kettlebell sport

What is Kettlebell Sport

Kettlebell Sport (also known as Girevoy Sport) is a sport that originated in Russia back in the 1800’s. Back then, kettlebells were used as measuring tools at farmers markets. 1 pood was 16kg and 2 pood was 32kg. It did not take long for the farmers to realize the strength benefits of the kettlebells as they would lift them showing off to others their feats of strength.

In the beginning, kettlebell competitions were performed at the circus and festivals. As kettlebells became more popular, competition rules and a governing body were established and the actual first kettlebell sport competition was held in 1948. Since then many changes have been made to the sport as it continues to grow.

Kettlebell Sport has 3 main lifts Jerk, Snatch, and Long Cycle. Normally a lifter chooses to compete in either long cycle or biathlon. Biathlon is a combination of Jerk and Snatch. Lifters can also do triathlon which is all 3 events in a competition. In kettlebell sport you lift the kettlebells continuously for 10 min without setting them on the ground.

In the beginning of the sport, there were no time limits. Lifters would just lift until they could not lift anymore. In the 1980’s they changed it to a limit of 10 minutes. There are also 5 minute events, which are essentially a sprint. There is also the half-marathon and marathon competitions which are 30 minutes and 60 minutes.

Kettlebell sport has weight classes that you compete in as well as different kettlebell weights to compete in. In the beginning, you had to compete with either the 16kg, 24kg, or 32kg. Now you can compete with any kettlebell from 8kg to 40kg. The way it works is you compete against other lifters in your weight class that are competing with the same kettlebell weight.

You also have the option of competing with one kettlebell or two kettlebells. With one kettlebell you only get one hand switch for the entire 10 min or 5 min event. In half-marathon and marathon events you are able switch arms back and forth as many times as you like.

The lifter with the most reps wins. For example if you lifted more reps than anyone else in the double long cycle using the 20kg kettlebell in the 73kg weight class you are the winner. Sometimes, competitions group weight classes and different kettlebells together. Then, the winner is determined by a coefficient score which is (Total Reps x KB Weight/Actual Weight).

Actual weight is what the lifter weighs the day of the event. The coefficient score rewards the person who is strongest pound for pound. It does not matter their weight or the weight of the kettlebell. The coefficient is used to determine the best overall lifters of competitions as well. The best overall lifter goes to the best male and female lifters in long cycle, biathlon, and snatch.

Kettlebell Sport has rankings for each kettlebell weight. The purpose of these rankings is so that a lifter knows when they can safely progress to the next kettlebell weight up. The rankings go in the following order with MSIC being the highest and Rank 3 the lowest:

MSIC – Master of Sport International Class
MS – Master of Sport
CMS – Candidate Master of Sport
Rank 1
Rank 2
Rank 3

The lighter kettlebell weights have Rank 1 thru 3 rankings. Master of Sport is only achieved with the heavy kettlebells. Master of Sport is the coveted goal everyone wants to achieve as it proves you are a great lifter! MSIC is ranking that only a few have achieved.

Kettlebell sport is not just about winning, but also about improving your performance and climbing up thru the rankings. It is a sport for all age levels and athletic abilities. The trainings are hard and intense but the competitions and rewards are well worth it!

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