its way from the ratified strength training world into either the popular imagination or the fitness market, and in the mid-century, it disappeared from view in the United States entirely. When Pavel Tsatsouline showed up in America the late 1990s with a kettle bell in hand, the equipment had barely, if ever, been seen for decades, and he was able to supply it with any associations he wanted.
You could argue that the gambit to repackage the Soviet Übermensch as a commodity and sell it to a willing U.S. market in a largely unregulated industry represents some sort of ultimate, symbolic triumph of capitalism over communism. And the kettle bell was the centerpiece of his whole bit: At once a folk amulet imbued with the “secrets” of America’s recently former enemy, and also a real, manufacture consumer product.
Today, Pavel Tsatsouline is the CEO of Strongest, Inc.: a multiplatform “School of Strength” that sells equipment, programs, and books, licenses its name to gyms, and accredits trainers. Labeled a “Worldwide Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Strength,” there are faint vestiges of the one-time Soviet parody, but for the most part, the brand has pivoted to become specifically and intensely American.
A kettle bell is a type of dumbbell or free weight that is round with a flat base and an arced handle. Kettle bells can be swung, thrown, juggled, pressed, held, moved and manipulated in hundreds of ways.
Kettle bells are a highly efficient way to lose weight, tone your body, increase your cardio-vascular fitness and strength and maintain joint health, mobility and flexibility. The history of the kettle bell is somewhat unclear, however, it appears that the RussianKettlebell as we know it today, originated approximately 350 years ago.
They were originally used as handled counterweights (bearing the Imperial Seal) to weigh out dry goods on market scales. This type of training was called Shi-SuoGuong (The Art of Stone Padlock) and predates kettle bells by thousands of years.
Kettle bells were used extensively by old time strongmen such as Arthur Saxon, SIG Klein, Clevis Massimo and The Mighty Apollo. His students included the legendary strongman George Hackenscmidt, “The Russian Lion”, who credited him with teaching him everything he knew and Eugene Sand ow, “The Father of Modern Day Body Building”.
In the 1970s kettle bell lifting became part of the United All State Sport Association of the USSR, and in 1985 national rules, regulations & weight categories were finalized. The United States Secret Service & the FBI Counter Assault Team also require their operators to train high repetition, ballistic kettle bell moves.
Today exercising with kettle bells is undergoing a major resurgence and kettle bell training has now become one of the most popular and best ways to lose weight, maintain a high level of cardio-vascular fitness, get stronger and get that sculpted, toned, healthy & beautiful body you've always wanted. Joint health, mobility and flexibility can all be maintained, and even improved, with the correct application of kettle bell movements.
“Suggestions have been made that in Western civilization, objects resembling kettle bells were used as far back as classical Greece,” she writes in her currently unpublished paper on the topic: The ancient Greeks had developed three different weighted implements, including an object called the ‘halter.’ Although Todd notes that there was vast variation in their appearance and composition, some described movements of this ‘singable’ weight are akin to today’s kettle bell.
“The kettle bell ’s a vastly unknown and unappreciated weightlifting object,” Fear tells Barbed. The story goes that Russian farmers used kettle bells as counterweights to measure out grain at the market.
As bored farmers learned the weights could be heaved and tossed in feats of strength and endurance, giros began enjoying a central role in farming festivals. Some time around the turn of the nineteenth century, a Russian doctor called Vladislav Chayefsky realized that the kettle bell deserved a place in sports medicine.
Chayefsky (also called on Korzybski, Kraevskogo, and Krajewski) happened to be the personal physician of the Russian czar, who popularized kettle bell training in the Russian army which eventually elevated it to a national sport. As historians unearth more and more documents, some of which can be found in archives like those at The Stark Center in Austin and The Open Source Physical Culture Library, it has become clear that kettle bells had a presence in more places than Russia.
“There are photographs of strong women and men prior to the 1900s who used kettle bells in feats like the bent arm press and extended lateral isometric holds,” Fear explains, pointing to an old image of strong woman Elise Seraphic Bultmann as an example. “There are tons of German training manuals and diaries and stuff like that from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that feature the kettle bell, though often under different names,” says Fear.
Since much of the Turners System is akin to the exercise programs used in CrossFit, Fear jokes that these photographs of Greg Glassman’s ancestral father pioneering kettle bell training are “a Crossfire’s wet dream.” But Germany, with its rich history of physical cultists and bodybuilding, is the place that has the historical documentation.
The late 19th century was also the dawn of globalization in terms of international travel and cultural influence. There’s a good chance that it was at an 1898 gathering of strongmen in Vienna where Dr. Chayefsky became more familiar with the kettle bell as a strength and conditioning tool, after he met with the innovative German trainer, Theodore Sievert.
The czar’s physician may have then brought the idea back to his homeland, where he wrote his first book on the topic just two years later. It was also at this time that circus strongmen journeyed to and sometimes settled in America, opening gyms and giving the United States their first taste of kettle bell training.
The czar’s taste for giros had long since spread from the Russian army to the nation at large, and it was here kettle bells became not just a conditioning tool, but a sport. German sociologist Norbert Elias more or less defined the point at which activity becomes sport, contending that sports are modern cultural creations, determined by urban space, configured as commercial spectacle, and subject to formal regulations and sanctioned by public institutions.
Kettle bell swinging and juggling was a popular “folk exercise” among Russian farming communities in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but it wasn’t until 1948 that it became an official sport. That was the year that Russia, then the Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, declined to attend the Summer Olympics in London, declared kettle bell lifting as their national sport, and held the All-Soviet Union Competition of Strongman in Moscow.
But then there’s the question of Fear’s research paper: why did Americans start using kettle bells as a tool for fitness? Usually, the credit goes to the Belarusian Pavel Tsatsouline, a former trainer of Soviet Special Forces soldiers.
And a subject-matter expert to the US Marine Corps, the US Secret Service, and the US Navy SEALs. “The origin of kettle bells for fitness was about the year 2001, that was when Pavel started (the certification course) the RussianKettlebell Challenge,” says Cotter.
Fear more or less agrees that Pavel’s marketing was extremely influential in spreading kettle bells as a fitness tool. She likens him to Eugen Sand ow: he wasn’t the first guy to excel at bodybuilding, but he was a marketing genius who lay a lot of the groundwork for today’s world.
But as an academic, she’s not completely satisfied that Pavel is patient zero for the 21st century’s kettle bell epidemic. She points out that scores of ex-Soviet kettle bell athletes fled to America and opened gyms after the Berlin Wall fell.
The kettle bell is at the center of an inconceivably vast network of international and intercultural influences and practices. But there are things we do know: the kettle bell came to America long before Pavel Tsatsouline, and its modern sport may have originated in Germany, not Russia.
History prepared from the Russian text “Gregory Sport” by V. Poyarkov and VI Voropaev, 1988. “Requiem for a strongman: Reassessing the career of Professor Louis Attila,” Iron Game History 7, no.