Kettlebell ‘Girevoy’ Sport

You will see kettlebell sport referred to as Girevoy Sport. This is because the sport originated in Russia where kettlebells are known as Girya.

Kettlebell sport involves using various lifts to power your chosen weight of kettlebell overhead. In contrast to other forms of weightlifting it is not about the maximum weight you can lift once but how many times you can perform the lift in 10 minutes. The goal is maximum reps possible with the heaviest weight possible. The total weight lifted is then calculated (weight of kettlebell x number of lifts) along with a coefficient score based on the competitors bodyweight (a lighter athlete with the same total weight lifted as a heavier athlete will win on coefficient score). This is a great test of strength endurance and most importantly mental toughness.

Pacing is key with the athlete aiming to churn out the same number of lifts each minute with the hope of a sprint finish! Between each lift the kettlebell or bells ‘rest’ in the rack position (at the chest) or overhead – the term rest is not really accurate here since the body is still under load only getting the relief it craves when the bell hits the floor at the end of the 10 minute set! As you can imagine, over the 10 minutes any weaknesses will soon be exposed.

Endless hours of training go into conditioning the athlete and to perfecting the lifting technique so that each repetition follows the same groove as the last to achieve maximum efficiency. Brute force will only get you so far, the most successful athletes combine excellent technique, correctly applied power, flexibility and relaxation. As an illustration, I compete with a 12kg kettlebell but can only strict press with that weight for one or two reps on a good day! Training for kettlebell sport requires grim determination to put in enough sessions every week with enough intensity to progress but it is all too easy to overtrain and derail your progress – slow and steady is the mantra of the kettlebell athlete.

There are two competitions in traditional Girevoy Sport:

1. Biathlon (two lifts) – 10 min jerk set (two bells for men, one for women with one hand change) followed by 10 min snatch set (one bell with one hand change) with at least 30mins between sets. [link videos]

My current personal best was achieved at the Welsh Open in October 2011 – Jerk Total 85 / Snatch Total 193 – (12kg kettlebell, my weight 54kg)
(I have also competed with an 8kg achieving – Jerk 158 / snatch 227)

2. Long Cycle – 10 min clean and jerk set (two bells for men, one for women with one hand change) [link video]

My current personal best was achieved at the UK Open in Birmingham February 2012 – Long Cycle Total 78 / Sprint Snatch (3mins) 73 – (12kg kettlebell, my weight 54kg)

The kettlebell sport community are amazingly supportive of each others endeavours. There is great camaraderie amongst the competitors; this is not surprising considering the training required is so brutal!

I am proud to be a ‘satellite’ member of the BGSC Brighton Girevoy Sport Club and travel down to Brighton to train with the team, under coach and friend Mark Stroud, as often as I can. It makes a huge difference having the support and encouragement of the team

As well as competing with your fellow athletes you are always competing against your own expectations based on your last competition and the numbers achieved in training. There are also ranking systems to test yourself against with set numbers to achieve for progressive weights of kettlebell and the athletes bodyweight.

Competition Kettlebells

The competition style kettlebells are hollow, made of steel and have the advantage of coming in one standard size regardless of the weight. This means that the technique and alignment stay the same as you progress. With other styles there is a significant difference in size between lighter and heavier bells creating a new learning curve each time you jump to the next weight. Those unfamiliar with competition kettlebells often get a shock when they pick up an 8kg bell because it is much lighter than it appears being mostly hollow! To help differentiate and promote progress each weight of competition bell is assigned a colour e.g. the 12kg bell I use in competition is blue.

Contact Us
London competiton 21Mar10

London competiton 21Mar10

created by Starfire