When Pavel Tsatsouline served in the Soviet Special Forces, his unit was among those who had adopted a Karate-based style of hand-to-hand combat. The hard style of kettle bell training was born to support this hard style of fighting.
Determined to take the skill of strength as far as possible, Pavel researched every possible venue that could be of help, ranging from reading obscure neuroscience papers and old Soviet bio-mechanics texts, to picking the brains of gymnastics, power-lifting, and arm-wrestling elite. Power-lifting coach Louie Simmons has said it best: “Pavel has reverse engineered what the strongest athletes do naturally.” This is Hard style.
Such techniques include: compound movements, appropriate timing of body tension, power breathing, not training to failure or exhaustion, strength as practice, doing fewer things better, etc. If you have been around the block, the hard style techniques will noticeably and immediately improve your strength in pull-ups, pistol squats, kettle bell military presses, one-arm push-ups, handstand push-ups, and a variety of killer abdominal drills.
If you are new to strength, you will learn how to do these lifts right or, if you have a long way to go, get a clear set of individualized instructions for mastering them. This will train the 1-arm to get stronger without consistently repeated repetitions; you will get slight rest as the other arm is working.
Grab the handle with a slightly off-centered grip so you can easily grasp the kettle bell with the free hand during the transition. Once you have the swing technique down, it’s time to learn cleans and snatches which we will cover in future Hard style articles and videos so stay tuned.
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Make sure to subscribe to our posts by enter your email address in the right column if you are reading this on a desktop or below if on a mobile device! Since 2001, he has assisted many people with their strength training, conditioning and athletic rehabilitation including; adult clients, police, fire, military professionals, and athletes from middle school to the Professional level.
Someone far more skilled than I am at my job once told me if I couldn’t explain something simply then I didn’t really understand it. I would have these wild explanations that jumped from one spot to the next, e.g., “Kettle bells are good for your shoulders because of the offset weight distribution.
From the amazing feats of Gregory competitors who do ten-minute sets of double 32 kg long-cycle clean and jerks to the ROC snatch test of one hundred reps in five minutes with a 24 kg bell, there’s no soft or easy path visible. Instead, the term refers to a type of hand-to-hand combat taught in Russian special operations in the 1970s.
This low stress practice allows the body to learn how to perform the skill of creating tension when needed to safely move the heaviest weights. Perhaps if your name is Can or Hatfield, but for the majority of people the skill of lifting a heavy weight is unnatural and foreign and in the same way that you wouldn’t make a white belt beginner full contact spar with a seasoned black belt you shouldn’t let novice lifters try for a max lift until they’ve spent some time applying focus to their technique.
As the ROC manual says, “If you don’t practice these techniques with a light bell, you surely will not be able to do it when you meet a heavy one.” However, developing or trying to keep the body this stiff and tight during a set of swings just isn’t going to work.
Because a loose joint absorbs the force meant to go elsewhere; it “leaks” power and is easily injured. “Coordination of movement is getting rid of excessive degrees of freedom in different joints…” (Bernstein) “Steering Strength” (McGill).
Hairstyle strength training is the practice of the total compression skill. ROC teaches how to focus the scattered energies of the body into a directed all-out effort while minimizing the odds of injuries.
You’d have practiced, with focus, on removing the superfluous and improving essential skills of your pastime. More info on that soon which will be coming to Lauren's Playground ... However, while we were waiting for a loud truck to leave we decided to film this last minute.
We both agreed it would be important to show the differences between the two main kinds of kettle bell styles out there. I personally use hard style due to the power aspect of it and its efficiency in taking care of business in a short amount of time, which is primarily done in all my DVD's and Streaming videos. But make sure to read Brittany’s description below.
KB SPORT: competition style kettlebellHARDSTYLE : cast iron or powder coat kettle bell *Preferably @kettlebellkings in both cases Totally depends on your training goal and your personal preference!” Hope this helps you when deciding on what kind of kettle bell style to choose.
Despite the popular sayings, “Strong is the new Skinny” or “Strong is the New Sexy,” there is still a large portion of the female population that will shy away from lifting solely due to their fear of bulking up or building too much muscle. The woman on the left falls in the category of an endomorph, which generally means skinny, little muscle, and a very high metabolism.
With gyms not being able to operate normally and many PTs using video platforms to coach, the popularity of training at home has soared, and the kettle bell has come into its own. This complete handheld gym was deemed to be a fad a few years ago by many trainers who said it has no benefit or place in strength, endurance, or fitness programs.
Most importantly, used well, it can deliver all-round functional results that carry over into a huge range of sports and daily activities. You have probably already heard that the kettle bell can help you massively improve conditioning, strength, fat loss, and endurance.
Numerous studies have shown it can improve a variety of athletic qualities, from Vo2max in Olympic swimmers to jump-height in professional ballerinas. A man who knows about absolute strength, Andy Bolton, the British Powerlifter who was the first to dead lift 1000lbs, and co-wrote ‘Dead lift Dynamite’, credits the kettle bell for increasing his work capacity, improving his strength around his lower back, glutes and hamstrings, and strengthening his grip further still.
A lot of this stems from there being two main and contrasting styles of kettle bell training: hard style (HS) and Gregory Sport (a.k.a., GS or Competition). I am in my second decade of coaching kettle bells; my first few qualifications were in GS, and I now predominantly teach HS, so I have experience in both camps.
Both GS and hard style have their roots in the Russian military, where kettle bells have been a staple of physical training since the 19th century. The rules became standardized, based on the number of repetitions within ten minutes without setting the bell down, and this is the basis for modern Gregory Sport.
It is this need for endurance that has shaped the fluid GS style; the challenge is to keep all unnecessary tension and effort out of your grip, breath, and muscles as relaxed as possible to minimize fatigue throughout the ten minutes. A GS lifter has to build up tremendous ligamentous strength to support the weight for such a long time without rest, and considerable aerobic capacity to last the course.
Former Smetana physical training instructor, Pavel Tsatsouline, bought the technique to the US in 1998 and quickly became a Subject-Matter Expert to the elite of the US military and law enforcement, including the Marines, the Secret Service, and the Navy SEALs. Pavel co-developed the Russian Kettle bell Challenge (ROC) and then left to form his own all-round strength training company, Strongest, in 2012.
Strongest now runs kettle bell, barbell, and body weight courses and certifications all over the world, including here in Britain. Unsurprisingly, this combination of being able to generate power and controlled tension carries over directly into barbell lifts, body weight training, and martial arts.
The hard style ballistics employ the athletic hip hinge, where GS uses less knee flexion, akin to a Romanian dead lift. Hard style favors cast-iron kettle bells, where the size of the bell and the thickness of the handle increase as the weight gets heavier.
It is like comparing marathon running and sprinting: the same exercise, executed with significant differences in technique, power production, and the energy systems used. Whether you want to train GS or hard style, it is always advisable to seek out the help of a proficient and experienced coach so you can learn how to use this invaluable tool safely and effectively.
The key feature of the sport style of kettle bell is that the focus is on power efficiency over a long period of time. Most events are ten minutes long and the participant is not allowed to put the kettle bell down.
Thus, the person is trying to conserve energy in the movements so that he or she can be efficient over time. In the below video, you can see how the athlete’s movement is fluid and how she is never out of breath over the allotted time period.
This explains the different handle design of the two kettle bells in the above photo. This style has historically taken components from the martial arts, and it relies on being able to switch quickly from being tight to being loose.
Similar to a martial artist who quickly becomes tense when a punch is thrown. For example, someone doing an endurance event would use long, deep breaths to slow the heart rate.
In late 2012, Pavel Tsatsouline left the Russian Kettle bell Challenge (ROC) to start a new endeavor, Strong first. There were probably plenty of reasons for this split, but as of now both of these groups remain relatively similar in their style of teaching (there are minor differences in standards, but in general most of the teaching are Pavel’s, and they remain the same).
One of the reasons for the new organization is that Pavel’s teachings have always extended past kettle bells. Most of my first exposure to his teachings were from popular bodybuilding magazines (e.g., the Solo Squat routine).
This type of training fits with what he has done for military and police units as most likely they need explosive strength rather than longer term efficiency in movements. As Andrew Read elegantly pointed out, there are many problems with mobility and the safety of this “American swing” movement.
I have heard it compared to adding a shrug after a dead lift is completed. The problem with this moderate approach is that the CrossFit standard describes being overhead as the end point of the movement.
In Hard style and Gregory Sport style, the kettle bell is not placed on the ground during the snatch until the competitor is done. Many CrossFit style competitions require the Crossfire to set the kettle bell down on the ground between each rep (similar to the Olympic weightlifting snatch).
However, watching competitors do this movement leads me to believe that much more discussion of kettle bell snatch technique could be used by the CrossFit community. Some have questioned the safety of the CrossFit American-style swing based on the mobility requirement of getting the arms overhead (at the top position, the hands are close together, which causes internal rotation of the shoulder joints and might lead to shoulder impingement in those lacking the required mobility).
The Hard style and Gregory Sport styles both promote fitness in different ways. However, Strongest requires all instructors to be able to do 100 kettle bell snatches in five minutes and to do grinding movements such as get ups.
To simplify the difference, Hard style promotes explosive, intense, and short duration exercises, while Gregory Sport promotes power endurance movements that are efficient. Each runner will utilize strength, explosiveness, and muscle efficiency, but in different ways.
What works best for overall fitness, sport-specific physical preparedness, or military and first responders are questions that have not been answered. Robert has a background in physique development and writes articles that teach you how to get fit with exercise and proper mindset.
The important thing is to focus on the method that more closely aligns with your goals as a kettle bell lifter. An athlete participating in GS uses a submaximal weight and performs repetitions of a single kettle bell exercise for a set time period, which is traditionally 10 minutes.
Like competitors in a marathon, GS athletes must focus on staying relaxed by utilizing anatomical breathing and efficient movement technique. The number of repetitions completed in the 10-minute window is used to rank GS competitors within their respective divisions (based on body weight and kettle bell weight).
There will come a moment during the 10-minute set when the nervous system signals the brain that the body has reached exhaustion, and it requires a tremendous amount of physical and mental energy to push past that point. The beauty of GS competitions is watching lifters struggle through an immense battle of body and mind to achieve their goals.
Only if the lifter has enough strength for the load to be submaximal can they train their endurance and develop the oxidative potential of their muscle fibers. While GS requires massive aerobic capability, Sport-style athletes must train for both endurance AND power.
They must relax as much as possible while competing to give their muscles the ability to continue powerfully contracting for long periods of time. Hardstylekettlebell workouts are a more recent development in training theory, brought to the world by Pavel Tsatsouline.
There are no 10-minute timers; the goal is to complete many repetitions while using breathing techniques to power through the movements with maximal body tension. Ballistics are explosive movements that create momentum to move the kettle bell against the force of gravity.
The goal is not to drop the kettle bell from the overhead position, but to apply resistance to guide it along its path. Marathoners and sprinters are both runners, but with contradictory goals that require building different energy systems.
If you want to build endurance and mental tenacity while learning how to relax under duress, consider the GS style of training. On the other hand, Hard style is a great way to build speed and power that translates well to sports that utilize the same energy system.
If quick, effective workouts for general fitness are your goal, Hard style is the best place to start. This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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”.